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monkeyodeath
monkeyodeath
10/17/12 10:53 p.m.

Long time lurker, first time poster.

I really, realllly want a first generation Elan. Bad. I crave a tiny roadster and I love light and great-handling cars.

But I don’t want the Twin-Cam engine in it. I know that might be blasphemous, but it’s just too expensive and a pain in the ass. Ideally, I’d swap a 20v 4AGE into it, shoehorn a 5-speed in there, and enjoy the power and reliability.

How do you guys recommend I go about this? I’d hate to drop $$ on a car in nice condition only to pull the engine and modify it. But at the same time, I don’t want to end up knee-deep in expensive restoration, replacing or buying every single part.

Another thing - I don’t care what the car looks like. As long as it runs and drives.

Also - if you didn’t know, replacement chassis and even bodyshells are available from England. I think a brand new chassis is around $4.

Whaddya think?

oldeskewltoy
oldeskewltoy Dork
10/17/12 11:08 p.m.
monkeyodeath wrote: Whaddya think?

Playing around with modifying a Lotus will bring many opinions....

Only modify the car as a last resort... I'd hold on to the original engine and gearbox until your planned swapped is running as you intend.

20V has few parts available in the US...a potential problem - a well built 16V has all the parts here, and can be tweaked to plant 20V power.

How wide is the transmission tunnel??

monkeyodeath
monkeyodeath New Reader
10/17/12 11:13 p.m.

You have a point about the 20V - 16V's are way easier to source. I picked 4AGE because I've spent plenty of time working on them, they're cheap, and they are a descendant, in a way, of the Twin Cam. Plus it's one of the few engines short enough to fit.

From my understanding, the trans tunnel needs modification to hold the Toyota gearbox. That or I think an Alfa box works with a bellhousing adaptor fabbed up.

turboswede
turboswede PowerDork
10/17/12 11:21 p.m.

My dad had a 64 Élan. The only serious trouble he had with it was the stupid rubber doughnuts for the rear axles.

Considering the lineage of the 4AGE and the motor used in the Miata (you can see they grew from the lessons learned in the Lotus and Cosworth twin-cam motors)

Instead of modifying an original, why not build a new one? New, improved frames, bodies, etc are available from the UK. Add a 4AGE/Zetec/Miata motor in it and enjoy.

petegossett
petegossett UltraDork
10/18/12 5:55 a.m.

I'm certainly not a purist(I'm stuffing a Zetec in a Europa), but given the values of Elans, I'm not sure it's a good choice. That said, we're a bunch of enablers, and the stock Twink is an expensive and maintenance-intensive lump to keep going.

I know guys have done the Zetec swap into Elans before, and although I do not know any of the Élan-specific details, I'd presume its the most straightforward as the bellhousing patterns match.

Zetecs are also plentiful, dirt-cheap, able to support carbs or ITBs, have good aftermarket support, and can produce 150hp with little effort, and 200hp isn't difficult.

If you're set on the 4AGE path, there are adaptors available to mount them in a Europa, so I'd research whether that would work in an Élan as well.

gjz30075
gjz30075 Reader
10/18/12 6:45 a.m.

Depends on where you want your "pain in the ass". Many reputable twincam builders out there and the only real PITA is adjusting the valve clearances. The bottom part of the lump is simple English Ford stuff. Or, do you want your "pain in the ass" in the form of fitting a motor and trans that is not built to take a trans other than the original 4 spd. Very, very tight in there.

Like Pete said, the easier transplant is the Zetec because that road's been traveled by many already and all the support is there.

spitfirebill
spitfirebill UltraDork
10/18/12 7:08 a.m.

Its funny (odd) that this thread came up, because I have been having the same idea. I guess the answer to this question really is Miata.

RossD
RossD UberDork
10/18/12 7:12 a.m.

If you have a 4age sitting around with a Elan that needs an engine-then it's a no brainer. Throw it in. If you're shopping for an engine a Zetec would be the no brainer. Either choice needs a build thread here regardless of engine manufacturer.

Welcome to the loony bin!

Woody
Woody MegaDork
10/18/12 7:14 a.m.

I've been on the lookout for an Elan project for 20 years and they're just not that easy to find. I'd love to mount a Miata engine and transmission into a Spyder chassis and then drop an Elan Coupe body over it.

alfadriver
alfadriver PowerDork
10/18/12 7:19 a.m.

Having seen a friend struggle to work on his Elan twin cam, it seems like a lot of work to fit any powertrain that's barely bigger than the original.

