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+2 Spyder Zetec Ground Clearance / Ride Height

PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:29 am
by Spyder fan
This topic has arisen from a test drive taken by new member "Olia" of a Spyder modified Elan +2 that is currently for sale. With a fresh pair of eyes and no axe to grind he noted that the ride height doesn't look right and wanted to know if there is a solution. You can read the original topic here

Spyder have been modifying Elan +2's to their Zetec specification for some years now. To fit the Zetec into their spaceframe chassis they remodel the front crossmember to allow some clearance for the front pulley of the Zetec motor and use a front wheel drive Zetec sump originally fitted to UK Ford Escorts / Orions.

For the exhaust manifold they use a tubular 4 into one design with all 4 pipes swooping below the front of the chassis, both items can be seen in the photo below, and as can be seen from the the other photo up top it looks very similar to the type of manifold you would have on a Lotus twin cam
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Underside of Zetec +2

DSC00907.JPG and
topside of zetec

Rohan spotted what is probably an obvious mistake with the manifold in that it should really go 4 into 2 into 1 before it starts going under the chassis and that this would be a good way of ensuring maximum ground clearance, he also noted that the sump appears much lower than on a standard car.

Therefore the questions for discussion are, how to improve the design of the exhaust manifold and is there a better sump available from the growing number of specialists involved in Retro Ford cars and kit cars that use the Zetec engine.

Re: +2 Spyder Zetec Ground Clearance / Ride Height

PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:41 am
by Spyder fan
My own one off modified with Ford Duratec Elan S4 has no ground clearance or ride height issues, it looks quite different underneath from the Zetec +2 and the exhaust manifold is a far better design. It uses a raceline wet sump designed for maximum ground clearance

it should be noted that the Duratec has the inlet and exhaust on the opposite side to a Lotus twin cam or Zetec, this meant a complete bespoke solution was required.
IMAG0116.jpg and
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011220112287.jpg and

The Elan is a bit taller in the engine bay than a +2 especially at the front, this may be the reason that it all seems to fit a bit better.

Re: +2 Spyder Zetec Ground Clearance / Ride Height

PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:41 am
by tonyr27
Hi Alan

Before I got to reading your second post I started thinking about Raceline and there Zetec wet sump designed for Caterhams, and if this may be a little shallower.
I have just sold my Caterham which I fitted a Raceline Duratec. They certainly supply quality products.
I know when designing exhaust systems there are optimal lengths for the primary pipes and it often difficult to obtain these in tight engine bays.
Have to say your Duratec install looks great.
I'm sure there a solution, just needs time and money :D


Re: +2 Spyder Zetec Ground Clearance / Ride Height

PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 6:48 pm
by stugilmour
Moving this post from the other thread...

Here are a few links with some info regarding some sump and exhaust mods. I don't think we have heard from John (Grumpy Bodger) yet? I think i saw in another thread he mentioned he has a 2" diameter SS exhaust after the transition pieces.

The second link shows a pic of Mark's BDA, and he mentioned he used stock mounts and a hood bulge to solve the ground clearance issue.

The third link has a side view of the Spyder header and transition pieces; not sure if these are the same as Alan's front view.

We had a Zetec engined Seven (of some kind, can't recall marque) at our local show last summer and the sump was so low I couldn't see it as practical for road use. Good to hear of the Raceline option.





Re: +2 Spyder Zetec Ground Clearance / Ride Height

PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 2:11 pm
by olia
stil considering a zetec plus2

thinking about if it would be possible to do a sill mounted exhaust system!? want the car low, for track days and possible autotest

also stil not convinced about the steering issue.. it wasnt right, and if all spyder plus2s have that trait then i think i wont be able to live with that

suppose it would be good idea if i drive a standard car and see how that feels in comparison, then at least it may be feasible to put it somewhat back to standard

Re: +2 Spyder Zetec Ground Clearance / Ride Height

PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 11:47 pm
by rgh0
The problem is not the exhaust itself I believe but the low zetec engine sump. Once you fix that ( if you can) then you will be able to route a suitable exhaust with adequate clearance along the middle of the backbone without needing to raise the car about its original ride height.

