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Ultimate suspension on Stevens SE?

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Hi all,

Been debated numerous times, but after reading all of it, more or less, I still haven't come to a solution on what to chose.

What I can say is this:


- I like the standard suspension for it's roadholding, in keeping the Wheels on the road.


- I don't like the soft springing, and the roll, which to me at least resembles an old woman's Rolls.


- I think the rideheight is a bit too high right now, after fitting V8 Wheels, and will be still, when putting Futura's on later.


- I am not inpressed (or let's say convinced) so far, with the various alternatives from non-Lotus brands. Some people say the are too soft, some say too low, some say swap the springs to something third, some say they leak very quickly, some say they can't be adjusted propperly, and finally some say they all Work just fine...


- I looked at the Lotrac option, and everyone more or less write that the car rides very high after installing it. Some say this should be neutralised by adding the correct weight inide the car to get the correct rideheight. I haven't seen too many saying that they actually succeeded in this.


- I like Öhlins for their roadholding, but they don't make any kits for Esprit nor the SE.

So, I talked to a local supplier about making a set, but they need my full suspension to measure it all up. Does someone have any data, so I can avoid that? Or is it needed?


- I have a modded set of stainless KW on my Corrado, which I like. A bit soft, but okay. But the Öhlins I had built for my motorcycle is superrior in every way to KW. Maybe the TTX36inline or piggyback is theway to go? If performance is the same, maybe I'll go for the lighter version to save some weight.


- Or are there any other good options? I should mention, that it will not be a track car, but should be able to be set up for a nice weekend track day, if need be. But primarily road.


I want something adjustable, both in height and damping, and maybe also in rebound. I don't see I need both fast and slow daming and rebound adjustable.


- I will not lower the car on to the road, so don't worry ;)


- My suspension in not the original supplied, but has been changed to new fresh original components, incl. all bushings.


- I will in any case change all bushings to Lotus poly-ones and adjustable upper rear arms, since it's waiting already in the garage.


- I will in any case change the arb bushings to poly -ones to help the weight shift and lessen the roll, which is too much for my liking.


- I don't give a rats a..e about comfort.. It's not why I got the car in the first place, but I want a firm roadholding, no Wheels in the air, and no roll. Well, something like that ;)


I repeat, I don't do this for comfort, only for roadholding.

So, if anyone got something to say about this, advice is very much apprecialted.. Also from people WHO's actually riding with some of all this.

I'll probably want to change the Whole suspension this Winter.


Thank you very much in advance.


Nobody does it better - than Lotus ;)

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When the factory got a hold of various Esprits for the spring and damper refresh programme I believe they general consensus was that the cars they got in with aftermarket set ups were some of the worst handling pieces of shit they had ever driven. This opinion is documented on LEW (although with fewer expletives).


My advise would be to go for either original parts all round or the Lotac suspension. Supposedly these have two options for ride-height, standard and low - don't know the difference in practise since I haven't splashed out yet myself.


I'm also going to be rebuilding suspension but to be honest Jacques, I don't think we have much choice - I don't think that the original SE suspension is available anymore (SJ Sports Cars supposedly have stock coilovers among other parts but I wouldn't be surprised if these were generic replacements).


Bibs can correct me if I'm wrong, I don't know if the Nitron parts will have been developed for the Esprit specifically, but I'd go with Lotus - the cars are renowned for handling and for that one should use all the parts the car was originally developed around.


Other alternatives might sound nice, but the end result probably won't be what Lotus intended. And since you like originality, I'd say go with Lotus.

Vanya Stanisavljevic '91 Esprit SE | '97 XK8

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The Nitron kit will be made specifically for the Esprit. They also supply Lotus with some OEM suspension currently, hence why were working with them on this. The reason to help develop an alternative to the Lotus LOTAC kit is due to availability of the Lotus parts and also the price which has increased 50% over the past couple of years.


Nitron have an excellent reputation in the suspension field (they're supplying the 1000mph Bloodhound SSC) and their gear is used on Lotus cars from new, seems like a good alternative to me.



