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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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.
 

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This will be fun to watch! If you get it back to working condition and end up wanting to sell it again, let me know, I might buy it back off of ya.

Good luck and remember to add lightness! :)
 

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Looking forward to getting this one into the garage and tearing into it. Hopefully, we'll have it out on track in short order.
 

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YOu can fix the clam, just work is all. Have to untwist the break, sand back to the end of the stress cracks, lay mat over......used to say with the older cars that as long as you picked all the pieces up, any accident can be fixed.

biggest problems with the clam is whoever touches a new or used one has to ship it somewhere, there is no getting past the size of the thing. Fixing that one is about 20 bucks of material and 40 hours work....

Don't forget to check the heater fan out when you have the clam off
 

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If you're looking for a clam and oil cooler and are willing to go through the wait/hassle/drama of an insurance auction, this is probably the most factory solution:

https://www.iaai.com/Vehicle?itemID=24651599&RowNumber=3&loadRecent=True

It's in Seattle but that's not insurmountable.

I followed the previous threads on this car and am eagerly looking forward to seeing the tear-down and restoration! I'd love to undertake a similar project as you'll really get to know the car well from taking it apart and putting it back together again.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
YOu can fix the clam, just work is all. Have to untwist the break, sand back to the end of the stress cracks, lay mat over......used to say with the older cars that as long as you picked all the pieces up, any accident can be fixed.

biggest problems with the clam is whoever touches a new or used one has to ship it somewhere, there is no getting past the size of the thing. Fixing that one is about 20 bucks of material and 40 hours work....

Don't forget to check the heater fan out when you have the clam off
Good call on the heater fan. It might also make sense to upgrade the radiator while everything is apart since these are prone to failing. I don't know yet if the OEM one is still in there or if the previous owner ever upgraded it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
If you're looking for a clam and oil cooler and are willing to go through the wait/hassle/drama of an insurance auction, this is probably the most factory solution:

https://www.iaai.com/Vehicle?itemID=24651599&RowNumber=3&loadRecent=True

It's in Seattle but that's not insurmountable.

I followed the previous threads on this car and am eagerly looking forward to seeing the tear-down and restoration! I'd love to undertake a similar project as you'll really get to know the car well from taking it apart and putting it back together again.

@CookieMonster - thanks for sharing this. That seems like a good option, but I have no idea how these auctions work. I see the "actual case value" on that site is $8500 which seems sort of insane. But either way, thanks for the tip. I'll register and try to bid on that.

My other option is going with the eliseparts.com clam ($1700+ shipping $900 + paint ~$1500) or repairing this one.
 

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From what I've read (never having done this before), IAA only sells to brokers that have a license to bid and purchase the cars they sell. In order for us (the general public) to bid on their auctions, we need to register with one the brokers listed here:

https://www.iaai.com/services/brokersearch.aspx

Most of these brokers don't charge a sign up fee but they do charge a final value fee (between $200-$400) and a documentation fee (~$80) on top of the selling price charged by IAA. To bid on an item one also needs to send the broker 10% of your maximum bid before the bid is finalized. On top of all of this, your bid online only provides representation up to that price at the actual in person auction -- meaning the selling price could be higher or lower than the selling price on the web. Once the auction happens, you have 4 days to collect the item before storage fees are incurred. Aren't you glad you bought your new Exige privately!

There have been a few cars that have passed through there recently that would have been fun projects to have picked up but I don't have the time now to deal with the process or the end result. At some point in the next year or so, I'd love to find a car like yours for the experience of putting it back together (and then driving of course). I'm in the process of moving back to the Bay Area and would love to see this in person sometime if you're ever interested in showing it.
 

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craigyirush
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Looking forward to this! I really like Vincent's reason for taking this on - I too cringe every time I see a thread on LT starting with 'crashed my Elige' and think 'oh no, another one gone'.

Also like the idea of putting it back to original/not going mod crazy. It's already an Exige with an aftermarket SC!
 

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Monaco Dreamin'
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Lucky guy! I missed out on this one and the car was only 2 miles from me. Oh well, have fun and I hope the engine isn't roasted!
 

