This 1983 Lotus Esprit Turbo is packing something different in the engine compartment: a 1989-vintage Yamaha SHO 3 liter DOHC V-6 engine, courtesy of a Ford Taurus SHO. Catch it for sale on eBay, before it expires on 13 Nov, 2012.
This is the second Esprit we’ve seen with an SHO engine swap. This example is a 1983 S3 model. It’s original Lotus 2.2-liter belt-driven SOHC engine is an “interference engine” – meaning that when (not just if) the timing belt breaks, the valves and pistons will collide. Religious replacement of the belt is a must, a thankless task which requires very serious close-quarters wrenching skills if not an outright engine removal (depending on who you ask). So unless you’re an absolute purist, the SHO engine makes better sense with the advantage of more power out of the box as well as more potential.
The transmission adapter was built by Kennedy Engineering, who has a long list of available adapters available on their site. The engine features professionally ported heads by Star Racing, extrude honed and fully polished intake manifold, 24 lb. injectors, 77 mm MAF, and a custom exhaust system.
We watched the live introduction by Lotus at the Paris auto show this morning with enormous anticipation. It was believed that Lotus would be introducing 4 new vehicles, and instead an incredible 5 all-new cars were introduced to the press. The greatest number of new products Lotus has ever introduced at once. Their actual production dates are scattered over the next few years, between now and 2015. But they are very well developed and coming.
Here are the details of the new products. They all feature similar styling, perhaps described as “new edge” (although not as sharp-edged as the announcement by Lamborghini yesterday). And it’s not only styling that has evolved – the engineering of these cars and the drive-train technology owe nothing to the past. That is a very good thing.
Exact specifications have not yet been revealed for all of these cars, but we are looking forward to Lotus releasing them soon.
Of particular interest is the new Elise – coming in 2015. Toyota ended production of it’s 1.8 liter 4 cylinder engine last month, and we were expecting an announcement of a new engine today. Instead, we got both an all new (and very much needed) car and an entirely new engine. Little is known about the new engine, other than it being Toyota-based. With 320 HP from only 2 liters, it’s probably turbocharged and very highly developed. We’ll look forward to seeing the details – as well as <worrisome> the price.
A new Esprit for 2013 has been under development for many years, and mules have been seen for at least 10 years. But this is, finally, the real deal. The rumored V-10 LFA engine failed to appear, instead the Esprit and all the big cars below use variations of Toyota V-8 and V-6s.
The Eterne 4-door was introduced last, and it was the only car introduced to have blacked-out windows. This car may not have been ready to be shown yet, ikn fact it may not have had an interior at all. We’ll have to keep an eye on this as it is developed further.
And it was nice to see Bob Lutz piped into the broadcast, as a new advisor to their executive staff.
The New Lotus Esprit (5.0 litre/V8/620 PS). “The icon is back” 2013 production
“The Esprit is the ultimate supercar. There’s a fine balance between acknowledging the greatness of the past whilst at the same time rapidly leaping forward to the future and ensuring that this car not only does the name Esprit justice but also the Lotus brand. I think we’ve managed to find the balance and in doing so created a new icon, a car people will find hard to resist. The design is aggressive, you have to see it to appreciate how low and wide the proportions are but it still retains a level of dignity, of class and most of all exclusivity. I’m very proud of this car.”
The New Lotus Elan (4.0 litre/V6/450 PS). “The end of compromise” summer 2013 production
“Perfect for both road and track, the Elan not only ticks all the boxes, it creates new ones too. It will convert people to Lotus, it will also go a long way towards dispelling the old misconceptions about this class, that in order to have high performance you must sacrifice usability – those days are gone. Once you drive an Elan you won’t look back, it will give you things you didn’t even realise you were missing – that’s the essence of Lotus and the Elan perfectly captures that spirit.”
The New Lotus Elite (5.0 litre/V8/620 PS). “A new British expression of exclusivity”.
“The Elite is breathtakingly beautiful but it’s so much more than that. One could say it’s a car of perfect contradictions, it’s compact yet spacious, high performance yet low emissions, lightweight yet still reassuringly solid. It’s a car that we are exceptionally proud of at Lotus and we truly believe that there is nothing else like it out there both in terms of styling and performance. There will always be those who believe that Lotus should stick to small sports cars but we didn’t take the decision to design something like the Elite lightly, it’s based on months of careful research and planning.”
The New Lotus Elise (2.0 litre/inline 4/320 PS). “The grown up” 2015 production
“We worked very hard on getting the Elise 2015 exactly right, it’s our entry level car so it needs to give a proper introduction to the Lotus driving experience. The Elise you can buy now is still a fantastic car and Lotus remains very proud of it, but this is a natural progression for us moving forward. The Elise 2015 will also be class-leading in terms of performance and efficiency but it will do more than that, it will take the Elise model to the forefront of its class across the board. It’s the next generation Elise for a new generation of Lotus drivers.”
The New Lotus Eterne (5.0 litre/V8/620 PS). “The statement of intent”
“The Eterne is sensational to look at and as with the rest of the range it also over delivers in all other aspects as well. Similar to the Elite, it’s a car of perfect contradictions, it’s compact yet spacious, high performance yet low emissions relatively lightweight yet still reassuringly solid. The biggest difference between the Eterne and it’s class competitors is that it’s not an evolution of an existing two-door model, it’s a deliberate and considered stand-alone creation. It’s the ultimate four door sports car.”
