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Removal and Installation
of a 1986 Lotus Esprit Turbo HC Radiator Pod (on your own!)

Hi folks, hunted around the Web and found no pictorial method for removing a radiator pod from an Esprit so after reading a few written advice notes (mostly Stevens Esprit’s) took on the task myself; almost. Big thanks to Tim who volunteered to come up and help me drop the Esprit radiator pod but was unable to help out to put back in (they learn fast those damn volunteers!) so with a little ingenuity a method was constructed that will work to drop out and install a Esprit Radiator Pod (Rad Pod) on your own! Or at least help out the poor soul handling the Rad Pod as you drop it down/install it. This method should be about the same for many ‘G’ car Rad Pods and possibly some similarities with ‘S’ cars.

Now, for dramatic effect, tune in spooky music and the following subtitle…. ‘Within the limited mechanics working space of an Esprit….no one can hear you scream…’

OK, here goes….….

Step One – Make the Rad Pod jig:

Using a composite material (recycled plastic & wood) from the hardware store called a ‘garden sleeper’ and this one measured 150mm wide by 50mm deep (but can use similar sized wood) cut a length 1200mm wide and then the butt ends 210mm tall

NOTE: cut straight to ensure flat contact surface, glue with araldite or equivalent adhesive that is strong and allow to cure a couple of days and/or tap in some wood screws.


210mm butt ends                   2,100mm length

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Step Two – drain radiator and remove hoses and the wiring from radiator fans and remove radiator fans:

One of the more straight forward aspects of the Esprit other than (in my case) the inaccessible radiator drain plug (but don’t bother with the drain plug, the bottom radiator hose discharges the most coolant).

Remove the hoses from the radiator with the fiddliest being the lower radiator hose with the tight space to get a socket on the hose clamp but you get there in the end (7mm or 8mm spanner/socket) or flexible screwdriver (some ¼ drives come with a flex extension which is handy). Have containers on hand to collect the coolant, most of the water will come from the lower hose. Removal of the radiator cap will speed up water discharge.

The fans are plugged into the wiring loom so these are easy to disconnect, the Earth wire is connected onto one of the bolts of each fan so remove these bolts first before removing the others.

The fans come out easy enough and is a good opportunity to inspect for wear and tear (in my instance the middle fan had a warped shaft somehow).

To date the only available replacement fans are from SJ Sports in the UK which are bolt-in replacements with no fettling required other than splicing in the new wiring (Top Tip – cut the connector of the old fan and solder into the wiring of the new fan which makes fitting into existing wiring loom a piece of cake)..

Step Three – remove the two flat under-panels beneath the Rad Pod:

Two panels are butted up together form part of the ‘G’ cars ‘aerodynamic ground effect’ for road holding. They are held in place with screws into screw clips and bolts at the rear of the two panels (M6 bolts with large washers to take up the load) in some cases they will be either missing, heavily corroded or both :/


Note: there should be two sturdy support stays coming down from the top frame of the chassis at a 45o angle on either side then connecting to the Rad Pod and panels connections to give some support to the front of the car; mine were both missing but SJ Sports in the UK stocks the three different sizes available so measure up then get some in place:



Two panels butted up together (these were later cleaned, new clips put in and sprayed both sides in flat black)

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  Step Four – remove the two oil lines from the oil cooler (if fitted):

These oil hoses connect tightly to the oil cooler so be prepared; also of interest is the sizes of the hose connections and oil cooler, it appears to be a mish-mash of imperial and metric from my experience being one size or another so have a few old and new spanners available to get you through just in case.


Both oil lines are clipped at two points each side of the Rad Pod and are simply unscrewed to remove them.

Warning, it will leak oil, plenty, so ensure you can catch it before it stains the floor, like I didn’t :/

Step Five – removal of the first Four of the Six rear Rad Pod holding bolts (and where they are! Pictures provided)

Apply handbrake and chock rear wheels then loosen the front wheel nuts (17mm socket) then jack up the Lotus from the front, install the car stands to ensure safety (at the rear edge of the box chassis ‘T’) and remove the front wheels.

Looking inside both the upper forward areas of the wheel arches you should see one bolt in the horizontal position and two bolts in the vertical position which secure the upper side ‘ears’ of the Rad Pod to the body of the Esprit (or missing bolt/s as was discovered on the LHS).

Note: Left Hand Side (LHS) and Right Hand Side (RHS) are taken from you sitting in the driver’s seat looking forwards..

First remove the four vertical bolts (Diagram & pictures below) two each side (LHS & RHS), to create the bolt free space for the jig to press up against the Rad Pod. Note the most forward bolts are fiddly (‘Lotused’) due to the headlight pod motors being in the way BUT is not impossible, can be done on your own with the right tools (1/2 drive sockets with extensions & flat ring spanners and ‘Lotus Mechanic Yoga’ skills). I had removed the lift arms from the headlight motors to the light pods which gave uninhibited access.

