Exige Cup 260 - Restoration and Updates

Hi all, some of you might have seen this on another forum by Fonzey suggested it was worth posting on here as there might be some interested folks. Not posted on here for a while, so apologies if it seems I’m just jumping in!\

Anyway this will be in catch up, so I’ll try to avoid too much waffling, but its hard for me. Bit of background long time Exige/Elise owner: Elise Sport160, Exige S1 x2, Exige S2 x 2 and an Exige Sport 350 - there was a bit of gap between the S1’s/S2’s and the S3. I built the S3 into exactly what I wanted (thread here: XXX)and for whatever reason I never really gelled with it, I loved it and it was a great car - but for me an Exige needs a delicacy about it, and the extra weight of the v6 just lost me that connection. But this isn’t an s3 vs s2 debate so I won’t dwell on it too long! At the end of lockdown a chance to sell came up to a very enthusiastic owner and it seemed like the right time, deal was done and off she went

After lots of debate of what next car, I couldn’t bring myself to get into supercar levels (too fast for road etc) nor Atom type cars (see them as motorbikes really). what I knew I wanted again was a properly sorted S2 Exige. I was going to build one up exactly how I wanted, but I was essentially building a Cup car, and then a MY10 Cup260 came up!

For those that don’t know the Cup260 was a pretty special model with some of the following features:
Carbon Roof
Carbon tailgate
Carbon access panels
Carbon parts in rear clam
Carbon side ducts
Carbon splitter
Carbon spoiler
Carbon Dash/Vents/Side sills
Carbon Seats
Forged wheels (lightest at the time)
Lightweight subframe
Lightweight flywheel, uprated clutch
Lightweight bulkhead (no window)
Lightweight supercharger pipes
Additional sheer panel to increase lateral stiffness
Ohlins 2 way remote reservoir dampers
Ap 4 pots
+lots of other bits

Found it looking like this:

Pretty good for a 10 year old car, felt pretty special but still the S2 that I remembered. I had seen several people refer to the car in question as ‘mint’, ‘immaculate’ etc so went with high hopes - it was not beaten up at all, but plenty of stonechips, suspension needed a refurb (but pickup points all good just normal lotus suspension). Eventually we came to a deal with me knowing I would be essentially taking on a project. The car was loved and it was used, it was not kept in a bubble but I know that I want my cars mint so pretending that I wouldn’t go down that route

For a cup it’s a slight more road spec, so doesn’t have external cut-offs, or A-frame but does have Airbags and a Radio. Apparently if you wanted the radio you had to have the airbags at the time (loom change) and you lost the external cut-offs. They also deleted the A-frame as you can’t fit the cage that attaches to it with the airbags.

As said deal agreed and after checking for really serious damage I was on my way, ready for a deep clean and see where we were

Downsides were mainly cosmetic so in a heart over head decision I went for it….

Drive home was good, exactly how I expected it to feel (despite the v6 only being a few inches bigger, the S2 felt tiny by comparison and just right :thumbup: )

It feel so light compared to the 350, despite being only a few inches smaller it felt much smaller - back to the B-road blaster that I missed

Engine felt good, pretty much noise free (apart from a badly adjust roof banging like hell)

Happy days

A proper clean (you can’t not clean a new car):

Right, the downsides:

I already knew the splitter had been repaired, fine from a distance but was not perfect

Paint had plenty of stonechips, but nothing odd for a low car that has been on runs with other groups for the past few years.

PPF was there, but it was old battered stuff that needed replacing as well as having some interesting touch ups.

I started planning out the suspension refresh. The arms were filthy by I knew under there would be surface rust, and the bushes whilst seeming OK would need a refresh soon as they were 10 years old.

I was faced with the option of leave as is run it for a few years in its grubby state or make mint and get it exactly as I wanted. I was all set to say that I was going to do the former, not worry and just enjoy it as it was already grubby.

I then started the deep clean underneath so see what I was really dealing with. Wheels off liners out I scrubbed and rinses for a few hours. Tons of mud and crap were all over the drive.

I would like at this point to show you a gleaming set of suspension, but in reality what I faced was this:

That’s right, surface rust over all the wishbones but also subframe. On the Cup260 the subframe is not galvanised, it was essentially painted. And it appears that through it its early life it saw salt and the paint let it through. Leaving that mess above

I was gutted at this point and felt a right idiot, I should have scrubbed under the dirt when looking at it and not got all excited. Lesson learnt, but I knew that I was now going to have to throw some cash at this…

Now had to work out what to do next. I put the car away thinking I’d made a terrible mistake and grabbed a bottle of rum…

Right time to fix all of this.

