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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Everyone,

I would like to build an overland/rally Lotus Elise. I'm in the US so it will be a Series 2 car.
I've driven an Elise/Exige a few times and love the car. I live in the North East USA and the roads are terrible, full of pot holes. The really fun, windy roads are often unpaved.
I would like to put longer travel, softer suspension, and the smallest wheels with largest sidewall all terrain tires that I can fit. Unsure what size wheels can fit over stock brakes, hoping I don't have to downsize the brakes.
Car already has full aluminum plate on the underside so maybe I don't have to worry about adding skid plates?

I'm sure many of you will think this is stupid and maybe it is :) but if you have any insight on what will fit please let me know, or any shops you think might have done something similar before.

Just for context I have a 991 GT3 and it's wonderful, but there are a lot of roads that it's too low and stiff to enjoy or even drive on.
Likewise I have an Ariel Nomad Supercharged, it's amazing and exactly what I am trying to copy. However it's a hassle to drive, it's like a sportbike, I have to think about getting wet and my clothing and taking things out of my pockets before I get in the car. I wear earplugs and my back aches when I'm done driving. My hope was to turn the lotus into a car with similar handling dynamic but a bit more comfortable. I know the Elise is not a "comfortable" car, but drive a Nomad and you will understand.

So please help me and chime in with your suggestions or thoughts.
Thanks!
 

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I would say to save some $$... buy a miata and cut off the body, put a cage on it, maybe put a little lift on it and do something like this... I love to take her on dirt roads! I frequently consider turning this more into an off-road toy...

1264051


or i'll sell you this one! and save you a lot of work...

EDIT: or leave the body and look into Paco Motorsports and their suspension setup for a Miata...
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks but the idea is to get something MORE comfortable than a Nomad. Not less.

anyone with ideas how to accomplish making the lotus an overland type cat.
 

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What does overland mean to you? I'm not going to say it's a terrible idea - a rally style Elise would be pretty cool, and has been done (though primarily tarmac rally). Overlanding though typically involves carrying a lot of gear, and I can't imagine what you'd hope to do in that realm with an Elise. When I think overlanding I'm thinking extra fuel cans, pop-up sleeping tents, water tanks/reclamation tanks, winch, full sized spare, etc. The Elise chassis just doesn't seem up to that.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Perhaps I’m using the wrong term then. I don’t have any desire to carry extra gear. I basically want as sporty a car as I can get that can drive on mixed surfaces. That’s basically the definition of my Nomad, however I want this car to be comfortable enough to do a full day of driving in, something with doors, air con, and a roof.
 

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Well if you have to go that unnatural direction for Elise this might be a start
1264083
1264084
 

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Perhaps I’m using the wrong term then. I don’t have any desire to carry extra gear. I basically want as sporty a car as I can get that can drive on mixed surfaces. That’s basically the definition of my Nomad, however I want this car to be comfortable enough to do a full day of driving in, something with doors, air con, and a roof.
Fair - so just an off-roady kind of deal. I presume you've already accepted the Elise will be awful for this no matter what you do, so if we're past that: Basically you just need a big pocketbook and any offroad fab shop. Going to need to have custom wishbones/arms/axles/suspension built to raise it up and add a lot of travel.

I would definitely add HDPE sheets underneath, the aluminum underbody of the Elise isn't really suited to the purpose.

It'll work for light stuff, but even if you dramatically raise the Elise up which is going to likely ruin the feel of driving it (might still be a blast? hard to say) it isn't going to actually have much clearance.

If you've got the funds, I'd say do it just because I think it'd be cool even if it ends up a miserable failure. You mentioned the northeast, so you might want to get in touch with Team O'Neil if you're serious about it.
 

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I can’t find any info on them or what shop built them. I tried reaching the owner of the gray one on Instagram last week but no reply. Do you know anything about them
Sorry no just found by googling. Not my cup of tea and if I was to go that route there's so many more practical vehicles to start with even if you started with sports cars.
 

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It'd be cool to see an off road elise! Have you driven in a normal one before? I'd be worried that even once you get it all sorted it will get beat up hard, if you start rallying it. these car are delicate.
I recommend you find one with a salvage title to start. Plan to re-tape almost all the British wiring, remove the immobilizer, glue/bolt in the turn signals, buy a broken front clam from the for sale on the forum, so you can re sell the okay one on the car and then cut away to your heart's delight until the hard-to-plan one-off suspension mods fit. And then decide how to punish it from there.
Take a lot of pictures.

If you want to see how stiff an unforgiving an elise is before you start, i'm from new hampshire and would give you a ride.
 

