V8 Wheels on Earlier Esprits
Putting V8 wheels on older Esprits takes a little bit of work!
Lots of owners of early steven's shaped cars with 15" wheels often look at the later Esprit with envy towards the alloy's fitted as standard. Early Stevens Esprits have 15" front and rear, SE's have 16" rear and 15" front. From 93, S4's and GT3's got 17" front and rear, S4s and beyond have 18" rear and 17" fronts, in styles that still look modern today.
It is possible for early Stevens Esprit owners to fit these later and bigger alloys to their Esprits, which many have done, including LEW. All alloys will fit in the arches of the earlier Esprits, but it can get tight on full lock. It is also possible that the camber will then be set up wrong, causing uneven wear due to too much negative camber, as a result of Lotus V8 wheels on an SE without adjustable upper links. You can purchase Adustable top links from PUK Esprit Racing, which will allow you to adjust the camber to stop this.
Below is a picture of what it can do to your tyres, of the adjustable links and fitted to an early Esprit. There is also a link to VulcanGrey's website, on which, you'll find pictures of them being fitted to an Esprit.
But even before this you'll come across a problem fitting the wheels. The rear S4/V8 wheels will go straight on, but the fronts won't fit on the hubs. The front hubs on later cars are 2mm smaller in diameter. The rear hubs are the same. To fit the fronts you have two options. Machine 2mm of the wheels, or machine the hubs. We recommend machining the wheels, as it's easier and you can always have a ring made up if they need to go back on later cars. MICOM LTD have a 15% discount for Club members on things like skimming wheels to match hub size.
The red arrows show the areas of the wheel centre bore that had to be machined larger to fit the hubs on earlier Esprits.
Picture and info from Sanjaya's site http://turboesprit.tripod.com/wheels.html
Once either the wheels or hubs have been machined the front should fit perfectly and you'll be able to show off your new modern shoes.
Wheel and Tyres are available regularly second-hand, with quite a few sets sold through LEW's Parts for Sale page. Prices can range from £500 to £2,000 depending of style, condition and tyres. S4 set of wheels & tyres are normally priced between £500-750+, V8 AWI's and Saturn £1,000, Sport 350 £1,500. V8 Nova's £1,500-£2,000. S4s Wheels are more rare and will really depend on condition as these are very expensive to refurbish. Remember, tyre condition is important, as you may need to replace them soon after purchase.
Eagle f1-gsd3 front 235/40 are around £95 each and rear 285/35 is approx £185 – so £560 is a good ‘guide price’ for quality tyres. Go for budget stuff and you could get a full v8 set for under £500 quid (although not adviseable). Go for the most expensive and you’ll still only spend £680 or so. Mytyres.net is good for benchmarking the prices ;), so any set of Wheels & Tyres with tyres in need of replacing are going to cost you a lot more in the end.
LEW has no data on the effect fitting large wheels and tyres can have on the Esprits handling, but it's possible that it may have a negative effect. So bear this in mind before you decide to upgrade your wheels and tyres.
If you have any comments on this article email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I contacted Lotus techies for the suspension settings when putting the S4 alloys on my '89 SE. They told me do nothing which contradicts the info on http://www.lotusespritworld.com/EGuides/EModifications/V8WheelsonSE.html
It might be useful alternative opinion for owners who are interested in this mod and makes it a lot easier and cheaper!
Thanks for an excellent website, I like the new layout too,
I wonder if you could help me please.
I have an '89 Esprit SE and I have fitted the S4 five spoke alloys to it. They are fitted with one of the recommended tyre options, ie front 215 40 17 and rear 245 45 17 Goodyears.
Could you please let me know the suspension geomotry setting for my 89 SE and also for the S4 so that I can make any modifications necessary to castor/camber etc.
I recommend you retain the SE suspension geometry as follows:
First set the car by ballasting to a mid-laden ride height of 170 mm below the chassis front crossmember, and 170 mm below the rear lower link chassis brackets;
Camber; minus 0.2 degrees
Castor; plus 1.0 degrees
Toe-in; plus 0.1 to plus 1.9 mm overall.
Camber; minus 0.5 degrees
Toe-in; plus 1.5mm each side
The S4 models used power steering and were able to run a greatly increased castor. Wishbones front and rear were also changed to allow revised geometry which will not apply to your SE.
I recommend you purchase a Service Notes manual from your dealer under part number B082T0327J.
I hope this information helps.
Dave Massey - Technical Service
Senior Technical Author
Lotus Cars Ltd., Hethel, Norwich, Norfolk. NR14 8EZ.
Tel: +44 (0)1953 608247