Tall Esprit Drivers
The Esprit's cockpit is a fairly small space with the optimum driving height around 5ft 10". Drivers of around 6ft 2" can normally just about squeeze in, but over that height and you've got a problem. This is sometimes stopping large driver buying Esprit's, as those that can fit in find it uncomfortable and wouldn't be able to drive for any length of time. This page is for those tall drivers who want to drive an Esprit.
Just to give all you tall drivers out there some hope. Simon Pritchard is 6ft 7inch and weighs in at 22 stone yet after fitting some skinny seats in his 1983 Turbo Esprit, he finds it comfortable to drive. See his owners page here.
"For those of us who are tall and find the pedals a little close, apart from the pedal skew alteration you should also buy yourself some driving shoes or some “profiled” trainers. Profiled trainers have a specially shaped sole and are contoured to the foot, therefore there is no sole overlap and no danger of catching them on other pedals, mine are made by puma and took a while to find. I only drive wearing these shoes".
There are modifications that can be made to maximise the space in the Esprit cabin and make it more comfortable for larger drivers. This is a short guide of what can be done to fit 6ft 5" drivers into the cockpit and make those a little smaller, a little more comfortable.
The main problem tall drivers have, is lack of room for their knees. The steering wheel it un-adjustable and larger drivers find the wheel almost in their lap with their legs push out either side. There are a few things that can easily be done to help increase the space.
the seat can be tilted back a little using washer on the seat fixings. This will create more leg room.
the fixings can be removed and the seat fixed straight to the floor, creating more head and leg room.
(this will require new holes in the Esprit's floor pan)
change the steering wheel to a flat-bottom version, which will help to increase leg room.
use an offset boss for your steering wheel, raising the wheel further away from your legs. (see pic below)
use a longer boss for your steering wheel, pushing it further away from your legs.
The other problem is of course headroom. Some of the above mentioned, increase the headroom available as well as leg room.
some seats have a pad underneath the seat, that can be removed. This will lower the seat a little. (see pic below)
replacing the more comfortable seats with bucket seats (i.e. GT3 seats) will increase the headroom.
If you haven't got a glassroof, then purchasing one (2nd hand!) will give a little more head room.
The other more extreme modifications can be made for the serious, tall, Esprit Driver.
modifying the floor as it's slightly raised in this area and the shell is GRP, so you can make the floor flush.
remove the footrest and widened the pedal box, which will make it easier for those will larger feet. (see pic below)
fitting a removable steering wheel will help you get in and out much easier.
having a custom pedal box made to create more leg room.
have a custom roof made with a speed bulge to create more headroom.
Then there's the simple ones, that don't help all the time.
purchase some racing shoes to help with the pedals (some owners go barefoot!).
open the sunroof to give another inch or so of headroom.
remove the sunroof completely (only good for sunny days!).
Pedal Box Modification
by Lotus Cars Ltd
The couple of cars that we modified for customers were as follows:
The pedal box unit was not modified during the change. The change involved adjusting the pedal spacing to increase the distance
between the pedals. The brake and clutch pedal were 'cranked†' to move pedal pad to the left. This resulted in removing the foot rest on the side of the tunnel. The foot rest also shields the accelerator cable so care must be taken to ensure the cable is not exposed to an extent that it can be caught with the left foot (during clutch operation).
There is not much that can be done to move the pedals forward as the pedals need a set amount of travel for proper operation. All that can be done here is to set the pedals at the lowest adjustment to ensure full travel is available.
To carry out the work the pedal box assembly needs to be removed from the car to access the brake & clutch pedal for adjusting. This operation will increase the distance between the pedals The position (sideways & height) of all three pedals needs to be controlled carefully in order to ensure full operation and keep the ability to heel & toe.
There was a change to the Esprit for '92 MY where the Pedal Box Assembly (inc. pedals) and Seat were modified to give increased leg room The pedal box design was changed to reduce the travel of the pedals. Any car prior to this will have restricted leg room.
The pedal 'cranking' is explained on the attached 'rough' sketch If you look at the sketch and imagine you are looking down at thew pedals from the driving position.
On the left is a standard pedal and on the right is a modified pedal. The only difference is in the angle of the bends. On the Modified pedal the bends are slightly increased to move the pedal pad to the left slightly.
This is what we mean by cranking. The standard pedal has a slight crank and the modified pedal has a more pronounced crank. This could apply to either or both the pedals (brake & clutch) By doing this you can increase the distance between the pedal pads. What Lotus usually do (on a RHD vehicle) is to increase the crank on the brake pedal slightly and then increase the crank on the clutch by slightly more which results in the pedal pads being moved apart.
When this is done the foot rest will have to be modified or removed to give some clearance for the new clutch pedal position. Lotus would usually increase the crank in the brake by about 10 - 12mm which means the clutch will need to be modified by say 20 - 25mm.
It all depends on how much room is needed.
If you have anything you think will be of use for tall Esprit drivers. Feel free to e-mail your opinions so I can add them to this page. firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am 6 foot 2 inches and have ann Esprit SE.
I removed the drivers seat and founf aluminium spacer washers between the seatbase and the carpet. I removed these and refitted the seat, using the original holes.
This dropped the seat by 1.5cm.
Your article on tall drivers says the 92 model gives extra legroom (4cm according to the 'models' listing on the website) but it does not mention that it (the SE High Wing anyway) has up to 14cm more headroom, as well as 8cm more clearance between the seat and steering wheel. Assuming all models from this one onwards had the same cockpit this is surely the main answer to the problem - get one of these.