Or you can remove the headlight pod motors, your call J

Diagram (looking down from top) of bolt locations securing the Esprit radiator pod:

  Photos of the six main bolts:

Rounded Rectangular Callout: 2 Horizontal bolts RHS bolts                                                 LHS bolts

Rounded Rectangular Callout: 4 Vertical bolts Description: C:\Users\Roe Eho\Documents\1 Private\Lotus\Radiator Install\MKII Photos\SMALL\IMG_5419 (Small).JPG Description: C:\Users\Roe Eho\Documents\1 Private\Lotus\Radiator Install\MKII Photos\SMALL\IMG_5420 (Small).JPG

  Location of bolts inside ‘boot’:




The horizontal & vertical bolt    The 2nd vertical bolt forward & left of the light pod motor

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All the bolts shown here above are M8 stainless steel with 2mm thick stainless steel washers and stainless steel nyloc nut replacements. Sourced from Anzor Fasteners in Brisbane, Queensland Australia.

Step Six – Positioning jig under the radiator pod ready for remainder of the nuts and bolts removal.

Position a good sized trolley jack that has effective reach with the jig balanced on top of the trolley jack under the Esprit with the aim to position up into the high flat portion where the four bolts were removed. Apply light pressure with the trolley jack to secure the jig against the Rad Pod when you are confident you have it in the centred position:

                                                       Jig gently in position against Rad Pod

Jig on trolley jack                            (4 vertical bolts must be removed, this photo taken after reinstall)

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Next loosen only the last two remaining horizontal bolts so they are free to move around a little but not able to fall out. Also at this stage remove the inner most of the two bolts securing the air horn to the body of the Esprit so as to create a clear space and prevent damaging the horn when the Rad Pod is lowered and raised (see above picture titled ‘LHS The horizontal & vertical bolt’ for horn bolt location).

Step Seven – Remove the seven leading edge bolts securing the radiator pod to the front air scoop:

Some of the front air scoop seven radiator pod securing bolts -

Description: C:\Users\Roe Eho\Documents\1 Private\Lotus\Radiator Install\SMALL\IMG_5411 (Small).JPG

These should be 10mm bolts with nyloc nuts so will be stiff, more so if never touched since Lotus rolled your Esprit off the line.


Step Eight – Slowly loosen the two long bolts securing the radiator pod to the base of the Esprit ‘boot’ floor pan:

Being the two most significant securing bolts at the leading edge, as they are loosened the Rad Pod will settle into the jig. When you notice the Rad Pod settling into the jig remove completely the two horizontal bolts mentioned in Step 5 above.

Now remove fully the nuts holding the two long bolts in place. These long bolts are inserted into a metal tube which presses against the lower Rad Pod and the upper ‘boot’ floor at a fixed distance; they won’t drop out as the bolt heads are in the ‘boot’ but the tubes will when the Rad Pod is being lowered. Take care to ensure the Rad Pod sits centrally into the jig and that the jig is central to the trolley jack (when installing the Rad Pod at no time did the Rad Pod look in danger of falling off but good care was taken to ensure it did not; if you get my meaning ;)

Step Nine – Lowering down the Rad Pod and info if you have Air Conditioning fitted:

! Important Note: If you have AC you will need to remove two AC lines from the AC system:

·       AC hose (short from the RHS) from the receiver drier (tall cylinder located in the ‘boot’ that goes into the Rad Pod area; and

·       AC hose (long from the LHS) from the evaporator (the AC radiator at the front).

To do so you have a duty to professionally de-gas the AC system, please don’t do this yourself as according to Ed China on Wheeler Dealers is that if the AC gas contacts your eyes it will make you go blind L AKA Pope Warning ‘101’! So if you are going to handle your hoses get some help! It’s just a phone call away, call them now, their waiting! :D

Step Nine continued (AC fitted):
After degassing the AC safely first remove the AC hose (short from the RHS) from the receiver drier located on the RHS of the ‘boot’ (this hose connects to the LHS of the receiver drier then winds its way down through a hole in the ‘boot’ floor then connects to the evaporator/AC radiator). Poke the removed AC hose through the hole in the floor of the boot into the Rad Pod space, there will be a large grommet but it’s not restrictive.

Next Slowly lower the Rad Pod down about 5”-6” (130mm to 150mm) more or less with the governor being the AC hose (long from the LHS) that connects to the evaporator and preventing it from stretching and suspending the Rad Pod due to being positioned under the evaporator forward stay; this is the most fiddliest ‘Lotused’ part of the removal.

Supplemental: If the bolts holding the ‘forward stay’* on the LHS are not frozen on then one option which does give a lot of convenience is to squeeze your hand in through the LHS wheel arch area and remove the top and bottom mountings. If you are able to do this you can fully lower down the Rad Pod with no obstruction by the AC hose (long from the LHS) AND apply better force and counter force when removing the AC line from the evaporator. The re-assembly is the reversal of the aforementioned and is a most convenient way accomplishing this task if it works out ?

When both AC hoses are disconnected and not snatching on anything next slowly drop down the Rad Pod keeping a steadying hand on it (the Rad Pod!) ensuring it clears the stone guard mesh at the forward edges as it likes to hang on and make a graunching noise when doing so but nonetheless it should be OK. The stone mesh is held into place by being bolted/screwed into the floor of the ‘boot’ by two tabs with its base squeezed between the Rad Pod lip and air scoop by those 7 M4 bolts mentioned earlier.

