Lotus Elan

Close ratio Bullet gearbox in a +2

PostPost by: jono » Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:16 am

I was talking to a friend last night who used to have a +2S 130 into which he installed a close ratio 4spd bullet box from a Mk1 Lotus Cortina.

This was with a 3.55 diff. He said that the difference was astounding and 'absolutely made' the car.

Unfortunately he sold the box a few years ago and I unwittingly acted as a courier delivering it down to Notts on his behalf to a chap who was fitting it into his Lotus 7. This is before I realised how the box might have also 'transformed' my own car :roll:

I would be interested to hear if anyone else has experince of running such ratios in a +2 on the road. It surpised me how much he said it trasnfromed the car as most of the discussions on here seem to surround the issue of 5 spd conversions.

Cheers

Jon
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:53 am

Jon, the close ratio (not bullet...they were competition only) box was also fitted to early Elans up to end '64.

It's a great box once you get going, but trying a hill start in a Mk 1 Lotus Cortina with passengers would result in a lot of clutch smoke. A mate had one in his early Lotus Cortina, and we used to have to get out on one particular hill if the lights changed! I have driven an early Elan with one fitted, and being so much lighter, and unable to carry 3 passengers, was great fun to drive. The ratios for the close box are 2.50, 1.60 and 1.23, and for the normal 2000E box it's 2.972, 2.010 and 1.397. Both are the normal 1.0 for 4th.

Both the Elan and the Cortina had a 3.9 diff when fitted with the close ratio box, which gave close on 50mph in 1st! With a 3.55 diff I can't imagine that the car could even get going, but if it could, it must be approaching 60 in 1st!!

They are a very desirable box for the early Elan and early Lotus Cortina boys, and will fetch ?1500 and more...or 10 times the price of a 2000E ratio box. But I wouldn't fit one to a road car unless the diff was also changed to a 3.9, especially if living in a hilly area!

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PostPost by: jono » Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:14 am

Hi Mark,

Thanks for as ever for your invaluable insight.

I did ask Ken about first gear starts given his diff ratio. He did say it took a little care to get off the line but did not cite it a a major disadvantage. He mentioned 55 in first, 80 in second and close to 100 in 3rd If I recall correctly.

I did wonder if perhaps he had had a wide ratio box in his car first (and not realised it) and had actually upgraded to a semi close 2000E thinking it was a CR box but his box was definately a CR as the guy paid very good money for it and Ken had a number of Mk1 Lotus Cortinas before he got into Elans (prior to a Lotus Carlton!) so knew what he had.

Perhaps he was mistaken on the diff ratio as I did think such a combo would be pretty much undriveable at low speeds?

Jon
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PostPost by: vernon.taylor » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:21 am

Salut

There's an anglo-French guy I've just heard about here in France. Apparently he fitted a longer than 3.54 diff to an S4, resulting in 60mph plus in first - and the hill difficulties mentioned here. Suppose it wouldn't make a close ratio out of a normal 'box, but might make an interesting alternative.

I'm told he's a Lotus specialist and that he can find other ratios beyond 3.54. I'll report back when I have more details.

@+

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PostPost by: rgh0 » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:33 am

I have the close ratio gear set in my Elan and 3.7 diff - no problem in any circumstances. A plus 2 with its extra weight and a 3.5 diff may make it a little harder with the high first gear but it still should work fine if the engine is well tuned and does not have radical long duration cams. You will still have more torque and less weight than a Mk 1 Cortina

cheers
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PostPost by: msd1107 » Wed Feb 08, 2012 5:04 pm

I have had the CR transmission with 3.55 differential for years, and would have no other combination. I special ordered my car from Bob Challman with the CR and 3.55. He said I was crazy and tried to deliver a standard transmission and 3.77. But I got my preferred combination and Challman went out of business.

Even with the mobile parking lots that pass for freeways here in LA, commuting is effortless. For awhile, I carpooled with a guy who had a Lamborghini. He felt the Elan was better than his Lamborghini, and I agreed.

I just hated the wide ratio gap between 3rd and 4th with the standard transmission.

And, yes, 1st gear is good for more that 50 mph. How much more depends on where the ignition cutout is set.

