After the gearbox the brakes are the biggest weakness in a great car
For a supercar, the Esprit has never been blessed with truely great brakes. Lotus used braking systems from other manufacturers for most Esprits, giving them the same brakes as a 'normal' road car. This has made the brakes one of the Esprit's biggest weakness. Lotus addressed this problem only recently with the 1999 Sport 350. This model was given disc and calipers made by AP Racing, giving the Sport 350 wonderful brakes. Lotus made the AP's standard in 2002 giving the last few Esprits what it had be crying out for for 26 years.
Lotus tried to sort the braking problem out in 1994 with the S4 Esprit. Late S4's were equipped with a Brembo set-up, which was a marked improvement over the previous Toyota system used for the previous decade. Although these were better, the Esprit was becoming faster. The S4s and V8's up to 2001 were all equipped with the same S4 set-up. Which from my experience wasn't particular good at inspiring confidence. This is mainly down to the ABS system, with gives the brake pedal a wooden feeling.
Previous to that, the Esprit was, as mention above, stuck with 'normal' car braking systems. Pre 84 Esprit even had solid disc all round and Pre 87 Esprit had inboard rear discs. All of which aren't up to the standard to the rest of the car. This page is designed to show you what is on offer to solve the Esprit's braking inadequacies.
Firstly you can change the standard pads to a higher quality pad. This is the first and cheapest upgrade. Secondly you can change the discs to something either larger or of better quality. You can also get drilled and/or grooved discs, which will help improve performance.
You can also change your brake hoses from plastic to braided, which will help increase pedal feel. The is a cheap and simple upgrade, which really should be done to all Esprits. A supercar with plastic brake hose isn't on!
After the above you can then look at changing the set-up, which includes pads, discs, hoses and calipers.
One option is to fit a later Lotus set-up, which will keep your Esprit semi-original and will improve the braking. This though is limited due to there only being a couple of systems worth having, the Brembo and AP. These will both be expensive from Lotus and you may have difficulty fitting, as wheel size and hub configuration come into play.
Secondly you can look into aftermarket systems. Both Brembo and AP have kits available to fit the Esprit, that are much cheaper than the one's they supplied to Lotus. There are also other companies that can supply kits, including Wilwood and HiSpec.
There are many options available to the Esprit owners, from a cheap pad change, to a full race set-up for those track days. But remember, it's no good putting huge 6-pot calipers on the front and leaving the rears as standard. That will give you more problems than answers, you'll need to keep your braking system balanced. Talk to the companies about what they think would be good for you.
LEW advise you to go for the best you can afford. After tyres, brakes are the most important safety device on your car.
Most Esprit parts suppliers can supply you upgraded pads, which should be the first thing you do if you're not upgrading your system in one go. There are many manufacturers to choose from including, EBC, Hawk, Porterfield, Ferodo & Mintex. I would check out Lotus Performance for Pads, as they have a good choice. South West Lotus Centre always have a good selection of parts if you're looking to upgrade to a later system, use your Club LEW discount to get started.
Next up you'll be wanting some braided hoses to replace your plastic ones. This will mean draining the hydraulic system, so you can get yourself some top quality brake fluid (see here for fluids). Most of our parts suppliers can sell you braided hoses for your system. Try PNM, SJ or PUK.
Once you've done the pads, fluid and hoses, there are some discs available before you get into changing the system with bigger calipers. See the companies below for more of what's available. There's plenty to choose from (especially if you have deep pockets).
PNM Engineering's HiSpec Brake Upgrade (1986-1993)
This is the kit fitted to LEW's Esprit and there is already a guide to fitting and a review on the modifications page. All I can say is we're happy with the upgrade and the price is good to. Read more about this kit here if you haven't already.
There are 3 kits available for the Toyota equipped Esprits for both 4-pot and 6-pot Calipers. You'll have to ask for more info on the 6-pots. All kits are the same, except the Discs. You can choose between Plain discs, Slotted discs (which have grooves in them) or Drilled and Slotted (which have grooves and holes), which is the discs shown and tested by Lotus Esprit World.
PNM have now released a rear kit to replace the Bendix originals. Brembo calipers and vented discs replace the Bendix calipers and solid discs. See it fitted to LEW's Esprit here. Prices below.
Prices do not include brakes pads, of which there are different choices. Prices range between £20 and £80 depending on what you are after. PNM can quote you and help you decide which ones will suit your needs most.
|PNMJ9982K||Plain Disc Kit||£493.90+VAT|
|PNMJ9982GK||Slotted Disc Kit||£509.90+VAT|
|PNMJ9982DK||Drilled and slotted Disc Kit (as above)||£527.90+VAT|
|PNMJ8304G||Rear Brake Kit||£545.00+VAT|
|PNMJ4027||Hawk Fast Road Pads (rear)||£48.82+VAT|
PNM Engineering's Wilwood Brake Upgrade (1981-1985)
PNM Engineering also produce a similar kit for pre Toyota equipped Esprits, using Wilwood Calipers instead of HiSpec. This kit covers Esprits produced from 1981-1985.
