Archive for Lotus

Lotus Legends: Elite Sophisto

Posted in Legendary Lotus Series, Lotus with tags , , , , , , on June 25, 2017 by 99MilesPerHour

The Innovative…Beautiful…and Efficient Lotus Elite 

While the other auto manufacturers stretched their offerings to outrageous lengths, added a ton of bright work, and included fins large enough to qualify as aircraft – Colin Chapman did just the reverse…he thought in terms of classic simplicity. His forward thinking involved compact, lightweight aerodynamic architecture with component consolidation for the drivetrain.

His famous rhetorical quote sums his intentions quite eloquently: “Adding power makes one faster on the straights…subtracting weight makes one faster everywhere.” Colin Chapman’s theory yields the most highly collectible Lotus of today, the exceptional Elite. This is the first road-going model for the brand. It’s a truly remarkable car…like champagne and diamonds –   

The Lotus Elite’s styling is fashionably unique for the day. This is the first plastic composite car with a structure built as a single integral unit. It’s designed by Peter Kirwan-Taylor. The sleek design has a drag coefficient of 0.29 and can achieve 40 mpg. (And this car was developed at a time when most cars were sucking the gasoline pumps dry!)

Elite’s lightweight design is augmented by fibreglass monocoque construction. This unique design does not use a separate metal chassis. (Do I detect an ugly skeptical note in your voice?) Underneath the exquisite styling small steel sections are bonded into the fibreglass structure at strategic points. This novel manner of construction boasts inherent rigidity. The stresses at the race tracks proved its lasting qualities. 

Only 1,048 Lotus Elites were built during its production from 1957–1963. More than half of these were imported to the USA. This rarity enhances the Elite’s desirability in the classic car market. The production glass reinforced polyester monocoque for these required 57 molds to make, which was vastly complex and obscenely expensive. Maximar of Sussex, a boat building company, made the first 285 bodyshells. The Elite’s double-skinned structure was a challenge which took its toll on quality control. No two bodyshells were quite the same in precise measurement or materials.

Chapman switched to the Bristol Aircraft Company for the SII version. This was the largest fibreglass contractual agreement in Great Britain at the time. The new bodyshells were refined and far superior to Maximar’s reducing the number of molds required to 43 instead of the initial 57 molds. The Lotus Elite was grossly expensive in its overall production which put a strain on corporate finances biting deeply into company profits. This put Chapman on the brink of bankruptcy. (The Lotus Elan was the saving grace which bailed the company out of the red!)

The Lotus Elite established its place among the classiest sports cars in automotive history. Its cabin designed by Peter Cambridge, reflects that of a stylish road rally tourer projecting classic simplicity. There’s nothing ostentatious per Colin Chapman’s theory of form and functionality. It features a full complement of instrumentation to include speedometer, tach, fuel gauge, water temperature, oil pressure, and battery charge. High-back Dunlop seats, a 16” wood grain steering wheel, and carpeting all compliment Elite’s sporting nature.

There are no frills, no trendy bells and whistles…this car is built for speed. Most European sports cars designed for speed adopt the minimalist approach; therefore, the driver isn’t distracted by fancy trim detailing as well as radios. The list of options for the Lotus Elite included a heater, windscreen washers, and seat belts. Elite Series II has stiffer Royalite thermoplastic door trim with door pockets which double as arm rests. Each side window is made from plexiglass and is removable. The cabin is tastefully built for speed, not luxury  

Under the bonnet resides the Coventry Climax ‘FEW’ powerplant. If properly maintained it is a very reliable power source. It was expensive to build and even more so to rebuild. The Series I aluminium 1216 cc 8-valve in-line 4 cylinder naturally aspirated engine (Series I 1959-1960) is equipped with a single SU 1.5” horizontal carburetor. It produces 75 hp @ 6,100 rpm with 104 Nm of peak torque @ 3,750 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 10.3 seconds, 0-100 mph in 44 seconds with a top speed in the 101 mph range. It does the ¼ mile @ 78 mph in 17.5 seconds. The engine is mated to the MG 4-speed manual gearbox. Lotus Elite is a front-engine rear-wheel drive sports car.

