Friends Cars

This page is dedicated to all of you who have the pleasure of owning, driving, restoring or maintaining a Lotus. We hope to eventually have a broad portrait of all Lotus road cars and their owners. If you would like to see your car here then please send some brief details of your car and its history together with 1 or 2 photos.

A Jensen Gets the Excel Touch... © Nigel Kieser

Jensen GTThe Jensen GT was, alongside the Jensen Coupe, the last model that Jensen Motors built before the West Bromwich factory closed down in 1976.

 

The GT was a “shooting brake” version of the Jensen-Healey, carrying over the Lotus 907 engine, the Getrag 235/5 gearbox from the BMW 2002 tii, suspension / live axle from the Vauxhall Magnum, and the love-it-or-hate-it styling of the Healey, but with a more upmarket Interceptor-type interior. 511 GTs were made, of which over half went to the States, before Jensen went bust, leaving many unfulfilled customer orders. Only 12 are left on the road in the UK today (Q1 2015 figure).

 

I bought my GT in May 2014.  It had just come to the end of a 20-year two-owner restoration.  Bodily it was in very good shape, and it seemed mechanically sound.  In the six months after buying the car, I sorted out some residual electrical issues and got everything working, changed all the weather seals, and replaced some worn suspension parts.  The car was fun to drive on winding roads, but very tiring on dual carriageways, because the 1:1 5th gear of the Getrag gearbox meant high revs at cruising speeds and a very noisy engine and exhaust.  I unsuccessfully investigated various options to drop the revs, including standalone overdrive units and finding a similar dogleg pattern gearbox with a proper overdrive 5th gear (the ZF S5-18 is the only one).

 

I had read Mike’s “Improving your Lotus” presentation on the website, and Lotusbits’ work had been recommended by a fellow GT owner.  After my son told me that my GT “made a lot of noise when I put my foot down but didn’t actually go any faster”, I called Mike to ask him to price up an engine upgrade to Lotus spec 5.  Mike suggested it would be better to go for a fuller upgrade to spec 10, and also suggested I get the Toyota W58 gearbox installed.  I agreed to the spec 10 upgrade and the Lotusbits large bore exhaust system, but reserved judgement on the gearbox swap.  The mandate was fairly straightforward – more power, less noise, and keep the car looking as original as possible.

 

In early February 2015, I drove the GT up the Fosse Way to Lotusbits.  The pre-upgrade dyno run confirmed that my GT was down on power – 119bhp peak (and 116 lb-ft of torque) compared to 140bhp (130 lb-ft) for a Jensen spec 907 engine in good condition.  Mike also found that the clutch had not been properly installed, and that the gearbox input shaft had been damaged as a result.  Given the lack of Getrag specialists in the UK and the likely cost of repair, I agreed with Mike that the Toyota gearbox upgrade was the way to go.  Mike also noted the car’s lean to the driver’s side, which he thought might be a bent chassis.  At this stage, my heart was really sinking.

There then followed what seemed like an interminable wait for the engine to come back from Mike’s engine builder. Actually, the hold-up was partly my fault – I had insisted on keeping the original cam carriers and cam covers (the ones that leak oil) and it took ages for the cam covers to come back from the powder coaters. We also found that the car had been fitted with three 9.5:1 CR pistons, and one 8.0:1 CR piston. Potentially an expensive disaster waiting to happen. Towards the end of April, the engine finally came back to Lotusbits, and Mike told me progress would speed up. Neither of us had, however, counted upon the time and effort to resolve a previous poor repair of one of the chassis rail suspension mountings, or to fettle the gear lever to fit the transmission tunnel. It’s always the smaller jobs that take the longest.

Finally, at the end of July 2015, with the GT MOT’d and works nearly completed, it went back to Northampton Motorsport for its post upgrade dyno run.  Mike called me at work, rather sheepishly, to tell me that peak power was now 155bhp, or 174bhp without any airbox and filter.  This was pretty disappointing, as both of us had been expecting somewhere north of 180bhp.  Mike suggested fitting the airbox setup from the earlier Lotus Excel.  I agreed, on the basis that something similar had been fitted to the last GTs (actually the Elite / Eclat airbox went into the last Stromberg carb T75 Jensen GTs).

 

 

Power_increase_JensenA few days later, and another dyno run gave the figures we were both expecting – 184bhp peak and 167 lb-ft, a 50% increase over the pre-upgrade figures.  A week later, Mike dropped off the car and I drove it for the first time in 6 months.  It was transformed – much quieter at lower revs, but when I put my foot down it pulled like a train and gave off a pleasingly throaty 4-cylinder rasp.  It now cruises comfortably at 70mph and 2,900 rpm as well.;

few days after getting the car back, I took it to the UK’s resident Jensen GT expert, and he confirmed what I already knew – I now have the nicest driving GT around. Perhaps, if Jensen had managed to stay solvent, the GT would have benefited from Lotus’ development of the 907 engine through to 912 HC spec, and it would have ended up like mine. We’ll never know. I just like to think that my GT is now the “baby Interceptor” that Jensen always meant it to be, courtesy of Mike and the Lotusbits team.