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You will not counter the higher ride height of the Lotac suspension by adding weight to the car. Out of curiosity I strapped my car down to the 170 mm cross member and rear hoop clearance and judging by how much effort it took to get it there I'd guess a couple of hundred kilograms of ballast would be needed. On the front you can omit the rubber insulator from the top of the spring to lower it a bit. On the rear you can omit the rubber insulator from the top of the spring and/or machine a new lower spring seat locating groove into the damper body.

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Hmmm... I think someone on here mentioned that a third or fourth position can be homemade on new Lotrac dampers, tolower them a bit. I think the lotrac is probably fine, but it is made to fullfill more purposes: sporty driving, carrying capacity, roadconditions and comfort.

While I understand all of those, I would personally wish it a bit harder and adjustable both in height and other features.

I have seen some Pictures of the Lotrac fitted, and at least on some, it seems as if the car rides higher than when it was factory new. This I do not want. Neither from Lotus nor someone else.

Hence the question of making another one or two positions possible on the new Lotus damper programme. It will not make them adjustable anyhow, but at least solve the tall rideheight.


I think a Company like Öhlins, after being free from Yamaha influence Again, one more makes some of the best suspension on the planet. But, and that is a big but; since they don't make a kit readily available for the Esprit model(s), it waill take some heavy experience and knowledge to make a kit, and make it Work. I think though, that they are up to the task.


Anither thing is, that to me at least, it seems nearly impossible to get parts from Lotus. When I asked the only dealer here in Denmark, they said no, can't get anything.

Things may be very different in the UK at least?


I've seen real life some esprits with both the hight adjustable old type suspension (Lotus) and the new Lotus programme suspension, and they are too soft for me, and they roll too much, which of course also depends on antiroll bars, bushings etc.

when I asked about the function of the Lotrac stuff on the car, I was told it Works, but he wasn't satisfied with the function and hight.


Maybe Eibach makes something a la the pss9/10 series or similar.


I don't know the Nitron at all. Been reading all afternoon, and it seems to Work okay. But I haven't read on how they function, how they are built, the way they dampen and valve Things, gas, oil etc. And if they can be dissasembeled to be changed a bit, say softer or harder, responsetime etc. and the buildquality, like polishing to extremity, how thick is the anodizing etc. I know at least Öhlins can do that, as I have had this done to mine (motorcycle).


I am still undecided so far, as I will try and find out if there really is a serious alternative to Lotus themselves?


I agree with you Vanya, that the Esprit and Lotus in general, is famed for it's driving capabilities, but I would really like to be able to adjust a bit, like explained. From this perspective, comfort is out of the rquation for me.

I would therefore keep the Esprit as a roadcar, but I am also thinking, that there must be a bit Water in the dam, since they build the car 25 years ago?


Maybe someone know the Nitron kits and build quality deeper? Can the Esprit be installed with the external reservoir for example?


Btw. for me at least, there are also some other factors to considder. Like can it be rebuild? Are spares available? Are the bodu made of aluminium or stainless or steel? Things like that. I will splash out what it takes, but I want propper quality, and not look at some rusty bits after a short while. I can't stand rust.


In fact any comment at all are most wellcome and appreciated.


Kind regards,


Nobody does it better - than Lotus ;)

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Nitron looks interesting. I've been reading all on their homepage. Is there anything on when, how much and various features for the Esprit models? Like for example adjustability, reservoir etc?


Kind regards,


Nobody does it better - than Lotus ;)

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I can add, that Ohlins factory installed on Ducati bikes are nopt the same quality as Öhlins itself, ordered by you from Öhlins. Ducati, owned by vw, have specified lesser valving, lesser surface polishing etc, on their shocks and forks. I have seen and carefully been demonstrated this myself on items takes apart for service by a local Öhlins service center.

Get the propper ones if going Öhlins. Like I did, because it pays in better funtionality.


I really hope Nitron are not biting the same bullet as Öhlins did on duc's.

So for now, it seems Öhlins or Nitron.

I would like to know moe on the Nitron kits.


Kind regards,


Nobody does it better - than Lotus ;)

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On the Esprit, you can really only add a little more suspension stiffness before the chassis twisting becomes too much.  


Double adjustable shocks with compression and rebound, ride height, and remote reservoirs, are very expensive...  My JRZ doubles were ~$8000.  





