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Zetec at Donnington

PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 5:51 pm
by john.p.clegg
Dear All
I am in a quandry as to wether I should go down the zetec road.
Am I just making more work for myself,as if I haven't got enough on my plate to start with.....
I would appreciate thoughts from others re. Zetec conversions and if any are going to Donnington next month would appreciate meeting and picking your brains on the pro's and con's etc.etc.etc...
Any posts on here would be appreciated and will post my contact details nearer the time for anyone at Donnington.


John :wink:

Re: Zetec at Donnington

PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2006 8:18 am
by cliveyboy
Hi John
This subject crosses my mind every so often to.
Perhaps you need to deceide what you want from the car.
Good reliability and everyday driver ? Would a Zetec be significantly better than a fuel injected fully mapped twin cam with the various weak points sorted out.
Would you fuel inject the Zetec or stay with carbs?
Do you particularly want the benefits of newer brake and suspension components that the Spyder can provide.
Are you wanting the extra horse power and performance?
The big factor has to be how much better will it be for the extra money.
I can only guess that a Zetec conversion will cost at least ?10,000.
If your twincam engine is in need of the expensive rebuild then suddenly the Zetec is not so much more expensive. If its like my car in good condition then I reckon for about ?3-4000 I could get mine as close as is "Lotusly" possible to a Zetec with fuel injection, distributorless ignition and various upgraded components etc
Only you can deceide what you are prepared to pay for any additional benefits.
"Its a tough one"

Re: Zetec at Donnington

PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2006 8:37 am
by GrUmPyBoDgEr
I put a Zetec engine in my S4 a few years ago (was one of thepioneers).
I'll bring th photo's of the rebuild to Donington with me from Germany.
I'll be there all day Saturday & Sunday untill midday.
Have you guys done anything about a meeting point for
Annemarie of "Club Lotus" assured me that a table & chairs could be provided in the "club lounge". It's just up to you lokal guys to think up a way we can identify ourselves.

Re: Zetec at Donnington

PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2006 11:11 am
by fitzy1

I completed a full zetec spyder conversion last august and just love the car.
it starts on the button doesn't overheat is comfortable and really usable. Although I have another car I use the Lotus regularly.
Importantly Spyder are extremely helpful and knowledgable about the marque I couldn't have done it with out their help.
Yes it's costly , but from the few that have been sold on they do seen to keep their value.
Just go do it !!
I will try to visit Donnington but am away a lot at present . I'm midlands based and would be happy to share a pint/coffee to talk about the car.

Re: Zetec at Donnington

PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:56 pm
by Elanintheforest
My Elan starts on the button doesn't overheat is comfortable and really usable as well, and it's absolutely bog standard as it came out of the factory in 1967.
Yes, it's the purists's view! But with a slight difference.
I think that Clive is spot depends what you want out of the car. There is no reason why a standard Elan can't be utterly reliable and used as an everyday car. I know a chap who is just coming up to 500,000 miles in his S4, used every day all year round in city and country. However, he maintains it properly to standard servicing intervals. That includes a complete overhaul (rebuild) every 100,000 miles.
Many Elans have never had a proper rebuild, but have been botched and made to go a little bit further until they can be offloaded to the next unsuspecting punter. Their reputation was never that good because service intervals are roughly twice that of a contemporary Ford, so folks didn't bother even when they were only a couple of years old.

So if all you want is for it to start properly, be reliable, comfortable and not overheat don't waste you money...get the car sorted to original specification, but accept that you will have to spend more time and / or money maintaining the car properly.

If you want the car to go faster and handle a little sharper then you could go the Zetec route...or buy a modern Lotus. I doubt that you'd get a Plus 2 Zetec to go round a circuit quite like an Elise, so I don't see the point of that either.

So the only possible reason left for doing it must be...because you want the fun and challenge of doing it! And to a large extent, that's the common thread for all Elan owners, whether you want to make a car the fastest on the track , the best looking or the most original. There's no right or wrong. It may be different if there were only 3 left in the world.

