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520Y - Continued

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Thanks for pointing that out - I had not registered that the bushes were Metalastic.

It looks like I will be taking the front end apart again then. At least its fairly easy to do at the moment

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks to Pete and Paul for pointing out that my lower wishbone bushes had separated. I'm now most of the way through fighting to replace them with poly bushes.


The drivers side bush pushed out easily but left the outer steel tube in the wishbone. A few minutes with a hacksaw split the tube and I could push it out in the vice.


The passenger side was another matter. That was firmly attached to the wishbone so in the end I took it to a friend's workshop where the 10T press soon saw it defeated.


I am now most of the way through rebuilding the suspension again. Fitting the new poly bushes is fairly easy, but as I always find, once the inner crush tube is inserted into the bushes they end up just that bit too wide to make fitting the large washers easy. However they are in now, so I'm almost back to where I started with the front end. 

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To finish off the gearbox before fitting it I needed to replace the rubber mount. These are still available from lotusbits, SJ Sports cars and I'm sure a few other suspects, however the £120 wanted felt a lot to me. As with the rest of the gearbox the mount is a standard part. It is 'Toyota 12371-34020 - insulator, engine mount, rear.

Looking online rockauto in the states have pattern parts for about £5, but I kept looking for a genuine part. Amayama.com claimed to have several available so I gave them a try. The part was £22, but shipping and import taxes were another £40 (from Japan). There was a cheaper but slower option that I didn't use.

10 days later the new gearbox mount arrived. £60 Isn't cheap, but it's a lot better than £120!

From this picture you can see why I needed a new mount.


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  • 1 month later...

Back in August 2021 I asked if anyone could recommend an engine rebuilder. I didn’t get a lot of response but decided to use a local Lotus specialist. Towards the end of the year I took the engine over to him so he could rebuild it as winter work.

That turned out to be a bit of a mistake as some 5 months later he finally admitted he would not be able to do the rebuild for a few reasons. However he did help arrange with a different but still fairly local specialist to do the work instead, and even took the engine over to the new person.

As it happens a friend had already recommended the second specialist, so I didn’t have any real concerns, and had just lost a bit of time but nothing more.

Talking to the rebuilder we agreed just to rebuild the engine to the standard LC spec. upgrading to HC spec seems to involve replacing lot of parts at pretty significant cost and effort - many of which were unlikely to need replacement due to wear.

In the end we found that the interior of the engine was absolutely filthy, which corresponded to it sitting for many years before the previous owner recommissioned the car. We also found that 2 of the liners were pitted beyond use, probably from having water sitting in them - so all 4 were replaced. However the crank was OK as were the pistons, so new rings and crank bearings were all that was needed.

I collected the engine in about June, and put it back into the car over the hottest weekend of the year in the middle of July. It must have been in the low 30's in the garage which mad for hard work.




The bearings in the alternator were pretty grumbly, and since the resin from the regulator was also leaking out I decided to get a replacement. That also looked a lot nicer with the now clean engine.

A question though - can anyone tell me how the new alternator needs connecting up? The terminals are labelled differently to the original





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  • 1 month later...

The answer to the alternator wiring question came from SJ Sportscars (who supplied the alternator) within a day of asking a question.

The large wire from the starter motor goes to the large terminal within the black shielding at the bottom of the picture above, and the small wire from the ignition goes to the small terminal within the black shielding. I had to swap a flag connector on the ignition wire to a ring connector, but otherwise it was a simple job.

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  • 1 month later...

Part way through recommissioning the engine I got distracted by replacing the rest of the interior trim, including the carpet.

I think my logic was that the front seats were out of the car and it made sense to replace the trim and carpet before putting them back in. I wanted to get them back in the car as they were sitting directly behind the exhaust pipes and starting up the engine would probably cover them in rubbish from the exhaust. Or something like that.

I decided to buy a carpet set from Coverdale, and I had already bought most of a trim set that has been languishing in the loft for a year. Swapping the trim over is just a matter of unscrewing the old pieces and attaching the new one - however the carpet is a bit more involved than that.

To replace the carpets the first thing to do is remove all the existing trim panels, and then the old carpet can be taken up. That includes the rear seat back and bases, the side panels, the rear cant rails and the front side panels.

Stripping out the old carpet was a dusty job. I must have got wet and dried out countless times as much of it was degrading into dust. Under the carpet is a lot of sound proofing, and that all stayed.

The carpet set from Coverdale arrived after a few weeks (as advertised, they make it to order). It arrives as a large number of pieces, and you have to work out what goes where. As has been said before their set uses separate small square bits of carpet to cover the hump under the front of the seats. Not the most pleasing fit, but it will not be visible once the seats are back in.

