I made either a great or terrible decision a few weeks ago when I bought the Exige mentioned in this thread
. To document my stupidity or genius as I go through the process of fixing this thing up, I figured I’d start a little build thread (I always enjoy reading them, but will I enjoy writing one? Who knows.)
Thing is, I already have an Elise so it seems sort of silly to buy this but it felt like it’d be a good project and to be honest I couldn’t stand to see another one of these go to the junkyard.
My goal with this project is to get it back to “before crashed” condition without spending insane amounts of money. So in this thread you’re unlikely to see carbon bodywork replacement, a V6 engine swap, or other over-the-top sillyness. The car already has a BOE300 so I don’t think it’ll be a slouch. But you will see me making budget conscious decisions about parts without sacrificing quality -- decisions that probably most of us on the forum would make. (Ok some of you would use the opportunity to build an insane GT3RS killing track beast, but that’s another thread.)
Fact is, the Exige/Elise is a great car. I love my Elise, but will I love an Exige S even more? I won’t know until I fix this and drive them back-to-back at the track. There can be only one (according to my wife and The Highlander) so in the end, I’ll have to choose which to keep and which to sell. But in the meantime...I’ve got my very own build (ok maybe “rebuild”) thread.
I’ll warn readers up front, this thread might be a little slow going! I’ve got a family, a full time job, 2 young kids and their associated activities, so my spare time is almost non-existent. My wife says I’m nuts taking on another project when I don’t even have time to put dishes in the dishwasher.
That said, I’m tackling the project with the help of a friend who’s been generous enough to let us use his garage for a few months and lend his expertise (he’s swapped a 2ZZ into his MR2 Spyder and done many other projects.)
So, first grab a cup of coffee and read through the wreck thread here
. Once you’re up to speed...you can pick up my story…which starts now:
Bought the car sight unseen and had it shipped down here. Kind of a gamble I guess, but at the price I figured if worse comes to worse I could probably part it out and come close to breaking even. Shipping was a little bit of a drama since a) the car doesn’t run and b) it had an extra set of LSS wheels with it. I laughed speaking to many of the transport brokers when they asked “well can you just put the wheels in the trunk of the vehicle?” Clearly, they had no idea what kind of car a Lotus Exige was.
Anyway, finally got it shipped down to the SF Bay Area from Seattle for less than it would have cost us to rent a trailer and go get it.
Since I was on spring break with my kids in the happiest place on earth (Disneyland, not the driver’s seat of a Lotus unfortunately) I actually didn’t get a chance to see the car in person until this past Easter weekend. And of course it was raining, so I wasn’t about to dig into it super deep until we clear out the garage and get it moved in there. I’m also currently locked out of the car as the battery is disconnected and the doors are locked. You all know how this goes...not off to a good start right?!
Easy to fix though.
Overall, car seems to be exactly at the seller described.
But just to give you an idea of what we’re working with, there are two main issues:
1 - Front clam + crash structure damage (this also includes an oil cooler).
Headlight and turn signal appear OK but the mounting tabs are all broken off. Hopefully we can fabricate something to reuse them.
2 - Engine doesn’t run.
As you may have seen in the wreck thread, this is a bit of a mystery. The bolt in the center of the cam shaft gear sheared off. It’s unknown if this happened because of the accident or perhaps caused the accident so we’ll have to do a little more digging. Worst case, we’ll swap in a used 2ZZ engine. Medium case, it needs a new top end. Best case, something simple like the inertia sensor needs reset, new camshaft/cam gear and good to go. We’ll see.
My first question at this point is to either repair the clam or replace it with a new one (probably not OEM, but something like this from eliseparts.com). I don't feel like tackling the fiberglass work myself as my buddy has convinced me it's time consuming, messy, and results might be only OK. Although I'd love to learn fiberglass, that might be for another time.
I’ve ordered a new crash structure from the guys at elise-spares.com which have it for around $500 USD, which is a hell of a lot cheaper than the dealer wants in case you're ever in the market for one.
I’ve posted a couple things in the Facebook group
as well but will keep this build thread going for updates and advice from all of you on the project. Feel free to chime in with comments, ridiculous, or suggestions.
Doesn’t look to bad right?
Fair amount of cracking throughout the the front left corner of that clam
Looks OK from this side
Oh yeah and the crash structure:
The shop where the car was taken post crash says the suspension pickup points and frame are all fine. We’ll be checking them closely once we get it into the garage.
The seller (@ChronosWS) was also nice enough to throw in all the spares mentioned in his original For Sale ad here
which I thought was amazingly cool.