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Elise S1 Lighting

S1 Headlights

I never had a problem with the standard headlamps but some people seem to think they are not bright enough. First thing to do is to check the alignment. You shouldn't just add higher wattage bulbs, though several owners have replaced the bulbs with 100/80 watt equivalents without problems. The headlamp bulbs may get too hot for the reflector and housing. The wiring loom is also unlikely to be able to handle higher currents. Ideally, fit suitable relays, fuses and new wiring to drive the more powerful bulbs, using the existing loom to control the relays. There are some good tips to doing this on the Daniel Stern LightingRemote site web site.

An alternative is to use Ring Xenon Plus 60/55 lamps, which provide approximately 30% more light but generate no extra heat and have the same current rating. They are available from Demon TweeksRemote site. They also sell PIAA Super White lamps which have higher claimed light output but, cost a lot more. These are not the same as HID Xenon LampsRemote site. PhilipsRemote site also manufacture a similar product, called VisionPlus. These and most other lighting products can be bought on-line at FosmoRemote site.

The headlamps are not wonderful quality and the reflector surface is metal deposited over a glass base, which corrodes quite easily. The only way to remove this corrosion is to replace the lamp unit. Some owners report corrosion appearing within 18 months of delivery. On a more positive note, most owners smash them before they manage to corrode!

See DIY section for instructions on how to replace a headlamp. Replacement headlamp unit cost about 110 from a Lotus dealership. The following places sell them at much more reasonable prices:

The Elise has no buzzer to warn that you've left the lights on and the battery will flatten quickly. There are various things you can do to add a warning buzzer and EliseNetRemote site has one solution.

S1 Headlight Covers

The headlight covers were standard fitment for a while then were dropped from the standard car but not from other models. The covers are fitted using double sided tape and the lighting bezel used on cars where covers are fitted is different to those without. Since the bezel is bonded to the clamshell, changing them to fit covers a later date is not economic.

The covers are prone to misting up and in some cases dirt getting inside. It is possible to clean the inside by removing the headlamp unit and this requires the wheel arch liner to be pushed aside. This will affect the beam alignment (see below). Be very careful not to scratch the inside of the cover and once clean, apply some wax or RainEx to the inside and outside of the cover. Check the headlamp seal is in shape and intact. Dirt can sometimes enter where the double sided tape has not made a perfect seal to the clamshell. If this is the case, use a clear silicon sealant to seal the edge of the perspex cover.

The covers are sold as Elise Sport accessories in the Lotus 'Original Performance Products' catalogue. Any dealer will sell them for about £40 each. The covers do reduce light output slightly and the cover also affects the light beam slightly. They are not supplied with any fitting details or materials and can have either a black or silver surround. They are thicker than the standard lamp fixing bezels and because of this the perspex cover may stand proud from the rest of the bodywork. I've put together a DIY guide to fitting these.

Motobuild now also sell a pair of perspex headlight covers for only £56 + VAT (per pair) (note the price on the web site was wrong last time I looked). The Motobuild covers come from the same source as the Lotus ones (but no one will officially confirm this) and have no dark surround to hide the fixing method. Motobuild will be offering two bolts to allow quick fittting and removal for cleaning. This method assumes that air can get up inside to stop them steaming up.

Talking of steaming up, they all do it. The solutions used to solve the problems have included drilling tiny holes in the covers to let water out, drilling holes inside the covers (through the bodywork, requires wheel arch liners to be removed), using bathroom silicon sealant and using removeable covers. Sunlight and switching the headlights on will remove the misting temporarily but many owners simply remove the covers.

Headlight Cover Removal

On many early S1's the covers were bonded to the bodywork with Silkaflex. This is horrible stuff to work with and difficult to remove. Removing the headlight cover intact is going to be difficult but the procedure for replacing a cracked or broken one it to break off as much of the lens cover as possible from the centre of the cover, taking care to protect your eyes from splintering polycarbonate. Ensure that you leave sufficient leverage to enable you to prise the edges from the Sikaflex, especially on the section nearest to the indicators.

Once the cover is removed, take a thin strip of wood and sharpen the end to a chisel point so that you can scrape away the Sikaflex without scratching the paintwork. Once you've chiselled as much away as possible, rub in ethanol or methylated spirits with a cloth. After a good rubbing, go back to the wooden chisel and start all over again. Keep doing this until all of the Sikaflex has been removed. Depending on how much was put on in the first instance and the sharpness of the wooden chisel, this takes about an hour.

Headlight Alignment

Before you remove the headlights to change bulbs, etc. park the car about 5m away froma vertical wall and mark the current main beam pattern on the wall. The lights adjustment is best done by a garage but you can set them roughly by measuring the height of the lamps and setting the main beam to be 2-3" below this height on the wall.

There is a rubber bung in the front of the wheel arch which allows access to the headlight alignment fittings and the bulb. There is not enought room to adjust the lights via this route. The best route in is to open the bonnet and to remove the radiator shroud that is held on by about five plastic fixings. You can then reach inside to adjust the three wing nuts. Another method is to grab hold of the wheel arch liner and pull it down so that you can reach between it and the wheel arch.

When you travel abroad you need to adjust the beam pattern for driving on the left. This can be difficult on the Elise, especially when headlight covers are fitted. The following on-line guideRemote site describes the process and reasons for making these changes.

Driving Lights

The driving lights are manufactured by ZKWRemote site, part no. ZKW 533.11.000.00. If you drive at night and along country lanes, the driving lights are a must. Because they are so low, they are very prone to being chipped or smashed by stones. After a few months without covers you can see a dimpled effect on the glass from debris thrown up onto the lamps. NTC Cars sell cheap and effective covers for these lights. You can get various film protection systems for them but, they don't work as well.

If you've broken one already then contary to popular belief you can replace it without removing the front clam shell, though it is hard work. You can buy the driving lights cheaply from various places. The following places sell driving lights:

Indicator Lamps

The side repeater lamps are from a Vauxhall/Opel Corsa (Part No 90487599) and cost about 2.00 each (lens only). Motobuild sell smoked indicator lamps for £21.50 + VAT each or £80 + VAT for a set of four. They are a direct replacement for the orange indicators and have smoked lenses and a orange bulb. These lights are the same front and rear and look particularly good on Aluminium or Titanium Elises.

Indicator Repeater Lamps

Motobuild sell clear, smoke, or coloured indicator repeater lamps for £32 + VAT per pair. These are off of a Vauxhall Nova.


The list of bulbs used in the S2 is as follows:
  • Headlamps 60/55 Watt type H4 P43t
  • Driving lamps 55 W H1
  • Front side/parking lamps 5 W W2x4.6d
  • Side repeater lamps 5 W W2x4.6d
  • Front & rear turn indicaters 21W SCC BA15s
  • Stop/tail lamps 5/21W SBC BAY15d
  • High mounted stop Lamp 11W 891
  • Rear fog lamp 21W SCC BA15s
  • Reversing lamp 21W SCC BA15s
  • Licence plate lamp 5W SU 8.5-8
  • Interior lamp 10W SU 8.5-8
  • Facia switches 1,2W W2x4.6d

Useful Links

Classic and Rally ServicesRemote site
Supplier of high power lamps and bulbs.

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Copyright © Rob Collingridge 2009 - Last updated 08 May 2005