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Since I never seem to be happy leaving a car alone I have started to modify the cars looks and performance.
Some of the mods have been carried out as a replacement for a worn or broken part. Other areas are purely cosmetic and for my own enjoyment.
My general aim is not to try and over do the modifications to the engine as I intend to use the car everyday if possible.

K&N Air Filter
After seeing the price of the original Lotus Air Filters and the thought of replacing it every service I decided that a K&N that is replaced every 100,000 miles would be a worth while investment. The side benefit is that it allows the engine to breath a little easier, potentially unlocking a few extra BHP.

BOV Installed
A Blow Of Valve or Dump Valve is a small deice that sits between the turbo and the inlets to release excess pressure when the throttle is closed. This is not a wastegate that dictates the maximum pressure but a relief valve that can help to prevent turbo wear. A side benefit is a nice Whoosh sound that it makes when releasing pressure, this could be reduced by venting the released air into the air box but I like it :-). Second small advantage is it helps to keep the turbo spinning during gear changes. Overall I haven't noticed any big performance benefit but it would be mild and lost in the overall car changes.

Ram Air Conversion
After reading about the procedure on LEW I decided to perform this modification on my own car. The basic idea is to reduce the distance that air has to travel from the out side to the air box. In a standard Esprit outside air is collected at the drivers side ear vent and sent down a pipe to a box behind the rear wheel. Another pipe from this box then allows air to go back to the air box and through the filter. This equates to about 8ft or so of travel with bends, going past hot areas etc. The mod changes this to about 2 ft and a straighter entry. Not sure on the eventual benefits but at higher engine power the reduced intake restrictions can only help. Side benefit is the intake noise which I like a lot. When I put my foot down I can hear the engine sucking away and the turbo spinning. Adds to the general feel of the car.

Stainless Steel Sports Exhaust
Whilst repairing and removing the gearbox I decided to splash out on a new exhaust system from SJ Sportscars. Their sports system is considerably lighter than the stock system, sounds great and should last a lot longer. The quality of the item supplied from SJ was very good and fitted into place with minimal persuasion. A little effort to get it to mate with the Cat down pipe but a bit of brute force later all was fine.
The standard Esprit exhaust does a fine job of muting the sound from the engine, but makes it sound a little under whelming. The new exhaust adds a nice rumbling at lower revs and the decibels rise through the rev range to a full throated roar at full WOT. It now sounds like the sports car it really is. Driven normally (normal as in saloon not normal as in race track normal) it sounds only a little louder than normal, but open her up and she bursts into song.
Overall very happy with the exhaust, the sound and extra horses this should unleash.

P.U.K. ECU Chip
In the search for a little more power I have purchased a replacement ECU chip from PUK Performance. The number 4 chip was my choice and increase the boost to 1.1 bar from it's existing .85, reduces a few flat spots that exist through the rev range and increase low down torque a touch. This has been rated at 310bhp on a S4 so possibly with the other mods and my S4s using larger inlets this may push out to near 320bhp.
I have not fitted the chip as yet, with the gearbox being replaced, I don't want to over stress it whilst I want to use the car. Additionally I want the soldering done professionally to reduce chances of joints breaking etc.
Hopefully this mod will be done after the summer.

Alloy is in..
Click for larger versionTo personalise the cockpit a little I decided that an alloy look would go well with the silver exterior, dark upholstery. Plus it fits with my gadgety image.
First was the stainless steel door sills and gear shift surround, manufactured by an YahooEsprit group member.
I then purchased from SJ Sportscars the S350 alloy gear knob and handbrake sleeve.
The replacement alloy switch levers supplied by Esprit Speed.
The picture to the right shows them all in place, just need to tidy up the rest of the car.
Next on the list will be all the instruments for chrome surround digital units.
Pedals for alloy versions only if they don't effect driving.

MP3 Music
I have a problem with music, in that I can never remember the names of the bands I really like. I therefore like to have all my music on random play so that I don't have to choose. I'm also a bit lazy and keep on forgetting to change the CD's. The solution was an MP3 player from Creative Labs. The small Zen unit can store about 5000 songs at near CD quality with full shuffling random play. This has been located in the glove box and currently uses a cassette adapter to play through the radio but I intend to wire this in to the back at some point. The remote control for the Zen allows change of volume, forwarding or replaying of tracks and turning the unit on or off.
Overall very happy with the unit, and can easily be moved to other cars.

