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Old 2nd October 2014, 08:20 PM   #1
Cliffbeer2
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Gonna do it. Lotus Esprit SBF.

I was driving my 1988 Lotus Esprit this past weekend and the transaxle pretty much gave up the ghost. The transaxle is a Citroen C35 transaxle....normally goes in a Citroen delivery van. Not a good transaxle for anything that will do over 60mph on the freeway.

I was contemplating engineering an Audi transaxle adapter plate but then got to thinking....why am I sticking with the turbo four banger? And, having to deal with all the trouble of engineering an adapter plate (Audi to Lotus)...

Screw it. I'll put in a SBF with an 016. It looks like there's plenty of room in there for a SBF. Probably would be best to go with injection....although, 4 IDAs sticking up through the engine cover (visible under the rear hatch glass) would raise a few eyebrows.

I'm thinking a basic 331 stroker with good alloy heads and forged internals would do it nicely. I have a stillborn flat crank SBF project on the shelf but that's likely Phase 2 of the project.

I can get an 016 configured with an LSD and strengthening kit for about $1,000 bucks. The 331 should be around $5K, with injection another 2K. My '88 has inboard rear brakes so I'll have to get some later rear uprights with the brake ears...another $1K with all necessary bits....Kennedy kit. So I guess the budget for this is about $10,000.

It's going to be slow....busy job and four kids doesn't leave a ton of time. But I'll start it this winter and maybe have it ready by end of summer 2015.

Should be quite a car. Wish me luck.

ps. won't be quite like this, but should be pretty fast:
Attached Thumbnails
Gonna do it.  Lotus Esprit SBF.-lotus4-jpg   Gonna do it.  Lotus Esprit SBF.-lotus1-jpg   Gonna do it.  Lotus Esprit SBF.-lotus8-jpg   Gonna do it.  Lotus Esprit SBF.-lotus12-jpg   Gonna do it.  Lotus Esprit SBF.-lotus14-jpg  


Last edited by Cliffbeer2; 2nd October 2014 at 08:32 PM.
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Old 2nd October 2014, 09:07 PM   #2
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Re: Gonna do it. Lotus Esprit SBF.

Still a pretty good looking car after all these years. Definitely aged better than many other exotics from the era. I did like having mine, but was glad to see it move on as I felt the engine was a time bomb.



Knowing what I know now though, I wouldn't mind tackling a rebuild of the 2.2L Lotus and see what could be done with it and a MegaSquirt. I think it could reliably deliver the wanted power and still maintain the English engine in the car. But nothing wrong with putting a SBF in that car.
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Old 2nd October 2014, 09:09 PM   #3
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Re: Gonna do it. Lotus Esprit SBF.

Looking forward to following this...
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Old 3rd October 2014, 01:06 AM   #4
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Re: Gonna do it. Lotus Esprit SBF.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliffbeer2 View Post

ps. won't be quite like this, but should be pretty fast...

'Possibly the understatement of the month!
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Old 3rd October 2014, 10:13 AM   #5
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Re: Gonna do it. Lotus Esprit SBF.

Sounds like a great project, Cliff.

I've been following discussions regarding flat-crank builds...not many out there, hope you get yours built. Are you going with a standard crank just to speed up the build?

Cheers!

Doug
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Old 3rd October 2014, 10:22 PM   #6
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Re: Gonna do it. Lotus Esprit SBF.

Cliff - I'm a Lotus owner and lover of the marque. I'm building a Europa with a Toyota 20 valve engine and an S2 Esprit with a modified 912HC engine so I understand the desire to update and "improve". My only caution is that you will put a lot of money and effort into the modifications and it won't be "a Lotus". Be prepared - the car will never be worth what you put into it if it has a "bastardized" drive train - actually, it may never be worth what you put into it no matter what. If your concern is the gearbox, have you considered converting to the Renault UN1 used in later Esprits? It is much stronger then the Citroen unit. Granted, it would involve changing the rear suspension and braking arrangement but you'll have to do that anyway with your current plan.

