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Carbon Fibre Sunroof

After a long hot summer baking in LEW's Esprit (air con's a must). We talked to a carbon fibre company about making items for the Esprit. Due to it's low production numbers, we where thinking of a part that could be done that covers a few models. The idea came up of a carbon fibre sunroof. Those owners who have glass sunroofs will know how hot the interior can get during the summer months. This is partly due to the large pain of glass in the roof acting like a greenhouse. Removing the roof can be difficult due to its size and weight and there's the chance of breaking it (with a replacments at around £500). So this proved a practical replacement, not just a way of getting some high-tec material on the Esprit for bragging rights.

This must have been a good idea, as Dave Walters was having the same thoughts. Dave and LEW got together and decided to get some pre-orders (5 willing owners) and make a batch. LEW handed the rains to Dave who worked closely with a company who do a lot of carbon fibre work for the World Rally Teams. After two pre-production models where tested, Dave gave the go-ahead to have the roofs produced for the Esprit owners (including LEW).

This is a direct replacement for the glass sunroof and doesn't come with the fixings. This roof will not fit Esprits with glass fibre roofs without changing the rubber that the roof seals with. Also this roof is slightly different to the Giugiaro sunroofs, so will not fit those models. This is a replacement for Esprit's made between 1988 and 2004 with glass sunroofs.


This is rated as easy-medium difficulty.


You will need the following parts:

Carbon Fibre Sunroof
Your original Glass sunroof
Any fixings you think need replacing

You will need the following tools:

Drill (11 and 12mm bits)
Clamps (if you have them)
Philips Screw driver
Mole grips and WD40 if your fixings are rusty


LEW's roof was delivered well protected and took a while to unwrap. Be careful not to damage your roof when unpacking.


Once your roof is unpacked, you'll need to remove the fixings from your glass roof. See here for help removing your sunroof from your Esprit. Also there's already a guide to replacing the front lips (see here) see that guide which will help you remove and replace the front fixings.


The rear fixings are easy to remove. Two Philips screws hold the handle to the mounting. Once this is remove (beware of rusted screws) you'll see two further screws. These screw into the fixing on the outer glass, one of the screws was stiff and was just turning the fixing. We used some mole grips to hold the outer fixing. Be careful when doing this as you are working with a large piece of glass.


Once you have removed all the fixings (remember to see other guide for removing the front fixings). We clamped the two roofs together to mark up the holes for drilling. I would recommend using some masking tape over where you're about to drill to stop any splitting that could damae the roof. We found the carbon fibre roof to be very slightly smaller in width than the glass one. This shouldn't be a problem.


Once you're happy with the position, you can drill the pilot holes into the carbon fibre roof. We used a 4mm bit to drill the first holes. After drilling the pilot. We would then advise removing the glass roof before drilling the larger holes. We didn't and you can see what happened to LEW's glass roof. Whoops!

Simple tips for safe working with carbon.. 1. Wear a dust mask. 2. keep the area you are drilling/sanding wet. This prevents dust.


We drilled the front holes 11mm, which is a nice tight fit. The four holes for the rear fixing where done with a 12mm bit. Once the holes have been drilled, reattach the fixings as before.


We decided to replace a few fixing pieces at this point as some of the screws were rusty and the front t-piece fixings were bent from being over tightened before. All pieces are available, but some are very expensive, so pick and choose what you think needs replacing. Once the fixing have been done, put the roof back into your Esprit.


Above are pictures of Howard Bartrop's, Don Benfell's and LEW's carbon fibre roofs. Dave Walters roof is below, along with his interior and then LEW's. Everybody's happy with their roofs and had no problems with fitting them (unlike us, who smashed theirs!).


LEW's Verdict

We've been looking forward to receiving our Carbon Fibre Sunroof since the project started. We found replacing the fittings easy (despite breaking the glass roof) and the actual fit into the Esprit very good. We love the look of the carbon fibre as well, although it can be painted body colour if you wish. On weighing the roof we found a 1.5kg reduction. Not a massive amount, less than was expected, but enough to make it slightly easier to remove from the car. Also the fact that it's not glass any more is also a lot safer.

On the finish front, We're happy with it overall. It's not perfect and isn't for a show car. But then LEW's Esprit is for driving. A roof with a good enough finish for a show car is likely to cost around £400. Which is too pricey just to have it looking perfect when the rest of the car isn't of the same quality. This is a roof for someone who doesn't like the glass roof and wants a usable replacement in a high tech material. I would be happy to recommend this roof to anyone.

You can email the supplier of the roof from the E-shop and order yours. Do it. We did!

This mod was performed by LEW on their 1992 SE

If you try this, feel free to e-mail LEW with your Verdict at admin@lotusespritworld.com

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