Alarm System
The worlds best insurance is still unable to replace the irreplaceable. If the worst happened and someone decided to try and wander off with the car, I would get some money back but would be unable to replace the time and effort I have placed in the car and would be unlikely to get another one. For this reason I have invested in a modern alarm system that should prevent it being taken and its speedy return if it should happen. Obviously wont go into the full details but lets say I'm confident any would be thief would be hard pressed. There is no such thing as 100% security but I like to get close.

Sport 300 Front Lip
The cars PO had damaged the original front lip on the car, it was a point to reduce the cost of the car when I bought it and therefore know it would need seeing to in time. Well the time came as the plastic lip kept coming apart and basically looking less than ideal. On finding out that the two part lip kit would cost over £120 per side and prone to breaking if you sneezed at it I searched for an alternative.
Click to view larger picture The front lip from the Sport 300 is a rubber lip that fits to the body work. At £65 and made of durable rubber this seemed a suitable alternative. All that was required was a few holes drilled through the rubber to allow bolts to go through existing holes in the front bodywork and cutting off the excess. The picture to the right doesn't wonderfully show it, but the front is now a little lower than before and looks a lot better than the broken plastic pieces. I have gained a few scrapes on the rubber from some driveways that have a sharp angle but generally I'm happier to replace apiece of rubber if it gets too unsightly rather than the expensive plastic parts that quickly looked tacky.

(Update 1th Aug 2003) The spoiler was looking a little shark nosed from the side. I think either the S300 front valance is angled differently to the S4s or the rubber lip is cut to fit.
Decided to get the spirit level out, a sharp knife and a cardboard template.

First to survey the ground. One good bit about gravel drives is being able to make a level area by moving gravel around. So after shifting car around to ensure that the car was level within reason I eyed up the offending rubber.
First image shows the spirit level aligned with the car so you can see the problem.Made a cardboard template and marked the cut line so that I could duplicate on opposite side.

Result isn't too bad. A little straighter than others would do but I'm just not that confident that I wouldn't muck the whole piece of rubber up.
I personally think the lines looks better now when parked up. Then again I am my own worst critic of the car.

Possibly I will try and align a bit better with the front level if I feel confident in the future.

Upgraded Front Discs
Got some front brake discs sent from PUK Esprit that have been drilled to help disperse heat. These have been fitted along with some Goodridge hoses and EBC Greenstuff brake pads.
Overall these mods should help prevent heat buildup and the associated brake fade that comes from prolonged heavy braking.
If not I plan on installing a drag chute !!!

Electric Chargecooler Pump
After a few discussions on th various forums about the effectiveness of the standard mechanicla chargecooler water pump. Plus I had developed a water leak in the unit itself.
Unit chaged for electric version, see seperate section link

Brake Upgrade
After MOT the rear discs where again coming to end of life due to a sticking caliper. Decided to go the whole hog and replace all discs for EBC power groove discs from PowerStop. Along with EBC Greenstuff pads it should stop on a dime.


Other Mods I plan
I have a few plans for the car both styling wise and mechanical.

After the problems I have had with the gearbox there are a number of options to increase reliability and generally strengthen the unit.
Gearbox oil cooler system. I think that using the existing drain and fill holes on the gearbox an electric pump can be used to pump the gearbox oil through a small oil cooler element.
Various strengthening options are available for the Renault gearbox including complete replacement of all gears and shafts for uprated components to just a strengthened input shaft which is a major weak point apparently.

The standard VDO gauges aren't wonderful and subject to error and inaccuracy. I have been looking at replacing all of the gauges with SPA Design dual gauge, Black dials with red back lights and chrome bezels.
Still looking for a suitable replacement Tacho and Speedo. A possibility are units available from Nordskog.

The existing seats are very worn and already seem repaired a few times. I'm looking into replacing them with some reasonable bucket seat replacements. Possibly Sparco roadster.
Alternative and eventual aim is to get the original seats refurbished.