Putting a SBF in a Lotus is going to change the overall weight of the car and the weight distribution and therefore the handling. I'm sure it will go fast in a straight line but it may not handle very well unless you also change the suspension and probably the brakes. Changing one thing can have a trickle down effect - ask me how I know..........

Just offering another point of view - best of luck with whatever you decide to do.

Regards,
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Old 4th October 2014, 12:05 AM   #7
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Re: Gonna do it. Lotus Esprit SBF.

I have a new Lotus V8 Esprit frame for sale... $750. I'll forward photos if interested...
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Old 4th October 2014, 07:42 AM   #8
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Re: Gonna do it. Lotus Esprit SBF.

I'd probably go with beefing up the Lotus engine and the UN1 conversion. Handling and braking issues with a SBF I'd not be too concerned with as suspension development can take care of that, but the question is, do you want to do all of that development?

The basic parts you have there can handle well and produce as much power as you'll want or need.
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Old 4th October 2014, 07:30 PM   #9
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Re: Gonna do it. Lotus Esprit SBF.

Cliff,

If you decide to keep it original, and need help with the gearbox, pm me all the references, they may be easy to find here in France.
A used C35 box is about 300€ here...

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Old 7th October 2014, 03:21 PM   #10
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Re: Gonna do it. Lotus Esprit SBF.

Thank you fellas, that's sage advice no doubt.

As Ron mentioned, it's a pretty good looking car even after all these years. And, frankly, I have as much fun with it as I would with other (more expensive) exotics I own or have owned, so I'm not too concerned about resale value. Besides, an Esprit with a nicely engineered big huevos V8 in it might not be the bastard dog despised by anyone interested in a fast Esprit. Frankly, my sense is many four banger Esprit owners want more engine...a lot more. And who doesn't love a big V8?

I wouldn't put a SBF in a ferrari or lamborghini. But I sure would put a V8 in the back of a porsche or a Lotus. Particularly a Lotus. Lotus and Ford have a long history together going back through both the street cars and the racing cars. It's not like trying to cross breed a lama and a chicken.....more like a spaniel and a pit bull.

Yup, there will be some engineering to get the drivetrain properly situated and working with the rest of the car. And, yup, there will be some suspension work to get the car to handle right. With that extra weight it won't handle as well I'm sure, but a modest concession in that regard will be worth the nutty fun of a V8. Sometimes it's fun just to have something a bit different, and a lot crazy.

Plus, it could be a fun father-son project...with the amount of spare time I have now my 7 year old son might be finishing it up for his first car (bad idea).

If anyone knows of a Kennedy adapter kit laying around unused somewhere....

Thanks gents.
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Old 7th October 2014, 04:26 PM   #11
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Re: Gonna do it. Lotus Esprit SBF.

Cliff
How about a Rover V8
Mated to a UN1
All alloy and good and light
Not the most powerful out the box but probably not that much heavier than the original

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Old 7th October 2014, 08:57 PM   #12
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Re: Gonna do it. Lotus Esprit SBF.

Cliff,
The Lotus has almost always had a big engine bay for years just crying out for a bigger engine(V8), and just recently have done so finally. Yes?? Or am I wrong?? If not, would seem like you should be able to take a few ideas from those models??

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Old 8th October 2014, 05:00 PM   #13
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Re: Gonna do it. Lotus Esprit SBF.

Thanks Ian and Bill.

Ian, I definitely like the Rover V8 but it's a lightweight (pun intended) V8 without a lot of punch. Even with good heads and webers or injection it's only going to be good for about 250-275hp max. That's only 50hp more than what I have with the Lotus four banger. I'm looking for more like 350-400hp. In other words, if I'm going to do this I want to make it worth it from a crazy-hp stand point. Said another way, ten grand for 50hp is kind of expensive hp....ten grand for 150+hp is a little more "economical". But again, thank you for the suggestion.

Bill, yup, you're right, that engine bay is just asking for a V8.

