Dom Benfall's 1994
Dom Benfall from Southern England owns a 1994 S4 in Calypso Red, with a Black Leather interior.
S4 Year: 1994 Colour: Calypso Red Interior: Black Leather, smells terrific Driving Style: Usually careful Miles per year: 8,000 approx Owned Since: Aug 2000 Purchase from: SGT Serviced at: SJ Sportscars and Esprit Engineering Other Cars: 1965 Land Rover Series 2a SWB Oil Burner Previous Lotus': None Why an Esprit: 1. Always wanted one.
2. Coolest car on the road.
3. F1 Heritage.
4. Built by a guy called Colin!
6. Everyone loves the Esprit, little kids point and cheer, people want to be driven in it to Proms/ Weddings etc
Upgrades and modifications
K&N Air Filter, Ram air mod as per LEW. Blow off valve kit by Justin Mcaulay, Electric chargecooler pump, plug kit and blueprinted injectors from John Welch Engineering www.wcengineering.com/esprit/ and matched 250cc secondary injectors from Marcus at www.PUKesprit.de
310HP superchip (#4) by Marcus at www.PUKEsprit.de Uprated turbo with 360 thrust bearing and slightly larger compressor from www.universal-turbos.com AP brakes with Ferodo DS2500 pads up front from www.demon-tweeks.co.uk and EBC Greenstuff aft. Stainless braided brake hoses all round. Stainless steel sports exhaust with EBPV spacer all from www.sjsportscars.co.uk and Demon Tweeks www.demon-tweeks.co.uk Momo - GT3 steering wheel www.ntccars.com/ntcframe.htm with Lotus horn button made by Steve at SJ.
50mm custom aluminium steering wheel hub spacer and Road Angel supplied by Geoff at www.espritengineering.co.uk 100% Carbon fibre roof replacement panel finished in red, supplied by Big Dave W. New Nova V8 wheels from Steve at SJ again. Dinky little PUK aerial.
Overboosting from sticking wastegate actuator causing fuel cut off at speed and sudden lurching back in 4th and 5th. In lower gears the car went like it was jet propelled! Cam tower oil leak, Light switches a bit twitchy, main lights would cut out intermittently! Cleaned up oily innards and now fine. New O2 sensor. Reconditioned speedo. 2nd gear synchro chipped a tooth after a quick blat. Exhaust manifold cracked and sent bits of gasket down to turbo resulting in no boost and lots of blue smoke. Replacement manifold and reconditioned turbo required. Front brakes seized (nasty Toyota setup) resulting in heat damaged disc and worn out pads on RHS. Front end respray due to a van reversing onto it! Worn headlight pod actuator arm (fix in the pipeline) New rear discs and pads, not bad after 72000 miles.
Its my daily drive and as such I am reluctant to work on it unless I know I can rebuild it without problems. However, now I have the Landy I can work on it without worrying too much about getting to work and rest the Esprit in the worst weather. She is worth too much to me to drive in snow!
The 4 cylinder Esprit is generally very reliable but must be driven or it’ll get grumpy. More practical than people would have you believe, too. Plenty of boot space and a surprisingly comfortable ride on the motorway.
I Spun it on a bend in the wet and clouted the kirb with a back wheel. Only put a small dink on the alloy, lucky really. Lesson learnt so take it easy when roads are wet and greasy.
As soon as various modifications are complete (mainly brakes) I will track it. I am most of the way but there is always something else isn’t there?
I use my car for everyday driving and as such isn't in the 'showroom' condition that some of the others are. The engine looks fairly clean though.
Justin's dump valve looks and works a treat. It has a small worn mark just below the small jubilee clip where the engine cover rubbed due to broken chassis/body mounts causing the body to sit lower and move from side to side! It was most disconcerting. All fixed now though.
