Lotus Elan

Looking for a Zetec +2: 1st Drive Today

PostPost by: gavk » Tue May 27, 2014 6:31 pm

Good evening,

I'm in the market for a Zetec +2 and I viewed one today and went for a test drive. The car in question was very nice aesthetically but I am afraid I was left feeling underwhelmed (to my great disappointment).

On paper I am sold on a Zetec +2 as a daily drive (although it would still be 2nd car when necessary). Potential MPG, seats in the back for kids, modern reliability and classic status and road tax, what's not to like?

Unfortunately there were 2 things niggling me:

Gear Shift: The MT75 gear shift had a very long throw (1st felt like it was in the passenger seat) and didn't feel satisfying to use.

Performance: The 2L Zetec on throttle bodies felt gutless to me, far more noise than go.

The engine is standard but with throttle bodies, I understand it *should* produce 160bhp and in such a light car I expected far more get up and go.

Admittedly my daily drive is a torque heavy 330d and my 2nd car (just sold) was a big V8 but the plus 2s performance reminded me of the x-flow in my old MK2 escort, more like 100-120bhp than 160. It could be me that needs recalibration but I don't think so.

I now need to establish if it was that particular engine that was down on power or if 160bhp in a Plus2 is just not enough for me, some more test drives required I think

I understand the gear stick can be chopped down so that doesn't bother me so much but I would be interested to know has anyone done this and felt any benefit?

Any thoughts greatly appreciated and if there are any Zetec +2's in the south of England, either for sale or with an owner that wouldn't mind me riding along then please let me know.

Thanks,

Gavin
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Tue May 27, 2014 9:10 pm

Hi Gavin.

I posted a couple of pictures of my MT75 shifter in Alex' thread (about half way down the page):

lotus-gearbox-f37/gearbox-swop-t21414-270.html

And some pics of the modified shifter with the body removed here:

lotus-gearbox-f37/spyder-gear-linkage-kits-for-their-conversions-t22644.html

Not sure if the one you tried was longer? I did two mods to the shifter. I had it cut and machined so the shifter is now threaded together and held with a grub screw; the short stub allows easier removal of the transmission. I also shortened the shifter considerably from the total raw length Spyder had supplied. Trying to remember, but I don't think the shifter top was threaded for the shift knob, so perhaps it was always intended to be trimmed to fit. Note my Plus 2 has the original Lotus TC in a Spyder frame and Spyder supplied MT75.

Your butt meter may need time in the car. I always feel a bit strange moving from the Esprit or diesel MB to the Plus 2, but once in to the momentum groove of the car I find it quite enjoyable. I figured a 160 HP Zetec would be awesome! Do you recall RPM in the car you tried? I have a 3.55 diff and stock sized wheels / tires, and get about 3500 RPM at 80 MPH. Acceleration in fifth is very leisurely, OK in lower gears.

HTH

Stu
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PostPost by: gavk » Tue May 27, 2014 11:07 pm

Hi Stu,

Thanks for the info, nice job you have had done shortening your shifter.

I can't remember what revs I saw at what speeds, the Speedo was over reading so it was hard to tell. I did ask about the diff ratio but they weren't sure. 1st gear was pretty short so I don't think a leggy diff was the issue.

I think I just need to view some more cars to get a feel for the performance I can expect.

Maybe the car just requires a remap to unleash its potential, but it's difficult for me to know.
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PostPost by: jono » Wed May 28, 2014 7:18 am

Gavin,

Have you tried a standard car?

The +2 is not a performance car by modern standards but makes a lovely, delicate, thing to enjoy and is surprisingly practical. The standard TC in big valve spec has sufficient power to keep it honest in the twisty stuff but bags of that indefinable something called 'character'

I almost went down the Zetec route in my rebuild but I'm glad I didn't. So long as you accept that it is not a performance car by modern standards, but no lesser car for that, they are a delight. I suspect that even with 160bhp most diesel family cars would show it a clean pair of heals on a straight (I know my daily driver would).

If you are looking for modern style performance a Griffith or a good Evora may be a better choice IMO

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PostPost by: elansprint » Wed May 28, 2014 7:51 am

Gavin i think they are fairly quick i tried the car at bruntingthorpe but drove their in a TVR Griffith & it took a while to realise you cannot drive it on the torque & you need to rev it & it was pretty quick. I have the same feeling going from Griffith to Tuscan even though the Tuscan is quicker you do not get the torque rush as in a diesel turbo etc
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PostPost by: gavk » Wed May 28, 2014 2:35 pm

Jon,

I haven't tried a standard car, as much as I like the idea of a period car (characterful Twin Cam, nice 4 speed box), I need the everyday reliability and mpg. I love TVR Griffiths but I want 4 seats and MPG in the mid 30s, otherwise I would've kept my Cobra Replica which I have just sold.

An Evora is high on my dream list but budget won't go there I'm afraid.

Ian, I know what you mean about driving using the revs, that is partly why I was excited to move away from my 330d and Cobra (both redline just over 5k). AFAIK the standard Zetec bottom end is good for 7100rpm and the torque curve doesn't drop off much as it approaches the redline (raceline provide torque curves in their Zetec catalogue) but in this instance I didn't find it satisfying as the revs weren't building with any intensity.

I think I have convinced myself that the engine in question was not on top form and requires some fettling.

I'll report back once I have had a chance to drive another car (or maybe that car again if it gets sorted).

