Interior Makeover

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Interior Makeover

Postby Elanlover » Fri 17.04.2009, 12:47

I'm starting this thread to track the numerous changes I've either already completed, am in the process of completing or am planning to complete. In my opinion there are few things about the Elan that make it look dated - it is, afterall, a 20 year old design. The rear of the car is one and the interior is another. I'm hoping the rear facade will be another project at some point but we'll leave that for another post one day. This is about the interior. I consider the cumuluative changes to be doucmented here to be "major" both in total cost and in scope. Plus, I'm still miffed that the mods decided to put my fascia project thread in the "minor projects" section when they split the projects section into two parts a while ago. :twisted: :wink:

A few of you will have seen the fascia mask redesign that was completed last year from previous posts. I'm doing a bit of "fine tuning" on that this year and will post the results here. But, there are several other changes I'm planning and I'll start this off with a simple one I just completed - interior lighting changes. I've never been too happy with the amount of interior lighting in the Elan. All modern cars seem to have plenty - ceiling, floor, footwell, etc. - so I decided it was time to rectify that. I've now eliminated the stock mirror based lighting when I replaced the mirror with a Homelink version with auto-dimming. I could have left the lighting in the mirror (it had this capability with built-in map lights) but decided against it. Instead, I've added LED lighting to the header panel by cutting out 4 oval areas, installing lenses (ordered from Watson Streetworks) with thin strip LEDs behind them and some LED footwell lighting.

I bought all the LED strips off eBay for very little cost. The black thin strip you'll see below required me to cut it into 4 separate "bunches' with 3 LEDs each then solder some wires to the modules to complete the circuit. I cut oval openings in the plastic header panel after removing it, slit, folded and glued the leather into place for the openings and ran the wires down the A post using a coat hanger as a fish (very sophisticated tools wouldn't you say :wink: ). The footwell light strip is just your basic eBay strip which I shortened a bit as it was giving off a bit too much light. The result is easily 10 times more interior light in all the "modern" places and with a cool white LED look. I quite like the way its turned out as the pictures (hopefully) will show.
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The lighting strip I used in the header panel - still all in one piece.
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The footwell lighting strip.
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Lights and lenses installed in the header panel.
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Close up of the lights on one side in the header panel.
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Here's a pic of the lights installed in the car - lights on but somewhat bright outside.
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And with the lights on in the dark.
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And here's the passenger side footwell lighting (the driver's side looks similar).
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Re: Interior Makeover

Postby HJ2 » Fri 17.04.2009, 16:25

Brrrrrrriljant! 8)
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Re: Interior Makeover

Postby Doug » Fri 17.04.2009, 16:44

at it again, Blair!

let me know when you need to sell the car :wink:

more pictures . . .
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Re: Interior Makeover

Postby smudge » Sat 18.04.2009, 11:25

Fantastic,

I might have a go at this one, where did you connect the wiring too :!: sorry if I'm a bit thick :? but not considered doing an electrical project before

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Re: Interior Makeover

Postby Elanlover » Sat 18.04.2009, 13:01

smudge wrote:Fantastic,

I might have a go at this one, where did you connect the wiring too :!: sorry if I'm a bit thick :? but not considered doing an electrical project before

Smudge


Where you may consider wiring the lights to may be different than where I ultimately did it. As i mentioned, i replaced the Stock mirror with an autodimming, Homelink version with map lights. So, what i did was to find the wires that run to the mirror that are hidden under the dash. I did that by removing the header and mirror first then seeing where thye ran under the header which was ultimtately the A pillar. I then cut the wires under the dash, ran wires for the new mirror's needs and the lighting connecting them up appropriately to the wires that i had cut earlier. Now, if you plan on keeping the stock mirror you could probably just splice into the existing wires in the header panel.

Placing the lights is crucial as there's not much room at all and they need to be extremely thin (as well as the lenses). I found two areas in the header that were "rasied up (or depressed depending on your point of view) near the catches for the roof/hood. The lenses I chose were extremely expensive as they were intended for this work. But they were the right size for the job and the shape I liked. You could simply get two rectangular pieces of clear plastic and laminate one over the other (one slightly larger than the other to form a "lip") to reduce costs. Here's the lens i used that required some sanding down as they were too thick. Gave it a frosted look which i like.
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Re: Interior Makeover

Postby smudge » Mon 20.04.2009, 11:18

Thanks that points me in the right direction.
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Re: Interior Makeover

Postby Elanlover » Sun 24.05.2009, 15:11

Here's the next little makeover item.