Personally if I was building a Zetec plus 2 I would stay with the standard Lotus suspension and brakes as they work perfectly and no issues with excess steering weight etc


Re: +2 Spyder Zetec Ground Clearance / Ride Height

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:01 pm
by Spyder fan

New-ride-height.jpg and

My +2 Zetec at Spyder today with alternative wheels and 65 profile tyres. Ground clearance is increased and visually the car can no longer be described as being on steroids. Car no longer grounds on the extremely bumpy Fenland roads or atrocious Tunbridge Wells speed humps and potholes. Picture taken on level road without camber.

Steering effort reduced with recommended higher pressures 28 front and 32 rear to suit Yokohama C Drive 2 which now have softer sidewalls to reduce noise.

I'm happy with the appearance, some might want to make it a bit lower which is possible, but I often carry a passenger and am no lightweight at 195lbs myself, needless to say it looks perfect with 2 people in the car!

This is the result of ignoring the sump and exhaust manifold problems and looking at the issue from a different perspective to come up with a workable solution. The diameter of the standard Spyder 14 inch wheels and 60 profile tyres is less than the original 13 inch plus 2 wheels and tyres, therefore it makes sense to increase the profile.

Re: +2 Spyder Zetec Ground Clearance / Ride Height

PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2014 8:23 am
by gavk
Morning all,

I was hoping to continue this topic a little further.

Alans/Spyders solution of larger profile tyres seems like a good idea, especially since it returns the overall diameter to close to standard size however I have a few more queries about the other improvements that can be and have been made.

John (grupmpybodger) has had success in modifying his mondeo sump so that it no longer protrudes below the chassis. See here

This obviously can still leave the standard Zetec manifold dangling below, I wonder if anyone with a shallow sump has installed modified manifolds to take advantage of the extra sump clearance?

Here is also a post detailing the depths of various Zetec dumps, I wonder how one like johns compares to an off the shelf shallow sump like those listed?

Gerrym also had his sump modified by Retro Ford, see here

Here is discussion of Nialls ride height which to my eyes seems to be one of the lowest zetecs.

Niall also mentions that his car tends to ground more at the centre exhaust section since the manifold is closer to the front wheels, anyone else found the same thing?

I collect my Zetec +2 today and have it booked in for a rolling road session with emerald in 5 Weeks. If there is potential for improvement to sump height, manifold or exhaust then I would like to make any changes I can before I head to the rolling road (optimistic I know).

I have a blacktop Zetec with cable operated mt75 and spyder chassis, are sump choices limited by my setup (silvertop vs black, cable vs hydraulic clutch etc).

I assume 2" exhaust should be sufficient for flow on a sub 200bhp Zetec or is 2 1/4" required.

Anyone know of any fabricators in south (surrey/london area) who could do sump mods such as those achieved by John.

Lastly there is the point some have made that spyder space/raise the body up on the chassis in order to improve clearance for the top of the engine, I wonder how much this effects appearance and if there is any variability in this between Zetec cars?

Lots of questions I know but hopefully the links I have provided will also help others researching the same topic and hopefully this thread can help put the Zetec Ride Height discussion to bed once and for all.

Interested to hear any views or advice, thanks


Re: +2 Spyder Zetec Ground Clearance / Ride Height

PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2014 5:12 pm
by Spyder fan
Hi Gavin,
The sump is not the problem, the manifold doesn't need to go under it, I have suggested to Sean that a new manifold is designed so that the Y pieces are joined and terminate into a single downpipe before swooping under the chassis, this final downpipe could be made from oval tube to increase ground clearance.

I can tell you categorically that Spyder do not space the body higher to fit the zetec in the engine bay.

if you fit the same Spyder zetec setup to a type 26/36/45 Elan the ride height ends up no different to original, in fact my Duratec S4 actually can ride lower than standard with few problems.

there are reasons for this that are not immediately apparent,

the ride height is often raised on a +2 zetec due to the ground clearance being reduced by the fitment of the dreaded manifold and exhaust system, but you don't need to do this on an Elan although the ground clearance will be exactly the same.... the reason is due to the shorter wheel base and lower weight of the Elan.

