Saturday, February 16, 2008

Lotus Elise update

Alright, I know this one is overdue by just a few days (months) or so but it's finally here! I still have the Elise, it is still in great shape and I've had a ton of fun with it.

The first part of the update is actually last year's British Bash.  Every year the British Sports Car Club of Louisville throws the "British Bash" at St Joesephs Childrens Home on Frankfort Ave.  The 2007 British Bash was a great turnout, despite some rainy weather, with several Lotus cars making the trip down from Indianapolis.  If you're near Louisville and love british cars then come on out the first weekend of June.

White Lotus Elan

Red M100 Lotus Elan

British Racing Green Lotus 7

Yellow Lotus Esprit

Yellow Lotus Esprit, Green Lotus Exige, Aubergrine Elise

Yellow Lotus Esprit and British Racing Green Lotus Exige

Yellow Lotus Europa

British Racing Green Lotus Exige

Aubergine Purple Lotus Elise

Close up of Aubergine Purple

After the show I cruised down to River Rd with the Indiana Lotus folks...

Yellow Lotus Esprit and British Racing Green Lotus Exige

Lotus Exige engine

The next little update is on some new additions to the Elise. The Lotus received a new set of Yokohama AD07s at about 20,000 miles. Again, I waited until they were almost completely smooth before replacing them. The front Yokohamas are still very usable with about 40-50% tread left. I think the next time I need to replace them I'm going to go ahead and use a different tire.

The next addition to the Lotus was a ForcedFed carbon fiber front splitter. I used Bill's installation guide for my install and it went very well. The only issue I ran into was not being able to install a bolt on the drivers side because of the oil cooler. I've run it at some high speeds since the installation with no cracks or movement so I think it's probably ok!

ForcedFed Carbon Fiber front spoiler on the Elise

Another fun addition to the Elise was my new personal license plate... FRISKE.

Personal plate on the Lotus

The definition of Frisky is "playful and full of energy". I figured that was appropriate!

The rest of this Lotus update is just a bunch of Elise photos from around the Louisville area. The rolling photos of the Lotus are courtesy of Doug Friedman. He was nice enough to do a quick photo shoot with the Elise while he was in town just before Christmas. The graffiti photos were taken at the Mellwood Arts center.

Lotus Elise photo at Mellwood Arts Center

Krypton Green Lotus Elise

Lotus Elise & Graffiti photo

Rear view of the Lotus Elise

Lotus Elise photo

Top view of the Elise while moving

Side view of the Lotus Elise while moving

The Lotus next to a Hummer

The Lotus Elise, dwarfed by a Hummer

My Lotus Elise in motion, shot by Doug Friedman

Lotus Elise in motion, shot by Doug Friedman

Rolling Lotus Elise photo, shot by Doug Friedman

Rolling Lotus photo, shot by Doug Friedman

And now for the Lotus Elise wallpaper for this post...

Thats pretty much all for now. Lotus announced a supercharged version of the Elise for the 2008 model year. I'm going to try to make my own supercharged Lotus Elise this year as well ;)

More on that later!

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Elise rear towhook installation

Alright folks, heres another highly difficult Lotus Elise modification!

If you recall one of my recent posts you'll see that I recieved a rear towhook from Sector111 for Christmas but had to exchange it for a different style that would work with my car. The new one arrived yesterday and today after washing my car in the freezing cold I had a chance to toss it on the car. The entire installation took about 10 minutes at the most and might have actually been easier than the Zoom Carbon Fiber rearview mirror install. Read on below for the walkthrough.

Lotus Elise rear towhook
This is the "Boomerang" rear towhook from Sector111. It's design allows it to clear exhausts that exit through the rear diffuser, such as the stock exhaust.

Circular felt pads
Some folks on have used pieces of Velcro to prevent the towhook from rattling against the rear diffuser. I picked up these circular felt pads from Target, I think they will work just as well.

Elise towhook with felt pads
This is the area that you might consider placing felt or something else to prevent rattling.

Elise diffuser bolts
You will be removing two 13mm bolts like these from the rear diffuser.

Lotus Elise rear towhook bolts
Click this photo for a detailed shot showing the two bolts you will remove. This is where the towhook mounts to. Simply remove the bolts & washers, run the each bolt through the towhook, place the washer on the other side and tighten them back down in their stock position. Thats it. You don't even have to jack the car up.

Lotus Elise rear towhook installed
The finished product. Hopefully I'll never have to use this but I think it looks kinda neat and if I am in a sticky situation it should help out.

Boomerang towhook installed
View from behind the Lotus. You have to step back about 3-4 feet before you can even tell the hook is there. It sits about flush with the stock exhaust.

Lotus Elise rear end
View from the ground, several feet behind the Elise.