A couple of things to consider. The first is where you're starting from. If you have a sorted Plus 2 with a good chassis and fresh engine, I would sell the car and buy one that isn't as healthy. You can still get a lot of money for a knackered twincam it seems, and you're going to throw the chassis / suspension away anyway.

Second point...You've got ?15,000 to spend on a Plus 2 and you go into a showroom. There are two identical Plus 2 cars there...both mint and the same's totally original and the other is a Zetec. Which one would you buy?

Just to show I've a balanced view :roll: I am currently restoring a late 130 to original factory spec...lots of new-old-stock, lots of money on paint, engine rebuild etc. I've also recently been offered a Plus 2 which was fitted with a BDA engine from new...big bump on the bonnet, straight through exhaust, and I love it to bits!

It's up to you.

Re: Zetec at Donnington

PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2006 7:50 pm
by simon.mitchell
Some excellent points in the previous posts, but here's a few other things to consider;

If you build it yourself the cost of a full Spyder Zetec conversion should be comparable to the cost of a full restoration to standard condition, assuming a similar standard of finish.

The converted car will require less maintenance than a standard car. This may be a plus or a minus point, depending on how you want to use the car!

A converted car will be more relaxed to drive at motorway speeds, will have more grip, better brakes and faster acceleration than a standard car. Some people may prefer the 'feel' of a standard car; it's a personal preference.

Assuming it's a Plus 2, when you come to sell, the converted car is likely to be worth more. A standard 'home restored' Plus 2 in first class condition will be worth around ?8k. The only two home built Spyder Zetecs that I know of which have come up for sale have sold for around ?12-?15k. Consider that Spyder charge around ?30k for a factory built car, that properly converted cars rarely come up for sale and that the market for a converted car will be larger than that for a standard one as it will extend beyond Lotus enthusiasts.

Running costs will be lower for a converted car. 'Consumable' parts are available cheaply off the shelf at Halfords. The engine should last for 250k miles without major work, and will still return up to 40mpg.

Of course it's an emotive as well as a practical decision, and as Clive points out a lot depends on what you want your car to be and where it is now. I don't know anyone with a converted car who wishes they'd left it standard though.

Re: Zetec at Donnington

PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2006 11:47 am
by Elanintheforest
Some good points raised there...but I detect a hint of bias creaping in towards the end!
A 5 speed 130 is pretty relaxing on the motorway.
The level of grip probably won't be noticed on a normal road, but maybe on the track.
And just to rebalance the argument, I don't know anyone with a restored standard car who wishes they'd modified it :roll:
I do however admire what Spyder have done. Lotus didn't 'improve' the chassis, suspension or engine design whilst the cars were in production, whilst Spyder seem to developed the chassis to be stronger, longer lasting and make some tasks easier to perform.
There is, I guess, little doubt that the Zetec engine is smoother, longer lasting and capable of developing a lot more power than the good old twincam. The same could be said of many of the current Japanese 4 cylinder engines.
And there's absolutly no doubt that the Ford 5 speed box is better than the Lotus / Maxi 5 speed.
But that's evolution of the components, the same way that the Elite, Esprit, Elan M100 and Exige is evolution of the Marque...they are not Elans, they are something newer and in some folks eyes something better.
So I guess on that basis that a full Zetec Plus 2 isn't an Elan anymore, it's a modern kit car that some may think is better than the original.

And that must surely affect it's value in the medium and long term. I can't think of another car with the looks, performance and pedegree of the Elan Plus 2 that is so undervalued in the current market. The staggering number that seem to be broken for spares at the moment, and for the last couple of years, combined with those that are being modified for Zetec conversions, will surely put a premium on original cars.

I'm convincing myself (at least!) that a good original car should stay that way. There are plenty of 'rolling shells' with ID on ebay for a few hundred quid...ideal for modding to Zetec.

And my final thought if you go the fuel injection Elan without the induction roar of the Webbers is like a Bugatti without a supercharger...pointless :wink:

Re: Zetec at Donnington

PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2006 1:03 pm
by simon.mitchell
Some good points raised there...but I detect a hint of bias creaping in towards the end!