After a good clean I could really assess the paintwork: the good news was that I could assess it, the bad news was that it was as bad as I thought…

Stone chips all over the front, sills more than chipped, most of the lacquer was missing, stone chips on lower edge of all door, arches chipped to buggery, odd chips to the rear clam, and someone had burnt through the lacquer on the drivers door polishing out a stone chip I presume.

Various not great pics:

None of this really fazed me as this bit was in the plan to fix and fix properly, and with paintwork being my thing I knew that I had to get it perfect - the only way would be a respray, the sheer volume of stone chips meant that it would be beyond viable to touch in. In my head I was now thinking of taking it from good to perfect, just need to find the right bodyshop.
Just a note on this, finding a bodyshop has been an absolute nightmare these days. It seems that everyone knows a mate that does a complete respray for a fiver and a mars bar, very few actually have had anything resprayed .
Being positive though I knew what I had to do with the bodywork, find a bodyshop I could work with and hopefully we could get enough of a working relationship to make it mint, downside was the budget was quickly going out the window. Good thing we can’t go on holiday any time soon!

New carbon splitter arrived though - so I’ll mark that down as progress!

I also started playing with a bit of correction, just to see.



Nothing special and a long way from being refined, but gave me a bit of confidence if I couldn’t get the Bodyshop sorted I could refine the paint pretty quickly

50/50 of wing, most of the carbon is in good nick. Clearcaot is much the same as paint hardness wise, which is different to the Sport350 as ProDrive made the carbon for those, so the clear is much harder than the lotus paint

So from here on in stuff actually gets fixed/improved, so less of a focus on the bad bits, more of a focus on the fun bits

With the world being what it is plan had been put on hold like many. What was meant to be a year of less corporate work and more car stuff doing more and more detailing, turned into an all hands to the pump working two jobs at the same time to meet client needs - meaning I had zero time, but I still needed to get this car sorted.

At a minimum I needed subframe off, and either replaced with a new coated one, or blasted and recoated
Suspension refurbed to shiny wishbones, replace consumables such as bushings with a few upgrades - basically get another 10 years

As I knew if I was doing this at night and at weekends, I would die due to my actual jobs workload and my family’s patience would start to wear a bit thin. The only alternative was stepping away from work to do it myself, but if I don’t work I don’t get paid so if outsourcing it was cheaper that’s what I would have to do.

I spoke to a couple of places, but Ollie@Pheonix seemed to be about the best fit. Others I know trusted him to the point they toss him their keys and trust him, so it felt like a good fit.

So whilst concocting all the bits I wanted doing I took it to Ollie to see if it was viable or if my winter would indeed be knee deep in rusty suspension parts…

Standard Phoenix gallery shot as it always looks good there, Brian the Dog doing his usual inspection, she looks good from above too!

While suspension, clam and bits were off I decided to do a few other bits. Plan I agreed was:

  • Subframe off, blast and recoat - then we’ll coat it throughout with ACF-50 to aid rust prevention and I don’t drive in salt, so hoped to get 10 more years out of it

  • Strip all suspension, blast, zinc, powdercoat and clearcoat

  • Move to Nitron Spherical Bearings

  • OEM Ball joints

  • New Drop Links

  • New Trackrod ends

  • Replace all bolts

  • Upgraded engine mounts

  • Remove, replace various brackets with stainless or blasted and coated where needing to remain

  • Replace main rad with ProAlloy rad

  • Replace Aircon rad with Pro alloy rad

I also had a chat with Simon@Meteor Motorsports about refurbing dampers (cup260 runs 2 way adjustable remote reservoir Ohlins), his advice was if adjusters still firmly clicked, and there were no actual leaks we were all good and to only return when needed. The were last done 5k miles ago so it seemed to make sense, although I was expecting I would need to rebuild

Knowing we had a plan in place I thought I’d enjoy her a bit lockdown was being relaxed so we took a drive out to see what she was like when I wasn’t trying to find fault. As always North Wales provided stunning roads and views

It was bloody brilliant, so I was pretty happy overall despite the setbacks I had started seeing, so a chance for some pretty pics

I’ve probably driven this car more in the first few weeks than I did in a year for the Sport350, so I am definitely gelling with this car much more

Actual progress. After dropping the car off at Ollies and after what felt like a lifetime the car started coming together…

So off to Phoenix and after quite a few weeks I found this:

Things are suddenly looking shiny!