Series II (1961-1963) is fitted with Twin SU H4 1.5” carburetors which crank 83 hp @ 6,250 rpm with 102 Nm of peak torque @ 4,750 rpm. This version acquired a 4-branch fabricated exhaust manifold and a 3-piece alloy intake manifold. Heavy-duty bottom end construction with 3 main bearings and a deep sump flange on the block gives it more power. The engine has wedge-shaped combustion chambers that house unusually large valves (1.28” intake/ 1.15” exhaust). The engine is mated to the ZF 4-speed manual gearbox. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 9.8 seconds, 0-100 rpm in 33.5 seconds with a top speed in the 103 mph range. It does the ¼ mile @ 81 mph in 17.7 seconds. 

Special variations of the Lotus Elite were built with extreme high-performance in mind. A Special Edition Super 95 Stage II engine is equipped with a high-lift 3-bearing cam, and ignition alterations. It cranks 95 hp @ 6,500 rpm with 100 Nm of peak torque @ 5,000 rpm. The head has 40 thou shaved off to provide a higher compression ratio of 11.0:1 which can hit 7,200 rpm without flexing. Many of the Super 95 models are fitted with Twin Weber 38 DCO carburetors and ZF 4-speed manual gearboxes. The Super 95 has a top speed in the 125 mph range. Only 23 Super 95 versions were built.  

If you want even more bang for your buck, the Super 100 version cranks 100 hp @ 7,200 rpm with 100 Nm of peak torque @ 5,000 rpm and has a top speed in the 130 mph range. Only 6 Super 100 versions were built. The Super 105 cranks 105 hp @ 7,200 rpm with 100 Nm of peak torque @ 5,000 rpm with a top speed in the 130–137 mph range. Only 6 Super 105 versions were built. These fully balanced racing engines were equipped with high-lift 5-bearing cam shafts and 80 thou shaved off the heads to give a higher compression ratio of 11.5:1 and can hit 7,900 rpm without flexing. Both Super 100 and 105 versions are equipped with Twin Weber 38 DCO carburetors and ZF 4-speed manual gearboxes. The 5-bearing versions are not suitable for road use because of high loadings imposed on the valve gear. 

Lotus Elan Type 26R Competition fixed head coupe

Lotus Europa Type 47

Lotus Elite

The Lotus Elite is a revolutionary automotive design which is the first road-going model for the brand. It benefits highly from Colin Chapman’s racing expertise. The Lotus Elite is really a race car in street clothes. Its technology was far ahead of its time. Elites are a culmination of a race-bred heritage, excellent handling, superb road-holding abilities, and outstanding overall ride quality. The one-piece fibreglass monocoque construction is the first of its kind. This lightweight design sports a mere 0.29 drag coefficient making it superfast by all means. Lotus Elite is one of the most highly coveted collectible classic sports cars in existence. Only 1,048 Lotus Elites were built from 1957-1963. This rarity enhances its desirability even further…. 

The Lotus Elite is aesthetically appealing from any angle

Here are 3 of the most coveted classics in automotive history

The indomitable Lotus Elan (1962-1973)

The totally avant-garde Lotus Europa (1967-1975)

The superlatively dynamic Lotus Elite (1957-1963)

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Greg’s World IS NotoriousLuxury © 2017

 

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Lotus Legends: Europa Twin Cam Ideology

Posted in Legendary Lotus Series with tags , , , , , , , on May 6, 2017 by 99MilesPerHour

Lotus power can be compared to a force that is fierce and unrelenting as a hurricane. Whether clothed in race car attire or simply as a road-going street version, the name Lotus equates to a serendipitous encounter few sports cars can replicate. The mighty “Big Valve” Twin Cam engine produces fury the competitors envy. It proves the theory that humongous engine displacement with numerous cylindrical configurations are not really necessary to produce prodigious, jaw-dropping, pavement-blistering performance. The first generation Type 74 Lotus Europa Twin Cam Special is a synergistic approach to very, very high performance.