Haha - I did try to keep it factual, but clearly failed! Of course I'm biased in that I completed a full Spyder conversion on my own car last year, use it pretty much every day now and have nothing but praise for it.

I agree that it would be a shame to extensively modify a pristine original car, but then I can't see the point in pristine original cars anyway - I'd much rather look at a well used and maybe modified car at an event than any number of shiny concours entrants :roll: , but that's my opinion.

Can't agree on your dismissal of fuel injection though - didn't Lotus themselves use mechanical injection on the twin cam on single seaters in the 60's?

Re: Zetec at Donnington

PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2006 2:52 pm
by Elanintheforest
Nothing against fuel injection.. it?s efficient, reliable, relatively maintenance free and enables greater power to be produced. But one of the things that, for me, defines the Elan (and Lotus Cortina and Twink Escort) is that Webber induction roar. Combine that with the smell of Castrol ?R? and I?m in heaven. As a lad, I had a Lotus Cortina that never got better than 9mpg because the foot was always hard on the accelerator to get the most noise?inside and outside the car.

It?s the removal of those little things that start to change the character of the car. You probably don?t get the slight smell of hot oil or petrol with a Zetec either!

But the further you go down that road you more likely that you?ll end up with a super-efficient but very different and potentially characterless car. The Japanese have mastered it, and BMW aren?t far behind.

However, I did examine a couple of Zetecs at Stoneleigh last November. The first belonged to Niall (who is I?m sure reading this bit on Zetecs!). That is a Pistachio Green with disco-glitter roof, that has the right sort of wheels, sits right and looks?superb. Straight out of the 70s. The engine looks like it belongs, runs like a sewing machine with a great exhaust note. I?d buy it! On the other hand the car on the Spyder stand was a car that looked like an old bird having a mid life crises?.Nasty metallic red, big shiny wheels, 3 or 4 cows worth of leather with contrasting piping, and just sat wrong. And all for ?30k. Not a car that?s grown old gracefully.

So I totally accept that Spyders can look really good, and are undoubtedly a more efficient machine, and that the Zetec is the spiritual successor to the Twincam (via the BDA and Cosworth of course). However Niall, if you were to trade a little efficiency for the Webber sound effects I think that you will have created the worthy successor.

John, you stared us all ranting...what are your thoughts?


Re: Zetec at Donnington

PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2006 7:37 pm
by Hamish Coutts

You swine - you have just occupied my weekend reminising about twin cam induction noise and the fabulous smell of Cassy R. I spent many happy days watching circuit racing and rallys (and doing rallys) in the 60s/70's.

What's the everlasting memory? A twin cam coming flat out through a forest driven by some mad Fin or on a circuit driven by Clark, (or Clark on the RAC :D ) leaving behind a strong smell of the very distinctive Castrol R. Oooh heaven!

The last time I heard a twink in the forest was McRae (the father) on the historic Scottish coming through Yair (SE Scotland). No Castrol R though. :(

Think my favourite smell was Castrol R + the smell of a hot exhaust burning off the unique mixture of forest mud and bits of leaves.

Beats any Bar B Q I can think of. :D :D

The only thing that comes close is the sound (and of course smell) of a porche or two stroke Saab (remember them) working hard on a forest stage.


Re: Zetec at Donnington

PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2006 8:34 pm
by niallf
Hi Mark,

Thanks for the kind words ! (Just catching up after a few days away)

I'm sure there are lots of reasons why people go down the Zetec route, for me my aim was to build a car I could run daily to do a 50 mile round trip commute and something that would complement my S1 Elise. My aim was to keep the car as original looking as possible, but not be too precious about it.

The full Spyder is expensive, but the time consuming aspect is really as much about restoring an old car, than the conversion technology. I was at Spyder earlier in the week and there were about 6 cars there in various states of build. It appears to be a popular conversion!

I'll be at Donnington on at least one, maybe both days. Anyone who wants to know more is welcome to nose around my car, as Mark says It's 'Green' with a gloriously sparkly roof.