Massive improvements so feeling much happier

After going through the dam,pers after the were off the car, I in the end decided to get them rebuilt, I had one bump adjustor no longer clicking - so the rather costly exersice of reqbuilding all 4 was completed…
Ohlins are bloody expensive to refurb but I had to keep as a CUP 260 needs them I may replace later and keep them in a box, who knows. Main frustration was keeping them as any future owner would expect them, as I’d normally upgrade and think damper tech has moved on. But I’ll refurb and then may change later knowing I have them sitting in a box for a future owner.

Whilst at it I had increased scope after time so in addition I had added:

  • Spitfire Toelinks and a chassis brace

  • Dampers rebuilt as already said

  • Also added a ProAlloy long range tank

  • Added Baffled Sump (I need temp take off for later, plus belt and braces for oil starvation issues)

  • Fans replaced

  • Heater box refurbed/cleaned - generally dig out 10 years of mank that exists under the clam.

  • Swapped out resister pack while it was out (didn’t need doing but the hard part was done)

  • Ollie also found me a spare set of two pots to throw onto the rears (plenty more brake upgrades to come later)

  • All brake lines replaced for HEL items

Wow. What a car. Looks fantastic! Like the updates on the thread. Thanks for taking the time to post

Lovely looking, but most importantly you like driving it.

Excellent, thanks for taking the time to post it up. As I’ve said many times, the Cup 260 is by far my favourite S2. I’d absolutely love one if I could trust myself not to ruin it :laughing: Truly deserving of a ‘special edition’ status. Looking forward to seeing it in the flesh.

Cheers chaps, I’ll take that as encouragement so carry on! Thanks for humouring me!

Right the outsourced work getting finished:

Rear (forgive ratty disc, they will be replaced later in the project)

Front (forgive even ratttier disk)


So the total of what has been completed so far:

  • Full suspension refurb, move to Nitron bearings, new ball joints, replace drop links, track rod ends, Spitfire Toelinks, additional chassis brace

  • Ohlins rebuilt and revalved

  • Main Rad and AirCon Rad swapped for Proalloy items

  • Heater removed, serviced, resister pack replaced while we were in there (resister pack was fine, but the hard bit was done by that point)

  • Stay bars removed, blasted powdercoated

  • Subframe removed, blasted and recoated as well as plenty of ACF on the inside

  • Lots of other brackets blasted and coated (ABS mount, Engine mounts, etc)

  • Brake lines replaced

  • Stainless brackets added for diffuser, driving lights and various other items

  • Stainless tow bracket

  • Added 2 Pot brakes to the rear

  • Powerflex Engine mount inserts

  • Seriously Lotus Baffled Pro Sump

  • As well as a full service of new plugs, filters, engine oil, gearbox oil, coolant, aircon regass (due to changing rad rather than fault)

+probably some other bits I have missed

So all in all the mother of all services was completed coming up to her tenth year, so we should be all good for a few year mechanically

All good on the drive home everything feeling very OEM despite the changes to bearing over bushings etc

Noise acceptable but needs to bed in. There is a bit of an increase in engine vibration due to the mounts, but this will fade with time. But its really very marginal, wife couldn’t feel a difference in harshness so overall that seems good

Overall happy with the transformation, as I say felt OEM but tighter and crisper if that makes sense. I was pleased that I kept the same dampers as it was less of a variable change, although I am already eyes alternative 3 way setups over the 2 way Ohlins I already have…

Down side was the heater was stuck on hot, so that’s the actuator gone! Sods law and may be do to it being disturbed. On the plus side I actually had a spare from the past, so it was clam off time again - not many pics of the change out as I was swearing too much, but another chance to clean up under the clam

Turns out it was just a connector that had worked loose, frustrating to remove the clam to get to it, but at least it was all fixed in a night!


Clean Up:

Back On:

Oh and wheels have been refurbed, they weren’t curbed but had deep embedded brake dust (presume it ran CL’s at some point. Faces were fine, but barrels terrible so those are not mint again

:thumbup: great read

Lovely looking car :sunglasses:. It looks like you’ve ticked off most of your list, looking forward to the next instalment :+1:

As a matter of interest, any idea how many Cup 260s were produced?

