I'm going to make transparent top for Lotus Elise/Exige - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-06-2019, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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I'm going to make transparent top for Lotus Elise/Exige

I've decided that I'm going to (attempt at least) to make a transparent top my my Lotus Elise. IF it all works out, I'll be offering them for sale.

I have a couple of questions and hopefully some folks here can help me out.

At one point I bought one - but it attached the same way as the hardtop -- and long story short it was a sucky design that resulted in the top flying off the car on the highway -- I do not want this to happen to me or anyone else -- so mine is not going to work that way at all.

My plan is to make the top attach like the soft-top does. Had the one I bought attached this way, it never would of flown off the car.

I've looked at several different designs -- and one option is to actually start with the side pieces of the soft tops. I figured what I could so is source those from Lotus and buy a set and give it a try -- my problem is that I'm not sure exactly what part(s) it is I need.
When I look at the parts catalog -- I see these two parts
C116V0003H and C116V0004H
...but I don't know if it comes with all the other internal pieces. What I think I really need is basically everything for the soft top -- minus the canvas top itself -- I need the entire mechanisms that attach to the sides of the soft tops. Any leads on where I can get those would be great.

So -- couple of questions -- first off - can anyone tell me where to get the 2 parts that I need (and if I have to buy all the internal parts separately) --- and 2nd -- IF I can get this all to work -- would there actually be any interest in these if I can keep the price under $1,300 or so? -- my goal is to keep the price around the same amount it would cost for a used factory hard-top and require zero modifications to the car to work.

I think it would be really neat if I can do this -- plus it would only take like 10 seconds to put it on and off Obviously they would be transparent, but would be tinted and have UV protection as well.
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post #2 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 03:56 AM
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Is this going to be solid like plexiglas or flexible? The soft top sides attach by putting the top pin in the slot, then rotating the side piece down. How would that work with a solid top?
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post #3 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 04:37 AM Thread Starter
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Is this going to be solid like plexiglas or flexible? The soft top sides attach by putting the top pin in the slot, then rotating the side piece down. How would that work with a solid top?
I am going to use polycarbonate and it will thick enough there will be minimal flex...so the sides rotating into place is not an option.. however if I make the top pins work like the bottom pins (move in and out) then problem solved. I just wonder if its worth modifying the Lotus side pieces (I dunno what those cost) or if I'd be better off making my own. I really want to try to keep the costs down so I can offer the tops cheap to all the Lotus folks.
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post #4 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 05:26 AM
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Channel or flat? I'm not a big fan of the channel look personally.
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post #5 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 05:31 AM Thread Starter
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Channel or flat? I'm not a big fan of the channel look personally.
They will be flat.

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post #6 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 07:33 AM
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I don't think there is anything wrong with the stock hardtop fixing as they do not seem to fly off with any regularity

Since the factory top uses 4 of the same locating pins the soft top uses, I was trying to come up with a clever way of using some sliding pins to make removal less of a chore, but did not succeed in finding anything elegant

I think the problem is aftermarket tops are too flexible.

I would suggest a fiberglass under structure for attachment and sealing at the windows with a clear outer surface.
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post #7 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 07:43 AM
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Although you most likely didnít know of this personís efforts (linky below), looks like your going to pick up what was never completed...or at least what I think was not completed.

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post #8 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 08:49 AM
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Interesting. I wonder what happened to everyone that pre-ordered a top from that start-up...
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post #9 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 09:13 AM
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There is one you can still buy. While I search for the direct link, here is the link to the thread about it here.

https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f25...ardtop-210162/

Edit:

Found the link. It's Visium, and sold on ebay and MrFiat.com for a shocking expense. I must admit though, it is absolutely something I want. I'll link to the gallery page as that's what we all want anyway.

http://www.visium.it/GalleriaFotogra...oto_elise.html

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post #10 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 10:42 AM
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What ever happened to these guys?

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post #11 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 12:47 PM
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I am not sure of the value of a transparent top.

Wouldn't that create lots of heat on sunny days, tinting or not?

Our feeble a/c would not keep up, but mine does when my soft top is on.

Sorry, but seems a silly waste of $$ to me at least.

g

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post #12 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glb View Post
I am not sure of the value of a transparent top.