Re: Zetec at Donnington

PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2006 11:16 pm
by john.p.clegg
Dear All
Thanks for the input, it has certainly given me something to think about, maybe I just dont get all those advance curves in the Miles Wilkins Book maybe I will find someone who can tune Dellortos maybe I could reduce its oil consumption. But why bother when one can have a quick session on the rolling road and have it all mapped.

There are still more questions than answers and I look forward to seeing you all at Donnington to hopefully answer some of them.

Will the Zetec mate up with the original bell housing, radiator/heater connections, exhaust manifolds etc etc etc.


John :wink:

Re: Zetec at Donnington

PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2006 11:21 pm
Tough one!
I think a lot of owners that are considering a rebuild think Zetec? Yay? or Nay? There's plenty of posts out there asking... me included. I asked a fella at work who has an beautiful Aston DB5 that he rallies/races, when i asked him what his opinion was he told me he was also fed up with the engine in his Aston and was going to do a new Jag engine swap, what did i think? I was not impressed! He said; so really i already knew in my own mind what i wanted to do. Theres a great Daily Telegraph article out there, and they loved the Plus Two Zetec. Same bloke. Depends what you want from your car.
Yep...a tough one.

Re: Zetec at Donnington

PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2006 10:06 am
by thor
I looked for some time last year, and after getting advice from both Paul Matty himself, and Chris Foulds, I got exactly what they recommended, and I was looking for, the perfect mix:

A '73 130 with a 5speed, with one owner for the last 26 years. Engine rebuilt twice, balanced bottom end, warm cams and Lumenition.
Semi-shiny paintjob from about '95 with hardly a mark on it.

Looking completely original from the outside, BUT, rebuilt on a Spyder spaceframe some time ago, including sills and wishbones, with Spaxs and Goodridge braided hoses.
For me this is the perfect mix / compromise..

With the last engineer owner maintaining it to a high standard there's nothing left for me to do but keep up the service intervals and pamper it, with a boring '99 Golf as my everyday car I've got exactly what I've wanted. After being used to a rattly GT6 followed by a TR4A.

Re: Zetec at Donnington

PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2006 12:02 pm
by Elanintheforest the cupboard or pop out and buy a bottle of Mazola cooking oil...or any other vegatable oil...and add a cup full to a tank of petrol...the smell of Castrol R! I used to do this a lot (more cred than an STP sticker), and when I had the engine rebuilt by Miles Wilkens he was surprised how clean it was carbon build up...and it hadn't been opened up since new.

It is still made of course, but I dread to think of the price of it thse days. I don't live too far from Prescott hill climb, and often go to the vintage runs where of course Castrol R is the norm.

I think that I also saw the same rallys, as I used to marshal on the RAC for some of the Welsh stages. I remember being cold, tired and wet sitting in some forest in the middle of the night waiting for the cars to come through, but you could hear the twinks a mile away. Then I'd cheer up! As you say, the sound of a twincam flatchat echoing around an otherwise silent forest takes some beating!

The 3 cylinder 2 stroke Saabs I remember from club rallying days...they were a bit passed it in the early seventies, but again a wonderful sound and smell. I even quite liked crazy frog for a while!

Anyhow, all this talk of Zetecs and Spyders has me thinking. Whilst I am restoring a 130 back to factory spec (in its original yellow of course) I have also acquired a superb 'M' reg rolling shell...very few gel coat cracks, no blisters, and needing to have something done to it...the perfect candidate. So like John, I may well be exploring some options at Donnigton. But only if they include Webbers (or Dellortos) on the engine!!!!

And Niall, your car isn't 'green',,,grass is green...yours is in a different spectrum to ROYGBIV (that's Roy Of York Gave Battle In Vain for you guys that don't remember your 'O' level physics!). And although the rolling shell is currently white, I don't think I'd have a problem changing it to Pistachio if I were to Spyderise and Zetecise it .

Hmmm...this could prove to be a very expensive thread for me...and I was the one arguing for originality!!

Where's the Mazola?