I would say that the extra vibrations and noise don’t get better with time, you just get used to them.
I personally didn’t think the upgrade to 3 ways was worth the money.

Cheers! There is plenty of refreshes to come :thumbup:

As for how many, I keep hearing different numbers! Looking on ‘howmanyleft’ at its peak there were 66 registered (taxed and sorn Exige 260’s, but these include RGB’s and Scuras, So its a subset of them, and then within that you have MY08, MY09 and MY10 - all different. And thats just UK

There are very few MY10 Cup260s in the UK, and not many worldwide - basically I need lotus to verify so will have to stump up for the Provenance pack

You may well be right, I’ve gone for the more extreme approach of taking out all the interior apart from drivers seat so at the moment its like a wasp in a can, putting it all back it will be a contract thereby giving the illusion of it getting better!

I had them on my old one and I certainly stopped noticing.

3 Ways is an interesting thing (well for me at least). The ohlins are built on a 36mm chassis which unfortunately give limited adjustability in the valving, as in the built in characteristics of the shock (its an old shock design to be fair), I prefer to run harder low speed compression, lower levels of high speed compression, moving to a larger shock chassis you have a greater control of both the adjustability of this and the valving within it. So moving to a different shock is more about being able to change the valving to give a digressive ramp (ramps down with compression speed) the three way element just comes with the price point really.

Either way I will run the Ohlins this year then see if I need to change. Ive not set it up properly for either road or track, so I need to see how happy I get with current setup. Out of the box though its looking good, but I know I need to back off current settings a little bit

As you’ve probably guessed a suspension refurb isn’t the end of the story, rough plan is at follows:

  • Full respray

  • Interior refresh: retrim, refresh all alcantara to OEM spec, replace carpets etc - its all a bit tired and has the slightly odd sugary smell!

  • Proper brake upgraded

  • Data logging, maybe dash upgrade

  • Manifold, Sports Cat etc with TRD airbox

  • Pull any other weird bits apart and sort out

So kind of OEM plus, then see about proper mods next year

Anyway, update. I started pulling things apart prepping for the retrim and another oddity came up in the shape of these connectors:

One hidden by the gear stick, one by the drinks holder cubby thing. They didn’t do anything it seems, werent plugged into anything device wise, so I had the option of moving on and it becoming an interesting tale, or find out where it went…

An hour or so later, the car looked like this:

It appeared that the were linked into the wiring going to the switchpack signal for the rear lights. I still have no idea why you would need a connector for that! Snipped them out and sorted the loom back out

Reinstalled the look and created a bit more slack so I could trim the rear bulkhead carpet properly and get the look to sit on top

Bulkhead also had some foam stuck to it behind speakers (presume as I don’t have the touring back foam), wouldn’t rip off cleanly so looked like this:

Bit of scrubbing later, clean once again

Interesting pedalboard you have there :thumbup:

Another one of my massively over engineered solutions. Based around an ES-8 switching system and plenty of midi switching for the strymons and EQ settings - not many genres it can’t handle now :thumbup:

Bass here but I do know the Strymon stuff is so good. They look like they’re sat perfectly together - surely you’re on a pedalboard rebuild thread somewhere on the internet? :wink:

I think there was one back in the day, it all gets addictive and make car buying seem rational by comparison!

Chassis clean up next. I’ve never had to overcome a large amount of dirt on the chassis just a bit of mud etc. But this car had this strange black film all over it.

As mentioned before it also had a really sweet cherry smell on the fabrics. So the air freshener combined with this black stuff made me think that one of two things had happened:

• Someone smoked in the car then the carpets were coated with air refresher causes the dye to leak onto the chassis

• Someone left a window open, and it got wet causing the dye to leak, then it was air freshened to hide a manky smell

Either way I had to get rid of the manky look, kill the sweet magic tree minicab smell and make it look better!

First thing, rip out all the interior and expose what we have. Nothing wsa rotted or anything, it just looked a bit manky!

As an example this was the footwell divider - the blue/black stuff wasn’t coming off with cleaner, so I needed to go abrasive

This was after a magic sponge, with the majority of the black stuff coming off

Then a hand polish with Menz 2500, then Menz 3800

In general things were pretty dusty but still just dirt

Ripping off the velcro that held the mats, it was becoming clear that this car had a home by the sea once, plenty of sand from the beach. The subframe surface rust, and then sand all over the interior - just further clues. Either way slowly getting rid of all the evidence

Anyway, before:


Chassis now looking cleaner, so happy days!

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