Friday, August 12, 2011

Purple Elise Track Car Build

Two weeks ago, we received a commission to build a track-only Elise by a client in NJ. Jerry requested that we build him a fast, fun and reliable car. He gave us a good budget but a tight timeline, so we went to work without delay. Luckily we knew of a vendor who stocked Tasty Lotus Bits....

We found a partially built spec Elise and bought it for him. This car needed some TLC but had a straight chassis and a good engine. The car was originally used as a Lotus Driving Experience car at Spring Mtn. After taking delivery of the car, we fully inspected it and found that it needed most of the typical wear items replaced. We dug into her in earnest and developed our project plan - 78 hrs of work to get her right. I figured we'll spend at least double that as these projects tend to be motivated by passion...a Balanced Approach was our strategy.

During the tear down, one area that I noticed needed improvement was the steering arm bolts. They were the older Grade 8.8 spec that came on some of the early cars - Lotus uprated them to Grade 10.9 in later cars. By installing 10.9 bolts, this joint, which sees significant load, will be stronger. We have some friends who have installed even higher grade bolts than this. The Grade 10.9 is an excellent compromise with added strength over the 8.8 yet still ductile enough.

The existing cage in the car was not installed to our standard. Unfortunately it was too expensive to fix, so we decided to tear it out and replace it with our new R3cage. Welding can be a challenge but there are experts who can do it properly. We would encourage anyone who is getting a cage installed to first inspect the welding capability of the shop you are hiring. Check out this picture to see an example of a poorly welded cage (as originally found on the Purple Elise). We're very happy with our new cage and will be able to sleep at night knowing Jerry will be well protected.

One of the typical wear points on the Lotus is the a-arm (wishbone) bushings. Under heavy braking, especially with track use and/or sticky tires, these bushes tend to wander. Eventually the wishbone will come in contact with the chassis - as shown below.

Most of the top bushes suffered from this on the Purple Elise so we decided to replace them, with MONOballs along with the ball joints - that we now get from our partner Seriously Lotus. We took the opportunity to get the wishbones powder coated as they were quite oxidized and nasty looking. The corners of the car will be sexy with newly finished wishbones, Nitrons, brake rotors and pads.

The rear subframe was another component that suffered some cosmetic damage. A battery had clearly come loose at some point in this car. The acid made a mess in the trunk and the leaked onto the subframe. This caused the steel to rust. My buddy, Ducati John, lent us an experienced hand over the weekend as he was quite interested in this build. We Scotchbrited the rust off and scuffed up the rest of the subframe. We primered it with Rust-Oleum high temp primer and then painted it as well. The cage was painted with the 'Hammered' finish Rust-Oleum. The subframe was reattached to the chassis and looks ten-fold betta.

Most of the work is being executed by Chris. His race experience clearly helps, as he is cranking through this car at a great clip. He installed a gPAN in the time it takes most people to read the install instructions. More blog entries are coming as we have alot more work to do....anyone note the Larini header peeking out the back? KATANA265 is getting installed....

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