The engine now has a new ceramic coated exhaust manifold which is now a normal exhaust colour, i.e. grubby. It has a reconditioned turbo from Turbo Technics which is breathing new life into it. The turbo makes a slightly different noise, a bit more of a ‘whirrrr’, but the performance is all there, and then some especially with the ram air mod. With all the work done this car is pretty quick. Steve said, with a slightly concerned tone, that it was 'FAST'. I reminded him about the filter, exhaust, BOV and Marcus' 310hp chip upgrade. He said 'ohhhhh yes'. The reason for his concern, I think, was I had previously asked him to fix an overboosting problem due to a sticking waste-gate. No problems now, just a more capable car.
Calypso red is my favourite Lotus colour except maybe for the metallic Inferno, now Ruby. I think Lotus renamed it due to its unfortunate link with some of the write-offs!!! Unfortunately, the great British roads are covered in grit and it takes its toll. The white around the chips is the polish that has collected and this accentuates the stone chips. But with the help of a kind soul who reversed onto my bonnet I was able to get the entire front end re-sprayed and it all looks nice and new now.
The little silver aerial from PUK is a nice touch, thanks Marcus, as are the steering wheel enhancements. I spent a while tolerating rubbing my knuckles on my thighs every time I went round a corner. The part was a one hour job and fits like it was meant to be there.
The red is my favourite Lotus colour except maybe for the metallic Inferno that I think Lotus renamed due to its unfortunate link with some of the write-offs!!! Unfortunately, the great British roads are covered in grit and it has taken its toll. The white around the chips is the polish that has collected and this accentuates the stone chips.
As for the K&N and ECU upgrades you will have to take my word for it, but if you see a red S4 making mincemeat of a Porker or a Prancing Pony it may well be mine!
I had Steve fit a nice new Momo steering wheel to replace the Nardi which I liked but not half as much. Italian leather smells intoxicating. The horn button was a pain though as it only comes with a plain MOMO motif on it and not a nice Lotus badge. Well I wasn't having that so without thought of expense I had Steve fashion me a new horn button cover from another steering wheel centre. This he did and it was duly stuck on with a blob of superglue. You can't tell it is not the original part as Steve did such a good job of it. I'm quite pleased.
Now its time to sit back and enjoy the car as I've just spent half a small fortune getting 'LUNY' back on the road. Maybe in a few months time, like about 9, I will think about the rear lights mod and fitting a 4 point harness.
AP Brake Upgrage
First, the brakes and the front AP brake kit which has replaced the Toyota units. The brackets have been machined to perfection (and for free by a really decent fellow in Swindon who gave up 2 lunch hours with his mate to mill off the 1mm needed to align the callipers). The setup looks the business even though it is AP’s smallest calliper and the disc doesn’t fill the wheel quite like the newer V8 kits. Still, it is a vast improvement on the old setup which, for a car like this, was woefully inadequate. What were Lotus thinking. At least they came round to the idea of fitting top spec brakes in the newer cars. Anyway, off with the old ... on with the new...and this is the kit bolted on.
As can be seen they don't look amazingly big with the wheels off, the discs are 295mm which are a little bigger, I think, than the originals but it does fill the inside of the wheel up a lot more and this alone inspires confidence. Next is the knowledge that the kit is made by, arguably, the premier brake manufacturer. Of course the proof in the pudding is in the eating.
As mentioned earlier, the brackets that hold the callipers on needed machining by about 1mm to bring the calliper true with the disc both sides. This should really have been done at source but hey, that’s half the fun, isn’t it?...
As is, the calliper touches the disc ever so slightly and makes a grinding noise, mainly going round corners which I can't explain, probably a little flex. I phoned around for some auto engineering firms and had no luck until I came across this place in Swindon. I explained my case and he said bring the car over at lunchtime and he'd do it for free !!!