Wouldn't that create lots of heat on sunny days, tinting or not?

Our feeble a/c would not keep up, but mine does when my soft top is on.

Sorry, but seems a silly waste of $$ to me at least.

g
If the correct coating is put on the glass, it will not effect the internal temperature. I had the front windshield done in the 3M film and it greatly reduced the internal temperature of the car.

Later,
Eldon
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post #13 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 01:45 PM
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I'm intrigued by this, and have batted around the idea of doing it myself for years.

For the pins, there are COTS options that might work, just need to sort out attachment to the formed polycarbonate sheet itself.

To me the appeal is all about aerodynamics and sunlight. When I have the hardtop on, it can still feel claustrophobic. A clear panoramic roof would address that. And of course wind noise at speed would be greatly reduced compared to fully open top.

Best of luck, will be following closely!

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post #14 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glb View Post
I am not sure of the value of a transparent top.

Wouldn't that create lots of heat on sunny days, tinting or not?

Our feeble a/c would not keep up, but mine does when my soft top is on.

Sorry, but seems a silly waste of $$ to me at least.

g
I assume it would be similar to the panoramic sunroof panels found on many cars these days (saw one on a Camry today!). It's actually kind of nice to have a little natural light coming in in comparison to the relatively "dark cave" feeling that the hardtop creates.

Drives a Prius (clearly knows nothing about cars).

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post #15 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 04:03 PM Thread Starter
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I talked in great length to JAMMOTO several times. Those were going to be made out of acrylic. Last time I talked to him he said that the place that was going to manufacture them had an oven fail so they couldn't make it...and at one point told me that they were going to have them for somewhere between $1600 and $1800. So few problems with that -- acrylic seems like a bad thing to use because the way it breaks -- so unless you want to get stabbed by pieces of your top in the event of a crash this seems like a bad material. Then there is the manufacturing process -- which requires big expensive equipment ..which is going to result in a high price. Now the specs called for 3/8" in their case.
I also had a Visim top - that is the one that flew off my car -- some pics of it before that happened in link below -- where I mention JAMMOTO I think too. The design of the visim top used just four bolts to hold it on - which went in like the hard top. This means that in the back, there is that little 90 degree piece of metal is shoved up under the faster on the car. I do not think the top was 3/8" think -- it seemed more like it might of been 1/4" or less. Soo..now you have impending disaster because there is too much flex after it's attached to the car. In my case - the little faster in the back broke -- it's attached to the car and made of plastic from the Lotus factory. A little bit of flex and now there is a wind pocket which push it up in the middle a little bit -- and bye bye transparent top. It's my thinking that if you used the pins like the soft top in conjunction with thicker less flexible piece of polycarbonate then it would be impossible to have happen as what did to my visim one.

In response to people asking about the inside of the car getting hot -- yes I was worried about that too when I put mine on. In the middle of the summer in 90 degree heat it made no difference in inside temp at all -- which was shocking as I have a black leather interior.

Someone also asked about JAMMOTO taking deposits -- it's my understanding that they took no deposits -- all you could do was signup on the website and you got on the list -- I was number 2 on the list lol. Anyway when I talked to them on the phone they were not taking deposits -- so I doubt they ever did.

Turbopun -- I figured I couldn't be the only guy thinking about this. One of the obstacles is attaching the side rails -- whatever those turn out to be -- to the formed polycarbonate sheet .One things I've learned in my research is that polycarbonate attaches to polycarbonate REALLY REALLY good...so it makes me wonder if you could use some sort of polycarbonate rods as the side rails - and then drill holes in the ends of the rod for placement of the pins that you can slide in and out. If it was shaped like the soft top end pieces it would be kinda a 1/2 oval rod. -- Or use polycarbonate tubes vs rods for the middle part of the side piece to keep costs down -- so just a few inches of rod at the corners, the rest hollow tubes.. Of course the other option is just to attach it to a set existing soft top pieces (and there are ways to do that with specific glues depending on materials) and rework the end pieces so all the pegs move instead of just the bottom ones. If I used polycarbonate parts I could put a tiny colored led light in one end of it it and make the whole thing light up when you opened the door -- ya know we all need the 'coool' factor lol.
The other obstacle is of course weather stripping. On the front and back is simple -- the side rails I'd have to come up with something if polycarbonate i sued - but that seems like a simple issue to overcome. Frankly I'd rather use the polycarbonate side rails because I think it would look better and bond to the top better.

