Esprit S1/S2 K20A Project - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-17-2010, 03:33 AM Thread Starter
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Esprit S1/S2 K20A Project

Hellow LotusTalk - newly registered member and very surprised to see how active the Lotus, especially Esprit forum is.

Quick background - Im a younger guy, own a modified Honda S2000 and have recently been mulling over the idea of an S1/S2 hybrid project.

Firstly, I had no idea how rare and overall inexpensive (considering I think the S1 to be one of the most beautiful, well known and rare cars out there). To see "rough" examples in the 1-2-3K range was a surprise, and I was even more shocked to see prime examples in the mid to high teens. Secondly, I have no idea how to go about completing half of the stuff I have in mind but certainly have the desire to learn/troubleshoot/succeed.

So what am I getting at? Well I'd like to do an S1/S2 Esprit with a Honda Integra Type R motor (K20A). Im aware that this is a popular swap on the Elise and have taken into account the relative simplicity of the original S1 - so Im here to gather as much information/advice as possible.

Rough "plans"

1977-1980 S1/S2 Esprit
K20A, K20 6M - Stock to begin with, possible ITBs later
Adjustible coilovers (suggestions appreciated)
Big Brake Kit and supporting mods (suggestions appreciated)
Wheels/Tires (most likely 16" slotted mags, OEM look)
Rewiring entire car, aftermarket gauges (Defi), upgraded bits and pieces (handbrake system, HVAC options, etc) (again, weak points, suggestions appreciated)

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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-17-2010, 04:29 PM
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Your project would be very cool. Several people have done some nice motor swaps with the S1/S2 Esprits; Rover V8s, Yamaha V6's, Turbo 4cyl Fords, and later Esprit motors have all been done.

Before I sold my S2, I was contemplating both a Rover V8 swap and the Honda F motor for a swap. (My engine guy was really pushing the latter.)

Both options were finally dropped for several reasons, but the biggest is due to the Citroen transmission. This trans cannot take much in the way of torque or horsepower without significant modification. Also, the early Esprits stress the trans housing and use the axle as the rear suspension lower link. This makes a trans swap a bit more difficult.

Certainly, a swap is possible and would make an S1/S2 much more dependable. But if I had to do it all over again, I would find a donor S4 Esprit (something with a cracked body but a perfect frame, engine, and trans) and a donor S2 body. I would just stack the S2 body on top of the S4 frame. It would have all the classic looks and all the more modern speed.

Whatever you choose to do, fully understand the limitations of the transmission first.
My 2 cents.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-18-2010, 11:56 AM Thread Starter
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I appreciate the response.

My grandfather has a 1967 Amphicar with an anemic 43hp motor (0-60 43 sec). We have always talked about swapping the motor (the car has been owned since new and its used very regularly, as intended, so resale isn't considered). The transaxle in it acts as a differential and has gear housing for the propellers. Obviously its safe to assume that even in swapping a simple, 100-150hp motor would do it in pretty quick we never got around to the swap and the car remains fairly original to this day.

Back to the Lotus -I've known the Esprits are pretty well branded as having crappy gearboxes, which is why I'd like to use the ITR drivetrain as a whole - nothing better than a well crafted, smooth shifting modern tranny, esp one with LSD and short throws. Since owning the S2000 - which still has the BEST transmission I've ever experienced, Porsche's 997 coming in a close second - gearbox feel, throws and clutch action have become HUGELY important to me.

Im still mulling the idea around - if nothing else I'd at least like to source a good car even if the project takes a while to get around to.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-18-2010, 01:50 PM
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You have very limited options unless you want to custom build gearboxes, bell housings, etc. As "weak" as the gearbox is, if you don't beat on it it will last. At least with the stock motor. As you increase HP and torque you will progressivlely find the weak points in the transmission. If power and torque is what you are lusting after look at the V-8. An S2 with a custom engine swap may cost you more than just finding a V-8 Esprit. Or consider swapping in the V-8 engine/transmission into an S2. Still more expensive than just getting a V-8 Esprit probably. As for the Amphicar, as I know them, do you really want it to go fast in it? From what I know of them they handle lousey at high speed and the brakes are not great either. They are a poor car and a terrible boat.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-03-2010, 05:01 PM
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The Citroen transmission is good for the 210 hp and 220 lb ft of the Esprit Turbo HC so it's not that weak. As long as the gear linkage bushings are in good condition and the crossgate cable is adjusted properly the change is light and quick. Why not convert your 907 engine to 2.5 liters and get the heads flowed so you can get 200 hp out of it? The base engine is reliable just needing regular maintenance including changing the timing belt at the specified intervals.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-04-2010, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by jtrealty View Post
Or consider swapping in the V-8 engine/transmission into an S2.
David Teitelbaum
IIRC the rear of the frame (engine area) was modified to accommodate the Lotus TT V8 engine.

We must also remember that the S2 used the driveshafts as upper control arms. The motor mounts have to be really "tight" to achieve good handling.

That said, I too know of some Rover V8/SHO V6 conversions...

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'88 Esprit
Succasunna, NJ USA

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-04-2010, 06:26 PM
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How about using the Toyota 3S-GE engine. This is quite a potent engine, and it was available in a mid-engined layout when it was used in the Japan-only MR2 G and G-Limited. I mean, the current Lotuses use Toyota engines, so why not the classic Lotuses? My fantasy Lotus would be a white James Bond Lotus S1 with the correct interior, but with a modern engine like the 3S-GE.

Toyota 3S-GE engine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Last edited by AndyS; 03-04-2010 at 06:38 PM.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-04-2010, 06:30 PM
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No offense, but the odds of you actually doing this are 0.0

We get a "hey i dont have a lotus, but i want to do a engine swap when i get one" post about once a week.

edit : actually what i mean to say i dare you to actually do it !

Last edited by Hello Kitty; 03-05-2010 at 04:24 PM.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 09:34 AM
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Sounds llike a great idea, the K20 is excellent.

Keep us posted!

2012 Lotus Evora S GP Edition #14/14
1995 Lotus Esprit S4
1991 Toyota MR2
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-21-2010, 11:18 AM
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I wonder if a DSM or EVO turbo motor and tranny would fit in an 88+ Esprit? Both the longblocks and trannys can handle 500 hp with minor work and bolt on's and are actually fairly reliable if you're not a 16-year old kid trying to buy one for $500. It definitely wouldn't have the mystique of a true Lotus engine even with the drivetrain headaches nor the resale value years from now, but for a fun sexy weekend car that would scare the pants off of any potential passengers, it would be a hoot. I suppose I could set this idea along with the other 8 out of 10 that I've never gotten to.

I see Joe above and I think a bit alike. I also have a 2004 S60R and a 1992 Eclipse GSX. One cruiser, one bruiser and one exotic.
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