Some time ago I decided to change the stock interior carpets from grey to red. I was able to source the floor and bulkhead carpets courtesy of the Lotus aftersales sale but the B-post carpets were proving hard to find. I thought I managed to find some through Lotus only to discoevr upon opening the box that I had received wo left side pieces instead of a matching set and they were henceforth not available :roll: Not to be deterred I looked at the recent door panel retrim work Lotus had done for me and had a thought. What if they could do B-posts in leather?

After contacting Mel Broome at Hethel I explained what I wanted and he explained it might be possible but he'd need an actual B-post and rear bulkhead carpet piece as a template. I sourced a used B-post panel and used carpet piece and shipped it off to him. Below is the result of his work. I do plan on re-gluing it on as I left a few wrinkles in it the first time. The good news is that if anyone fancies this for their car I told Mel to keep the B-post panel to use for future work just in case.
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Re: Interior Makeover

Postby MattDon » Sun 24.05.2009, 17:02

definately using that lighting idea, ive been pondering the same issue myself for a while. nice job.

just tried to get my header rail off with no luck so i thought id ask.. would it be possible to fit the lights like this?
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Re: Interior Makeover

Postby Elanlover » Mon 25.05.2009, 19:17

MattDon wrote:definately using that lighting idea, ive been pondering the same issue myself for a while. nice job.

just tried to get my header rail off with no luck so i thought id ask.. would it be possible to fit the lights like this?


I don't think so. Not without a noticable bulge in the header. Also, you won't get any light that way either. The centre of the header is pretty far inboard of the seating compartment. All you'll get is light right on the top of the dash, not in the cabin or near the occupants. Also, the mirror itself will hide the light and, sicne you get light from the mirror anyway you might not get much benefit from mounting them there. When I took the header off and had a look around it was clear there was "just" enough room for some small, slim LED's right next to the roof latches. Even then they had to be carefully positioned as to not create a bulge.

Unfotunately, there aren't too many options for this kind of thing. Footwell lighting was a whole other matter though :-D What kind of problem did you have removing the header? I found it very easy to come off. Just remove the four screws in the header itself and the latch bolts and latches and the header panel (its just plastic) can be bent out from one side and removed.
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Re: Interior Makeover

Postby MattDon » Mon 25.05.2009, 19:57

same problem i seem to have most of the time, rounded off screws or nuts. :evil:

a good point about the light, i did wonder if the mirror would be an issue. i was trying to work something out with the hardtop but its not something id do until i want to get it retrimmed. saw how much the lenses were :shock: how deep does the lens want to be? i was looking at acrylic to see if i could make something up, the thinnest i could find was 2mm which ofcourse works out at 4mm deep lenses.
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Re: Interior Makeover

Postby Elanlover » Mon 25.05.2009, 20:34

MattDon wrote:same problem i seem to have most of the time, rounded off screws or nuts. :evil:

a good point about the light, i did wonder if the mirror would be an issue. i was trying to work something out with the hardtop but its not something id do until i want to get it retrimmed. saw how much the lenses were :shock: how deep does the lens want to be? i was looking at acrylic to see if i could make something up, the thinnest i could find was 2mm which ofcourse works out at 4mm deep lenses.


I think you could make up some rectangualr lenses very cheaply. Just get some thin clear (frosted would be better actually)plastic, cut a rectangle to your size then laminate a larger one over top of it. Cut hole and insert from the top into the hole.Its only the first, smaller lens that will protrude into the opening you've made. The larger one rests on top and you can tape or glue the LEDs to it.
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Re: Interior Makeover

Postby Elanlover » Sun 13.09.2009, 14:55

Ok, here's the next stage in this project - new seats.

I've never been happy with the seats in the Elan. While I do like the style and think they suit the car I've always felt that they a) didn't provide enough (or any!) head and neck support in the even of an accident especially if getting hit from behind, b) didn't provide enough side bolster support for a car that handles like ours and c) tended to sag and deform after a while. Now, many of you have replaced your seats already with better, more supportive varieties but everyone seems to have the same problem. How do we fit a sports seat into the narrow space the Elan offers with the added problem of the convertible top without it banging the doors or other parts of the car?

I've spent the last year (off and on) looking into and researching seats types and came to the conclusion that in order to fit an appropriate looking seat that actually fits the Elan without rubbing the doors, etc. then it has to be a seat WITHOUT shoulder bolsters. It has to be a seat styled like the stock seat but only much better. The problem with that was that almost no one makes sports seats like that. I found a few but they didn't look very good at all. So, I started looking at the seats in cars like the Honda S2000, Miata, RX8, etc. and finally settled on a Porsche 911 sports seat made by Recaro. They had all the features I wanted such as a lever for adjusting the back position (not a knob), quick release buttons to tilt the back forward all the way (for easy access to the back) and4 way power adjustments for height and tilt.

