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Reattaching Hatch Cable

If you're rear hatch cable breaks you'll find yourself unable to get into the boot and at the engine. This problem looks incurable, and in a way is. The cable runs from behind the drivers seat, down the side of the Esprit to the first latch, then along the rear of the Esprit to the other latch. To see how to release the hatch go to our other guide here!

Once you've got the hatch open, you'll need to reattach or replace the cable, as you won't want to go through that every time you need to get into the rear compartment or at the engine. This job looks like being a difficult one, but we've been assured it isn't that bad. Here's Martyn's story and how it's done.

After the tailgate cable suddenly detached itself from the release handle on my '89 SE shortly after I bought it I had to find someway of re-attaching it especially since the battery was disconnected at the time and a load of my tools were in the boot. This guide shows a reasonably easy and quick method of reconnecting the cable, it's major plus point being that it does not require any part of the cable to be detached from the release catches saving a fair amount of time and hassle.

Reattaching the cable
This job will take about 15-30 minutes and isn't particularly difficult.


You will need the following parts:


You will need the following tools:

Small Screwdriver
long nose pilers
2 clamps
Protective plate (drinks can)


Pic 1 Ok, This is what it looks like when your tailgate release cable disconnects it self from the release handle. The shiny steel barrel in the centre of the picture is the end of the release cable. As you can see its pulled well back against the door pillar with no chance of re-connection. Still don't panic read on !.

Pic 2 These are the tools you require to re-attach the tailgate cable to the release handle, a small screw driver, long nose pliers, a couple of quick clamps and something to protect the surround of the release handle recess (I've used tin plate here but some metal cut from a drinks can folded double will work just as well). If you haven't got any quick clamps a couple of small g-clamps will work or failing that you might be able to get away with using some stiff wire twisted round with pliers to compress the release springs (more of this latter).

Pic 3 The first thing to do is get the tailgate open again. To do this bend the metal plate around the release handle surround to protect it from damage as seen in the picture. Grab the end of the cable barrel with the end of the long nose pliers and push the handle of the pliers back toward the rear of the car thus tensioning the cable and releasing the tailgate latches. Because of the design of the cable the off side latch will release first but if you continue to exert pressure the near side latch will release also popping open the tailgate.


Pic 4 Now the tailgate is open the next thing to do is compress the tailgate catch springs using the quick clamps or what ever you have to hand. First the off side catch.

Pic 5 Followed by the near side catch spring.

Pic 6 Now back at the release handle you can now see plenty of slack in the cable.


Pic 7 Now there's plenty of slack in the cable it's time to re-insert the cable barrel in to the release handle. To do this grab the barrel upright in the tips of the long nose pliers and lower the handle. With a little bit of trial and error you should be able to push the barrel back in to the release handle slot.

Pic 8 To finish the job use a small screwdriver to push the cable barrel fully home in to the release handle. Once your happy all is back in place release the quick clamps and the release handle will be pulled back in to its recess. Before closing the tailgate be sure to do a couple of test pulls on the handle to make sure everything is working Ok. It's also a good idea to make sure the release catches are well greased so they move freely.

LEW's Verdict

Looking at the design of the release handle I imagine this must have happened to several Esprit owners and this guide does provide a quick fix to get you going again. Quite why the cable detaches itself is probably a combination of poor design, wear in the cable barrel recess and maybe too slack a cable. Bearing this in mind its quite possible it will eventually detach itself again, I'm trying to figure out a permanent solution and will update this guide when I figure out a method. One conclusion I have come to however is that if your cable barrel end sits naturally in a vertical position its probably far more likely to fall out, with this in mind it's worth trying to rotate the barrel 90 degrees after pushing it back into the handle with the screwdriver if possible.

What about replacing the actual cable if it breaks?
The attachments to the rear tailgate catches look fairly straight forward, what worries me though is the route the cable takes over the top of the O/S/R wheel arch you would almost certainly have to gain access to this area to route the new cable to the release handle. There looks to be an access hatch on the side of the engine bay but its still quite away back I guess it will really depend on whether or not you can use the old cable to pull through the new one and how many clips there are hidden behind the panels on the way to the release handle. I would guess it would take at least an hour and a half and would probably be a bit of a fiddle to get it on there, unless there is some simple way to access the rear of the release handle recess.

This mod was performed by Martyn Vale on his 1989 SE.

If you have any comments, feel free to e-mail LEW at admin@lotusespritworld.com

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