© Kindly written by: Nigel Kieser - proud owner of NUY 903P 

 

Fussys owner comments...

"The worst day of my Excel ownership - 26th July 2014.
Weather; sunny and very hot -
Location; huge queue on A43 awaiting entry to classic Silverstone Problem; an exhaust valve sticks shattering the cam follower with such force that the debris punched a hole in the cam carrier
Solution; recovery to Lotusbits.

After much discussion with Mike, and some with my wife, it was decided not to rebuild the engine to standard specification, but to give the car the engine it has been demanding for the last twenty four years - an upgraded Lotusbits 2.5 litre build with all the internal good things but retaining standard cams and carbs, creating a car that will be ideal for road use and still look standard under the bonnet.

The wait began and I suffered severe withdrawal symptoms - then the call I was waiting for - Fussy was coming home on 3rd December 2014. Mike unloaded the car at 21.30hrs and after a brief chat went on to deliver an engine.

I could not resist taking her for a short rather cautious drive, I had been warned that she could light up the tyres in almost any gear given the slightly damp road.  I went to bed praying for reasonable weather the next day - prayers answered the next day was dry, cold and sunny.

I decided to take the car to the man who looks after the cars when the jobs are above my pay grade. He's a race mechanic who travels to events with his client's cars.
He was very impressed after a drive and said "That is how the car should have left the factory, the engine makes the 3.7 diff you fitted ideal, relaxed cruising and plenty of acceleration even in fifth".

I can wholeheartedly agree with everything  he said and would recommend the upgrade to anyone who wants the Excel that Lotus should have built"...

An excellent example from Jorgen Lind in Denmark:

Danish Lotus Danish Lotus Danish Lotus

Drag racer Eclat'76 Eclat, Half Lotus, Half Animal!

This is Mark Evans' modified 1976 Lotus Eclat:
"The original engine has been replaced with a 5.0 litre small block chevrolet,the 350 autobox,a full rollcage,open headers and bonnet scoop.the 13 inch wheels have been replaced with 15 inch and a pair of 15x10 slicks. I only use the car for drag racing as the interior and any other heavy bits,have been taken out to save weight. I chose the car as it has got such a lovely shape and has great aerodynamics. Not your every day Eclat"!

Excel SA'89 Excel SA
Dave Ryder's '89 Excel SA Lotusbits have helped keep on the road. Bought the SA on eBay in 2004.

"The best car I've ever owned, and cheapest to run. No devaluation Thanks to Mike, and Lotusbits, parts are not a problem. Along with the pleasure of owning the car I've also met some very nice people. Fellow Excel owners on www.lotusexcel.net and the members of North York Owners Club, www.nyloc.org. Pics are on a drive visiting Warkworth Castle Northumberland and playing with some Elises At almost 17yrs old and with over 160K on the clock she can still mix it with Elises.
Never underestimate the capability of a well maintained Excel!
"

Esprit TurboEsprit SE Turbo
The latest project to be taken on by Malc Holmes. This one came to Lotusbits, but ws far to good to be simply used as a donor car for parts. Malc Holmes is sorting out the dead engine and worn suspension on this beautiful '89 Esprit SE turbo. As with many Lotus's, things are starting to show wear as the car approached 100K. The engine, although outwardly suffering only a bad oil leak and clutch problem, turned out to be on its last legs. The bearings where all worn through as where the cylinder liners (Nikasil worn through). There was a crack in the manifold and the turbo housing and the chargecooler impeller had disintegrated long ago. Despite all this, its still ran well apparently! The Delco engine management on these cars was obviously good at adjusting for wear in the engine! Time and funds permitting it should be back on the road before the end of this summer. Parts are very expensive and Lotusbits really do need more cars like this (but in worse condition!) to be able to help folks out when looking for an alternative to main deal err prices. If you have, or know of one that is past its best and up for sale, please let us know!
LATEST NEWS!! Has been on the road for a while now, following a successful re-build and MOT. The re-build included a replacement engine with completely new induction system, re-engineered charge cooler system with electric pump feeding a huge new radiator taking the space of the old rad and aircon rad. Aircon removed! Uprated injectors and #2 chip still waiting to fit this spring. Fabricated aluminum tanks new suspension (springs, shocks and bushes, new steering rack and joints,and finally new tyres. Suffered a rear oil seal leak that took it off the road over the late summer and into the winter of '05 & 06, but all sorted now and ready to enjoy the roads in '06!

 

ExcelLotus Excel

This bright red Excel belongs to Chris Faraday, another Lotusbits.com customer. A Brief History in Chris's words... "History - Bought early Dec 2003 - 89k miles. First problem discovered on the way home after buying it - the drivers door didn't lock. Investigation revealed that the central locking mechanism (rods and levers) were missing in the drivers door. This has now been rectified with the help of LotusBits.Com! Looking forward to the better weather and getting more familiar with it. Still haven't quite got used to the attention it attracts..."

