Lotus Elise S1

My Lotus Elise Series 1 (S1)

1.8 Rover K Series – Purchased the car in Sept 2015, with 60k on the clock, Azure Blue.

The car was pretty much standard apart from an ITG maxogen induction kit, headlight covers, Janspeed Sports Oval exhaust and a Momo removable steering wheel.

Bodywork in reasonable condition but the car has full dealer service, not the best out there but an honest car and cherished by the previous owner – these cars are meant to be driven not endlessly polished and taken out reluctantly when the sun is shinning for a few miles!

Initial changes, removal of the headlight covers (don’t like them, prefer the original look), add my private plate (S11 JRG) spaced the lettering so it reads S1 1JRG. Then looked around for some early S2 seats which are a straight swap into the S1 – Was really lucky to find a set of 135R seats in blue alcantara (the S2 seats are slightly wider).

The with a trip to Stelvio planned for May 2016 I had the car services at Maidstone Sports Cars and had Nitro NTR shocks fitted. I then fitted a harness bar and a 4 point harness on the drivers side, I removed the inertia belts on the drivers side leaving the passenger side standard. Whilst the seats were out I replaced the Clarion speakers as they had see (or heard?!) better days. The car was ready for the Alps!! The Nitrons completely change the cars, handling is crisper, car is more poised, an absolute must. Plus the slightly lower ride height just makes the car look totally awesome!

Take a look in Trips for details of the 5 day trip to Switzerland and Italy – The Elise did it’s brake testing on the Stelvio pass so the trip was a bit of a pilgrimage for the little Lotus. I went with my friend Tom in his Audi S4 Cabrio the two cars are so different! The Audi is such an impressive car, I liked it so much I brought one myself!

So fast forward a few months and I got the opportunity to my a VVC engine (143bhp not the 160), complete engine and gearbox, loom, ecu etc. The plan was to re build the engine over the winter as a project. I started to ask around about porting the head, up rating pistons etc and quickly came to the conclusion that anything north of 155-160 bhp was going to be big money. Over 160 bhp then you need to strengthen the bottom end (should have brought a Trophy 160!), as soon as you start re camming / porting the std ECU needs to be replaced as a must or at least to maximise the changes – everything seemed to have a £1000 price tag on it and that 155-160bhp seems to be the tipping point where there’s a diminishing return of bhp for £ spent.

Emerald ECU £1000 – Solid Cams (in the VVC) £1000 – Up rated Pistons / rods – £1000 . . you get the idea.

So whilst researching I spoke to Kiwi Roger – Sabre Heads, we talked through option for the VVC and went round in circles a few times then Roger said “You’ve got a good solid std 1.8 with a full service history, keep the cams standard, port the head and drop it on the existing block” – I have all the bits needed from the full VVC engine. Made sense to me, for the cost of porting and swapping over the head I’d have a VVC and i’d be getting a 111s with close to a Sport 160 performance. So there you have it – Drove the head up to Roger he stripped the mechanism on the VVC and freshened it up the head was “in excellent condition, not been skimmed”. Roger did a great job at porting it, his knowledge of the K Series is extensive and he’s a great engineer.

I then had Maidstone Sports Cars do the installation rather than do it myself – I thought about it and will the extra performance I wanted it done right – Roger had suggested I get an S2 manifold and down pipe as it’s a straight swap and a larger diameter down to the exhaust, I managed to pick one up and dropped it off to Maidstone and it was all sorted.

This was in mid November 2016, been out a few times but not yet in the dry nor have I pushed it hard as I want to bed everything in – but where the standard car runs out of puff at about 5500 rpm this just keeps pulling up to around 7000 and picks up so quickly. So for about £1,800 I’ve got around an extra 40bhp and a nice smooth power curve – that’s the story for now . . . .

2017 – Look out for 111s parts to convert the car in looks to a 111S – Like this