I pitch up just as the MD leaves to MOT his VIPER (widest wheels on a car I’ve ever seen and quite dinky really) and I pull into the cleanest engine workshop I’ve seen. Engine crates to the ceiling, Mobil 1 cans up to your chin and 2 large milling machines to the right. I chat with him awhile and his pal starts to undo bits to get at the bracket which he has off in about 5 mins. He then machines the part and it’s on again, all in half an hour. At this point we run out of time and he says come back tomorrow for the other side.
I said, 'look can I buy you a beer?', 'don't really drink beer, but like a bottle of shiraz'. Fine, off I go to Asda and get the Vinho in. Strange how some people go out of their way to help ... What a guy. He even gave me the 50p tour showing me what he does, mainly Vauxhall engine porting and cnc work with the Seat one make championship engines and a cool looking original GT40 engine sitting in one corner. All the gear was state of the art digital cnc tooling that can be set to work 24/7. Fascinating.
Also, I've fitted Ferodo DS3000 pads (about £80 from Demon Tweeks) and ... well, BLIMEY!!!. Went out to bed them in a little and see what they are capable of. At first they were better than ok, better than Greenstuff anyway, I needed to put some heat into them to get any big change though. Ran up and down my 'brake test area' which funnily enough IS a brake test area, the sign says so. Third run and stop with medium force on the peddle and all's well, looking rosy and stopping better and better. THEN I get up to 70 and put a bit of muscle into it. I nearly went through the flaming windscreen!!!!!! The tyres squeeled, locked momentarily and I thought, yep, just what I'm after. The car now stops as well as it goes. AND I'm only half way there. As far as I'm concerned the only thing that should give on this car is the tyres, EVENTUALLY... all else should be able to cope. (Idealist, buy hey)
A few months further down the line and I am able to source the wheels. I have a set (albeit a bit odd so far) of V8 Nova wheels, rears genuine Lotus, fronts aftermarket. I would have gone for Sport 300 wheels but for their rarity and cost and also I believe they don’t make the enormous 315 section Good Year tyres any more. The new fronts are in dark grey but I will get around to doing them in OZ silver in the near future. My wife thinks the odd colours, grey front, silver rear, looks a bit ‘Capri Ghia’ but I’m not fazed and can live with it for the time being. The only downside is I appear to attract more attention from the Feds which keeps me on my toes.
The AP kit came from Steve at SJSportscars (£1,034 + Vat), as always a helpful bloke if occasionally too busy for MY own good. Not the cheapest but then how much do we all value our stopping distances? I also had to pay to get them fitted which increased the price significantly. However, I now have the confidence to take my car on a track which I wouldn't have dared to do with the old set. Just ask Scotty on the US group, he had a big ‘off’ at Road Atlanta in his SE and was lucky not to have wrecked his car or been hurt. Then he fitted Steve’s AP kit to the front as well as some Wilwoods on the back. In his words his brakes will "make your eyes bleed!" Well, I'd rather they didn't but I got the point. Here's his rear brake kit and something like this will be going on my car hopefully...
In the meantime I have had to settle for the stock Lotus kit due to scored and noisy discs with worn pads. These were fitted myself in an afternoon with some help from another decent fellow who knows about bleeding hydraulic lines.
The dark grey alloys on the front are now a pleasant silver to complement the rears thanks to a fella in the spray bay at work. All for a crate of Stella too.
I have also had some posh new blueprinted fuel injectors fitted from John Welch in the States and a new turbo, my old one lost a turbine blade. The new blower is slightly uprated with a 360 thrust bearing and a moderately larger compressor. Plenty more power to play with really, or at least Geoff thinks so after he test drove the car, it produced wheelspin in 3rd ! :-O
Update June 2005
I had some 'Gucci' looking carbon fibre headlight surrounds sent to me from Geoff at 'Esprit Engineering', took me about an hour to drill the holes, align and fit them and they do look quite special. OK they will only be seen when it is dark and I have to put the lights on or if I flash the full beams but they do compliment the car nicely and are a pleasing and simple cosmetic mod to fit.