Lotus Elan

Auto gearbox?

PostPost by: HCA » Thu Jan 07, 2021 2:47 pm

Now, here is a question that will blow a few minds!

Has anyone evr fitted an automatic gearbox to a Plus2? Indeed, is there one that would fit, eg Cortina? The problem I guess would be the deeper bell housing.

I have been offered a recon Cortina box with new torque converter for virtually the price of a cup of coffee, and it has got me thinking :) I appreciate the concept would be a non starter in a two seater Elan, but a +2?
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PostPost by: gherlt » Thu Jan 07, 2021 3:26 pm

1964 S1 (engine ready, awainting body paint)
1967 S3 DHC (left window stuck)
1969 S4 FHC (waiting for return pickup)

Brian Bucklands 2nd edition available ! Look here: https://theelanman.com
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PostPost by: HCA » Thu Jan 07, 2021 4:03 pm

That is a good write-up! Sorry, but I completely missed the thread!

The Cortina and Corsair used the 35 box as does the restoration. Mind you, everyone and their dog used the BW35 back then.

A pity that the sump might mess things up.

However, my appetite is whetted :)
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PostPost by: alanr » Thu Jan 07, 2021 5:13 pm

I worked in a large Ford dealership in the early '60's and the Westinghouse Hobbs auto box was also offered for a short time as an option in the Mk1 Cortina/Capri and Corsair and sold as an alternative to the Borg Warner auto box.
Not many were sold I think but I do remember the Westinghouse box gave a much smoother change and was considered to be the better box
Unsure where you would find one now though or even if it would fit in the confines of an Elan+2 chassis!
Some details here;-
https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/arch ... rd-cortina

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PostPost by: RogerFrench » Thu Jan 07, 2021 5:29 pm

There were a few Hobbs boxes fitted to Mk14 Elites. Sir Stirling Moss had one.
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PostPost by: HCA » Thu Jan 07, 2021 5:36 pm

Very interesting - a quick google on the Westinghouse box, it turns out that Clin Chapman was considering the Hobbs Westinghouse box for single seaters. Jim Clark even tried one out!

I shall not feel so embarrassed asking the question now :D
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PostPost by: The Veg » Thu Jan 07, 2021 8:59 pm

How does an automatic gearbox simplify or add lightness? :mrgreen:
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PostPost by: Mike Ostrov » Fri Jan 08, 2021 12:39 am

I have a Hobbs - Westinghouse Mechamatic Ford small engine displacement # 1015. It is huge and heavy. I chased the Mechamatic for one of my 9 Elites for 25 years without success. After constructing my Elite/Elan MK I which has a Type 14 body on a stretched 4.125 inch Elan frame to accept the longer Elite wheelbase, fully re enforced with adjustable suspension on our 15 inch wire wheels, powered by a Coventry Climax FWB 1460 cc in front of a 280 zx 5 speed (tight fit) it was time for a new challenge. Fortunately, I have a little Lotus hobby shop where composite work, painting, engine, etc can be done. So, after some significant damage to the front subframe on a New Years Day drive, in the mountains of our San Francisco Bay Area, hitting some black ice at 18 mph, heading to the guardrail, some lovely ladies in a Lexus 400 decided to stop my progress. They were not too pleased, even though I thanked them profusely. Time for the Elite/Elan MK II. Purchased a few S1 and S2 Elan rolling chassis, as the castor is 7 degrees, same as our Climax Elites. Extend the frame and duplicate the adjustable suspension per the MK I. Now what engine and gearbox. The Hobbs 1015 is simply too large. Off to the pick u pull yard to measure automatic gearboxes and a stop at my local transmission guy for his suggestions. Many measurements with my grandmothers cloth tape and finally decided on a Ford C-3 from a 1971 Pinto Estate Wagon. A bit of engineering to fit the flex plate to the 1725 cc LB Lotus block. Had to use a Stromberg head with European intake manifold (took me 3 visits to the Doningon Lotus Festivals and the auto jumble at Beaulieu to find all the parts) as the automatic is vacuum controlled. So, yes, it can be done. It does not have a manual throttle kick down feature. Easy to down shift as required. All the extra chassis stretch and re enforcement, Twin Cam engine, gearboxes, extra composite construction (resin is approx 8.75 pounds/gallon) enlarged the standard Climax Elite weight of approx. 1535 pounds to 1895 pounds Just some nice highway cruisers. Happy to chat if anyone requires more details. Cheers. Mike, at: 510-232-7764
[email protected] or (5l0) 232-7764
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PostPost by: 2cams70 » Fri Jan 08, 2021 9:11 am

The Borg Warner 35 only senses tailshaft speed and throttle position via the kickdown cable to determine shift points. The Ford C3 is a little more sophisticated and also senses engine load (via manifold vacuum) in addition to the above. The Borg Warner 35 would probably be the easier install as it doesn't need a manifold vacuum input. BW35 was used in Mk1, Mk2 Cortinas and Mk1 Escorts. C3 was in Mk2 Escorts across all engine variations Kent engine as well as Pinto OHC. The BW 35 was used in many, many cars and parts are widely available. It's a crude but effective device.
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PostPost by: HCA » Fri Jan 08, 2021 9:31 am

I have no option other than the Cortina box, unless of course I go out and buy another at full price! But as I never intend the +2 for anything other than cruising/posing, it should be ok.

As you say, effective and simple, except it is a definite body off, that I am trying to avoid, to modify the chassis to take the sump pan, and anything that needs modification at the bell housing end.
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PostPost by: 2cams70 » Fri Jan 08, 2021 9:37 am

Also note that the starter motor for the auto fitment is on the LHS of the bellhousing rather than the RHS for manual fitment. Not sure how this affects the fitment in an Elan but be aware of it.
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Fri Jan 08, 2021 9:54 am

2cams70 wrote:Also note that the starter motor for the auto fitment is on the LHS of the bellhousing rather than the RHS for manual fitment. Not sure how this affects the fitment in an Elan but be aware of it.


Be interesting where you run the exhaust

cheers
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PostPost by: HCA » Fri Jan 08, 2021 10:31 am

Yea, this is not going to work is it :D :D It was only a hair brained idea anyway...

Looks like I am going to add a Cortina box to the myriad of other bits of junk I seem to accumulate :D
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Fri Jan 08, 2021 10:49 am

Take the generator / alternator off and run the exhaust in front of the engine mount. Get a big battery or two in the boot and you will be fine. :D

cheers
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PostPost by: HCA » Fri Jan 08, 2021 12:04 pm

:D :D :D
And a happy new year to you :D :D
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