This site has covered a lot of different engine swaps, particularly SHO Taurus engines of the V-6 Yamaha variant. Whether it’s going into a Focus, a classic British car, or a classic Japanese car like the 240Z, we’ve got it here. Follow the Engine Swap or SHO categories in our blog for the full stories.
But this swap is the king of all SHO engine swaps. When the original Lotus Esprit debuted, it was powered by a straightforward but not particularly exciting 4 cylinder naturally aspirated engine. The turbo and the V-8 models came along later, along with major chassis improvements. But the styling of the car stayed basically the same: a classic wedge shape as only Lotus has done so well. The early models, such as this 1980 model, were unencumbered with spoilers and other paraphernalia that some believe took away from the basic shape that made the car so famous. Giorgetto Giugiaro styled the original car, and it came out in 1976. By the time production ended in 2004, the car had received updated styling, major suspension changes, and had moved all the way up to a twin-turbo V-8 engine.
So here you have an early car, with the classic design, much in need of an engine to match. The SHO Taurus engine, built by Yamaha for Ford and offered in the 1989 thru 1995 Ford Taurus, fits the bill perfectly. It’s a truly exotic engine, with an unheard of (at the time) 70 HP/liter. Under-rated at 220 HP (and easily capable of more with a slightly opened-up intake and exhaust) and fully capable of 9000 RPM, it was limited only by the inability of it’s conventional Ford accessories (power steering pump, alternator, air conditioner) to turn that high. In those days, the SHO had a unique engine (unlike the current SHO which uses an off-the-shelf Ford piece). The engine is unique and worth saving – if you ever come across one, save it for a project like this.
The Yamaha SHO V-6 engines far out-live the Taurus they came in, but if and only if the original owners followed all the maintenance rules. A valve adjustment is required every 60k miles, and without it the exhaust valves will begin to get ground down. Most owners probably didn’t have the adjustment done by their dealer as it was very expensive (note that this author did on his original and very early production ’89 SHO).
This SHO engine swap is probably unique as far as a Lotus Esprit recipient. The net result is a very highly desirable car. It was offered on eBay in March 2010 and didn’t sell with a reserve price of $15k. The swap would appear to be done very well, and the owner claims all the emissions equipment is present and working. That means it can be registered anywhere in the country, particularly since the engine is considerably newer than the chassis. The standard Lotus/Citroen 5-speed gearbox was retained (certainly better than the miserable Mazda gearbox that came with the SHO). Wheels and tires are aftermarket, but the rest of the car appears stock. The swap was performed in 2001 by Chuck Beck Motorsports in Azusa, California.
Historical aside: this isn’t the first Esprit with a Ford engine in it. Ford itself built an early Esprit with a Mustang SVO engine. But they couldn’t come to an agreement with Lotus to sell it. Lotus’ own turbo 4 cylinder engine started at 210 horses in 1980 and ended up with 300 before being replaced by a twin-turbo 3.5 liter V-8 @ 350 HP (with a potential of tuning for as much as 500 HP, but also with an inherent coolant leak problem). Ford’s own supercar prototype, code-named GN-34, was fitted with a SHO engine and was intended to receive the ultimate Yamaha SHO engine with 3.8 liters and 5 valves.
At the moment, this car is listed again on eBay – and somebody needs to give thi scar a good home: http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/320513809759
The Gallery section of this site hosts all the available pictures of this swap; a sampling is shown below along with two videos.
The original Esprits were very clean. Later Esprits came with large all sorts of tacked-on spoilers, even a large hoop spoiler. This is the one to get.
The SHO engine fits like it was designed for it. And the exotic intake works very well with the exotic body of the Esprit.
The suspension design is crude by modern day standards. But you can see that the SHO engine fits naturally and allows for dual exhaust to be used. The engine probably makes around 250 HP in this example. Note the inboard solid disc brakes.
Picture says it all!
We don’t see see the point of using bio fuel as an alternative source of fuel for combustion engines. It’s become clear that ethanol production, for example, is taking resources away from food production and is in fact driving food costs up. Given serious over-population issues and increasing birth rates worldwide driven by ignorance and oppressive religions and/or politics, the last thing the world needs is increased food costs. “Sustainable” is the wrong word to use when it competes with food production.
We also can’t see this as having any viable production point for Lotus, especially given their production of the chassis for the all-electric Tesla. Cars like the Tesla are the future, along with hydrogen – and of course clean nuclear energy to support them. Instead, clearly Lotus Engineering is taking contract dollars to support their engineering business.
Lotus Press Release follows:
Lotus to develop OMNIVORE Research Engine
Lotus conduct research study into engine efficiency when utilising sustainable second and third generation bio fuels Lotus Engineering, the world renowned automotive consultancy division of Lotus announces a collaboration with Queen
Visit Elise Talk to see what happens when an idiot service tech at a Goodyear dealer doesn’t read and understand the special jacking instructions required for this car.
The car ended up being totalled.
It’s apples versus oranges, but it still shows the importance of weight balance and overall weight.
Car & Driver issue (July 2004) examines where the Elise fits into the US sports car market.
A very fair comparison test of the S2000 and Elise, amoungst others. The S2000 finishes second.
Lotus Exige versus an Apache helicopter gunship? Only Top Gear could make such a rediculous comparison:
The Exige is the hard-core version of the Elise. Why does anybody need a hard-core Elise? Well, if you have to ask…