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Sounds to me like folks might be over reacting to your concept. I think you may be trying to create a more comfortable ride with a bit more ground clearance. I think that may be possible. I’m not sure about running 15’s over the stock brakes. I’m sure somebody has tried that and may know if it works. I have a track car and I went to adjustable Nitron Single shocks with a lighter spring rate. I actually lowered about 3/4” over stock. I was looking for better compliance to the track surface. This worked very well but in addition, The street ride improved probably 500%. No teeth rattling any more. I think you could take the same setup and raise it instead of lowering it and have a very streetable vehicle. If you are trying to get more radical than that, you are in new territory.


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Discussion Starter #15
Sounds to me like folks might be over reacting to your concept. I think you may be trying to create a more comfortable ride with a bit more ground clearance. I think that may be possible. I’m not sure about running 15’s over the stock brakes. I’m sure somebody has tried that and may know if it works. I have a track car and I went to adjustable Nitron Single shocks with a lighter spring rate. I actually lowered about 3/4” over stock. I was looking for better compliance to the track surface. This worked very well but in addition, The street ride improved probably 500%. No teeth rattling any more. I think you could take the same setup and raise it instead of lowering it and have a very streetable vehicle. If you are trying to get more radical than that, you are in new territory.


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I’d say you nailed it. I’m not looking to compete in rally racing. I want a sports car that I can drive on crappy roads and occasionally go on gravel or dirt trails. I wonder how much lift I could get by adding coil overs to the stock suspension. At some point I’ll be out of travel and screw up the suspension geometry too much
 

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I don't know where in the northeast you live that most of the good roads are unpaved, but I
have managed to find 27k miles of paved roads to drive on the last 3 1/2 years.

I would suggest that you not buy something and turn it into something different. There are plenty of cars that will always be superior on an unpaved road to an Elise, and you will not have to ruin anything to drive them.

I remember fondly driving my Audi 4000Q on a freshly graded gravel road at about 60 with a roostertail of dust behind me. That car could climb an ice mountain. Lacking ABS it could not, however, get back down.

AT the end of the day, you will not enjoy your modded Elise, because it will still be too fragile to do what you want. Potholes will never be its forte.


I’d say you nailed it. I’m not looking to compete in rally racing. I want a sports car that I can drive on crappy roads and occasionally go on gravel or dirt trails. I wonder how much lift I could get by adding coil overs to the stock suspension. At some point I’ll be out of travel and screw up the suspension geometry too much
 

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Oh that's less fun...
But, if you run nitron single adjustable 46mm coilovers on 15in fronts that are fully extended it looks like the attached pictures.

I've damaged my front lip too many times so I went all the way up for street driving.

I have the stock 16s on the front now which give about 4.75 in clearance for the front lip.
 

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I’d say you nailed it. I’m not looking to compete in rally racing. I want a sports car that I can drive on crappy roads and occasionally go on gravel or dirt trails. I wonder how much lift I could get by adding coil overs to the stock suspension. At some point I’ll be out of travel and screw up the suspension geometry too much
Well if crappy roads and occasional gravel roads are you goal don't add splitter and use stock diffuser go with two way any good coilover and raise it up. Run DSW-06 on LSS rims. The roads here where I live are combos of good road, washboard multi level multi pothole with steep drop off to deep water filled ditches. I travel gravel roads in visiting last year was on single lane road the turned to dirt on the way to HS friends reunion with drop off into 3' tall grass. As I left people were still coming so you each share one set of wheels on road and the other is laying down grass with car on 25 deg angIe I kept moving thinking about catching grass on fire. Car did fine I was ok after a deep breath but the car came thru unscathed and was soon doing 80 on I66. My car was at 130/135 at that time before setting ride height down and adding V2 arms and getting proper camber and alignment. It showed you can do minor offroading just use common sense. BTW when you first said offroad I think of the jacked 4x4 monsters here in the swamp that need ladder to get in and they get stuck sometimes, or the Porsche rally car that got badly stuck on OBX beaches while playing dune buggy.
 
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Discussion Starter #19
Oh that's less fun...
But, if you run nitron single adjustable 46mm coilovers on 15in fronts that are fully extended it looks like the attached pictures.

I've damaged my front lip too many times so I went all the way up for street driving.

I have the stock 16s on the front now which give about 4.75 in clearance for the front lip.
Awesome thanks for the pics, that's super helpful. How did the car drive, on pavement, at this ride height?
 

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Awesome thanks for the pics, that's super helpful. How did the car drive, on pavement, at this ride height?
Car drives great! The nitrons are super smooth, and it still corners perfectly, I take the right hand turn off the main road onto my street at 40mph without hitting the break because it gives me a rush. No problem. I dont want to push anymore than that on the street.
I have a track day coming up on june 14th, I'll do a few laps at this height and let you know for real.
Granted that track day will be my first time trying the r888r tires so I might miss construe what is doing what. But you would not be disappointed in the handling at this ride hight compared to any other "normal" sports car
 
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