Back in a Lotus - 2006 Exige S

Back in a Lotus - 2006 Exige S

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Fonzey

Original Poster:

514 posts

66 months

Tuesday 11th December 2018
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Hi All, after concluding my previous Readers' Car: https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&... I'm back again with a new purchase.

For anyone who hasn't read the above, the summary is that I bought a Laser Blue 2006 Lotus Elise 111R (190bhp NA Toyota 2zz) back in 2016. It was a great car, and I'd have loved for it to be a keeper but it was doomed from the day I collected it, I'd "invested" part of our new house deposit into it so it was always going to be fodder once we were ready to buy another house.

That time came in early 2018, so the car went onto a new owner after I'd had 2 great years out of it, plenty of track time and plenty of DIY servicing/fixing/improving including a suspension refurb, new radiator and front clam repair after hitting a bunny.

I'll always view that car as unfinished business, so hopefully I can continue where I left off with my new toy.

I did think about some non-Lotus choices, stepping up to Exige budget opened up some new doors including Zenos, Caterfields and even a chubby Porsche or two crossed my consideration... but ultimately it was always going to be another S2 Lotus. The S3 (V6) Exiges are creeping into S2 Exige territory nowadays so I could have stretched to one but ultimately I want a car that I'm comfortable working on, comfortable chucking round a track and the known low running costs of the S2 platform won out for me.

I'd kept my eye on the market and one particular car was loitering around at a popular Lotus trader, priced a bit too high for me initially after just moving house but as winter approached the price slowly came into a reachable range - so I went for a look... and well, the rest is pretty obvious!



From the ad alone it ticked my boxes, Laser Blue (again!), low mileage (just under 16k) and didn't look to be particularly hacked up or modified (that's my job).

Whilst sat with the trader it had a couple of changes:

- Black Vinyl front splitter, sidepods and rear spoiler
- Aftermarket "long scoop" roof
- 260bhp upgrade, offered by Lotus as a dealer upgrade but this one has been done with a Spitfire fuel pump and 550 injectors (rather than the Lotus 440cc ones) and it has a Lotus reflashed ECU.

Other details on the car are Avon ZZR tyres, it has the factory Sport and Touring option packs which I can never remember what included what but the general spec of the car is:

Electric Windows
Aircon (and it works!) *
Carpets
Probax seats with harness cutouts *
Harness Bar *
Traction Control *
Twin oil coolers *

"*" all stuff the Elise didn't have.

The oil coolers were subject to a Lotus recall in 2014 as the crimped connectors were failing and spraying oil everywhere (nicely positioned in front of front wheels too!) but I had the paperwork to show this had been done. The other paperwork was all in order, I can't find any record of this car on forums/clubs etc but it's generally only done a couple hundred miles per year for most of the last decade. The only notable item in the history is a new supercharger fitted in 2012, no idea if these are a weak point or what - but the car had 9k miles at the time, so seems strange.

I test drove the car on a pretty wet day, so not ideal but it was clear (if the stats weren't already obvious) that this was a big boy step up in performance from the Elise. Aside from the performance I noted a really slick gear change on the Exige compared to the rather vague one on my Elise, I guess this is just down to the low mileage but I'll keep my eye out for any obvious modifications which may have contributed.

The car needed a touch of paint before we completed the transaction, the rear clam had a bit of a crack in the gelcoat typical of a car that's had a little bumper brush in a carpark but that's now sorted and the car is settled in the garage at home! Happy days.

I learned a fair few lessons with the Elise, spending money where it probably wasn't needed being one big one so I hope to learn from that and get this project off to a strong start. I've already had the car jacked up for a poke around, mainly checking for any issues that a test drive may not have identified but also on the lookout for any sneaky modifications (none found yet, but I learned this lesson after buying a load of Whiteline goodies for my "stock" Impreza and then jacking it up to fit them, finding the car already had the entire Whiteline catalogue on it laugh )



Inspection suggests that the car is fitted with EBC red stuff pads - they're new to me, but so far don't seem to be squealing or dusting too much so that's 2/3 tests complete. If they can survive a few laps without fade then I'll keep hold of them till they die.