Having had a transparent top -- I can tell you it's great. You don't feel claustrophobic -- that giant piece along the top of the windshield is gone -- you can see stoplights out the top which is quite nice -- and unlike no top you're out of the elements and you can roll the windows up for a quieter ride - really best of both worlds in these cars. Mine made the ride quite as the hard top if not more because it's flat and thus aerodynamic so there is actually less wind noise - plus no damn sqweeeeks either.

https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f25...-elise-407745/
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post #16 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 04:55 PM
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If the correct coating is put on the glass, it will not effect the internal temperature. I had the front windshield done in the 3M film and it greatly reduced the internal temperature of the car.

Later,
Eldon
Eldon, I wouldn't want to raise interior temps 2 degrees, and my a/c works well.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbopun View Post
I'm intrigued by this, and have batted around the idea of doing it myself for years.

For the pins, there are COTS options that might work, just need to sort out attachment to the formed polycarbonate sheet itself.

To me the appeal is all about aerodynamics and sunlight. When I have the hardtop on, it can still feel claustrophobic. A clear panoramic roof would address that. And of course wind noise at speed would be greatly reduced compared to fully open top.

Best of luck, will be following closely!
Quote:
Originally Posted by gray View Post
I assume it would be similar to the panoramic sunroof panels found on many cars these days (saw one on a Camry today!). It's actually kind of nice to have a little natural light coming in in comparison to the relatively "dark cave" feeling that the hardtop creates.
I have never felt claustrophobic in the car, perhaps because I am 5'8".

Hardtop has been on my only twice since I bought it new. One, the dealer had installed it of course.

One nice winter day, I took it off.

For some reason, I reinstalled it. Then another nice winter day arrived. It's been in the basement since. (The hardtop, not the car....)

I used to be fine top down at 45 degrees. Older now, it may be 60....

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post #17 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 08:37 PM
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Reminds me of Corvette’s transparent top. For some reason, doesn’t look to match well for the Elise though. That said, i wouldnt purchase one if it became available, even if it was for 1/2 what they anticipate it to cost.
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post #18 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-08-2019, 04:06 AM
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If you make it happen, I'd be interested.
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post #19 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-08-2019, 04:41 AM
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I have one of the Visium tops - they're great. I would recommend one over a factory top to anyone that asks my opinion ( I have both).

The Visium top is much easier to put on and take off - the mounting hardware is much less fiddly than the factory top.

I have a black Elise so, the tinted Visium top looks really good on it. I think this would be a different case if your Elise is Fly Yellow.

It does make the car feel less claustrophobic. It doesn't make the car noticeably hotter (but then, I don't install it in June...I use it in January.) If it's over 45į, the top is off. If it's raining, I don't drive the car.

As for @TechnoHippie 's failure of his - I have no idea what happened. I know that he and I aren't the only people that own these, and he's the only person I've heard about that's had that sort of a problem. I've used mine for several years, on two different cars (I originally bought it for my Tesla Roadster, and kept it when I got the Elise). It's been faultless.

I do agree with some that the price is a bit high. I haven't looked into them in a while but, when I bought mine, they had a "Standard" version and a "Deluxe" version - I got the Deluxe version...which came with a cleaning kit and a soft cover. The soft cover is OK but, these "additions" really weren't worth the additional price. I felt like I got a little ripped off with the "Deluxe" version.

The other really nice feature of the transparent top is that, when you're first at a stop light, you can look up, through the top and see the signal light. As these cars are so low, we all know that you're always looking UP at everything (including slammed Civics). With the factory (opaque) hardtop, you're just blind to a lot around you. With the transparent top, it opens everything up.

With all of that being said, I applaud @TechnoHippie and his efforts - I'm curious to see what he comes up with; especially his alternative mounting solution. However, given that I already own two hard tops (and don't use either of them that often), I probably won't be a customer.
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post #20 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-09-2019, 04:14 PM
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Possible to make them Gull Wing?
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