A Tale of Three Lotii

Colin Chapman, James Bond, Formula 1, Pretty Woman. These are some of things that you might associate with the word “Lotus”. But what about air ride, engine swaps, wide wheels and interior re-trims? I’ve mentioned before how much I love seeing once pampered classics being torn down and fettled with as they become more affordable, and these three examples truly embody the guiltless “modify everything regardless of the badge” train of thought. You might not agree with some of the styles of modification, but I’m not here to convince you one way or another, I just like seeing people modify cars, especially cars that are rarely messed with.

All three builds reside together on the Retro Rides forums, and whilst enjoying their threads individually, I thought they’d make a great combined post to showcase how these vintage British sports cars are being re-imagined by the DIY crowd. I’ve added some captions to the images to make it easier to follow, I hope you enjoy.

Want to read more “A tale of …” posts featuring multiple cars? Click here.

The first Lotus to be modified is this 1981 Esprit, already a lovely car in standard guise.


Wheels maketh the car, in this case some 3-piece 16″ Compomotive meshies.


Custom air suspension setup allows the wedge to sit on the floor.
With the car looking mighty fine, the owner set his attention on the power-train, starting with this Alfa Romeo V6.
The standard 4 cylinder lump was relieved of it’s duties.
Custom sump mods to allow the larger engine to fit.
Plenty of work was needed to mate the Alfa V6 to the existing gearbox
In between engine work, Dean found time to try his hand at some upholstery, with great success.
A trio of Triumph Daytona motorbike throttle bodies sit atop the Italian V6
An engine trial fit was important, not only to ensure that it all fit as planned, but also to check out the new rear view!
Engine in place, looking like it was made to be there. A mid-engine V6 sports car really appeals to me (especially with ITBs!)
The interior looks like a very inviting place to be.
A Speedhunters feature to immortalise the car in beautiful photos really tops off the build journey.

CLICK HERE for the full build thread.


Another Esprit to be layed-out on air, but this one packs a different punch.
A Rover V8 fills the space nicely! (After some choice cutting, of course)
11.5″ wheels with 315 tyres should be enough to get the power down.
I spy...Porsche brakes! Please note soon to be eradicated wheel gap.
I spy…Porsche brakes! Please note soon to be eradicated wheel gap.
More custom air suspension, because how else are you going to do it?
The red bits make the car go up and down (I suck at captions).
Result! This is the ‘driving height’, and can be lowered further.

CLICK HERE for the full build thread.


The final installment of the Lotus trio is this red Elite, originally found in a very sorry state.
It’s the only one to keep it’s original powerplant. By the way, the Elite is front-engined.
The Elite differs from the 2x Esprit’s by using air shocks instead of air bags.
Raised shock towers were required to get the desired ride height
Raised shock towers were required to get the desired ride height.
Off the jack stands for the first time, smiles all ’round.
A wrinkle-red rocker cover is the fastest way to my heart. New wheels set off the shape of the car.
A nice buff job and a quick release of it’s air lines sees it ready for the show hall.
What I love about this Elite is the delectably retro interior overhaul, starting with this donor set of seats and panels.
The rear trims are actually from a Lotus Elcat and need some surgery to fit the Elite. Check out the new custom headliner that Charlie had already installed at this point.
Love that fabric!
Even the carpet gets a brown overhaul.
Even the carpet gets a brown/tan overhaul.
The completed hybrid rear trims finish off the welcoming interior.
The completed hybrid rear trims finish off the welcoming interior.
One more of the exterior to round off the post. Lovely!

CLICK HERE for the full build thread.

Just in case you missed the links to the other builds posted above, here’s all three again…

Grey/blue Lotus Esprit V6White lotus Esprit V8Red Lotus Elite

Make sure you check them out, as there are some videos peppered throughout.



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