Life with a modern classic – the Lotus diary, part 4

Lotus Elise
The Elise's new engine is sourced from a crashed Civic Type-R

The Elise is still off the road waiting for its new engine to be fitted. Alastair Preacher explains.

Nothing is ever simple, is it? After agonising over options and working out a cost-effective way of making the Honda conversion a reality, a month further on and I still don’t have my car back. In fact, it’s no further on than it was at the end of the last update.

I’ll save the details of the exact specifications of the car and full complexities for the comprehensive post-build update. However, in short, a week after the last update I’d sourced and paid for the conversion kit from Stark Automotive and also got an engine and requisite ancillaries delivered to Gareth at ACE Engineering in Billingshurst who are undertaking the work.

It’s probably worth noting that at the point of sourcing the engine, the supplier (Hills Salvage) had a further three of four spare engines available. I plumped for the one with lowest mileage (c52k) and all looked rosy. Sadly, after a quick inspection Gareth found that the timing chain had stretched which was very odd for such a low mileage car. After a bit of further digging through the service history we found that at the last main dealer service (2 years ago) the reported mileage was c65k. Ahh.

It had also been doing  around 18k miles per annum up to that point, suggesting a true mileage closer to 90-100k. Bugger. At least the stretched timing chain started to make more sense now. However, I have to give full credit to the supplier - they took the engine back without question. They didn’t have to do this given that there’s a firm caveat emptor clause as part of the purchase, but one of the main reasons I chose Hills Salvage despite a price premium over other sourcing options was their reputation for selling good quality engines with accurate mileage (or at least, as accurate as you can be).

Frustratingly, it just so happened that between buying the first engine, it being delivered and subsequently returned, the other three engines they had in stock were sold and it’s taken the best part of four weeks to source another one. 

So, after this little setback I have another c50k engine being delivered to ACE on Monday. This one’s mileage is more difficult to verify, having only been to a main dealer once in its life. However, as my car has been off the road since February and has been sat on the ramps gathering dust for over a month I figured it’s a chance worth taking. I’m going to try and visit ACE next week to get some more shots of the progress, by which time things will hopefully have moved on somewhat! 

Now that I've finally sourced a replacement engine, I can get back to the business of pricing up other essentials that need considering when undertaking such a build. You know; oil pressure and temperature gauges, harnesses, harness bar, LSD, uprated ECU, new seats…

Now I think about it, I’d better get some of the old items up for sale on eBay to help finance these 'essentials'!