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body swap / taking body off


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looking at a body swap between an excel SE and Elite (to form an Elite SE

Both are "complete" cars, what needs to come off in order to lift the body off the chassis (engine out or just manifolds off?)

pictures / advice welcome

Looking to use excel loom and dashboard with elite body and seats

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Good Morning Simon,

You are a man afer my own heart, I am in final throes of completing my Excelite - an Excel SE re-bodied with an Elite body.

To answer your question, which has been asked many times,I don't know of anyone who has a complete list of items that require attention to remove a body from its chassis,

I virtually completely stripped my complete Elite before removing the body which was then easily done.

I only had half an Excel (the engine had literally been ripped out of the front end) so I cut the body off with an angle grinder, salvaging parts as I went.

My whole journey so far has taken 15 years of sweat, frustration, finding parts, problems because the two cars are not as compatible as you might think, learning how to fibreglass repairs, make new parts etc. It has been fascinating, but would I do another? Probably as I know what not to do, but honestly I would leave the Excel body on, cut off the rear section of the Excel body after the B post and put an Elite rear section of body on.

This way you could get an Excelite and keep the Elite for restoration as is!

Pity you live so far away, but handy for Lotusbits.

If you PM me with your email address I'll send you some pictures

Good Luck



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If you’re going to take Grizzly’s advice on sticking the Elite back end top bit onto your Excel, then I’m sure there are a lot of people who’d be very keen to hear how you get on.

You can’t stop there though.  The Elite doors are different & are an important part of the Elite look. The Excel’s Toyota door handles look much better than the Elite’s Marina door handles, so maybe think about how you could carry those over.  They’re a similar design, just neater.

The Elite bonnet is different.  You could probably get away with leaving the Excel bonnet on, but the Elite bonnet looks better to me.  It’s not just the vents – the Elite bonnet is lower.

You’d need to swap out the Excel’s very 80’s front bumper & spoiler, as well, of course, & fit the Elite rear bumper too.

You’ll end up with 15” wheels, but that gives you a better choice of performance tyre, anyway,  &  I think the Excel SE Speedlines (if that’s what you have) would look really good on an Elite, although I’ve never seen an Elite with Speedlines.

Are you thinking your Excel-Elite won’t have the polished Aluminium (or whatever it is) around the around the windscreen & side windows?  I’ve seen a good few Elite “chrome delete” pictures with body colour or black trim, & none of them looks right.

Also, I’m not so sure the Excel’s 944 arch flares are going to suite an Elite.  They might, but they say “1980s” to me, & I think if you want the car to look like an Elite (on the outside), you need to weed out just about every 1980s detail.

From the body swap stories I’ve read, I think everyone ends up with the Elite dashboard (please correct me if I’m wrong).  I’d prefer the Excel SE dashboard, although neither dashboard is very good.

There’s more discussion on this topic over on lotusexcel.net.

Grizzly, I'm looking forward to hearing how your finished project car drives.  Soon, I hope.

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Hello Tony,

Interesting observations.

As a Project you can, of course,

do whatever you want, but where do you stop?

My initial project was just to restore the Elite, and much of that would have been cosmetic. However a snapped cambelt resulting in damaged valves made me look at fitting an Excel engine, and It was only because my Elite also had a rusted chassis that I started down the Excel chassis route too and it took off from there. It has grown into the car I have nearly got now as I have also used the Excel wiring looms and Excel dash. The only bits of the original Elite being used beside the body are the heater / AC matrix, interior trim and seats, and even those I have modified.

The Excel dash does fit but the middle section in front of the gear lever has to be modified quite a bit, almost to the point of making a new piece.

The work has been onerous because I am an amateur restorer with very limited resources working in a lock up garage without power or water and limited finances.

My suggestion to remodel the Excel body is based on two points. Firstly, the car is already built and everything fits, so no struggles to get Excel parts squeezed into the Elite body. The cars look very similar but there are dimensional differences. Secondly, I think that a modified rear end ( a la Elite) on the rest of the Excel body is what, maybe, the Elite would have become in the same way the Eclat morphed into the Excel.

I would still like this to be done, but sadly not by me.

Any takers?


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3 hours ago, TonyL said:

You can’t stop there though.  The Elite doors are different & are an important part of the Elite look. The Excel’s Toyota door handles look much better than the Elite’s Marina door handles, so maybe think about how you could carry those over.  They’re a similar design, just neater.

That's a matter of opinion. I greatly prefer the Marina door handles, as used on the Esprit (pre-Thompson) and Range Rover Classic. Smaller, less plastic, British design and (in my experience) a bit sturdier. If I didn't have so many things planned already, I wouldn't mind doing the swap the other way around. Maybe we could exchange parts? 😉

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I have made many mistakes in my life. Buying a multiple Lotus is not one of them.


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I'm with @Escape on this - the Toyota door handles are the worst bit of the Excel - very fragile, and difficult to fix - although Angus has created a fix for this. I'd much prefer to have the BL handles. 

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Well you two would know better than me - I haven't had my Excel long enough for the Toyota door handles to become a problem.  My thoughts were based around the memory of my uncle's & grandfather's Marinas, in the 70s, neither of which were great cars, & also the notion that 1980s Japanese engineering must surely beat anything British Leyland could manage to create.  I also recall a passage in an Ian Banks novel I read around 20 years ago, in which the protagonist explains his frustration with his poorly designed BL door handles. 

Back onto the original theme of the thread, & Grizzly's idea to cut in the hatchback section of an Elite: I think this could look good & be a great car, but it would look like an Excel with a hatchback, rather than an Elite, which is what the OP was after.

& you'd need to change the shape of the Elite side windows or the Excel's door windows to get them to work together.  If I had the time & ability (& I don't have either at the moment) I would love to have a go at this.  I'd also move the fuel tank, ditch the rear bulkhead & back seats, & put in a new bulkhead, with a parcel shelf, behind the front seats (these would now be the only seats), to create a sporty two seater estate car that I could carry my mountain bike in.  I suspect, by the time my fantasy project was road worthy again, my mountain biking days would be over.

Grizzly, I've enjoyed reading your posts about your project on the other forum. I hope to meet you & see your car some time.  I'm not too far from you (Chobham).  Is your car going to run on Speedline wheels?

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trouble with grafting elite bits on a working Excel seem to be where you cut

You would need to be on an early excel, to avoid the "widebody" wheelarches, as the back section would need arches to fit the elite bodywork.  You would also need elite doors to fit, otherwise the door to rear quarter glass lines wont work 

I am after Excel SE running gear in a car that looks like a 70s elite, so think I am cutting and glassing the underside of the elite bodyshell to fit 

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