Lotus Elan

About that engine...

PostPost by: JonB » Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:04 am

Following on from this thread, in which a Plus 2 S130 is offered for sale without engine as a candidate for a Zetec conversion:

lotuselan-for-sale-f2/elan-plus-s130-for-sale-t41145.html

..I thought we could talk about the merits or otherwise of swapping out a Twink for a Zetec. Probably, this has been done before, but what the heck.

My first thought is about the soaring value of the Twink engine. Whenever I see engines or parts (notably, cylinder heads) for sale, they seem to be asking for astronomical figures. So I wondered if, given a healthy Twink and gearbox, it might be cost effective to swap it out for a Zetec unit. Sacrilege, perhaps, but the Twink does you no favours compared to a modern engine, being leaky, relatively thirsty and (due to its age) prone to failure. As for emissions, well... let's not go there, eh?

I wonder what a Zetec equipped Plus 2 is really like to drive. I like the idea of it being reliable and giving the owner the confidence to take it on long trips. I'm not really a fan of the Twink sound in particular (it is just like any other 4 potter to me) and would like a quiet cabin at all times, especially at speed. Must be getting old! I'm also interested in boring stuff like fuel economy (again, for long trips).

Imagine if you did this: parted out the engine, box and its ancillaries and sold it all on a well known auction site. Would it cover the cost of a Zetec conversion? Let's assume the Zetec is coming from a donor car like a 1.7l Puma. These engines have a special low friction liner in the bores and are very rev happy (I used to own one). You can pick one up for very little money and this would give you the basics; engine, ECU, loom, intake, etc.

What else is needed, and at what cost?
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PostPost by: el-saturn » Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:14 am

50% of the twink is "THE SOUND of MUSIC" and if well tuned: a race engine - i'd never trade MY SOUND for something like a daihatsu or was it zetec??? sandy
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PostPost by: alan.barker » Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:42 am

can-of-worms.png and
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PostPost by: billwill » Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:03 pm

Jon,
There's a whole topic on Zetec conversions somewhere on this forum.
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PostPost by: el-saturn » Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:26 pm

i agree with you alan: zetec instead of original is futuristic: someday even more elans we'll have zetecs to go with our new food (worms and maggots!) sandy
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PostPost by: JonB » Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:57 pm

I think I gave my reasons for scepticism of the Twin Cam engine in a long term usable classic. Could we discuss the proposition sensibly, rather than going all "shock horror", please?

Bear in mind that this discussion is only theoretical. My Plus 2 is quite original and likely to stay that way, at least for now.
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PostPost by: KevJ+2 » Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:29 pm

Personally, I think if you want a modern engine in an Elan, get an M100.
I think the Lotus Twin Cam is a special engine and the heart of the car. Without it, it's not a true classic and you might as well fit power steering, air con, cruise control etc etc.
Having said that, when you have the delight of lying underneath an oily twin cam in a lay-by in the middle of winter, I can understand the other point of view :lol:
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PostPost by: john.p.clegg » Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:22 pm

If one gets a Faberge egg , does it matter if there are diamonds or cornflakes inside it ?

2.0 Zetec , 5 speed box ,ABS ,Solid driveshafts,Air con ,Bluetooth....that's the way to go.

John :wink:

and LSD.
Last edited by john.p.clegg on Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: KevJ+2 » Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:36 pm

You old purist, you :lol:
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PostPost by: prezoom » Fri Jan 26, 2018 4:36 pm

When I purchased my Plus2, the engine was toast. After looking at the cost of a new/used Weber head, plus the rebuild costs, the conversion to a Zetec was a viable option. A used, low milage 2L engine was found for what I considered a very reasonable price. Being in the colonies, conversion parts were a bit hard to come by, so self fabrication became the order of the day. Shipping a flywheel/starter/oil pan/exhaust manifold were out of the question for me. A Fidanza flywheel was procured, but required some modification, changing from a 135 tooth to a 110 tooth gear, so the original starter could be used. An exhaust manifold flange and intake manifold was purchased from Dunnell Engineering, as the parts were small and shipping was inexpensive. Weber 45mm carbs were also utilized as they were easily available, and a new crank fire ignition system was a left over from my racing days. Living in the reclaimed desert, a much larger radiator was a necessity. An aluminum radiator kit was obtained from Wizard Cooling and converted to a dual path unit. Not liking the location of the water rail, directly above the exhaust, from the obvious suspects, the rail was home built with the return pipe well away from the exhaust. The dual path thermostat was retained. A Ford factory oil to water heat exchanger was also installed. The exhaust manifold/header was also constructed at home from modern designs, and made completely removable from the engine as a single unit without any manipulation of other parts. And yes, it does pass behind the motor mount. The stamped metal section of the two piece oil pan was modified into a dual winged unit, with gates to prevent oil surge away from the pickup.

