Lotus Elan

Spyder Chassis

PostPost by: Julian » Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:48 pm

Hi All,

Just wondered what the general opinion is of the Spyder space frame chassis compared to a modified lotus chassis (AVO mods etc).

Thanks

Julian
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PostPost by: GrUmPyBoDgEr » Sun Oct 27, 2013 9:33 pm

Hi Julian,

welcome on board & the subject of your question is, as you would suspect, an interesting one & the topic has not been discussed on here for quite a while.
I might get bombarded by others for pointing a new member towards the archives & some may in fact want to re-open the debate.
But do take a bit of time to wander through the archives where you will find that every question on the pros & cons has been fully covered & often at great length.
Have fun & please keep posting on here.

Cheers
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PostPost by: gus » Sun Oct 27, 2013 10:44 pm

My spyder has been in my car for 19 years, 3 years longer than the original took to fail completely, at least 7 years longer than the first attempts at repair to the original chassis, and 12 years longer than the replacement front towers lasted. My spyder sills have been in for 28 years, twice as long as the original sills lasted. The original sills that I removed as dust with my hands.
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PostPost by: jimj » Sun Oct 27, 2013 11:04 pm

Just be mindful that recent trends and increasing values are favouring originality. I have seen a handful of top end cars advertised in the last year or so stressing the "Lotus" chassis as a positive.
I`m not saying that`s so, it`s just an observation.
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PostPost by: pharriso » Sun Oct 27, 2013 11:35 pm

You talk about 26R (AVO) mods, is the car raced?

Here in North America a Spyder chassis can bump you up a class or 2.
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Mon Oct 28, 2013 8:59 am

I know you've asked about the spaceframe chassis, but Spyder do build an interesting alternative to those who like, at least, an original looking chassis. As an option, they will build a chassis that is virtually identical to the Lotus Chassis, except that the front towers are closed, the main stressed areas are re-enforced, and the seat belt plates are part of the rear uprights rather than separate plates (which are often very rusty and can be a pig to fit).

The front cross-member is square in section as per the Lotus, rather than being round, but it also has the towing hoop which is very handy. When it's in situ, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two chassis.

It also has removable bolts that hold the front wishbones in place, rather than the welded on pins of the Lotus chassis.

It is painted in a soft two-pack paint which Spyder consider to be far superior to the powder coating, which despite recent claims that the process is different now, can still split and allow water in behind.

I took delivery of one of these Spyder / Lotus specification chassis a couple of weeks ago for my S4, and it looks superb. It is propped against the wall next to a new Lotus chassis and really, they do look virtually identical.

I believe that the Spyder chassis offers greater torsional rigidity, it's stronger and the obvious rust traps have been eliminated. It looks to be a very well engineered product, and they have been making them for 30 years. They are also a lot more accurately aligned than the galvanised Lotus chassis, which all seem to develop a twist in the galvanising process.

Spyder will of course apply any modifications to that chassis that you want, and if you specify something that they think is a bit daft or a waste of money, they will discuss it with you!

I'm very keen on originality for my cars (or period modifications) and for me, the Spyder product offers a well thought out and better engineered solution than the Gartrac chassis (makers of the chassis commonly known as the Lotus chassis).

Mark
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PostPost by: worzel » Mon Oct 28, 2013 9:22 am

Hi

I fitted one of the so-called Spyder Stressed Skin frames to my sprint in 1983. It's pretty much as described in the previous post but with a round profile crossmember.
First thing I noticed when driving the car was the extra rigidity (although I'll admit that the original frame was shot at the front so maybe an unfair comparison).
Spyder reinforced the weak spots on the original design and I added a few mods myself. Painted with a two pack epoxy mastic it's still in the same condition as when fitted. Whether it's any better than the lotus unit is a matter of conjecture but some of the features fitted by Spyder certainly seem pretty useful.

Regards

John
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PostPost by: gus » Mon Oct 28, 2013 12:11 pm

With the exception of perhaps a series one, where values oustrip sheer utility, or in the case of a particular car of interest, I see no basis to say a spyder chassis car is worth less than a lotus chassis car.

There are no originality mavens in the Lotus world when compared to the Italian or American car world, The American car judges look at serial numbers on everything[wiper motor anyone?] and things like inspection paint dots.

I would love to see where a spyder chassis car was sold for less because of the spyder chassis. I don't beleive it has happened
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PostPost by: gus » Mon Oct 28, 2013 12:16 pm

I meant to say in my first posting that a lotus galvy chassis fixes the main ills that cause the Lotus chassis to fail, IE rust, so while I personally prefer the Spyder, I would consider a galvy chassis car suitably upgraded, as I have not heard that they have failed in use
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PostPost by: cal44 » Mon Oct 28, 2013 12:54 pm

Original design is always worth more when it comes to selling. As prices rise on all pre '75 Loti, be mindful.

And, thanks for the tip on Spyder making original looking frames. Very helpful.
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PostPost by: collins_dan » Mon Oct 28, 2013 1:15 pm

Mark, Would it be possible to post some pictures of the lotus replacement and spyder chassis next to each other. I was unaware of this option and it sounds very attractive to me, so would love to see how it compares to "orginal". Thanks, Dan
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:00 am

Good idea, Dan. The chassis are currently jammed into a barn with cars blocking them in, but the Plus 2 (Yellow roof) has just been sold, so it will be going in a couple of weeks or so.

When it does, I'll get both the Gartrac (Lotus spec.) and Spyder chassis down and photograph them in detail, so the different construction, welds etc. can be seen.

Behind the 2 seater chassis are a pair of Plus 2 chassis. The galvanised one is going on my BDA engine Plus 2 (once it's painted....I don't like the look of galvanised metal!) and the other is a bitsa. I will photograph the galvanised Plus 2 chassis as well so we'll have the set!

It will be interesting to see exactly where the common bits for the 2 seater and Plus 2 are on the chassis, as well as the differences between the Spyder (Lotus spec.) and the Gartrac (Lotus spec.).

Mark
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PostPost by: cal44 » Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:45 pm

Thanks for the pix Mark. Looking forward to more as this is very helpful.

Dang, to bad Spyder is so far away from my front door. The shipping would be murder....murder I tell ya'

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PostPost by: Julian » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:10 pm

Thanks for your thoughts guys.

The car I have is basically just a body shell and Vin plate that I more or less saved from being scrapped. I have a chassis that I bought to support the body to stop it sagging. It actually looks to be in reasonable condition, hence the question about carrying out the AVO type mods to stiffen it.

I am not worried about originality, as it certainly will not get a Lotus twin cam, so I am more interested in the handling, and if that means a non-original chassis then that is not a problem. To be honest, it is a bit of a blank canvas.
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Thu Oct 31, 2013 7:02 am

Julian, I don't think that I would believe anybody who claimed that one chassis made an Elan handle better than another. I doubt that anybody has ever tested two cars back to back with identical tyres, shocks, springs, bushes, steering, geometry, weight and conditions, one with a Spyder chassis and one with a Lotus chassis, to be able to feel or quantify any difference.

I would love to see someone put forward that argument though!

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