Automatics

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richardw
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Automatics

Post by richardw »

From Motor Sport, October 1957 (don't ask!):

"...give me an automatic gearbox every time." - Stirling Moss in the Daily Mail of September 13th 1957.

Cheers, Richard
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AndyD
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Re: Automatics

Post by AndyD »

Good quote Richard and one I've seen before.

The Great Man was 100 percent correct in my opinion. All our other cars are auto and I can't say I've ever wished my daily SLK was manual.

Hmm, I wonder what Mike at LB would charge for the conversion...

Cheers

Andy

richardw
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Re: Automatics

Post by richardw »

Andy, there was a similar quote from Jim Clark in the 60's which I'm trying to find! I think it was about finding better uses for his left hand or something.

Conversion to auto might not be too expensive. You need a ZF4HP22 box - ideally from an SA as those fitted to other cars do vary a bit - torque converter, bellhousing & flexplate, auto pedal box, the selector lever and cable plus the associated trim, and if you want it the original cruise control & wiring (although I'd go for a new aftermarket system). Not sure if you'd need a new propshaft. You'd also need the kickdown cable and associated throttle linkage.

You should be able to sell your gearbox assembly for a reasonable price - they are getting quite sought after these days.

Cheers, Richard
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Lotus-e-Clan
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Re: Automatics

Post by Lotus-e-Clan »

There are inefficient autos and there are less inefficient autos.
If the driver has magic wrists and fingers then manual gearboxes are both quick and efficient and a match to any auto in a 912 Lotus.
That said, today's modern auto gear boxes can be VERY quick and efficient ...in a straight line. But take an old OR a modern auto on to a winding country lane and the 'hunting' will drive one mad. The only way around this is to have GPS controlled autos that take into account both bends in the road, and elevation.
Peter K

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MetBlue
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Re: Automatics

Post by MetBlue »

take an old OR a modern auto on to a winding country lane and the 'hunting' will drive one mad.
I'll second that. Only had one car with auto box and paddles on steering column, a 2016 AUDI. Was fine on the M25, but on country roads it was never in the right gear. If you've been bought up with paddles and are used to using them, maybe your sub conscious takes over and you can use them in the same way the rest of us can use clutch and stick, but for me, I struggled even to remember which side went up and which side down 😱. - and I never knew which gear it was in.

Give me a manual. Paddles are for canoes, not cars.

Tony
What goes together.... Must come apart.

bash
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Re: Automatics

Post by bash »

I used to drive some quick cars for a living ( with a red stripe ) and we had a selection of the same cars some with auto, and some without. Autos were great for cruising about and ok on the motorway ( apart from the top speed was down from a manual ) but where I didnt like an auto was when I was pressing on at high speed near to the limit on a long sweeping bend and the sodding thing changed gear and unsettled the car. We have had Mx5s both in auto and manual form, in my opinion most soft top cars arnt really made for driving like your hairs on fire and I liked the auto in that setting. Horses for courses and theres a bum for every seat, it comes down to personal choice I suppose.

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AndyD
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Re: Automatics

Post by AndyD »

in my opinion most soft top cars arnt really made for driving like your hairs on fire and I liked the auto in that setting. Horses for courses and theres a bum for every seat, it comes down to personal choice I suppose.
It's what makes the world go round :D

richardw
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Re: Automatics

Post by richardw »

Here's a quotation from Jim Clark's book "Jim Clark at the Wheel," referring to the 1961 Nurburgring 1000 Km:

"This was the race in which David Hobbs was to show everyone that automatic transmission didn't necessarily mean that a car was not competitive. Fitted with his Hobbs 'Mechamatic' transmission he won the 1,100-1,600-cc class, despite having to run his Elite as a sports car and not a GT due to homologation bothers. This was a really interesting result and later I was to drive the same automatic Elite at Daytona for Colin Chapman. Later still I was to own an automatic Elite as my private transport. Those who scorn automatics take note!"

The Borg Warner box was eventually selected by the big US manufacturers instead of the Hobbs transmission, despite most people who had tried it preferring the Hobbs. Lotus didn't have the cash to invest in making it a production option, and Hobbs - like many other innovative businesses - went out of business without being able to fully develop the concept for production. Sad.

An interesting point is that the Elite referred to above must have been the first automatic Lotus - not the Elite M50!

Cheers, Richard

Addendum: Here is a fascinating thread with a lot of info about the Hobbs transmission story relating to Lotus and motor sport: https://forums.autosport.com/topic/2143 ... echamatic/

It turns out there were 3 automatic Elites, including one for Stirling Moss!
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lambert.john
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Re: Automatics

Post by lambert.john »

Some interesting points, here. The one time I met Stirling Moss it was in the early '70s at a garage in Shepherds Bush where I was working. He rode up on an automatic Triumph Tina scooter. (I believe he was banned from driving at the time).
Some modern automatics can be very versatile. The last non-Lotus car I owned was a modest Mitsubishi Colt with an electronic "semi-automatic" 'box. I found the best way to run it was to change up manually but allow the down changes to be made automatically. This gave the best compromise of performance and economy.
I had an Elite 504 for a few years. I' m afraid I did not find the 3spd Borg Warner 'box much to my liking. It made the car undergeared with the engine turning over at 4000rpm at little more than 60mph in top gear, tiring on the motorway. My current SA is vastly superior with the 4spd ZF 'box which gives nearly 100mph at 4000rpm in top gear.
John L.

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DavidOliver
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Re: Automatics

Post by DavidOliver »

Stirling Moss. Apparently after a race his gearbox used to be a gonner, Fangio´s perfect. Not surprised Stirling liked automatic.

The ZF 4HP22 box, besides needing Excel specific auxiliaries previously mentioned, must have the Control box (internal valve box)
specific for the Excel so that gear changes are matched to HP/revs curve, car weight and transmission ratio. I wonder how much
development time went in to the Elite or Excel SA boxes.
This also means that of the many refurbished ZF 4HP boxes available they will not be suitable unless Lotus specific.
You are also restricted to non-electronic shifters.

Dave the cog.

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AndyD
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Re: Automatics

Post by AndyD »

I believe the SA has a different Diff ratio too, but I may be wrong...

Anyway, having fitted new output shaft seals and exhaust I used the Excel to drive to work again today and it's going to remain manual as it suits the car and is a nice counterpoint to my other cars :D

Cheers

Andy

richardw
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Re: Automatics

Post by richardw »

I don't blame you keeping your car as it is! It is a very nice transmission.

I think the final drive on the auto is 3.7:1, that on the SE is 3.9:1, and the pre-SE is 4.1:1. The auto has a taller top gear than the manual, giving the car 25mph/1000rpm.

Cheers, Richard
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Hawaiis0
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Re: Automatics

Post by Hawaiis0 »

Umm! What to do next?

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