My friend had some Koni double adjustables made, though his front wishbones had to be custom modified, and they were over $2500. The distance between the shock eye to the shock body was too small for the Esprit wishbone, so the installers (Race car builders who built the Volvo and McLaren Mp4-12c World Challenge cars for KPAX racing in the USA) had to do this.



His car has a full roll cage, the '91 Esprit X180-R, and can use very stiff springs and damping settings.  I have to run softer springs than the X180-R.  And I can definitely feel my chassis twist!  


My springs are 8x300lb/in front and 10x350lb/in rear btw, and I have to add quite a bit of preload to get the front ride height back to 168mm.  My X180-R friend runs 10x425 front and 10x300 rear.


My JRZ are much more adjustable than standard Esprit shocks, and while I could adjust them much lower than stock, I couldn't get the V8 tires to stop rubbing until I got back up to 168mm front height.  It can take a while to find the correct compression and rebound damping settings, and then you also have to pressurize the remotes with Nitrogen up to 100-300psi. 


I actually liked the feel of the SPAX shocks with the original springs, and the fronts 2 clicks from full stiff, rear full stiff. The body roll was fairly minimal for an Esprit.


You will never get rid of all the body roll, since the Esprit uses the semi trailing multi link rear suspension, and no rear ARB.  It is designed to continue to grip with the body roll.


Here's some roll for you. these were the SPAX and stock springs.  Kept gripping the tarmac!



The Nitrons could be good!


Vulcan Grey 89SE


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Hi Travis,

Thanks for the good description! And a nice Picture   ;)  Could a helper spring have made that rear Wheel grip even more?


I look forward to seeing what Nitron comes up with. Maybe it's a standard road version adjusted to Esprits. Maybe it's someting more adjustable. I hope it's not some all Black boring looking (I don't like Black stuff.). But that is just for fun. Function above all.


What was your corner speed at the moment on that Picture?

Where did you feel an improvement (if any, but I suppose) over the Spax, when driving with the JRZ?

Do you know the standard springrate on your SE?

Is that snap couplings for the reservoirs? Or just couplings to be able to install them?

And besides driving on a track, how does the JRZ's fare on a fast backroad drive?



Looking into the Nitrons, I saw that they went from 40 to 46mm body to facilitate bigger pistons. I think that may give some comfort (not that I need it) or slow speed ability compared to smaller pistons?

ps: love those monobloc calipers ;)

Did you get more front end bite when running the harder/stiffer/faster suspension?


I am not sure on this, but I think I read something about not lowering the front end and lowering the rear end a bit with the Lotac suspension, but my idea is this: that doing this slows the steering a bit because of a less steep angle on suspension? Not wanted (if it is so).

Btw. I feel the steering much improved by using the same V8 Wheels as you have in the Picture. Also giving a little bit firmer ride.


Maybe Bibs would know more on those soon to be Nitrons?


Kind regards,


Nobody does it better - than Lotus ;)

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An interesting thread.
I'm always nervous about making suspension changes myself because I consider that I'm not as clever as the manufacturer in that area, and nor do I have the time, money, or a test track. I imagine that Lotus Cars spent a long time getting the Esprit (and probably all their models), to the best compromise for fast road use that they could. I've yet to get the suspension overhauled on my car, and subsequently set up to the correct specification, so I can't really comment on how it feels to me. I do not intend to use my car on a track, though.
I wonder that if changes are made to the suspension spring and damping rates, whether that also means the stated geometry settings must be altered, too? Anyway, I'm keeping an open mind, and am intrigued to learn how you progress, Jacques.

Margate Exotics.

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Yes, surely it's interesting, as all of our cars get older, and I imagine that someting must have gone through a Development even without becoming Electronic regulated like many of todays cars.

Secondly, I imagine too, that our cars that were ahead of their time, have limits to rebuilding, likely to be for example the flexing that Travis mentions.

Thirdly, I have experimented with some suspension over some years, on my cars and motorcycles (and bikes), and I have a timy bit of experience of what I would like from my suspension and what i would not like. I have experienced a few phenomenons myself on these cars and motorcycles.

Foruthly, I think materials have developed too in the past decades, .so that we, the enduseres, should take the oppertunity to harvest on that for our cars.