Lotus rear towhook complete
The final shot. The Lotus Elise rear end is already pretty racy but this just adds to it.

Thats it for this update! I'm itching to go out and have a little photoshoot with the Elise so hopefully there will be some cool Lotus Elise photos in the next post.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Christmas for my Lotus Elise!

Santa hit the jackpot this year! He (through my wife) brought me an Xbox 360 and managed to bring the Lotus a carbon fiber rear view mirror and a couple of tow hooks! The mirror is a Zoom carbon fiber convex rear view mirror from Sector111. It looks cool, provides a better range of vision and is lighter than the stock unit. The tow hooks consist of this package from Sector111. Santa brought me the standard rear tow hook which unfortunately will not work with a diffuser exit exhaust, like the stock exhaust. I've put in an email to Sector111 to ask about exchanging it for the "Boomerang" style tow hook which will work with any exhaust setup, hopefully I'll be able to swap it out within a week or so.

Today was yet another nice, non-freezing day, in Louisville so I took some time to pop some of the new parts on and clean the car up. You can see the walkthroughs for the very simple installs below. Click on the photos to see larger more detailed images.

This is what the Zoom carbon fiber mirror package consists of. The mirror, installation instructions, two allen head wrenches and a cool sticker.

The Zoom mirror seems to be very well crafted. The carbon fiber looks perfect and the mirror is blemish free.

Zoom carbon fiber mirror for the Lotus Elise / Exige.

To remove the stock mirror you need to pull the plastic base surround down a bit to expose this little retaining clip. Once you have it exposed you can compress it with a paint can lid tool or a modified flat head screwdriver like the one below. Just press the clip down as much as possible and slide the mirror towards the front of the car. Be careful to not use too much pressure, a few folks have cracked their windshields doing this.

"Modified" flat head screwdriver.

This is the metal base on the windshield that the new mirror will mount to.

Slide the new Zoom mirror on from the front of the car towards the back and tighten down the allen head screw using the supplied wrench. Thats it, you're done! Pretty easy.

The new mirror takes some getting used to, the convex mirror surface allows you to see almost completely from one side of the car to the other. The objects behind you seem a little further away and the tinted surface gives it a somewhat unnatural look. I like it though, just takes some getting used to.

Zoom carbon fiber mirror from outside the car (excuse the dirty windshield).

The Zoom unit is quite a bit smaller than stock. This really helps in seeing traffic lights and whatnot without having to duck down.

The convex mirror in the Zoom unit makes up for its small size, visibility is greatly increased.

The rear towhook may not be the correct piece but the front one certainly is. Installation of the front tow hook involves unscrewing the plastic plug piece and screwing in the new hook. Hopefully I'll never have to use this but I do think it adds kind of a neat look. Probably won't leave it on all the time but will toss it on for shows and cruises.

Sector111 larger diameter front tow hook.

Freshly washed Lotus Elise.

Finally had a chance to wash and vacuum the Elise. The poor Lotus had sat dirty for about two weeks because of crappy weaher and the holiday rush.

Felt good to get out and get the car cleaned up.

You can see just how much this color changes, just look at the difference in color from the daytime to dusk.

The european 111R decal.

Goofy artsy shot of the car, you can see the 111R decal in this photo as well.

Shot from above the rear showing the Apple decal on my Lotus.

If you are a regular reader then you might remember that my wife and I got an English Bulldog about 4 or 5 months ago. The puppy had been nothing but problems and had been through about $5,000 in treatment. Well, shes still with us and is doing much better! Check out the photo in that post and the one below, look at how much she has grown!

So aside from the Christmas goodies I don't have much to report. The Elise didn't win Autoblog's Reader Ride of the Year, that title ended up going to a very nice Saab 900 convertible. Check back in a few days or so for a post containing my 10 favorite photos of the Elise from last year. If you have any requests feel free to leave them in the comments. I'll be making wallpapers for your desktop out of these photos so be sure to check back!

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Lotus Elise Intake installation

Last week I mentioned that I had a Green Filter on order from Blackwatch Racing and that I'd be using it in conjunction with a slight intake modification. Well, it arrived yesterday and I was able to get it installed this morning. Aside from the airbox not wanting to snap back together easily it was a very easy install. No dyno numbers or reliable tests to suggest any power increase but it does feel a bit stronger and sounds a LOT meaner on the second cam. Below are some before/after videos and some photos detailing the installation.

Crummy cellphone videos

Installation of the Green Filter and modifying the Elise intake system...
1.Start out by jacking the car up (be careful, don't want this to happen) and removing the rear driver's side wheel. You'll need to remove the back wheel well liner.

Lotus Elise Suspension

The liner is held on by six plastic screws like the one in the photo below...

Click on the photo below to see the location of the 6 screws you'll need to remove. The liner fits in the wheel well pretty snugly but with a little work you can work it free.