A few pieces need trimming to fit, and I did have to have the drivers side toe panel remade.

The rear parcel shelf piece comes edged all around, but is too large for the space. I used the old piece as a template and cut the new one down to size. All sides of this piece are tucked under other trim pieces, so the lack of edging actually makes fitting it easier.



The drivers side toe piece comes with a heel protector, on my car this was too wide and prevented the carpet being creased to fit properly. Generally the toe pieces are a little too wide, but the passenger side can be trimmed to fit. However the heel panel meant I asked Coverdale to remake the piece. This is the original piece and alongside it the remade one (with a cut out for the steering column).



I should say that Coverdale were excellent with their customer service. At first I thought I would need 3 or 4 pieces remaking, but they gently pointed out that I had got the toe pieces confused with the front floor pieces. Once that was pointed out the fit was much better. When it came to remaking the drivers toe piece there was no quibble and I had the new piece about 3 days after sending in a template.


This is how the passenger side should fit - the main floor piece has a cut out for the side panel, and also fits around the raised hump for the seat mount. I did cut slots into the toe piece to allow it to bend up without creasing.


(how do I rotate that image so its the right way up?)


As I had bought extra carpet (to use in the boot) I decided to carpet the trim panels that fit under the dash alongside the tunnel. I have since found these pieces with the grey leather, so I  may change them in the future - but for now I quite like the carpet.

As you can see from this shot of the passenger side completed my new trim is light grey leather, which goes fairly well with the dark grey dashboard and carpets.



The only down side is that I didnt get any seats with the new trims. I will be putting the RX8 front seats back in, but Ive had to use the original rear seats. Ive promised myself I will get the car back on the road before making any attempt to re-trim those!





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well after another days work I have put the interior back together properly.

New 13cm pioneer speakers fitted from and rear, and the under dash panels re-trimmed and fitted.

Then the seats re-fitted. The drivers side is really rather heavy!

Time to move back onto getting the engine running properly and maybe getting an MOT.



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  • 1 month later...

My efforts to focus on getting the engine back running did not go so well. When I bought the carpet set I also bought an additional 3 meters off the roll. This was sitting around in the garage and getting in the way. I thought the best way to clear the space would be to fit it to the car.

I had already used a corner of the 3 meters to cover the lower dash side panels on the prop tunnel, but the other pieces for the boot fitted easily on to the rest of the carpet.


After a while with a can of spray glue the boot looks like this. I didnt have quite enough glue so at this point the tank cover panel was on the floor waiting for me to buy another can of glue. But this gives you the idea of what I have ended up with.



After fixing the boot carpet I really had to get on with the final pieces for the MOT.

I checked and adjusted the tracking using the string box method, checked the castor - which was way out, however after 2 attempts to adjust it made no difference I decided to get the garage to fix that.

I also bought some LED stop/tail lights and front side light, as the bulbs were really dim even though they were new. Finally I had a go at bodging the peeling lacquer with some spray cans on paint/lacquer. There were several patches on the car where the lacquer was peeling badly. These got rubbed down, then painted with some not very well color matched paint, very lightly rubbed down again, then lacquered and again lightly rubbed down before cutting back with T-cut (since thats what I had), and then a light polish. This sounds quick, but it was going on between other jobs over a few weeks.   





That brings me up to date.

The car is currently at a garage for a few final jobs, including the MOT and tuning the carbs properly. They put it through an MOT before touching anything else, and I was quite pleased to see that the only failure was a slight leak on one of the brake calipers - I expect that is just a union I had not done up tightly enough. Its always very nerve racking putting a 39 year old car through an MOT, especially one I had completely pulled apart and put back together. 

Edited by Lozza74
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Nice work in the boot carpet and paint. Carpets on my to do list and lacquer peal is just something to stay on top of. If you leave it, it just goes wild. At least once rubbed down and a new top coat, it stops growing. The colour match is probably that the lacquer on the old paint has yellowed, changing the original colour.


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Well done that man. After 10 years or more I'm not that far behind you.

A year or so aga I tried to source a set of Boot carpets, but to no avail. It would appear that you have what I and others need is the templates for a boot set. I for one  would be grateful if I could borrow your templates to make my own carpets. 

Alternatively cardboard templates would work just as well if you would knock them up.


Many thanks,









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Hi Brian,

Im afraid my boot carpet template was just the original carpet ripped out of the boot. Since making new carpets I have chucked the old ones away, and of course the new ones are now glued into the car.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Ill take this as success. MOT passed. The initial failure was just the bleed nipple being a bit loose.