S2.2 EspritS2.2 Esprit
A true classic Esprit, this S2.2 is one of Mike Taylors personal projects. Only 80 odd of these were ever made, so they really are a rarity today. Benefiting from the 2.2 litre 912 engine and a galvanised chassis, the S2.2 was quite a big step towards the S3. This one is in fairly good shape needing only some further attention to the brakes to get it more or less A1 (it already has an MOT).

 




S2.2 Esprit Turbo Classic Esprit Turbo!
A rare example in this colour. This stunning '86 Turbo Esprit has broken the heart of its owner Matt, by blowing a hole in a piston shortly after a major engine re-build. Why do they do that! Matt's not going to give up on Lotus's, but maybe this one will find more sympathy in new ownership.

International selection!
We have received some pictures of our friends cars from the other side of the Atlantic recently. Featured below you can see Kevins award winning Red Elite taking the honours on its show debut in Canada. Marks Elite storming along an open US road. Finally, back in the UK you can see Pete's Yellow Elite soaking up the English summer.


EliteElite USAElite

Classic Lotus' in Japan!
The amazing collection, some of which can be seen below, are all in the care of QED Japan, on the outskirts of Isehara City, Kanagawa. QED is a well know specialist in the UK but few people know that they have a very active Japanese branch looking after the Japnese enthusiasts. They currently garage maintain and prepare a wide array of rare classic Lotus's. Given the trust and honesty of the Japanese, even Mikka Hakkinen's F1 Lotus is left out at the frnt of the workshop over night with only a rain cover for protection!


Elan ElanMikka Hakkinen's F1 Lotus

 

Elite 504Lotus Elite 504

This car belongs to Michael Gray in New Zealand. Despite all the problems of restoring a car when local parts supplies are less than ideal and the climate isn't always kind to fragile Elite paint and interiors, Michael has made a great start to this car. It hosts a number of modifications that make it both more practical, reliable and user friendly.

Hats off to our friends in the Colonies!


Elite S1Lotus Elite S1
This car has recently returned to the road following extensive resotration by Rob Colling. Rob then put the car into service as his official wedding car. Needless to say the car did a great job, was a real eye catcher and turned into the talking point of the wedding (what about the brides dress?).



Elite S2Lotus Elite S2
This car is the proud possesion of Paul Dunkley. I will let Paul describe it in his own words:
"My Lotus is a 1981 Elite S2 2.2 Auto. These cars are very rare as only 133 were ever made between 1980 and 83 and as mine is an auto box this makes it one of a hand full. What I like about these cars is the quality and luxury about them, full leather interior (and I mean every thing is in leather ) the quality of drive and performance and the fact that these cars were hand built by men not machines. These cars have a 2200 cc engine, 2 overhead cams, 16 valves, 2x dellorto 45 carbs, electronic ignition, oil cooler, front spoilers (that work) alloy wheels, power steering, rear inboard brake drums, electric windows, elec wing mirrors, elec lights, two rad fans, fuel filler on each side and I've even got the original Pioneer radio fitted (and it still works). My car is in its original blue on the top and a respray of green/blue on the bottom half. She has had a lot of owners over the last 21 years and as such seen a lot of neglect which I am currently working on. When I bought the car in 2001 in Brighton it got 5 miles and packed up (due to a worn out fuel-pump) once fitted and I got her home the work started on replacing or fixing parts".

Esprit S2Lotus Esprit S2
This car was bought by Malc Holmes in 1999. It had no MOT an engine that was past its best, terrible paint work and a rotted out interior. The engine was rebuilt (twice!), chassis and suspension repaired, and interior re-trimmed. It gained its first MOT for a few years in August 2000. Only the paintwork now needs sorting out. Unfortunately Malc is now working in Japan and won't be able to drive the Esprit again until 2004!

 




Excel
Lotus Excel
This 1984 example is owned by Clive Holmes (father of the above!). It is a 1984 model and is in superb condition. Although needing little work since buying it last November , it has benefitted from a new radiator and a rolling road tuning which as transformed the performance. The car can just be seen behind all the Grand children!




Esprit S1Lotus Esprit S1
This car belongs to Martin Banks. The photo was taken shortly after purchasing the car in 1999. A bucket can be seen below the engine to catch the 'free flowing oil' that seems to poor out after a fast run. The car is now undergoing a full ground up restoration when time and family permits.





Lotus Elite S1
This superb example of the Elite belongs to Mike Taylor, the man who brings you Lotus parts at a fair price (see this site!). Mike has fully rebuilt and restored this car to better than new condition. Its the kind of car you expect to see as a motor show exhibit. The good news is that Mike still uses it regularly and is not scared of getting the wheels dirty!


Mike Taylor Elite S1Mike Taylor Elite S1
Lotus Excel, exclusive polished alloy gear knob and seat knobs
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