Thanks for all your input

Gavin
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PostPost by: adigra » Wed May 28, 2014 3:04 pm

I can't offer any suggestions as I've never driven any +2 (but would love to try!), but 160bhp from a modern 2L sounds a bit disappointing to me. I thought they did 180-200?
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PostPost by: Spyder fan » Wed May 28, 2014 5:40 pm

Gavin,
My Zetec is quite docile below 3000 rpm but wakes up between 3 & 4k and happily revs to over 7000 where it starts hitting the limiter (7250 soft red line with cut off at 7500), the standard crank is good for 7500 all day long, but no point pushing it.

Typical power with cams changed and gasflowed head is 180 bhp at 6250 rpm with torque peaking at 160 lb at 5000 rpm.

I have attached a power/torque graph of a car from Spyder with the above specification (not mine), you can see from the graph that there's not an awful lot going on with the torque until you hit 4000 rpm and there's a marked dip or blooming big hole in the torque between 2500 and 3500 rpm.
img-140528180354.pdf
Emerald power run
(239.29 KiB) Downloaded 247 times


So, if you want to go quick and have a grin you have to keep your right foot down and change up at 6750, I have a shift light on my dashboard set for this figure linked to the Emerald engine management, most Spyder converted cars have this, far better than trying to look at the tacho. I can't remember ever being embarrassed by a diesel hatchback on mid range or being beaten from the lights if I was trying. 0-60 is in the region of 5 seconds and it will very quickly go over the ton in around 14 seconds (on track or in Germany officer!) A new Mk7 golf GTD has 180BHP and weighs 1377 Kilos, I'm sorry but it's no contest and most cars are very quickly left behind and those that are not look a bit stunned that an old Lotus is keeping up or holding them off.
Kindest regards

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PostPost by: gavk » Wed May 28, 2014 6:34 pm

Alan,

Your experience ties in pretty well with what I expected, I expected it to feel like 6 seconds 0-60, it felt more like 10+.

Thinking of my old 205 GTi's of yesteryear, approx 900kg, 1.9L, naturally aspirated, 0-60 in 7ish seconds and felt quick. With similar weight, bigger engine and more power the +2 should be at least as fast.

I'll keep hunting

Thanks
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PostPost by: john fitzpatrick » Wed May 28, 2014 6:38 pm

Bit far away for you , but if you get up to the Yorkshire Dales (Harrogate area) you can have a blast in mine.
I did a full Spyder conversion about 9 years ago and still love the car. well worth it !!
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PostPost by: gavk » Wed May 28, 2014 7:15 pm

John, that is very kind of you to offer, it's a bit of a trek but if I'm passing through I'll give you a shout

Thanks
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PostPost by: Si Geen » Mon Jun 02, 2014 6:15 pm

Gavin,

I'm in Emsworth and will visit my mate in Godalming sometime soon.

If you want to compare a second opinion, your more than welcome. Let me know?

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PostPost by: gavk » Mon Jun 02, 2014 6:23 pm

Simon,

That would be great, I'll PM you
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PostPost by: gavk » Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:43 pm

Evening,

Just wanted to give an update to my original post. I ended up buying the car in question. The engine had great compression, 200psi on all cylinders with negligible variation across cylinders and made good Oil pressure.

The Emerald ECU was running a "Standard Map" as supplied by Spyder and had not been setup on the rolling road. Since the engine was reported to have had some "head work", I purchased the car and pinned my hopes on the fact that a Rolling Road Mapping would sort out the lack of oomph.

I have had the car for the last month but avoided using it until I could get it mapped, its been so frustrating! There was a 1 month waiting list at Emerald but after reading such great reviews (and having an Emerald ECU installed) I decided that was the only place I would go to for the setup.

The big day was yesterday, all the guys at Emerald were fantastic and my car was on the rollers for over 4 hours. Straight away John sorted out the idle, 1st hint of a power run was abandoned at about 120BHP as John identified that the car was running quite lean under WOT. Fueling adjusted and before you know it 150bhp, 160bhp, 165bhp. The Torque curve took a massive hike across the board and once fuel and ignition was finalised we settled on a map with just shy of 170bhp @ 6400 and 155 lb.ft @ 5200.

My car has v.short (40mm) trumpets on jenveys and a fibreglass airbox with cold air feed. I had been reading about tuning intake lengths to optimise power and torque in a particular area of rev range. Emerald have some adjustable length intakes for this exact experimentation and we spent some time trialling various trumpet lengths and comparing airbox on and off. Longer trumpets yielded some great torque gains above 3000rpm but the airbox seemed to boost torque below 3000rpm and it was not possible to fit the long 90mm trumpets inside the existing airbox. In the end I stuck with my original setup, saving myself the cost of new trumpets/filters, keeping my sub 3k rpm torque but sacrificing a little at the top end.....swings and roundabouts.

After finishing up on the rollers I went for a test drive and the difference was night and day. Idle was great, tip in/out smooth but responsive, torque on tap throughout the rev range and eager to pull all the way to the red line.......it now feels fast and fun, exactly what im looking for. It was a gamble but its paid off.

On my way home I noticed my alternator/water pump belt was slipping and after a quick call to emerald they said it was ok to head back to them so we could take a look. They lent me tools so I could tension the belt but found the tensioner bracket was broken. Within no time Dave had welded up the bracket and they helped me get back on the road without charge, lovely blokes and fantastic service.

As for my initial grumble about shift quality, I have shortened my gear stick and that has improved the shift considerably, happy days.

Gavin
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Wed Jul 30, 2014 2:42 pm

Great story Gavin, Congrats on the car, she sounds wonderful. Any progress / ideas on the ground clearance?

We need pictures, or it didn't happen! :)

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