I had the garage tune it up properly and adjust the caster angle too. Now I have to get it working nicely.


The heated rear window only has 2 or 3 lines working on it so I need to take a look at that.

I also have a feeling I may have to take the dashboard out again. The heater fan motors are back to squealing horribly. I think I may need to actually do the replacement I bottled out of last year.

Given our motors are out of the Opel Manta has anyone signed up to read these, or even done the work (bearing replacement, or full replacement with VW Polo motors)?




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Ive been rather quiet here recently, mostly because there was a bit of a hiatus in Lotus fettling.

In April I attended a Club Lotus track day at Goodwood. I thought preparations were going well, I had changed the brake pads for Mintex 1144, which made a huge difference to the unknown pads that were on the car - it actually felt as though it would stop. I also changed the oil for fresh VR1.

On the day itself the journey down was great fun in the early morning, the briefing was good and although a complete novice I was made to feel very welcome. The noise test was a challenge, and the car actually failed - however the marshals explained that there were sound meters on the track and they would be keeping a close eye on them as I went past - too noisy and I would be black flagged. That made me a little nervous.

The first session was fun, but daunting as I ended up in a group of Elises - however they soon disappeared into the distance ahead of me leaving me the whole track for quite a few laps before they reappeared behind me.

The second session was with a friend of mine driving. About half way through the session we both heard a quiet knocking, which got louder over the next few laps. By the end of the session it was pretty obvious something serious was wrong.

We couldn’t figure out what the actual problem was, but there was no way we were driving home.

The Goodwood staff were great, they had phone numbers of local recovery firms, and were also happy if we wanted to leave the car there for a week or so.

In the end a local firm could come out - we asked them to pick us up after lunch, since it has a great reputation and we had both paid for it. Lunch was superb, and just as we finished desert a recovery truck appeared over the track.


Once back home I realised there was nothing for it but to take the engine out and give it to someone who knew what they were doing. I decided to take it back to the same person who did the original rebuild.


Im getting fairly good at taking it out now.


Several month later I went back to pick up the engine after its second rebuild.

The verdict was that the oil was contaminated somehow - possibly from the old oil cooler. The end result was heavy scoring of the  oil pump, #3 big end bearing was toast, and #3 big end itself was ovalised. All the con rods went off to an engineering shop to be milled round again, the crank was ground for oversize big end bearings, and the oil pump reconditioned again.

On collection it looked exactly as it did when I dropped it off - at least the inside should be in better shape.

The engine went back into the car without much hassle, although I had some help this time as I had hurt my back a few weeks before so I was moving carefully. Previously every time I started the car there was a metallic thump. I realised that the gearbox was hitting the chassis, so on refitting the engine I added a 4mm spacer under the passenger side engine mount - looking in the parts list this is listed as standard, so who knows what happened to the one on my car.


Whilst the engine was away I also collected a few extra parts. I bought a new exhaust system from SJ Sports cars, since I think the holes in the old one were the cause of my noise failure at Goodwood.

I also bought a new distributor from SE Lotus. The one in the car had points, which I had assumed was original for an early car, but I was advised that it much have come from a different car all together as all Excels had electronic ignition - that would explain why there is the mounting plate for the ignition amplifier, but nothing on it. The new distributor doesn’t need an external amplifier so there is still nothing on the plate, but at least I wont need to change points and condenser.

I also bought a new oil cooler and hoses - I don’t trust the old one any longer!


Ive had the car back on the road about 2 weeks now, and the exhaust and distributor do seem to make a difference to its acceleration.

The only down side is that there is a very slight weep from the high pressure hose as it enters the steering rack - very frustrating as I also changed the o-rings again. I may try some snake oil / seal swell additive.

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I used to be in Surrey Area Club Lotus and this is where the annual Goodwood track days started in the late 1980s - 20 cars, £50 per car. No noise checking, no marshals either - all organised by Chris Parker, and run by the club. Great days. I went on one when I recommissioned my Esprit in 2013 and can agree 100% with not being able to match the newer cars - especially in the corners. The straights were fine. 

On one of the Goodwood days a friend with a Europa, which he had rebuild, had put in some seriously fast laps, had to leave early. 1/2 hour later he walked back in - his Europa had shed a wheel a mile or so down the road :(

Your Excel looks great, love the colour. Let me know if you would be interested in coming to a meet north of London and I'll add you to our monthly PM list.

My Esprit is a Y reg same as yours - needs some photos going round Goodwood back in the 1980/90s


The Europa is the one that only had 3 wheels later in the day, and the +2 is still owned by the same person.



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