I am sure that many of us will agree, that tires have gone through a rathere large Development, and a material like silica are now incorporated inmany tires both for car, motorcycle and bicycle use, with the added benefit of better grip, ccertainly in the wetm and prolonged usable lifespan for the tires.

Likewise I think that titanium, aliminium and other materials have gone through a process of getting stronger, lasting longer, becoming lighter and having better surfaceprotection, that 25 years ago.

Fifthly, I would like to get the most out of my Esprit, without tuning the engine to explosion.

Rather than spending time and Money on two engnes getting closer to colapse, I would like to finetune the chassis, through weight, efficiency, flow, stability, capacity, surfacetreatment, suspension, optimal Wheels, optimal tires, optimal driving position, response and so on.


Every stable kilo I shave off relates to more horsepowers and maybe better roadholding and steering and response and feel. The better the capacity the components that are put under stress have, the better I can make good use of the abilities the Esprit have.

And I will try to do this without altering the trademarks of the Esprit too much, and preferably without changing the looks too much.


I will list a few examples here, where I have made some experiences, big or small.


- Driving gloves. I have driven a lot without, Cold, warm, short trip, long trip, mountain trips, traveling trips, hard backroad trip etc. I have come to the conclusion, that to make the most of steering, I need gloves. For some purposes I use a set of fine leather gloves. The most efficciency I get from suede rather than smooth calfskin. But the best are racing gloves. I am now testing a pair of syntethic material with a sort of rubber in the palms. This translates into better grip, less chance of steering errors, being that small or big ones. Which in the end translates to faster and safer driving.


- Seats. I have tried a varietty of car seats over 29 years of driving. That includes many sorts of normal seats, sports seats, and some racing seats.

The normal seats are fine for comfort and short trips and slow to normal driving. I get better results from a sports seat. This support me better, it holds me better in turns and bumps, over fast hilltops etc. It gives me less pain or tiredness in my body, and by doing that I have more energy to concentrate on driving, rather than focusing on changing my driving position to avoid those Things, thereby taking my energy away from driving better. I've tried various pumping systems for the lower back, and when I lastly rebuilt my Recaro seats in my Corrado, I also incorporated these inflatable cushions in the lower back when I reassembeled the seats. I experimentated with various bolsters for the thighs and upper torso, and found a foamtype that fits me, not someone else. I have found out, that there's a huge difference of peoples bodies, and carseats cannot and will not fir them all, unless they are a certain kind, multiadjustable and get very very heavy (and expensive). As a result I can now drive completely in support and without getting tired or tensed, from Copenhagen in Denmark to Venice in Italy, or to Bucharest in Romania - 2556 kilometers.

The seats I have found for the Esprit are a pair of original Sport300 that I have a Company redo in the correct magnolia leather. Thwy are certainly less comfortable, but they support way better me. I sit lower, much more stable, and can still twist and Work with my arms freely. I really value the lesser comfort that they give, because for me, it also Means getting info on what's going on with the road and the car. It can speak to me much more directly so to say. And finally I really appreciate them for being less comfortable, because being harder, I avoid that sponge feeling that most car seats gives me, and which I really dislike. Than sponge feeling is giving me a really tired body and I begin to feel pain all over. I prefer it hard and straight ;) ha ha.

Finally they save 10,328 Kilo.


- Tires. I only drive in retively good weather, save the odd rainshower or snow on a mountain top. I therefore use soft summer tires, and I have been through a few, and out of those, I like Toyo tires quite much. Short braking, good response in turns and a firm glueing to the tarmac. Not too much comfort ;)


- suspension. I have tried various types from the standard originals, over upgraded bilstein Eibach, over cheap coilovers non-adjustable, to adjustable ones in better quality to specialties built to that precise object, for me and fast driving only.