By Gtb2 – Europa S1 1967, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12079462

The Lotus Europa began as the name implies targeting European markets. They were launched initially for French markets as the S1 Type 46 with a Renault engine and gearbox in December of 1966, deliveries started in February 1967. They weren’t available for British and US markets until the S2 version of 1969.

Here’s a word of caution regarding the purchase of the S1 Europa: DON’T! The fibreglass body is bonded to the chassis. The body must be cut away to replace the chassis which is atrociously expensive. The Renault engine is not as good as the Lotus Twin Cam and parts are scarce for a rebuild which is inevitable. Most enthusiasts have switched out the engine to the Twin Cam. The S1 Europas are also very basic. The interiors have fixed non-operational windows, no floor carpeting, fixed seating positions (floor pedals are adjustable), and an aluminum faced dash.

1967 Lotus Europa S1 Type 46

The Europa was homologated as the Type 47 to become a full race version. The engine, suspension, and tires were tweaked to produce 165 hp reaching a top speed in the 143 mph range.

1969 Lotus Europa S2, Elite Garage Zuzwil SG, Switzerland

The following year brought revisions, the S1A & B had removable windows and a wood faced dash. The S2 model introduced in 1968 brought significant improvements to the Europa. A separate backbone chassis made everyone happy from the auto insurance industry to the restoration enthusiasts are tackling today. Electric power windows removed the inherent claustrophobia, adjustable seats, carpeting, and a polished wood dash made the interior more civilized and refined. The most highly desirable Europa models are the Twin Cam variants launched in December 1971. The “Big Valve” Special debuted in 1972. The last of the first generation Lotus Europa models exited the assembly hall in 1975.

The Lotus Europa sports a silhouette like no other car. It’s not an unrealistic, over-achieving, airbrushed, anorexic glam-car at the tracks, it is unregarding, gutsy, and is a real sports car. So it’s not drop dead gorgeous, it’s not perfect – but it is an athletic behemoth capable of awesome, jaw-dropping performance. It’s a low-slung mid-engine dream. The fibreglass body shell has a drag coefficient of a mere 0.29 making it superbly aerodynamic. The Europa’s bold and unconventional design bucks status quo for the day.

The Twin Cam rear body styling is trimmer than the Renault Europa which not only improves rear visibility but also makes them more aesthetically appealing. The Europa’s compact dimensions aided stability and aerodynamic efficiency. Twin Cam versions are stretched 1” longer to accommodate the larger engine.

The 157.5” overall length is augmented by a 92” wheelbase and 64.5” width. The Lotus Europa is only 42.5” in ride height. Its handcrafted fibreglass body shell has rigid torsional strength with a separate steel backbone chassis. This manner of build is void of squeaks and rattles. It also makes restoration easier; as with all first generation Lotus models – the chassis must be replaced at some point in time.

Initially, the Type 74 Europa Special was to be limited to 200 vehicles. Response to this new car was so great it continued through the end of production. Out of a total of 4,710 Type 74 Europas, 3,130 are built as Specials. The first 100 Big Valve Europa Specials were painted black with gold pin striping honoring the Team Lotus 1972 F1 World Championship title. This is the livery color of the GP cars for the sponsor which the models are named “John Player Specials.”

More color choices were introduced later on during the production tenure. Twin Cam models present a sportier appearance with signature features such as lower profile rear buttresses and a small front air dam under the chin. Twin fuel filler caps for the Twin Cam Europas are another distinguishing feature. The two fuel tanks total 12.5 gallons which is an increase over previous models.

Lotus 72 F1 in John Player Special Livery colors compliments of http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2010/01/16/great-f1-cars-in-pictures-lotus-72-autosport-international/autosportinternational_lotu/

By now, you can clearly see the Type 74 Twin Cam Europa is the best of all models. The Special is equally as feisty as the formidable Elan Sprint with the “Big Valve” powerplant. This naturally aspirated 2-valve per cylinder in-line 1558cc 4-banger is equipped with Twin Dell ‘Orto DHLA40 carburetors. The Big Valve engine has a cast iron block topped with an aluminium head. It’s equipped with a DOHC and the crankshaft runs in five main bearings.

