Two blown trannies in quick succession really sapped motivation for updating as all my energy shifted towards really building out the car. The first blown tranny was due to failure of my Jubu 5:1 final drive, which was replaced with a BWR final drive and a general rebuild of the transmission.
Soon after putting in the BWR final drive, 3rd gear, a known weak point, also failed, taking out the new BWR final drive. Irony was I had been given the option to strengthen 3rd (and 4th) gear when putting in the BWR final drive, but I passed thinking running stock power would save me from failure. It seems that heavy tracking was a good way to find all the weak points of the powertrain, regardless of power made.
The busted 3rd gear and weak 4th gear were replaced with much stronger SSC stock ratio 3rd and 4th gears. The BWR final drive, a victim of fragments from the blown 3rd gear, was replaced with a Kaaz 4.8:1 final drive. Per advice of multiple people I talked to, the weight of the gear oil was also changed to 75W140NS instead of the stock spec 75W90.
And then, I lost my mind.
The previous front 15x7 CE28Ns were replaced with 15x7.5 CE28Ns, resulting in weight gain of about half a pound per wheel. The 195/50-15 and 225/45-16 Dunlop Z2 Star Specs were also replaced with 205/50-15 and 225/50-16 Bridgestone RE71Rs. Yes, I bought costly new front wheels of the same design just to have an extra half inch of front wheel width so I could increase front tire width from 195 to 205. Madness, I’ll admit...
Though most people are perfectly fine with fitting a 205 on a 7" wide wheel, my personal philosophy generally leans towards a wider wheel per unit tire width. In fact, I’d prefer to run a 205 on an 8" wide wheel. And a 225 rear on a 9" wide wheel. (Watch this space...)
To validate the strength of the new gearbox, I’ve embarked on a heavy track schedule. At a rate of about one trackday a month, the gearbox has so far held up. However, the stock catalytic converter has a habit of dying in about 9,000 miles due to the spirited driving, so it was time to upgrade.
I’m generally a believer in emissions control and thus still wanted to run a catalytic converter. Therefore, a Vibrant racing catalytic converter was installed instead of a straight pipe. Since I was already in there, the stock headers were also replaced with DMC headers that are a freaking work of art. Also, the stock boat anchor catback exhaust was replaced with a much lighter, but not very loud, Larini 8" catback exhaust.
The Larini exhaust, unfortunately, presented a problem. The facelifted S3 Elises have a different diffuser design from the earlier S2 Elises, with less space for the exhaust. With packaging so tight, the Larini was rubbing through the stock diffuser.
The solution was a new, custom, diffuser with generally a lower angle of attack. The lower angle of attack both provided clearance for the Larini and, in wind tunnel tests, have proven to be more effective than the stock higher angle of attack elements of the stock diffuser. It seems that the higher angle of attack of the stock elements actually caused the air flowing through them to stall and, thus, not actually produce downforce. Baffling to me why Lotus would choose to do that, but British engineering is not always logical. Or marketing is still a powerful force. Pick one?
For further cooling capacity, and also to lose a few pounds, a radiator made from a core that is also used in Formula One cars replaced the ProAlloy radiator, upgrading an upgrade over stock. This, I believe, is what they call going full retard. Or maybe ripping out my stereo for some weight savings is considered going full retard. I don’t even know at this point.
The Penskes were rebuilt to correct a stupid mistake I made. Furthermore, the stock shifter was replaced with a shiftR111 from Inokinetic. Early Lotus had terrible shift quality, which was rectified in later models through the use of a new shifter design. However, the new shifters are ticking time bombs that would eventually break. Google “Lotus blue ball shifter” for more information. Hope you have your SafeSearch on!
The aggressive testing schedule resulted in what I called “Streets-o-rama” as the Lotus continuously visited Streets of Willow. Of course, it wasn’t just for reliability testing.
Streets of Willow is my favorite track and, like any good amateur trackday addict, I had a time goal in mind. I wanted to achieve that goal before moving to the next phase of my build.
The heavy track schedule came at the cost of canyon running. In the past year, the Last111 has seen less canyon runs than trackdays, which is a shame.
Fortunately, I did manage to achieve my Streets of Willow time goal. Though not exactly blisteringly fast, I’m pretty happy with it.
Of course, that just means I can now move on to the next phase of the build. Hopefully, this time I’ll actually update the progress.