PNMJ8982K Plain Disc Kit £405.50+VAT PNMJ8982GK Slotted Disc Kit £425.50+VAT
PNM Engineering's Brembo Big Disc Brake Upgrade (1994-2001)
The front kits consists of 323mm vented brake discs with new spacers and bolts. The rear kits consist of 321mm vented brake discs with new brackets. (Both kits retain existing Brembo calipers).
There are three stages of specification for the brake discs. A standard kit which comprises of slotted vented discs. A second stage kit with painted hub area & 12 drilled holes all round called an "Imola" kit. Third kit is the highest spec kit with the 12 holes fitted with stainless steel allen headed finishing bolts called a "Monza" kit.
The brake discs offer a "rotor & bell" appearance. They offer significantly improved & balanced brake effect as well as an enhanced cosmetic look. We are awaiting rolling road results once the discs have been run in & are working to full potential.
Prices as follows:
Front kit (pair):
PNM0938G Standard £240+VAT PNM0938L Imola £300+VAT PNM0938Z Monza £350+VAT
Rear kit (pair):
PNM0932G Standard £265+VAT PNM0932L Imola £325+VAT PNM0932G Monza £375+VAT
Due to the size of the discs these kits will only fit if you have the larger size wheels (17"-18").
PNM are working on a 288mm rear disc for the oz wheels to go with the front hsp kit.
PNM are also at present developing some rear upgrades for the toyota equipped Esprits. Call for more details.
SJ do a few different kits, including the ones below. The best ones are the AP upgrade for the 87-93 Esprits (which includes new calipers) and also a upgrade for 93-01 Esprits with Brembo brakes. This comprises of new Discs for both front and rear, but still using the existing calipers. The discs are the biggest possible with the calipers and wheels. I've tried this upgrade and it's very good. Call for prices of both.
SJ Sportscars AP Upgrades
SJ Sportscars Brembo Upgrades
PUK Esprit Racing's Brake Disc Upgrade
PUK have a good choice of upgrades for both Toyota and Brembo equipped Esprits. The also sell discs and pads. Go to their site for more info.
PUK can supply the following: Brake discs and pads for Brembo equipped Esprits, AP RACING Upgrade Kit (rear), AP Upgrade Kit (front), Discs for AP brakes, Brake discs and pads for pre-Brembo equipped Esprits 88-94MY (up to early S4), Cross drilled brake disks for all PRE-Brembo equipped Esprits, 88-94MY (up to early S4), Cross drilled brake disks for all PRE-Brembo equipped Esprits, 88-94MY (up to early S4) and Brake discs and pads for pre-Brembo equipped Esprits
WC Engineering's Brake Disc Upgrade
WC Engineering has some brilliant upgrades for 87-93 Toyota equipped Esprits. Using top quality parts from AP Racing, WC Engineering have put together what must be the ultimate upgrades for 87-93 Esprit owners, including either 4 or 6 pot AP Calipers for the front and an AP kit for the rears. Not cheap, but well worth a look if you're thinking of upgrading.
Ramspott & Brandt's Brake Disc Upgrade
R&B do a drilled rear disc for the Toyota Equipped Esprits, which LEW has on it's Esprit. A great upgrade if you're not going for a full upgrade on the rears. R&B also do other upgrades and sell some secondhand brake equipment, so if you're looking to upgrade check their site to see what they have in.
PBC's Wilwood Upgrade
PBC do kits for Esprit using Wilwood equipment including 6-pot calipers and drilled and slotted discs. From feedback from US owners who have this kit, it's supposed to be very good. Worth a look!
MH Racing's 6 pot AP Upgrade (for V8's with AP Calipers)
MHR do a kit for the AP Equipped Esprits (01-04), which comprises of moving the 4-pot AP Calipers from the front to the rear and using the brembo rear caliper for the handbrake. 6-pot AP then go onto the front. We've tried this upgrade and it's excellent. This is the ultimate for the Esprit in LEW's option.
Whether you can get MHR to do the conversion for you is another matter!
Feel free to e-mail me with your opinion on this guide and I can add it to this page. firstname.lastname@example.org
Lotus Esprit World cannot be held responsible for anything you attempt on your Esprit. This is justt information which you must decide how to use. Lotus Esprit World doesn't recommend fitting brakes yourself unless you're fully competent. Please use a full qualified mechanic.