Whilst the wheels were off, they got a clean and seal (freshly powdercoated, so now the ideal time to do it)



... and that's about it so far. I have some plans already, two trackdays already booked one of which is a trip to France in May so I have some prep work to do:

- Give it a good going over with the DA and get it waxed up
- Change the toelinks to Spitfire jobbies - both a known failure point on the Elige platform with sticky tyres, but also an MOT advisory.
- Fit a baffled sump - known weakness of the 2ZZ with sticky tyres
- 4pt Harnesses, maybe
- New backbox, maybe - need to figure out if this Lotus Stage 2 one will indeed fail the trackday limits.

Some longer term stuff I'm expecting to need doing at some point:

- Front Clam off and replace radiator (plastic end caps are known for failing)
- Use this opportunity to fit braided brake hoses and replace any rotten steelworks under the nose.
- Monitor and address airflow to the intercooler, these cars are known for bad heatsoak and poor airflow to the intercooler - but there are a few options ranging from a bit of hosing through to a fill chargecooler setup.

Ultimately the C64 gearbox fitted to this car is very close to it's limits with a car running the 260bhp Lotus upgrade, so chasing power isn't going to be on the agenda and I really don't think it'll be needed. The car feels ballistic compared to all of my previous reference points (400bhp Impreza being my previous quickest car, and I think this Exige would have it beat). The Lotus factory update also has the 440cc injectors running close to maximum, so the fact my car has 550's gives a little headroom which may push the gearbox over the edge with the wrong supporting modifications! That said, if/when the gearbox does fail there are uprated options which may open the floodgates further... let's see how that goes though eh.

Hopefully I can get out for some better pictures in the next few days, but on a technical note I'm going to try image hosting on instagram this time around so this thread may have a bunch of broken links... sorry about that in advance, I'll figure it out. But for real time updates - feel free to follow @k.townend. It'll be all car stuff, no baby photos or pictures of my breakfast - promise.




PeachyPatch

1 posts

3 months

Tuesday 11th December 2018
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Wow. That is truly a beautiful car and sounds like the perfect spec. I look forward to reading more about your time with it!

Sport220

113 posts

14 months

Tuesday 11th December 2018
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What a car, one of my absolute favourites. Looks mega in laser blue!

Rick101

5,697 posts

89 months

Tuesday 11th December 2018
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Didn't take long for you to start pulling it to bits laugh

The 260 is great. Looking forward to the updates.



kiethton

10,588 posts

119 months

Tuesday 11th December 2018
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Looks like a great car

Think you’re 2 years ahead of me, picked up my S2 (NA) Exige last year but deep down I know that it’s my stamp duty bill when I come to move in 18 months time (I’ll use it for my wedding atleast!)

[url|https://thumbsnap.com/V1qmJESP[/url]

Even now I look at the “S” models and lust but just couldn’t justify the additional cost at the time unfortunately. Think I’ll end up going the same way in time...
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WCZ

6,248 posts

133 months

Tuesday 11th December 2018
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sexy

Fonzey

Original Poster:

514 posts

66 months

Tuesday 11th December 2018
quotequote all
Cheers guys for the nice comments.

kiethton said:
Even now I look at the “S” models and lust but just couldn’t justify the additional cost at the time unfortunately. Think I’ll end up going the same way in time...
Even now sat with the car in my garage quite a big part of me thinks my money would have been better spent on another Elise. I made an Elise/Exige comparison when I bought the 111R and talked myself out of the Exige because with just some dampers and some wheels my Elise would effectively be an NA Exige, and I could SC it myself to still bring the total bill in at well less than an Exige S cost.

I made that same comparison again and decided that if I didn't go for the Exige, that I'd probably regret it and the Exige would always be at the back of my mind so I figured I'd do it this way around, and if after a year or so I don't feel like I got value for money I can turn the car around (probably for minimal losses) and free up the cash for something else.