Related, I was researching weights a bit. As far as I can tell, a 331 with alloy heads and intake and all accessories should be about 425-450lbs. The Lotus engine with accessories looks to be about 225-250lbs, plus perhaps another 40lbs for turbo-related stuff. So am I looking at about an extra 150-175lbs for the SBF when everything is done? Roughly? Sound right?
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Old 8th October 2014, 05:16 PM   #14
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Re: Gonna do it. Lotus Esprit SBF.

Cliff, what about the Ford Coyote motor? The Ford Racing crate motor is a tad over $6K and puts out around 420 HP and weighs between 420-430 lbs. But it's a wide beast, being a DOHC configuration.....
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Old 8th October 2014, 08:28 PM   #15
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Re: Gonna do it. Lotus Esprit SBF.

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Cliff, what about the Ford Coyote motor? The Ford Racing crate motor is a tad over $6K and puts out around 420 HP and weighs between 420-430 lbs. But it's a wide beast, being a DOHC configuration.....
Of course, if you are really trying to get low weight and good power, the LS engines are king. And they are cheaper than the equivalent Ford Coyote, including the controller kits.

One RCR40 builder weighed his LS7 and it came in around 380 lbs, IIRC. That's very light for a 500 HP engine.

An LS376/525 is a cheap, easy way to get over 500 HP, and weighs less than the 331. It's probably cheaper, too.

Just sayin'.
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Old 8th October 2014, 09:33 PM   #16
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Re: Gonna do it. Lotus Esprit SBF.

But then there would be a Chebby motor in there. Like WTF?
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Old 9th October 2014, 11:00 PM   #17
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Re: Gonna do it. Lotus Esprit SBF.

Cliff - If you are dead set on sticking a V8 in an Esprit I would suggest you do a trial fit with an inexpensive engine first. The Lotus V8 is 3.5L (compact), all aluminum, and designed for the car and its a REALLY tight fit. While it is true there is a history between Lotus and Ford, I don't think a Ford V8 was ever intended to fit in the Esprit chassis.

Just a word of caution......

Regards,
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Old 10th October 2014, 06:29 AM   #18
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Re: Gonna do it. Lotus Esprit SBF.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dlindemann View Post
Cliff - If you are dead set on sticking a V8 in an Esprit I would suggest you do a trial fit with an inexpensive engine first. The Lotus V8 is 3.5L (compact), all aluminum, and designed for the car and its a REALLY tight fit. While it is true there is a history between Lotus and Ford, I don't think a Ford V8 was ever intended to fit in the Esprit chassis.

Just a word of caution......

Regards,
Dave L
Then the Lexus 1UZ all aluminum DOHC V8 might be a suitable candidate. It's also very compact (about a 700mm cube), displaces 4 liters, and produces just shy of 300 HP (in stock trim). They're dirt cheap, and are a popular engine for hotrodding with supercharger kits, etc.
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Old 10th October 2014, 10:07 AM   #19
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Re: Gonna do it. Lotus Esprit SBF.

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Then the Lexus 1UZ all aluminum DOHC V8 might be a suitable candidate. It's also very compact (about a 700mm cube), displaces 4 liters, and produces just shy of 300 HP (in stock trim). They're dirt cheap, and are a popular engine for hotrodding with supercharger kits, etc.
I still have my 1UZ and it is sitting next to a bare Esprit chassis. At one time I had considered doing just what you suggest before I decided to stick with a Lotus drive line. Just eye-balling it I'd say the width of the 1UZ would be a challenge but I'd have to do a trial fit to be sure.

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Old 10th October 2014, 12:17 PM   #20
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Re: Gonna do it. Lotus Esprit SBF.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dlindemann View Post
I still have my 1UZ and it is sitting next to a bare Esprit chassis. At one time I had considered doing just what you suggest before I decided to stick with a Lotus drive line. Just eye-balling it I'd say the width of the 1UZ would be a challenge but I'd have to do a trial fit to be sure.

Dave L
Its significantly wider than a SBF and longer at the top front as well (due to the distributors mounted on the front ends of the camshafts).

I think you'd struggle tbh.
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