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Broken Rear Hatch Cable

If you're rear hatch cable breaks you'll find yourself unable to get into the boot and at the engine. This problem looks incurable, and in a way is. The cable runs from behind the drivers seat, down the side of the Esprit to the first latch, then long the rear of the Esprit to the other latch. The only way to release the rear hatch once the cable has broken is to cut a hole in the bodywork!

No need to panic. What to do is take the rear number plate off and drill a large whole behind it. You can then reach up and pull the cable, releasing the hatch. You then need to plug the hole and replace the number plate. You can then replace the cable – which we're told isn't difficult – and the problems solved.

We first heard about this fix a few years ago, so while at the Lotus Factory I asked if this was the only way to release the hatch after a cable failure. Lotus confirmed this was the way to do it. Not ideal, but then it is an Esprit!

When Steven Burridge emailed LEW from Australia saying his cable had broken and he couldn't release the hatch. We told him what to do to get it open. Steven kindly photographed the procedure for Lotus Esprit World. So you can now see how it's done.

Releasing Hatch

This job will take about 2 hours and isn't particularly difficult.


You will need the following parts:

New release cable

You will need the following tools:

90 mm hole saw
Wife (get your own) Or Skinny arm


Firstly remove number plate, so you can get at the rear panel. The number plate will then cover up your handy work. Now using a whole saw attached to a power drill, you can make a hole in the panel, I only had a 76mm, so I had to drill two holes (see below). A 90mm would give you a big enough hole to get at the cable. Drill closer to the drivers side and not in the middle (see below).


Once the piece is removed you can now reach in and pull the cable that runs between the two latches. Now when I did this only one side opened, the other side, the cable just pulled through and did not open!


My arm is too big – so – I call the skinny wife! The hole is still not big enough! and a second hole is drilled. Now cut the small piece between holes and we are left with longer bigger hole. My wife can now reach the release bracket and we are in (the lesson learned is cut a bigger hole in the first place closer to the drivers side!)

Changing the cable is easy and obvious. To remove the handle located in the cabin there is a nulex nut which holds it in place, to get to that you remove the cover (which hides the ECU) and it is located directly behind the drivers seat. Once the handle is removed I ran the cable up to the opening, I fed a wire through the drivers cabin attached it to the cable and pulled it through. then I attached the cable to the handle and replace it back into position. I then ran the wire to the release units and feed the wire through each one, with the last one you add the locking nut. Adjustment can be made by pulling the cable and setting the lock nut position which keeps the tension on the cable.

I decide to place a neat grill over the hole. Looks good and means if it happens again, I'll have no problems releasing the hatch.


LEW's Verdict

It's got to be done if your cable breaks. The Job itself isn't difficult, and the hole can be easily hidden by the number plate. Not great having to drill a great big hole in the rear of your car, but in the end it won't make any difference to your Esprit, just easier to get into in the future. I hope this guide helps out fellow Esprit owners who have there cable snap on them.

This mod was performed by Steven Burridge on his 1993 S4

If you have any comments, feel free to e-mail me with at admin@lotusespritworld.com

Alternative Ways

I was looking at your site and saw the article on how to fix a broken hatch cable and had to let you know there is a better way!

My way is better because you don't do any permanent damage to the car.The best way is to dremel off the expanding nuts from
below the trunk floor. This may require removing the exhaust. You can then push up the infill panel, may need to cut some of the adhesive with a knife. You should be able to reach up and pull the latches with your hands.

I had to do this and there is no damage to the car other than having to replace some nuts.


I had the same problem with my car shortly after purchasing it. I thought I was in for a nightmare as I paced around the car trying to figure out of this one. I found the panel beneath the car was held down by I believe 4 nutted bolts. Hello, hello! I removed the nuts closest to the rear and pushed up on the panel and carpeting. I then pushed my arm as far as it would go to release one side and then the other. All this took about 15 min. I then sat for 1/2 hour congratulating myself and feeling quite relieved. Hope this helps.
Marco Falancia
1987 HCI
Ontario, Canada

I have had this problem and there is a very SIMPLE and quick way to open it!You need two people.
1. Press hard down on the side of the boot which wont lift up for about 10 seconds.
2. The lever inside the car should feel "normal" then.
3. Get somebody to hold down the side of the boot which does open and then at the smae time pull the lever inside the car.

Hey presto the side which was stuck should now pop open and the person can let go of the other side.
Then put LOTS of oil/WD40 on the mechnism where the boot locks inside the boot by the pins.
Takes 2 minutes and saves you a fortune over the other methods. Its a scary experience which appears to have no quick solution!

Richard Davies

I had the same problem recently. I got it open by parking with one side of the car up on the curb which caused the body to flex slightly. I then took hold of the boot and "shook" it from side to side. Eventualy the side that had stuck opened up. I cannot tell you which side to park on the curb as it depends on how it has become stuck.

One of the two metal clips that hold down the bullet shaped closers on the boot lid had moved slightly so that the lip did not quite clear when I pulled the release (I am assuming that the GT3 has the same mechanism!).

To fix it you have to release the two large screws holding down the plate on the body and CAREFULLY reposition it so the bullet goes through cleanly when you slowly lower the lid. Use your fingers to check the position but do not let the clip close completly. Then tighten up the screws, close the boot lid properly and cross your fingers that you have got it right. Please take care as it is a lot harder to fix if you have not positioned the metal plate correctly. (Do this AFTER you have parked the car on the level again of course!)

Richard Naylor
88 Turbo

NO need to drill holes in the body!
I was able to access the broken cable trough the driver side fuel filler neck hole.

First, remove the gas cap, 4 screws and the outer steel ring. Put the cap back and pound on it with a plastic dead blow hammer. It took a while to pound it (gently) in. When it gets loose, remove the cap and push the metal filler inlet inside the butress.

Cable lays on top of the wheel arch below the hole-so it is not visible. I used the snake inspection camera to find it, but just a mirror on the stick should do the job. Fish out the cable and pull on it with the pliers.

1988 Esprit Turbo

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