on a 1982 Lotus Esprit S3
by Angus Ironside
This guide will show you how to remove and replace the handbrake lever on an 1982 S3 or a Turbo. I had to replace mine after an overly enthusiastic MOT Tester managed to bend the lever... it didn't help that the middle section had rusted away! This guide will also show you how to lift the sill carpet and reach the handbrake cable tensioning adjusters, however, it will not show you how to adjust the tensioners. The part that I replaced mine with was second hand from Lotusbits and although there was a little bit of corrosion on it it was nothing that a bit of filing and painting couldn't sort out... especially when it only cost a fiver!
Those with S1's and S2's should be careful when attempting to remove their handbrakes as the mountings were not as secure as the later models.
On closer inspection of the old handbrake it is clear that the part of the metal the rusts on the lever is that which is between the rubber handle and the fitting - i.e. the part that comes into contact with hands and where the protective coating has worn away on the leather gaiter
This job is not difficult and should take under an hour to complete..
You will need the following parts:
New handbrake lever.
You will need the following tools:
I ordered a second-hand handbrake lever from Lotusbits.com. It had light surface rust which was removed and the lever was primed with anti-corrosive primer and then sprayed black. The rubber handle simply slides off – if it is glued on then there is no choice but to cut it off – there are replacements available.
To get to the handbrake the carpet on the sill has to be pulled up – fine for me as I intend to replace it all very soon but if your carpet is in mint condition I would suggest taking a bit of time to make sure you don’t rip it at the edges or around the lever. In my car the carpet is attached to a removable plastic sill that provides shape and protects the handbrake – I assume this is the same for all G cars… You will also need to remove the ashtray – it will be glued in but with a bit of effort it should simply slide out.
Once you have lifted the carpet off in the footwall (the circular covering piece in the footwell just slides up and off) and have the plastic sill free lift it up and out – lean this against the outside of the car. If you are having problems lifting it out at the seatbelt end get your fingers down behind the seat and pull the bottom of the sill out towards the centre of the car. This lifts the plastic past the adjusting cables.
With the hand brake lever fully exposed it is now possible to undo the two nuts that connect it to the mounting plate in the sill – the smaller one at the back and the main one that the lever pivots on. These should come off fairly easily. I have read that S1 and S2 Esprits have weaker handbrake mountings on the sill – if this is the case then care should be taken when removing the nuts. Looking at my sill it appears that the revised mounting bracket was an afterthought at the factory with the sill being cut open and messily pieced back together again.
To remove the handbrake from the metal handbrake linkage (proper name?!) just take off the split pin and washers and remove the pin.
With the handbrake lever removed you can now see the mounting more clearly – note the micro switch in the picture – one of the wires is disconnected. While you have the lever off it is worthwhile just cleaning the contacts on the switch and getting rid of the mess that usually hides down the sides.
Before bolting in the new handbrake lever make sure that the linkage rod is connected and has not twisted around. Bolt in the new lever making sure that the bolt that connects with the micro-switch is above it!
Replace the carpet and glue in your ashtray. If you have problems putting the carpet and plastic sill back on together then remove the carpet from the plastic sill this makes it a bit easier, just remember to glue the carpet back to the sill when you have finished. Although in my car the finished product doesn’t look great because of the worn interior it does make a great difference knowing that the handbrake works and won’t snap any time soon!
Easy and quick fix to a potentially disastrous problem! It is an item that is worth checking every service just to make sure that it is in good condition. You don't want to find you have no hand brake lever on a steep hill and surrounded by traffic...
This mod was performed by Angus Ironside on his 1982 Esprit S3.
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