2.Once you have the wheel well liner off you can see how the factory airbox gets it's outside air. The snorkel thats attached to the airbox is pretty restrictive, we'll be removing it to free up the intake and hopefully add a bit of power.

Lotus Elise Intake Airbox

To remove the snorkel you need to pop a clip (similar to the screw/plug pieces that hold the wheel well liner on) off the top of the airbox. The clip is actually a screw in piece but due to its location and its tendency to just spin I went ahead and pried it off. I couldn't snap a photo of it on the car but you can see the clip you need to work with by clicking on the photo below.

Lotus Elise Intake Snorkel

3.Once you have the intake snorkel off you can go ahead and open the airbox using the two silver clips, click on the photo to see detail of the clips.

Lotus Elise Airbox

Pull out the stock Toyota airfilter and see just how dirty it is.

The Green Filter is obviously quite different. It's reusable and allows air to flow a world better than the stock air filter. It comes pre-oiled so its ready to pop in right out of the box.

Lotus Elise Green Filter Airfilter

Put the new airfilter in and work on getting the airbox closed again. Because the new filter's gasket is a bit thicker this is a lot tougher than it sounds, work with it though and you can get it to seal correctly. Once the airbox is back together you can work on getting the wheel well liner and wheel back on the car, their installation is the reverse of their removal.

Once you're done go ahead and take the Lotus out for a quick run through the gears. The new sound is pretty cool. The Lotus Elise / Exige isn't exactly quiet to begin with, but this intake modification gives it a really throaty sound once it hits the cam changeover at 6,200 rpms. I've still got the stock Lotus exhaust but I can only imagine how great this will sound with an aftermarket exhaust in the near future. I don't think this netted a big power increase, but it does feel just a bit stronger.

Thats it for now. I don't have any plans for the Lotus right now but I may go out and mess with it a little bit in the next couple weeks.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Finally, a real Lotus Elise iPod solution!

Alright, so its been quite a while since I posted the Blaupunkt iPod integration install and my ill thoughts about it. I have since returned the Blaupunkt interface and used the credit towards an Alpine CDA-9856 and the KCE-422i iPod cable. While I was researching the stereo install I found that you can use a 2001 VW Passat (or similar model/generation) wiring adapter harness in the install to avoid having to cut into the stock Lotus wiring.

Start out by removing the old radio (see the previous post for instructions/photos) and running the iPod cable. When you start making your new wiring harness try to imagine it as "Alpine into Passat into Stock Lotus", the Alpine and Passat will be cut and wired together and the Passat connector will plug into the stock harness. The wiring goes like this...

Yellow --- Red = Constant Power (Battery)
Orange --- Orange = Illumination
Red --- Yellow = Ignition (Switched power)
Black --- Black = Ground

Violet --- Violet = Right Rear (+)
Violet/Blk --- Violet/Blk = Right Rear (-)
Gray --- Gray = Right Front (+)
Gray/Blk --- Gray/Blk = Right Front (-)
White --- White = Left Front (+)
White/Blk --- White/Black = Left Front (-)
Green --- Green = Left Rear (+)
Green/Blk --- Green/Black = Left Rear (-)

When you are done you should have two unused wires on the Lotus/Passat side of the adapter, theres are for the non-existant sub out (white/red) & antenna motor (pink). Tape these off and set them aside.

Now that you have the harness made you can plug everything together, stuff the excess wiring into the dash (it WILL fit, just takes some real effort) and slide the new head unit in. Connect your iPod and you're finished!

Getting used to the iPod controls takes a little effort but you should be able to pick them up. The one thing that threw me off is that you can't change/search playlists while in "Mix mode" (button 5), just switch this mode off whenever you want to find a specific song. The entire experience is a WORLD better than the Blaupunkt experience. An added plus is that the audio quality seems to have improved quite a bit with the new head unit as well! A lot of Lotus car folk swear that a speaker upgrade is the way to go with the Elise but with this radio I'm VERY satisfied with the sound quality. You can choose to display the time remaining, clock, artist, album or track name, all of which are clearly displayed and very easily read.

My ONLY complaint with this head unit is that theres only one line of text and no way to display the clock alongside the other info. The next model up ($100~ more) has two lines of text which I think is the main selling point based on exactly this. Still though, this is just a minor inconvenience.

The only other new note since the last post is that the lidbone developed a rattle very early on which is very annoying while the car is cold. The rattle fades away after the car warms up though so its still livable.

Aside from that the car is running strong at 6,200~ miles. Not much has been added to the dealer/service "To do" list other than the turn signal seal, a little rubber piece that disappeared from the fuel door (kept the door flush, now it sits in a little) and the ongoing "window adjustment" issue. The exhaust has opened up quite a bit and the car absolutely screams now when your above 6,200rpms.