If you have the parts, go for the attempt- more than once, I've considered taking a Miata rollerskate and putting it under a Spider, GTV, or Berlina. Engine and all- to have the Miata driving with the looks of the Alfa. And I think I would be considered to be more of an Alfa purist.

JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas HalfDork
10/18/12 7:20 a.m.

I know the guy who owns and built this one. I've driven it in ang... well, in fear, really. Sickeningly quick and agile, and doesn't give much warning when its ready to break loose.

I'm pretty sure he's still running an Elan engine and transmission. All the internals are breathed on, fuel injected, steep gears.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess UltimaDork
10/18/12 8:15 a.m.

If you can find the Elan, go for it. I saw a 4AG in an old (first) Elite. Plenty in Europas. I'm putting a 1NZFE plus turbo in an S2 Europa.

Woody
Woody MegaDork
10/18/12 8:20 a.m.

I'm still kicking myself for not jumping on a $6500 Elan Coupe that was mid restoration a few years ago. I was in Porsche mode at the time...

fidelity101
fidelity101 Reader
10/18/12 8:22 a.m.

13b it! No cams at all!

Woody
Woody MegaDork
10/18/12 8:31 a.m.
fidelity101 wrote: 13b it! No cams at all!

That's so 1985.

spitfirebill
spitfirebill UltraDork
10/18/12 9:13 a.m.
Woody wrote: I've been on the lookout for an Elan project for 20 years and they're just not that easy to find. I'd love to mount a Miata engine and transmission into a Spyder chassis and then drop an Elan Coupe body over it.

Most of the projects you find that are affordable would probably neeed a new frame. That kicks this idea to the curb.

Woody
Woody MegaDork
10/18/12 9:18 a.m.
spitfirebill wrote:
Woody wrote: I've been on the lookout for an Elan project for 20 years and they're just not that easy to find. I'd love to mount a Miata engine and transmission into a Spyder chassis and then drop an Elan Coupe body over it.

Most of the projects you find that are affordable would probably neeed a new frame. That kicks this idea to the curb.

Woody wrote: ... into a Spyder chassis and then ...
chaparral
chaparral HalfDork
10/18/12 9:37 a.m.

My dream "long-term" project is an all-new Elan with a tiny, screaming engine. No 200# 125-hp boat-anchors driving through ancient gearboxes. I'd try to choose the powerplant Chapman would choose today.

Right now, that would be either a forced-induction version of the Peugeot EB 3-cylinder, a CBR1000RR engine/gearbox, or a 1000+ cc two-stroke injected snowmobile engine. By the time I get around to this project, I suspect that an electric powertrain will beat the gas engines for this.

monkeyodeath
monkeyodeath New Reader
10/18/12 9:42 a.m.

Hmmm maybe Zetec is the way to go then.

I don't mean to diss the twink, it's just that I've looked up rebuild prices and maintenance, and it just seems so high for a tiny, high-revving 4...especially in a world where cheap, reliable high-revving 4's like the 4AGE and Zetec exist and are quite plentiful. I feel like replacing it (and redoing some of the wiring, and replacing the donuts with CV's) could create kind of an ideal car - Lotus handling with modern reliability and maintenance costs.

Building a new car from scratch sounds fun, but I feel like getting in the weeds with the interior, seats, etc., could cost a mint. But it is kind of cool how it, for an old classic, there's still such a "kit car" mentality to it...frame replacement seems like less of a dealbreaker and more like part of the 10-year maintenance interval.

I guess, ideally, I'd find an Elan with a good shell but rusted-out frame and borked engine, get the Spyder frame, drop a Zetec in, and enjoy my reliable Lotus. Sigh....now just gotta find the shell...don't think this'll be easy.

spitfirebill
spitfirebill UltraDork
10/18/12 10:55 a.m.

What is this Spyder frame?

monkeyodeath
monkeyodeath New Reader
10/18/12 11:01 a.m.

Spyder: http://www.spydercars.co.uk/

Aftermarket company that makes what appear to be highly-regarded replacement chassis for Elans. I think they have improvements allowing for the use of standard Ford CV joints and brakes.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess UltimaDork
10/18/12 12:15 p.m.

Their Europa frames are well thought of as well. I've seen one on a friend's car.

petegossett
petegossett UltraDork
10/18/12 12:21 p.m.

In reply to monkeyodeath:

Are you dead-set on an Élan? I'm going to have most of my 2nd Europa left over, and I really don't have room to keep it forever.

Wayslow
Wayslow Reader
10/18/12 1:21 p.m.

Not a first gen or even a convertible but that's our plans for this one.

Already did it to this one

spitfirebill
spitfirebill UltraDork
10/18/12 1:51 p.m.

Oh my!

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