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PostPost by: Dag-Henning » Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:54 am

Unfortunately, these boxes are becoming hard to find, and there is no , - as far as I know -, remanufactoring of the helical gears. I have heard that a Finnish company plans to make them, but nothing seen so far....
I have a 2,29 helical box in my garage, and I bet that will make a funny combination together with a 3,54 diff..... :D
70 mph in 1st. ????

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PostPost by: jono » Fri Feb 10, 2012 9:15 am

The more I think about this the more interested I become in doing it.

BGH Geartech in the UK do a conversion to bullet type ratios and and even closer ratio set (not an option as I see it)

I'm tempted 8)

....but on the other hand I'd better finish the car first :wink:

Jon
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PostPost by: twincamman » Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:26 am

I have close ratio trans and a high numerical diff in my elan [ although it apparently doesnt exist] and find when all is tuned and working well only lifting the clutch pedal in first gear will get things moving well ---then well over 100 mph is attainable -the 7 has a semi close and drives like a normal car --e
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PostPost by: 1964 S1 » Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:22 am

FWIW
I own a stock plus two and S1 Elan with stock gearboxes. Putting the S1 Elan gearbox into the plus two is an intriquing idea. It sounds like a good one. I can achieve 43 to 45 mph in first gear easily with my Elan, why wouldn't a plus two be able to do the same?
The only drawback I can think of, if you live in Germany, your top end speed is too low.

Hi Mark, I thought the bullet refered to the tailshaft housing, mine has it but it's not a competition model. I'd love to learn more about bullets ! ! !

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PostPost by: normanjsmith » Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:30 am

Before I bought my +2 in 1972, my everyday car was a Cortina GT500. This was a limited production 2 door GT which was modified by Ford/Harry Firth to win the 500 mile production car race at Bathurst.
In addition to a more powerful, free-revving engine, it had modified suspension and close-ratio gears as used by Lotus Cortinas and early Elans.
I'm afraid that using this car daily for a few years spoilt me as far as gear ratios are concerned and found the +2 ratios a real disappointment in comparison.
The first thing I did to the +2 was to fit a CR gearbox and I have never regretted it. Even though it has a slightly taller final drive ratio than the Cortina I've never had a problem getting it rolling.

PS The +2 Handbook lists the CR gears as an option.

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PostPost by: elans3 » Sat Feb 11, 2012 4:58 pm

The Bullet gearbox name only applies to the gearbox with the 2.51 1st gear, ie competition ratios. The semi-close ratio box is also referred to as 2000E. Many people now call any 3 rail gearbox a "Bullet"
My first (very late) '67 S3 DHC was specified from new with the CR box and 3.55 diff. In my opinion, if you can get this combination for an Elan, do so. It gave 60mph in 1st, 80 in second, and 95+ in third.
The biggest bonus was the motorway cruising, at less revs, also making for more economy on a long run.
With the light weight there was never any problem getting it off the line, and never any clutch woes. The combination did affect the acceleration slightly, but not so's you'd notice unless you were doing back to back tests against a more standard car.

However, I can well imagine that there would be problems getting it away from rest in a Mk2 Lotus Cortina with the capability of holding 4 people.

At the time of buying, I didn't realise just how lucky I was getting a car specced like that.

The car now resides relatively close to me, and I see it on occasion, each time i wish I'd never sold it, as I will probably never find another one with that combination again,

Steve
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PostPost by: msd1107 » Sat Feb 11, 2012 6:40 pm

The 2.51 first gear ratio is more appropriately called rally ratios. It is too low for effective use on most road racing courses, but fine for touring. You can get racing first gear ratios of 2.2 or higher if you want to use all four gears when racing.

As others have said, the 2.51 and 3.55 combination is great. I have toured extensively with that combination with a passenger and luggage.

On a slightly different note, I had a Honda Super Hawk into which I installed a limited production factory 5-speed. Now, this had a 1.9 first gear which meant over 60 mph in first gear. Torque peak was at 7,500 which meant you had to get to 45 mph in first gear to get to the torque peak. It made for interesting riding experiences in the mountains.

Even the 3.55 differential ratio is too low for a FHC, being able to use something around 3.2 or so. This would require a T-9 5-speed with BGH ratios, something covered in earlier posts.

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PostPost by: jono » Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:43 am

Just as a point of interest I see that Burton are now doing a 3.54 CWP on Ebay for ?255.

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PostPost by: vernon.taylor » Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:30 am

Salut

Saw mention of a 3.44 in an authorative book - anyone used it or heard of one?

@+

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