On a +2 to stand any chance of looking right and running a ground clearance that wont bottom out on every bump the tyres do need to be 65 profile rather than 60 profile, but you can get away with 60 profile on the elan due to the weight and wheelbase.

the ride height thing is a work in progress, my car is becoming a bit of a test mule.



Re: +2 Spyder Zetec Ground Clearance / Ride Height

PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 10:09 pm
by gavk
How strange, I had become convinced from photos and (obviously poor) memory that the manifold went below the sump but as soon as I picked up my new car I peeked underneath and saw that the manifolds height is completely independent of the sump, I was pleasantly surprised with the clearance of both.

I'm not sure which sump I have yet but I will take a closer look and try to identify.

I drove the car over 200 miles on Saturday with absolutely no issues with grounding. I approached the speed bumps on my road very gingerly but managed to clear them without a scrape, time to experiment and lower it a bit more.

I'm thinking about a new exhaust centre section and silencer to liberate a little more noise, improve looks and optimise the area for clearance.

I understand some spyder cars had their plain centre pipe retrospectively replaced with a resonator to decrease noise. I'm thinking about going the other way, deleting the resonator, has anyone got experience of the difference the resonator makes in terms of noise quality and volume and how much the extra few cm of resonator pipe diameter manifests itself in terms of ground clearance when driving?

Re: +2 Spyder Zetec Ground Clearance / Ride Height

PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2014 7:28 am
by Spyder fan
What profile are the tyres?

Any chance of a photo showing the side profile of the car on level ground?

I haven't run my car without the centre silencer, but am reliably informed it will drone and become annoying on longer trips. I don't know of any +2 zetecs that have passed the noise test at Castle Combe (100db) for the Club Lotus track day, normally we have to fit an extra tailpipe silencer. My car makes 102db without extra silencing and that seems about average for a Zetec +" with the centre silencer, I would guess 2 or 3 more db without it.

Re: +2 Spyder Zetec Ground Clearance / Ride Height

PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2014 10:18 pm
by gavk

Sorry for my delayed response to posts. The +2 wasn't the only baby I received this week, my wife has also given birth to my 2nd child so squeezing in lotus time is challenging!

My tyres are 180/60 14s. When they are used up I will probably switch to the 65 profiles as discussed.

When I get a chance I'll take some pictures and post them up,



Re: +2 Spyder Zetec Ground Clearance / Ride Height

PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 6:51 am
by Spyder fan
Congratulations to you and your good lady 8)

I have taken the decision to get my +2 resprayed this winter, possibly to it's original colour of French Blue. I will take advantage of the body being off to look at the manifold situation and hopefully solve it with oval tubing to the downpipe and terminating the Y pieces before the down pipe swoops under the chassis. Along with some sensible bracketry to make the system hug the backbone. (it tends to sag in the middle where the centre silencer lives)

Regards and congratulations once again


Re: +2 Spyder Zetec Ground Clearance / Ride Height

PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 8:05 am
by gavk
Thanks Alan,

French blue is lovely! How long has it been since your last respray?

My only thought with respect to the manifold mods would be that Spyder could've had the current manifold made with tuned primary lengths? Do you expect to sacrifice a little power if you shorten the primaries?

Re: +2 Spyder Zetec Ground Clearance / Ride Height

PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 8:41 am
by Spyder fan
I did the last respray myself back in 2005, apart from repairing all the stress cracks correctly with fibreglass tissue, resin and filler, I broke a lot of rules especially the one about removing all the old paint. I figured that if there were no imperfections showing through the existing over 20 year old respray that it would be okay to repair where needed then bring everything level with highbuild primer and block sanding before painting in base and clear coat. It is still a very nice looking car, but compared to my S4 which is almost perfection it now looks a little shabby in parts although most people tell me it looks sublime.

I like the lighter pastel colours and Spyder built a French Blue +2 a few years ago that looked stunning. Apparently it looked bland until the chrome and other fittings were attached and simple things like painting the sill bottoms satin black were done.

I'm using the car for the summer, then it will go away to Spyder who now do their own paint and hopefully ready for next year.