This really isn't £12k more of a car than my Elise is/was. The performance is a massive step up, but similar is achievable within an Elise for much less than the price difference suggests, but I had to do it at somepoint - with prices creeping up, this was the time to do it. Actually, scrub that - 8 years ago was the time to do it when these things were mid/low 20s biggrin

likesachange

1,550 posts

133 months

Tuesday 11th December 2018
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Looks lovely!!

I bought my first lotus around 4 weeks ago
A 2007 Exige S.
Has had a few changes made since I bought it and just got it home on Sunday... Still haven't driven it apart from around 25miles on cold greasy roads !!
So I have a lovely Exige in garage I haven't really experienced yet.. god this is going to be a long few months.

Y11 LTS

56 posts

3 months

Tuesday 11th December 2018
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Congratulations on the purchase!

Just wanted to let you know that this is my dads old car, he sold it recently to the well known lotus specialist in question you bought it from due to needing something more practical & normal!!!! due to his age....his idea of something more normal was a brand new BMW M2... well that’s my dad for you lol.

My dad & i are Lotus enthusiasts and this was his 4th lotus in 20 years, he’d waited ages to find the right one and bought it from Christopher Neils in Northwich.

He was devastated to part with it but the time had come, unfortunately I wasn’t in a position to purchase it of him at the time due to funds otherwise I would of (Sod’s law)

Just wanted to let you know the history, he’s looked after it well, never tracked it and hasn’t even really thrashed it, it was his weekend toy and only ever used when dry.

Hope you enjoy the car and glad its gone to an enthusiast.....Im currently looking at getting back in to an Elise 111R or exige S2 (divorce meant I had to sell my Elise 111R - coincidentally sold it to the same specialist you bought my dads car from) so maybe if your in th north west you fancy a meet and drive let me know.

Have a great Christmas

Kind regards

Duncan

Fonzey

Original Poster:

514 posts

66 months

Tuesday 11th December 2018
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Duncan that's music to my ears (eyes?). As I said I've been unable to track down any forum/owners club history for this car so I'd love to talk to you/your Dad about this car at some point. I'll PM you later if that's ok with you!

Y11 LTS

56 posts

3 months

Tuesday 11th December 2018
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Of course no problem at all, d be happy to speak to you a dn Im sure my dad would too, Ive just phoned to tell him and his reaction was “Bugger I should of kept it” haha

He’s pleased it gone to an enhusiast, it really is a great example with the mileage etc.

My two young kids loved going in it too, my dad was never a track day kind of guy so its just been on sunny drives around Cheshire country roads.

DM me and ill send you my number, if you do ever sell let me know first though, would love to buy my dads car haha

Only spoke to Jon at Jon Seal yesterday to discuss purchasing a car, and we discussed my dads car and that its sold, small world!

Kind regards

Duncan

Simon182

100 posts

66 months

Tuesday 11th December 2018
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I'll look forward to a day out at Blyton next year tongue out

Number_Six

141 posts

42 months

Wednesday 12th December 2018
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I think that's the best colour I've ever seen an Exige in, congratulations on the purchase and hope you enjoy it!

Fonzey

Original Poster:

514 posts

66 months

Wednesday 12th December 2018
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Y11 LTS said:
Of course no problem at all, d be happy to speak to you a dn Im sure my dad would too, Ive just phoned to tell him and his reaction was “Bugger I should of kept it” haha

He’s pleased it gone to an enhusiast, it really is a great example with the mileage etc.

My two young kids loved going in it too, my dad was never a track day kind of guy so its just been on sunny drives around Cheshire country roads.

DM me and ill send you my number, if you do ever sell let me know first though, would love to buy my dads car haha

Only spoke to Jon at Jon Seal yesterday to discuss purchasing a car, and we discussed my dads car and that its sold, small world!

Kind regards

Duncan
Thanks Duncan, appreciate that... I can't figure out whether Pistonheads actually has private messaging or not though biggrin I'm reachable on SELOC (same username, I assume you're a member?!) or Instagram @k.townend though if you're on there. Let me know and I'm sure we can get in touch!