For Esprit without AC - Slowly lower Rad Pod down

Slowly drop down the Rad Pod keeping a steadying hand on it (the Rad Pod!) ensuring it clears the stone guard mesh at the forward edges as it likes to hang on and make a graunching noise when doing so but nonetheless it should be OK. The stone mesh is held into place by being bolted/screwed into the floor of the ‘boot’ by two tabs with its base squeezed between the Rad Pod lip and air scoop by those 7 M4 bolts mentioned earlier.  

Behold – you now have in your possession a Lotus Esprit ‘G’ car Radiator Pod!

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So now what? What are the opportunities?

Well, you can now consider the following projects! –

• Replace the flimsy plastic radiator fan duct with a decent one!


Rebuilt steering rack installed plus other goodies available to play with…

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Looking at this photo it seems feasible that you could remove the two main cooling pipes running through the chassis?

Re-installation top tips:

Those two long bolts at the front of the Rad Pod:

This set up is fiddly but worth getting it right and ensuring when back in place it does its job well so here are the tips:

          Drop the bolts into place ensuring the top of the bolts are seated into quality washers

Description: C:\Users\Roe Eho\Documents\1 Private\Lotus\Radiator Install\MKI Photos\IMG_5402.JPG Description: C:\Users\Roe Eho\Documents\1 Private\Lotus\Radiator Install\MKI Photos\IMG_5395.JPG

When you are at the stage (if you have AC, otherwise get that gap wide enough to work on the bolts) to re-connect the AC line to the evaporator use this gap between the Rad Pod and the Esprit to insert the tubes over the bolts (push bolts upwards to get tubes onto them) ensuring you have also inserted before the tubes quality washers:

When you have done this to both long bolts let the tube fall down and it should stay in place against the base of the Rad Pod when it is jacked up high enough.

Now comes the tricky part, ‘the alignment’ by getting the long bolts to align with the holes in the Rad Pod and the washer at the base of the tube. This can be done by inserting a M6 bolt being reasonably long (I used a 30mm long M6 bolt) through a washer into the base of the Rad Pod from the outside into the long bolt tube; ensure to insert a washer under the tube so it has a firm base to sit on and not just the fiberglass when being tightened up. Next use strong packing tape to secure the M6 bolt and washer into place:

When jacking up the Rad Pod high enough it is a simple task of removing the tape and M6 bolt and washer and the two long bolts ‘should’ fall through nicely, if not poke it around with a poker device to fettle it in. Place a washer over the long bolt and tighten with a nyloc nut AFTER the two rear horizontal bolts are put back in loosely at first..

Jacking up the Rad Pod:

Ensure the alignment is correct for the remaining bolt holes, it takes a few attempts to line up and keep the Rad Pod on the jig safely, no issues when doing this myself but a lot of stop-check-start-stop-check etc etc etc. whilst this method can be done on your own it takes time (a whole day when you come across little fixes along the way) but with help you should be able to complete with ease and quickly.

Stone Guard Mesh securing points:

Of interest is the stone guard mesh which is supposed to be held into position by either a screw or small bolt but in my Esprit it had nothing other than the holes in the body for the screws/bolts :/

This was fixed by drilling out slightly larger holes into the two upper tabs on the stone guard and inserting 3M stainless steel bolts with washers through the body of the Esprit down into the tabs. Tightened up nicely it does the job well:

Forward facing securing tabs with new bolts

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Top of stone guard bolts and washers inside the Esprit ‘boot’:

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New AC line seal:

These are readily available as kits and cost very little and you end up with a bag of nice sizes:

Rounded Rectangular Callout: New seal on AC line Description: C:\Users\Roe Eho\Documents\1 Private\Lotus\Radiator Install\MKI Photos\SMALL\IMG_5392 (Small).JPG

Background Check: This project was completed on Goldacre’s 1986 Lotus Esprit Turbo Hc who resides in Regional Western Australia. This Esprit was purchased from a bloke in Victoria Australia in 2011 who himself purchased the car off PNM Engineering in the UK which had it somewhat restored as it sat around the workshop for quite a few years apparently; the previous owner was eventually seduced by the Dark Side, a Honda NSX :/

This very Esprit is the one that drove from the Dandenong’s in Victoria to Merredin in Western Australia in 4 parsecs, oops, sorry, meant 4 days :D it was a bloody long way; LEW has that story on another link at the LEW Web Page. That trip was heaps of fun with great memories more so now as my co-driver for that trip and good friend John Mitchell passed away unexpectedly in 2016 and was always nagging me ‘when you going to get that bloody car back on the road, I want to go for another spin…’. ?  So getting it sorted presently.

Goldacre’s Esprit has been undergoing a lengthy rebuild of many components including a detailed suspension system upgrade, audio install, radiator pod service, steering rack rebuild, sunroof refurbishment, headlight upgrade and the car repainted. Essentially the owner is getting the Esprit to a spec he is most happy with for such a rare and worthy version of the ‘last run’ of the ‘G’ car which is considered the best of the ‘G’ car design having had most of the issues ironed out/resolved apparently but not arguing with them ?

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