A few days ago I got to play with an older Porsche 911 on River road. He turned out in front of me, noticed what was in his rear view and proceeded to just take off. At first I didn't really get on it (I'm very mellow on the street) but after a second or two I said to hell with it and chased him up to about 105mph or so. I've found that driving after a small bit of rain is very enjoyable in this car. Hanging the tail end of the Lotus out is VERY easy and VERY controllable at very low speeds in the rain. You CAN do the same on dry pavement but you really have to be beating on the car to do so, something I don't do often at all.

So yeah, that about sums up my thoughts so far :) The only photo I have to post right now (at work) is one I took outside of a local salon, I thought it was pretty appropriate for this little Lotus car.

Until next time....

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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Elise iPod Install and "Lidbone" install

Yeah, so I decided to forego the oil change and just hold out until the 7,500 mile service. I did go ahead and install the Blaupunkt iPod Interface adapter and the Sector111 Lidbone though. The iPod installation was pretty straight forward.

The iPod kit includes all of this (aside from my 60Gb iPod Video)

When this is all installed it should be a completely stealth installation.

The factory Lotus Elise head unit (at least with my Touring Pack) is a Blaupunkt Acalpulco MP54, which is on the list of iPod ready recievers.

The installation starts by removing the face plate and using the supplied (with your radio) removal tongs to pull the unit out of the dash.

The Radio has plenty of excess wire which allows it to reach the floor, handy because you don't have to unplug it with one hand while balancing it on the shifter (as is the case with some other cars).

Next you will want to go ahead and remove the right access panel, its held on by two screws inside the cubby hole. It has foam backing that sticks to the frame, it prys off pretty easily. Go ahead and run the iPod interface cable through the dash by feeding it through the big headunit hole and get most of it in and over the bracing. It's a tight fit but isn't too bad to work with. Once you have it fed in go ahead and work your hand as far into the access hole on the right and start feeling around for the cable. My only word of warning here is that the aluminum inside (remember, the car uses Aluminum everywhere, tons of raw edges) is damn sharp and WILL cut you pretty easily.

Now that you have the cable run you can go ahead and plug it in at both ends and get the Radio back into the dash. When you power it on the iPod should display a message with a checkmark showing that its connected. Once you've verified that you can go ahead and seal the iPod up or leave it out. You're done!

Now, my thoughts on this setup. I haven't spent too much time messing with it (Derby week in Louisville is CRAZY) but I'm hoping to get some issues resolved. First is the lack of text display. I KNOW this is possible with the combination but I need to figure out what setting or firmware update it is. Next is the 9 Playlist/99 song maximum. My library consists of about 850 songs so I'm safe for now, but it irks me that I need to center my library around this one application. This is a cross between Blaupunkt and iTunes issue but it is still annoying. Third is the severe electrical noise that comes on after a bit. This isn't hard drive noise but very very similar to alternator whine which is caused by power wires being to close to data/sound wires. I'm sure thats the case here but it still sucks for now.

I'm going to work on these issues sometime this week and hopefully get them ironed out. If they all persist then I'm returning the interface and will just go with a different manufacturer. Thats obviously more expensive and more work, but if it works much cleaner in the end then its more than worth it to me.

So, onto the lidbone installation. The Lidbone is a brand new product from Sector 111 and is used to open and prop the engine lid with one hand. Installation is very straight forward and simple.

This is whats included with the kit. Everything just screw together and seems pretty sturdy.

The assembled Lidbone...

The installation starts by removing these two torx bolts that are used to hold the plug cover on.

Bolt the Lidbone base to that point using the two existing torx bolts.

Once you have that bolted down you can go ahead and remove the two 10mm nuts at the lock/latch area on the lid. They are hard to see but pretty easy to feel and remove.

Sideview of the LidBone holding the lid up. It actually gives you a couple more inches of room over the factory prop rod.

And from the rear (notice our neighbor's cat Veda walking by the Suzuki ;)

Well, thankfully I'm very pleased with this product so far. It took a couple adjustments to get it to work right (needs to be fairly loose) but it works great. I shut the lid and gave the car some quick revs (up to about 4,000) with me about halfway out of the car to see if it was going to rattle around at all and I couldn't hear a single rattle. Either its just very quiet or the exhaust is just getting louder. So far the Lidbone looks like a "must have" for Lotus Elise owners.

The last little bit I did before running inside to start my next (unrelated) project was to toss a reflective Apple sticker on the car. I'm not sure how this managed to go so long but its well overdue. I'm an Apple Computer nut and this was the first question quite a few folks asked (You gonna put an Apple on that one too?), well now they can quit asking.

I'm gonna try and set aside some time for a few little photoshoots soon, hopefully the next blog update isn't too far away ;)

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