This version of the Twin Cam cranks 126 hp @ 6,500 rpm with 153 Nm of peak torque @ 5,500 rpm. It redlines @ 6,800 rpm. The gearbox is mounted behind the engine and final drive forming a transaxle. It is inverted to provide forward gears. The Big Valve Twin Cam produces more torque; therefore, requires the heftier type 365 heavy-duty 5-speed manual gearbox.

Longitudinal acceleration is rated as: 0-60 mph in 6.1 seconds, 0-100 mph in 15.7 seconds, 0-120 mph in 28.3 seconds with a top speed in the 124-128 mph range. It does the ¼ mile @ 94 mph in just 14.7 seconds. The gearbox is a bit awkward and takes a bit of getting used to because of the cable linkage. It’s a mid-engine rear-drive rocket. 

The Europa Special has a separate fibreglass body shell and steel box-section backbone chassis as the Elan. It is a different configuration since the engine is longitudinally rear mid-mounted. The engine sits just behind the cockpit. Europas have a 56/44 rear-biased weight distribution. A 4-wheel independent suspension uses basically the same front suspension as the Elan. The front has upper and lower wishbones, spring dampers, and an anti-roll bar for stability. Lotus Europas use a lengthened version of the Herald-derived Alford & Adler rack and pinion steering system with a modified coupling to the Herald column.

The rear suspension features a large box steel trailing arm on either side anchored to the chassis in line with the cockpit bulkhead, fixed length drive shafts, coil springs, and telescopic dampers. A steel crossmember is bolted to the chassis above the gearbox to provide the mounts for the spring dampers. Europa Specials are equipped with the Girling brake system 9.5” discs fitted to the front axle and 8x 1 ¼ “drums to the rear. There are conversion kits available today to convert the rear brakes to disc type. Servo assisted brakes are standard for Twin Cam and Special models. The Lotus Europa continues Colin Chapman’s basic lightweight theory.

Lotus Twin Cam and Special models have more civilized cockpits than their Spartan predecessors. The foot wells are a bit larger and lower due to the extra 1” longer wheelbase. More sound deadening materials insulates the cabin. A new oatmeal color was added as an option. The last of the line Europa Specials incorporate cord inserts into the upholstery.

Carpeting and wood veneer dash accents makes them more upscale. Electrically operated windows, and comprehensive instrumentation adds to their more luxurious stature. The Lotus Twin Cam and Special models offer excellent overall performance, outstanding handling attributes, and a more relaxed attitude at high speeds as it adheres to the pavement like a magnet. This fierce Lotus flexes its muscles…as it minds its manners –

Lotus Europa Type 47

Lotus Europa S2 Type 54

Lotus Europa Type 74 Twin Cam Special

Colin Chapman’s forward thinking made the Lotus brand ahead of the pack for the day. The Europa Twin Cam Special with its mid-rear longitudinally mounted engine came about when Lamborghini and Matra were the only auto manufacturers to use such daring innovation. The most desirable Europa models are endowed with the mighty “Big Valve” Twin Cam engine. It moves the Europa with aplomb. This sleek, low-slung, brute has its own unique panache; there’s nothing else on the road quite like it.

The ultimate addition to your classic muscle car collection would be an Elan Sprint and a Europa Twin Cam Special – talk about a sophisticated power couple…this is the epitome. The Europa models are true to Colin Chapman’s philosophy regarding his minimalist approach with lightweight construction, aerodynamic efficiency, and ingenious component consolidation. What the ugly duckling lacks in appearance…it more than makes up for it in inexhaustible power and outstanding performance. The Lotus Europa Twin Cam and Twin Cam Special models are in a league of their own –

Lotus Elan Sprint

Special thanks to Conceptcarz, Favcars.com, F1 Fanatic, Wikipedia, Wallpaperup, and Elite Garage Zuzwil SG, Switzerland for the use of their photos of these extremely rare sports cars.

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