Simon182 said:
I'll look forward to a day out at Blyton next year tongue out
April 6th is booked, might be something sooner smile

Number_Six said:
I think that's the best colour I've ever seen an Exige in, congratulations on the purchase and hope you enjoy it!
Thanks very much! Laser Blue is my favourite, I hunted an Elise down in this colour so had to get the same again. Ardent Red may have convinced me to try something different, but I'm not a huge fan of the zingy Orange/Green colours tbh.

Fonzey

Original Poster:

514 posts

66 months

Wednesday 12th December 2018
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Well it wouldn't be a Lotus thread without a couple of problems biggrin

Nothing major, yet - but it's happily given me something to tinker with the last couple of nights.

First up, the bellows connecting the intercooler to the roof scoop kept popping off. Refitting was a nightmare, you'd get one side on and the other would pop off.



It looked like IC shroud had some 12 year old double sided tape on it, so I whipped the intercooler off and got the shroud cleaned out and re-applied some tape.





This allowed me to reinstall much easier, I'm not sure the tape is load bearing at all but it helps installation significantly. Got it all refitted and got the massive clip back on. Job done.



Next issue was identified on collection day, but required a part from Lotus. I feared the worst as part supplies from Lotus can be difficult at best, but luckily the trader got hold of one and it's on its way now.

The issue is the central locking, clicking the Cobra ball-bag arms/disarms the alarm as expected but it is not unlocking the doors. The prime suspect is the CDL unit behind the dash, apparently always failing and should be an easy fix - so I'll update either way once it arrives.

Aside from this bit of tinkering, I've been all round the car now (and under it) and I'm pretty happy with what I can see. Sump gasket (or lack of, sealant is used on these cars) is weeping a tiny bit but that'll be replaced with a baffled job before spring arrives. Oh, one of the exhaust heatshields appears to be missing too. It pretty much rotted off on my Elise so I replaced it at the time with DEI wrap, so I may do the same here.

I re-read my 111R thread last night and the condition of the suspension and brakes is a thousand times better on the Exige, I can't believe how rusty the undercarriage of my Elise was before I refurbed it all.

likesachange

1,550 posts

133 months

Thursday 13th December 2018
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One of the first real issues with mine was the CDL. Got a new one for £90 from lotus after buying a second hand one for half that but it didn't work (got money back no problem)
All perfect now

Fonzey

Original Poster:

514 posts

66 months

Thursday 13th December 2018
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Yup it seems common as muck, I guess I got lucky with my Elise as it never cropped up.

It seems Lotus would charge a lot of labour for this as they consider it a "dash off" job, but many people can dice with danger and squeeze their hand past an airvent through razor sharp aluminium to unplug the old one, plug in the new one and just leave the two units side by side.

I had the dash top off my Elise and it wasn't too bad of a job, so I may just do the same here - I remember recovering loads of junk from my Elise dash from leaves and crud to loose bolts and fixing, so would be a good opportunity to get that done here too.

I'll see how I feel once I receive the CDL!

TartanPaint

1,273 posts

78 months

Thursday 13th December 2018
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Fonzey said:
Cobra ball-bag
laugh

Love the car!

Fonzey

Original Poster:

514 posts

66 months

Friday 14th December 2018
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TartanPaint said:
laugh

Love the car!
Thanks!

Dragged it outside for some lunch the other day for my first ever outdoor photo of it!



Also had the traction control kick in for the first time, not in a "oh crap you saved me" kind of way but more of a "this is a pretty wide T Junction, let's see what happens kind of way". It's pretty agricultural but it did the job, few nice pops and bangs as it cut fuel or spark or whatever it is it's doing, a quick flash of the dash light and I was on my way.

To be fair, on very cold/damp roads with ZZRs the car really seems like it has bags of grip. The Elise did too unless I was being silly but I always assumed the torque of the SC would make the car a little more eager to break traction but the chassis/tyres takes it all in its stride.

So far.

Track_Cit

468 posts

161 months

Friday 14th December 2018
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Nice machine, very nice!

I just picked up a Cup 220. I was very close to buying an S2 Exige but for the money they are commanding it seemed logical to spend a little more and get a newer car. I'm enjoying it so far, first Lotus and it's like a gokart! biggrin