Finances prohibited the installation of a 5-speed and fuel injection, at the time of installation, but has not been ruled out in the future. As a temporary solution to the high speed cruising on local highways, a 3.54 ring and pinion was installed. How it drives? It is definitely faster than my standard engined S2. A big smile comes from the significant increase in torque. So much so, a spare close ratio transmission is currently being installed for a longer legged first gear. As far as costs go, excluding my time, which was extensive, it came to approximately $2000.00.
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PostPost by: billwill » Fri Jan 26, 2018 4:39 pm

I don't see any point in starting yet another Zetec conversion topic until Jon has read the existing ones.

http://www.lotuselan.net/cgi-bin/search ... oom_sort=0

I recall that one of those 941 topics was a summary topic, but I don't know which as I've never been very interested in the subject. Let one of the members with a Zetec, point out the best topic(s).
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PostPost by: Spyder fan » Fri Jan 26, 2018 5:04 pm

Jon,
A proper Zetec conversion using a new Spyder chassis and all the required parts will cost over £18,000 for the parts alone, I know Lotus Twin Cams are worth a bit these days, but you won't get that kind of money for one.

I have lost count of the number of people who think it's an easy or cheap thing to do.

There are lot's of discussions on here on the merits or otherwise of doing the conversion, but to dispel a couple of the myths I can tell you that the engine note of a Zetec is very similar to a Lotus twin cam and that a 55 year old design of car can only be as quiet as a 55 year old design can be, fewer revs at motorway speeds will make the cabin feel a little less busy than you are used to, that's all.

I really like mine and would never convert it back, if people ask me for advice as to whether it's a good thing to do I say yes, but keeping it standard is also a good thing to do. My retirement project will be to restore an interesting Elan or +2.
Kindest regards

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PostPost by: LaikaTheDog » Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:47 pm

Having put a different engine in my plus 2 ( I bought it engine and boxless.) I have spent about half of the cost of a replacement twin cam.

I am of the opinion that if you have an engine it would be cheaper and much easier to rebuild it. It is just as reliable as a modern engine if regularly used.( I commuted in a plus2 for 6 years)

I do enjoy the knowledge that if I melt my new engine I can put another in for 500 pounds !

The conversion is an epic undertaking, and massively more complex than you expect. Although I enjoyed every minute. (Almost)

I would never take a car apart to do a conversion. I saved mine from the scrap man, so I am happy with the results.
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PostPost by: pauljones » Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:50 pm

I am still collecting the parts to swap in a zetec. But i must admitt i do love the sound of the twink..im swapping purely on the grounds of reliability and my need for more torque. I want a daily driver
Kick the tyres and light them fires...!!!!!!!
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:34 pm

it all depends on the following I believe:

1.who you are
2. where you are starting from
3.where you want to go to.

The possible combinations in the answers to those 3 simple questions are infinite so no neat packaged answer

For me when I answer those questions I get the following.

1. I am a mechanical engineer with 40 year experience in building and maintaining twin cams and I like old engine mechanical technologies. However I am not a slave to originality and will improve things when needed
2. i have a garage full of spare twin cam parts and spare engines and an Elan and Plus 2 both with good engines that have been built to suit their use.
3. I aim to keep racing my Elan and enjoying my Plus 2 (and Esprit S1) on the road as a weekend change from the daily commuter car. The Lotus twin cam in these cars is inherent to achieving this.

All the above adds to me saying I would never put a Zetec into my cars but for others the answers may come out differently.

cheers
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