I picked up 2 used seats for $900 that were in excellent condition except for the leather. I then had new custom seat leathers made EXACTLY the way I wanted (which i stress because this wasn't easy to get done) with piping, red stitching, perforated, Lotus logo and map, pockets on the backs. Since I was spending too much on this project i decided to go all the way and add in heating AND ventillaiton for the seats (if you've never had vented seats before then the first time you do you'll be sold for life). Pics below show them installed.

I'm mostly happy with them now but I do need to lower then just a bit. In a perfect world I'd find 3 inches somewhere sicne they are a bit high at the lowest setting on the power controls. I can get 1 inch easily but I may have to do a little engineering on the seat to get more than that. I've yet to hook up the heat and venting (the power adjustment controls work) as I'm attempting some creative wiring to make them work exactly how I want them too. All and all though they look very nice and very OEM.
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Re: Interior Makeover

Postby tigerdog » Sun 13.09.2009, 16:23

Nice work! I had to look twice then read before I figured out how you got your stock seats to look so good! :-)
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Re: Interior Makeover

Postby nitroman » Sun 20.09.2009, 07:12

I gotta say that's a really sharp & meticulously done interior. I have never B4 seen a car with red carpet pull off the look so good.
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Re: Interior Makeover

Postby Nige » Sun 20.09.2009, 09:47

Looking really good Blair, the whole interior has come together a treat.

Did you work out if the Recaro seat (Sportster CS) used in the Evora fit, or are they too wide at the shoulder? I recall discussing this briefly at Hethel and if possible Ithink they offer the best of both worlds, comfortable for road use and supportive for spirited driving with an option for a harness for track use.
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Re: Interior Makeover

Postby theelanman » Sun 20.09.2009, 09:48

Elanlover wrote: They had all the features I wanted such as a quick release buttons to tilt the back forward all the way (for easy access to the back).



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Re: Interior Makeover

Postby Elanlover » Sun 20.09.2009, 14:04

Nige wrote:Looking really good Blair, the whole interior has come together a treat.

Did you work out if the Recaro seat (Sportster CS) used in the Evora fit, or are they too wide at the shoulder? I recall discussing this briefly at Hethel and if possible Ithink they offer the best of both worlds, comfortable for road use and supportive for spirited driving with an option for a harness for track use.


The measurements I got from Recaro's website suggest that they would fit but just barely. It would be very tight indeed and, in the end, I decided it was too close to call. One of the things I discovered (after buying the seats of course) was that the Porsche seat back's adjustment is done by a lever that now rests up against the tunnel. It pushes the seat outboard more that the stock seat. That's just one of many little things you don't really get a sense of until you start installing. I managed to shave it down but now the seat belt retainer bolt hits the tunnel :roll: - I'll figure that out too.

There's always "something" that complicates the project :-D From all the pictures I've seen of people's replacement seats they all look nice but they just don't appear to look "stock" if you know what I mean. I'm determined to ensure that anything that gets done DOES NOT look aftermarket. So seats that just barely fit or have things sticking out at odd angles, etc. wasn't going to cut it for me.

I think for track use a seat with a good shoulder bolster is ideal. I rarely take the car to the track so I didn't want the added hassle of dealing with seats too wide at the shoulder. For track use though (as you know better than I) shoulder support is very useful. The measurements I took from the Recaro Sportsers suggested they were the narrowest at the shoulder of any seat I had researched by half an inch (something like 20.5 inches if I recall). They'll fit but they will "fill out" the cabin at eye level if you know what I mean. Not a big deal for the track and I believe they would still look nice but perhaps not ideal from a purely aesthetic point of view.
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Re: Interior Makeover

Postby Elanlover » Sun 20.09.2009, 14:45

theelanman wrote:
Elanlover wrote: They had all the features I wanted such as a quick release buttons to tilt the back forward all the way (for easy access to the back).



:smt044 :smt044 :smt044



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Re: Interior Makeover

Postby Elanlover » Sun 20.09.2009, 14:50

As an aside, I have a few interior projects lined up to keep me busy this winter.

I plan on building some fibreglass (or perhaps carbon fibre) speaker enclosures for the rear which will also support an iPod docking station. I've sourced a compact Audi cupoholder that I will sink into the space directly behind the centre console storage (sicne the map pocket has been removed). I have found some more modern looking Vauxhall window switches which wire up identically to the stock switches that will require a bit of customization to get a good fit. I will make some final tweaks on the fascia panel. I may consider a completely new main dial detup similar to LGM's.

I think that may be the extent of the interior work for now.
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Re: Interior Makeover

Postby Doug » Mon 21.09.2009, 20:57

tigerdog wrote:Nice work! I had to look twice then read before I figured out how you got your stock seats to look so good! :-)


:agree:

nice job, bro!

Let me know when the car's ready to come back to California :-D
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