Owning an S1 from New

Topics relating to the Lotus Exige S1 (series 1)
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thommo
Posts: 4999
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2004 12:50 pm
Location: Lancs

Really enjoying your memories, and better still that they are coming in instalments, so I can’t “binge” read.
Thanks👍
Exige S1 No: 139
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series_one
Posts: 682
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2005 5:53 pm
Location: saving Again!

Brilliant reading. As per Thommo, it’s great waiting for the next installment!
Richard Parham
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Nov 10, 2021 8:57 pm

It was a trip at the ring that was my turning point for me and my Exige. I was coming down Antoniusbushe straight towards Dottinger, home... at about 142mph in 4th the little K series engine screaming at 8100rpm. I would lift slightly for Schwalbenschwanz, the engine breaking me quickly to about 120mph... I would turn in and drive the corner. Now for some reason I decided to take the corner at 128mph, not much faster, but fast enough for me to realise I was travelling too quickly. I lifted so very slightly mid corner, and before I new it, the Exige had let go. My friend Steve was in crash position, his head firmly placed within his knees and silently praying to God. The Exige must have span 9 to 10 times on the tarmac before we engaged the grass, which led us to spin a further 10 times. The car came to a halt less than 1 metre shy of the armaco. Steve lifted his head and we just looked at each other in complete relief. The Exige completely unscathed apart from the front number plate, which had detached itself on the edge of the circuit. It was from that moment in time I realised how vulnerable me, my friend, and the car was. It was time for a rethink... regarding my skills and the Exige's vulnerability as a track car. That year the Exige was retired from track use and my new circuit car would be Caterham 7s for the next 10 years. I started with 118 bhp road sport, then a R300, then R400, then a R500, all K series cars, I just love those engines. After retirement from track use the Exige was used for Lotus Club events, socialising and a LeMans trips. In the following 15 years the Exige had 2 altonator failures and was generally very reliable, garaged and covered with a bespoke cover.
In 2017 my son Adam asked my if he could borrow the car for the weekend to surprise his new girlfriend. I duly agreed, and off he went on the Friday evening. It was around midday on the Saturday he phoned me... DAD... there is steam coming from the engine bay and I have been sitting in a lot of traffic with the engine temperature rising. I promptly said turn it off straight away and let it cool down, try and put some water in it and see how you go. He phoned later to say, all seemed fine, see you later. With the car back in the garage looking and sounding fine I decided to take a look at the radiator and fans, I found 1 fan not working and the other jammed, and the rad falling apart. I ordered a new rad which was 20mm thicker, and 2 larger up graded Speil fans. I took the car to my friend Dave who built my Caterhams. He removed the front clam, and replaced the old rad and fans. He phoned me a week later to say it was all done but there could be an issue with the engine....
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thommo
Posts: 4999
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2004 12:50 pm
Location: Lancs

Ring heroics, life in the slow(er) lane, Caterham conversion, steaming rad . . . this story has it all. Makes my Exige life seem a little tame
Exige S1 No: 139
Richard Parham
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Nov 10, 2021 8:57 pm

Dave noted that the engine run rough for the first 30 seconds...and then seem to clear itself. He said it sounds like the head gasket may have failed, as these are common symptoms for the problem. Ohh dear...
A good friend of mine Rob Singleton had worked at Caterham for many years and knew his way around the K-series back to front. He built my 2Ltr K series for my R500 Evo, and serviced and up-graded most of my Caterhams throughout my ownership. Rob now runs a successful Caterham Race car hire and prep Company along with his father and Colin called Boss Racing. Rob told me to drop the car down and a week later the phone rang to confirm the head gasket had failed and would jump on it as soon as he had a chance. I thought it would be a good opportunity to do a few up-grades to the top end of the engine while Rob sorted the head gasket. I chatted to Rob and suggested the use of the late R400 cams that were used on one of my Caterhams. Titan roller barrel, throttle bodies, polish and ported head, and a new ECU. Rob agreed and the up-grade was carried out. Rob phoned me sometime later with some bad news. Whilst on the rolling road the technician noted the oil light flickered on and immediately turned the engine off, and contacted Rob. The Exige was returned back to Rob and the engine removed. Rob stripped the engine to find that a foam baffle had broken down in the sump and blocked the oil pick up pipe, thus starving the engine of oil.
I discussed the work required with Rob and took the opportunity to carry out a belt and braces rebuild of the engine. This included, QED steel crank, arrow con rods, omega pistons, new AP clutch and plate, new starter motor, new alternator, new hoses, and ancillaries. The gear box was stripped and checked and overhauled. Rob duly installed the engine and gear box and Exige was as good as new. I took the opportunity to replace the dampers and springs as they had felt tired over the last few years. I discussed a date and time with Rob for the engine Dino and the car was booked in for Friday the 29/10/2021. I could not wait. As the car transporter entered the Industrial site where the rolling road was situated I felt like a child waiting for a birthday present. The rear of the transporter opened and the Exige rolled from the rear. WOW... I drove the car into the rolling road and the technician carried out his various initial tests. He was very methodical and 3 hours later the car was on the rollers and running like a dream. Before you new it, it was 7pm on a Friday night and Steve said thats it for tonight we will finish it tomorrow. Disappointed but duly impressed with his professionalism, I returned home. Rob phoned me on the Saturday and gave the news from the rolling road... it made 208bhp and 152lbs torque. Not ground breaking figures but bang on what I wanted for a useable road car. Steve commented that the carbon air box was restricting air flow and I knew the cams were based on torque not bhp, and the engine had more to come in the future if I required. TBC
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thommo
Posts: 4999
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2004 12:50 pm
Location: Lancs

Great stuff👍
Exige S1 No: 139
HOON
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2019 11:05 pm

This is a great thread, I’m enjoying reading it 👍
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PaulT
Posts: 98
Joined: Wed Mar 18, 2020 2:58 pm

HOON wrote: Wed Jan 12, 2022 6:47 pm This is a great thread, I’m enjoying reading it 👍
I'm going to +1 that.
Mr GMC
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2021 9:38 am

ditto!
Richard Parham
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Nov 10, 2021 8:57 pm

The following Saturday I arrived Boss Racing. The Exige looking beautiful with the sun shining down on her stunning metallic paintwork. A quick catch up with Rob and the Exige was started and warmed up to temperature. I drove home which took around 40 miles to see how the Exige felt and ran. I noted firstly how much torque she had low down the rev range, and secondly how much smoother the engine and gear box felt even though I did not rev her over 3500rpm...got that running in procedure to go through again. On my arrival home my wife commented how lovely she looked and I just remembered I had a smile from ear to ear. With the onset of Spring I intend to do an 800 mile run to bed things in as pretty much everything on her has been replaced or refreshed.
So....21 years later and many great memories the story will start again. I never stopped loving the Exige's shape and lines and would not change her for the world.
Now before you die hards think I was mad to replace so many parts of the Exige, ... I have every part that was replaced in my 21 years of ownership (bar the radiator and fans)...mounted in a frame lit up like a piece of Damien Hurst artwork. This piece of art sits proudly to the side of my Exige inside my garage.
Summary
The Exige is home 21 years of ownership, original paint and body work, 1300 miles, 13,623 miles, new MoT, and ready to go.
I will try to meet up this year with some club members possibly at Chatsworth House this summer.

All the best
Richard
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