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Spare Wheel Removal

After a discussion on weight saving — which was the Lotus way — I decided to look into removing the bulky spare wheel. This is located in the front bonnet directly above the front wheels. On weighing the wheel and the jack, it came out at a surprising 20kg. So as far as weight saving goes, this is a valuable loss. If you take the Sport 350, it was sold with a weight saving loss of 80kg over the standard V8. This is considered a huge selling point for the Sport 350. So if you can lose a quarter of that, then it must be of value.

There are some concerns with removing the spare wheel. Some believe the wheel is part of the crash protection built into the front of the Esprit, and by removing it, it could cause the Esprit to be less effective in a frontal collision. This has been countered by others saying that the wheel is a threat. I have received this information for Lotus to settle the matter:

"When the Airbags were developed for the USA all the crash testing was done with the spare wheel installed in the car. All the crash test results from impact testing for the compliance requirements showed a spare wheel in the vehicle.The wheel does very little / or nothing with respect to injury levels so removing it will have no influence on crash protection in a frontal impact. We only have it in Airbag equipped cars to ensure compliance with the original test results. Basically cars with no Spare wheel are no less safe than cars fitted with the wheel".

Also a reduce weight over the front wheels, would have a negative effect on handling. Reducing the grip on the front. This is counter by the same argument as above. The GT3, Sport 300 & 350 are regarded as the best handling Esprits. None of them come with a 20kg spare wheel over the front wheels. Suspension setting may have been changed to counter this, but some have been purchased with Spares, so I doubt Lotus considered the negative effects on handling to be anything to worry about. In the end it's up to you!


You will need the following parts:


You will need the following tools:


To remove the Spare Wheel, all you need to do is unscrew the holding bolt and pull the tyre out. Removing the Jack first will help. This leaves you will an increase carrying capacity for weekends away and 20kg lighter.


Now the only problem you have is if you get a puncture. Now in my opinion the spare wheel isn't of much use in an Esprit. Firstly if you have a passenger, you will have nowhere to put the punctured tyre. You may fit a front in the rear of the Esprit (maybe), but you won't get a rear in. Secondly I'm not sure if the spare will even fit on the rear of the Esprit. And thirdly, the effect on the Esprit's handling and braking, could be dangerous (not that I'd advise driving anything but slowly on a spare).


So to counter the threat of a puncture — other than calling out your breakdown company — is to purchase a can of Tyre Foam (you'll need two if a rear goes) at around £9 ($12) a can. Now there has been positives and negative said about this sort of product. In my opinion if you've had a puncture, you're going to need a new tyre. I wouldn't want a repaired tyre on a car like an Esprit. Consider the low profile and sporting nature of the tyre and the forces a supercar like the Esprit put through it. I wouldn't consider it safe enough. So any damage the Foam does to the Tyre is not problem (as you should be replacing it) and as far as I know these foams cause no damage to the wheels themselves.

So use the Tyre Foam to get you to a Tyre Centre, or home to your spare wheel — which is now sitting in your garage — then you can go about replacing the punctured tyre.

LEW's Verdict

After taking our Esprit out after removing the heavy spare wheel, we were amazed what a difference it make to low speed handling. Our SE has no power steering and is heavy at low speeds. Now turning is much quicker and easier than before. At higher speeds we have found the lighter front making no real difference to the handling. We're sure the loss of 20kg has made an improvement to acceleration, but that maybe our over enthusiasm.

We have countered the lighter front end with a reduced weight at the rear. On fitting my new Exhaust and Cat-Bypass-Pipe, We lost 13kg from the rear of the Esprit. Giving a total weight loss of 33kg (61% front loss — 39% rear loss). We feel any negative handling due to frontal weight loss will only be experience at high speeds (which you shouldn't be doing), which will be countered by the increase in downforce produced.

In the end, we feel this is an improvement over carrying the spare wheel. We're not saying this is right for you and your Esprit. You'll have to make your own mind up. This is just what we've done.

If you try this, feel free to e-mail LEW with your Verdict at admin@lotusespritworld.com


Just a quick note to say how pleased I am with the 'removing the spare wheel' project. I think its really made a difference to my 88 N.A. The steering seems faster the pick up is a bit better, and it's just made the car feel lighter. Anything that makes the car lighter/quicker is O.K. by me. Especially as I don't have a turbo!

88 Turbo

Removing that tyre weight was one of the best ways of improving handling. The car's steering is now definitely quicker.

Bob Kumse

89 Turbo

Have done this to my '89 SE.Gives more turn in at low speeds and, as you would expect, lightens the steering.Only downside I have noticed is that the car now has more of a tendency to follow ridges and cambers in the road.(I think Porsche would call it 'feedback')! Colin

I saw your spare wheel removal on http://lotusespritworld.co.uk/EMaintenance/sparewheel.html and figured I'd share my experiences. I actually punctured the back tire on a '99 a week or so ago. I'm glad to report that the spare wheel does fit on the back (it's actually quite funny). Drivability seems slightly impaired (but then again, I wasn't exactly slaloming aftewards).. although, I was able to pass other cars on the freeway at 60-70 mph because, well, an Esprit (even with a donut spare) is much faster than your ordinary car! haha. I was able to fit the rear tire in the passenger seat (barely), and during driving, it kept trying to climb into the driver's seat with me! It doesn't come close to fitting anywhere else on the car. I guess I could have duct taped it to the roof.... RobG


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