Despite spending the week planning for a 7am alarm time, the need to collect various parts and tools from my local post office and Parcelforce depot meant that it was not worth leaving the house until just before 9am.

I also had to go somewhat out of my way to my parents via a friend who has access to a mechanical workshop and had kindly just fabricated a lightweight timing strut for my S2 Exige, which would be required the next day.

Upon arrival at my Parents for this, the first day of work – I had many preparatory jobs (as well as priming and spraying my Timing Strut for the next day) to complete. The first of these was a Coffee! After that I had to print out the applicable pages from the Elise service manual to cover the days jobs and unload my tools and parts from my car into the garage.

I hoped to achieve the following:

  • Remove the soft top
  • Remove the carpets
  • Remove the seats
  • Remove the front and rear clamshells

Completion of the following would give me a high-level idea of the state of the car underneath the slightly sad bodywork (as well as starting to dissipate the rather unsavoury smell in the cockpit).

Despite having been around Lotus’s now for some time, I must admit I’d never fitted / removed an Elise soft-top before. In fact, as I started to look at the clips, tensioners and rods I suddenly became aware that I’d never really paid that much attention to anyone else doing it either!

A quick backward flick through the service manual illuminated all areas which weren’t immediately obvious. Soon the soft top was coming off to reveal an interesting menagerie of animal life – a large nest of Spiders eggs behind one of the tails, some earwigs and a snail, of all things.

I then moved onto the rotten and stinking floor mats – to expose even more animal passengers (although in a slightly worse state than before). I think it’s safe to assume that the weird smell was emanating from the small, grey fluffy blob in the corner of the passenger footwell, which appeared to be an ex-Mouse. Beneath the carpets was sadly another layer of rotting floor membrane and Velcro.

The tacky door sill protectors / side pockets were the next target. Once again these seemed loath to part company with the chassis, leaving behind huge seams of double-sided tape.

It was now time to move onto slightly more taxing jobs.

The front bonnet and engine cover would prove relatively simple with one hinge coming off with 3 bolts and the other’s hinge snapping-off whilst I was working on it! Not that it really mattered as they’ll need securely pinning in future, making the hinges somewhat redundant.

I could now start removing the easily accessible front clamshell fixings – starting with the two bolts near the windscreen and the two allen bolts in the front bonnet channel. This is where the day’s problems began.

One set of bolt and spacer nuts wouldn’t unscrew any further than this:

And one of the allen bolt heads proved to have seen better days:

A quick call to Phil, and a read through some old SELOC threads, and I knew at the end of the day that I’d be going home via B&Q for a Dremel and about 100 cutting discs. In the meantime I had to find other, non-clamshell related jobs. Consulting the service manual, the wheel arch liners seemed a safe next move. Safe it proved to be – clean, definitely not!

A pattern was beginning to form – one side of any job would come away with no grief at all, the other would be a complete pain. In the case of the wheel arch liners it proved to be the passenger side – specifically the terribly rusted bolts through it used to secure the fuse box. Yet another job that would have to wait until tomorrow!

To get at the wheel arch liners I’d had to remove the wheels. This gave me an opportunity to remove the old brake discs and unbolt the callipers. Yet again one side (the drivers) came away fine – the other side suffering from an allen bolt with a terribly stripped head. This I knew would be much more serious that the other stuck bolts as it was heavily recessed, making it impossible to rectify with any form of cutting.

I then moved on to trying to unbolt the seats and rails. These proved to be totally stuck fast. Thus they were sprayed down with Super-Crack penetrating oil, which I’d been recommended, and left to soak.

Light was now beginning to fade and this spring evening was getting chilly – one last job that didn’t look too hard was removing the engine cover stay and the “boot” carpet lining.

Thankfully this went without a hitch!