I tend to like the later. I've experimented with for example slamming the car to the ground, and while some will like that for looks, I quickly found out that it totally compromises the driving ability in the car. It simply have strange reactrions to steering and bumps and rebound. I even had special reversed steering joints (or whatever they are called), to regain territory, but it wasn't enough, so went up in the air to more normal rideheight. I would say that within my limited experience, I prefer slighly lowered for conering, and the planted feel, combined with a Little bit less roll. Lesser warning, but a bit higher limit. Afain I will stress that i am not into comfort really, so I can sacrifice some of that. As my wife once said to a friend, when she was asked, how on Earth she can take that hard suspension (not that hard really), her answer was: Well, I simply don't know any other ;)

I would like a suspension to be able to be adjusted for length, springload, differnet springs, bump and rebound. I am far from a good enough driver to use all of that optimally, neither to use slow and fast bump and rebound, but still I would at least like the first mentioned. I will also prefer to save weight, reverse dampers to save unsprung weight, and perfect formulated parts, with a really slick surface treatment to make it look and function as new as long as possible, plus the ability to have it rebuilt or changed to better spec every few years. I have done so for example with my Öhlins and they are working really wonderfull. In my experience, the better they are produced, the better they Work even on Little inout - so very supple, and can go for a bit harder springing.

I usually have combined this with stiffer arb's, bushings, and strut stiffening. It may sound like some sort of race cars, but are certainly not. I just want to know what goes on on the road, and get good grip and quick steering and a neutral steering - not too much understeer nor too much oversteer. Hmm...


- light Wheels. I have experimented with some different Wheels. Light forged ones are to be preferred. Not the biggest or widest, but a compromise on these. I have felt how light Wheels made my steering a fair bit better, and I appreciate it. And no bending, breaking etc.


- Open drivers side window a bit. This may sound strange to some, but I really prefer that. I suppose I have this from all my years riding motorcycles. I need to be able to sense what's going on outside. Weather, Wind, smells, humidity etc. It gives me a direct tell-tale on the road conditions.


- exhaust systems, banana manifolds and sportscats.

I have tried a variety of these items, and every single time I have gained more horsepower and more Nm's.


- Airfilters. Mostly wasted. No measurable gains, even on heavily tuned engine. This may vary a fair bit. Really depend on the specific car/engine/state of tune. I also can tell that wrapinf a heatblanket or makinf an anti-heat wall between the engine and the induction of fresh air, really makes a difference. Not only comercial salestalk.


Well, I just want to mention a few, without getting too much into this other debate. It's just so Little I have experienced, and I am sure most of you will know and will have experienced far more than me.

Please feel free to comment on this.


Okay, back on topic ;) SAuspension. I look forward to seeing the new Nitron stuff soon. Menwhile I will contact Öhlins and have a talk with them on what they can do for my Esprit.


ps: would really like the Sport300 bracing in the rear!!!


Kind regards,


Nobody does it better - than Lotus ;)

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  • 1 month later...

Hmm... Impatient me.

It's been a few weeks and I've seen nothing regarding new Nitron suspension for the Esprit so far.

Maybe someone else noticed something?


Kind regards,


Nobody does it better - than Lotus ;)

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Good News on the Nitrons. We have had them on the elise for some time now and are very happy with them. Do you know if they are going to be available for all the esprit models?

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm picking up the Esprit tomorrow hopefully and looking forward to finding out what the Nitrons are like and will report back with as much information as I remember to ask.


I'll get around to it at some point.

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Yes my car has been with Nitron for a month or so and picked it up earlier today. I've done about 190 miles in it today but mostly motorway with 30 or so on B roads. The car feels like it has has a good refresh but the highlights are the much improved suspension control with improvements in straight line and more importantly turn in and mid corner stability. Nitron opted for 350lb springs all round and the shocks I believed valved to be similar damping in compression to the stock units but improved in the rebound. There is a single damping adjuster on the top of the strut which I doubt I will play with but it's there if I want to tweak it a little should I fancy. They lowered my car circa 15mm which looks so much better as I had always thought the standard ride height was visually high which seemed a little at odds with the type of car. I've tackled a few speed bumps and it's certainly no worse than before, in fact I would say a slight improvement. In short Nitron have retained the usual Lotus ride but improved on it with what the refer to as their fast road setup and for me it's nice that I'm using shocks and springs from a supplier that Lotus now use as OE on some of their cars. I believe Nitron will be marketing these at £1460 plus VAT for the four shocks and springs package.


I'll get around to it at some point.

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Hi Trevor,

Sounds great. I would like to ask about this new suspension.

How does it look? Is it the specific colour light blue and gold anodised surface?

Can we see a few pics?


Kind regards,


Nobody does it better - than Lotus ;)

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