Body Work V
(December 2002)

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It's been four more months since the last update and notice the title of this chapter is still "Body Work". I am happy to report however that this will be the last Body Work chapter!  But before we get to the rest of the body work I want to report on a few of the other project developments.

Resurrection:  A fellow Esprit owner, Dave Platt, had an unfortunate accident with his car earlier this year - severely damaging the left rear of the car. The lead time for a new quarter panel was such that he searched for and found an alternative source - the residual portion of the '97 car's body. It turns out that the only completely undamaged portion of the car was exactly what was damaged on his car so Dave and his young son drove up to Oregon from the Bay area and...

Mark, Saw, and .... Lift

Whoa! Something is missing here

Fits Perfect

He was at my house no more than 15 minutes. Back to CA and the body shop and...


It's good to see the parts getting used to keep other Esprits on the road.

Next, Keen Young was kind enough to take me up on my offer to provide him with the frame from the '89 car while also being crazy enough to buy the remnants of his '91 car back from me (see: After the last clean up, the '91 car's body was sitting on the '89 car's frame in the woods so it was just a matter of pulling it back up to the garage, stripping off un-needed parts and putting it on the trailer. A number of Esprit friends showed up for the fun.

Colin Smyth, Keen Young, Scott Kovalik (in the car), & Jon

Colin brought me Johan's old wing for my car (all the way from Canada Aay) and Keen brought me an oil filter from Lew (that I traded him for some lug nuts he can't seem to find) along with a rear window and a crispy but verified high torque '99 Sport 350 ECU from Johan. Colin was also getting Larry's old wing, which Keen also brought from Johan's - Got all of this straight? Hey Colin - What did the Canadian Customs guys say on the way back in anyway?

Amazing! Two running Esprits at my house.

Johan's old wing looks good on my car

I had the OZ Futura Modulars fixed. Right front got inner and outer rims replaced by OZ in Florida and the right rear had a bump on the outer rim that was fixed locally.

OZ Futura Modular Wheels Looking Good

I found a great local wheel shop called "Skip's Wheel Werks" (503 641-8001 ask for Skip) and he stripped and repainted the OZ Chrono Magnesios (matching the paint) for $600. Skip also fixed the bump.

OZ Chrono Magnesios Looking Real Good

I travel overseas a few times a year on business and was in Taipei and Tokyo for two weeks in late October but before I left I cleaned up the garages a lot.

Enough space for....

With the quarter of the '97 car missing I seemed to have space in the garage. What should I put there?

A British Car Of Course

The wife was a bit grouchy when I came home from Japan since I neglected to mention to her that a car was going to be delivered while I was away. I'm still in the doghouse. "Like you need another frigging car around here!" This is my best friend's (PorscheCar N.A.'s Martin Peters) Triumph TR-250. The car that started all of this. He bought himself a new Mini Cooper S and I could not let him sell it to anyone else given the long history. I wonder how his co-workers at PorscheCars are treating him? They should have given him a 911. Maybe they will now ☺.

And so without further delays... onto Body Work V!

The initial goal in this phase was to get the engine / trunk compartment completed so I could install the wiring harness so I could install the gas tanks so I could get the body back on the frame but things never go as you plan. I began the long and arduous task of removing all of the adhesive from the engine / trunk compartment. Paint stripper proved the best solution. I wanted to paint all of engine / trunk area to cover the red and then re-apply the adhesive and carpeting. To finish this area I had to make it the same as the '97 car. The trunk of the '97 car is wider to make it easier to stow the removable roof. As such, I removed sections from the body to match.

                                            Before                                                                                         After

The air intake vents for the turbos are different between the years so I moved them over.

V8 Vent Installed

The old style vent is lower right in the picture above. Someone cut out a section on the right edge of the engine bay so that had to be replaced.

Missing Piece

It's There Now

I then noticed one more difference between the bodies. Under the battery box of the V8 car there is a heat shield. The V8 exhaust routing requires this but it turns out that a portion of the body under the battery box is cut away and the bottom portion of the battery box forms the underside of the car on the V8s. This is where the heat shield attaches while still leaving clearance to the body.

Underside of Battery Box of the V8

Same section of the SE body

This area of the '97 car was damaged in the accident including significant damage to the battery box itself. I realized however that since this is not a visible part of the car, it does not have to be that pretty so I decided to repair the battery box and bond it into the body. So I templated the '97 car and transferred it to the body.

Bottom below Battery Box

I then cut the above section out and went about fixing the battery box by making a wooden form that conformed to the inside of the battery box. I then used wax paper to cover the form and glassed in the missing sections and ...

What Damage?

You can see the repair above in the upper right. Most of the seams were busted or missing also.

Fits Perfect

I talked to Tony Grasso a while about my dilemma with painting the jambs in order to put the wiring harness through the firewall. I also visited the Lotus Esprit assembly line at Hethel (Norwich, U.K) in early November and found that they paint the body shells without the doors and hatches etc. then protect the paint and assemble the cars. I also received a number of other tips from the twelve guys that assemble Esprits and got a few more through observation. As a result, I decided to finish all the body work, prime and paint the body shell before continuing with assembly. So I attached the sills.



One thing that always gives V8 conversions away is the lack of the recessed panel forward of the door on the A-pillar.

No Recess

I hate this and my car has to be exactly the '97 car repaired so...



Glass and Fill

V8 Recess!

I also needed to fix the external cracks from the Race Rub on the right rear of the car. This was accomplished by grinding down through the Gel Coat and then layering in thin fiberglass net.

Layered Net

I also needed to fix the edge near the rear light similarly.

Paint Gone Reveals Cracks in the Gel Coat

Net over the Ground-through Gel Coat

Completed Repair Prior to Primer

The exit holes for the door wiring are also different between the cars.

                                    Before                                                                                                After

Before I could complete the bodywork though, I had to attach the wheel arch extensions. Lotus did not modify the molds for this but rather grinds off portions of the body shells as appropriate to make the wheel arches fit.

What's Under the '97 Car's Wheel Arch Extensions

As you can see from the right hand side of the above photo, it's a nasty mod even for Lotus.


Body Ground Away and Filled

Since the earlier body does not have expanded wheel wells, the stud bolts that attach the extensions protrude into an inaccessible part of the body above the wheel well. As such, this is bored about an inch deep with a circular saw and filled with glass in a bowl so that the bolts and nuts are accessible from outside of the body.

Bolt Access Enabled

V8 Front Wheel Arch Extension In Place

The rear wheel arch extension are attached in a similar manner except that they are a one piece design. Unfortunately, I had one of mine stolen from me (along with my front valance and lights - long story) and the one remaining was broken in two places during the collision so I repaired it.

V8 Rear Wheel Arch Extension In Place (mostly)

Unfortunately after more examination, I noticed many more cracks completely though the part. It would require a lot of work to get rid of them. I was able to get a good deal on a complete Esprit V8 styling conversion kit that includes all of the parts I am missing so I am using the rear wheel arch extensions from this kit instead.

Click here to see the next chapter in the saga.