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Discussion Starter #13

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Discussion Starter #14
Not too much to update on but the other day @munozt and I broke into the car like a couple of thieves (doors were locked and battery disconnected) and went through all the spares that were sitting in the passenger seat.

I’ll definitely be selling some of the stuff off that I don’t have a use for so stay tuned in the For Sale section. I already posted the Fidanza lightweight flywheel if anyone is interested in that and I think I have a buyer for the audio system (sub and amp, I’ll keep the speakers and head unit.)

Upon opening the engine hatch, we were pretty surprised to see the state of the engine, which looked like an abandoned science fair project. It was partially disassembled, I’d imagine because the shop where the car sat post-accident probably tried to figure out the issue with the cam sprocket. Unfortunately, the ignition coils and spark plugs were out and the car had been sitting outdoors in the rain for a week. Uh oh.

It doesn’t look like much rain got into the sensitive parts of the engine, but we’ll definitely be drying every bit with the attention I’d give a supermodel getting out of a pool. (Need a towel ma’am?)

Since we don’t have room in the garage yet, we buttoned everything back up on the engine in case it continues to rain as the car will likely sit out for another week or so. (Anyone want to buy an MR2 Sypder? @munozt might have one for sale soon!)

We also took a closer look at the clam damage and started to convince ourselves that it can be repaired. Won’t know for sure until we take it off, but we’re optimistic. No pieces are missing save for the mounting points in the headlight bucket but we may be able to just order the headlight bucket itself and bond it to the clam.

The other good news is that the oil cooler looks fine. It’s not damaged or leaking from what we could see so that may save some trouble.

While we have the clam off, we’ll be replacing the radiator. What other projects should we do while it’s off?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Oh and the replacement crash structure should arrive from the UK this week.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Sorry for the lack of updates. Life is busy when you have a job, 2 kids and a hot wife to keep happy.

@munozt got his MR2 spyder project finished up and he graciously made space in his garage. Luckily these cars are pretty light because we had to push the car about a half a block into the garage.

First order of business was giving it a quick wash. You’re probably thinking “why wash a wrecked car?!” Yeah me too, but the car was much dirtier than the floor of the garage.


(hard to tell, but there is a lift in this garage!)

We spent most of the day “adding lightness”. And by that I actually mean removing about 25 lbs of subwoofer, amp, and high quality stereo wiring.



This would have been a much quicker project if we had left in the wiring, but one thing lead to another and well...you know how that goes. Before we knew it, she was completely undressed (well the interior at least.)



Might as well do a project right or not do it at all. Once we had the seats out to remove the C.A.R.S. subwoofer enclosure and once we had the rear interior panel out to unscrew the sub (which was screwed in from the back of that panel)...then we were taking out the center console and dash speakers to get the wiring out.

If you’re familiar with this setup, everything gets wired to the amp in the trunk and then back out to the speakers, including the fronts. So there was a lot of wiring to remove.

Don’t get me wrong, I like music and am not turning this into a 100% track car so I kept the speakers and head unit. Luckily the OEM speaker wiring was all still there.

While stuff was apart, we also used the opportunity to add a little sound deadening material to the rear firewall and aluminum fuel tank panel behind the seats. Don’t worry, we didn’t add more than the weight of the sub+amp+wiring so I think we’re still at a net diet in terms of weight.

I also decided that I’m going to switch back to the LSS wheels so I’ll have a set of TR F1s in Lotus sizes for sale as soon as I get the tires swapped. I know the TRs are super light, but they’re just not my style -- I’m not a fan of the polished lip or design. Plus, selling them will help offset some of the cost of the other work on the car.



More to come…

PS. @munozt and I decided to set a goal of finishing this car before the West Coast Lotus Meet and driving both it and my current Elise to the event. We’ll see, at this pace it’s not looking too good!
 

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Pretty good so far and I agree about subwoofers, etc.

Happy to subscribe.
 

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hey since you've removed that subwoofer, amp and wires....you have any use for them? I'd maybe buy those from you for my Elise :)

Sent from my SM-N910T using Tapatalk
 
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