One of the most irritating thing about the standard key is the attached Cobra alarm scrotum. It's cumbersome and it does tend to break off. For years now, a few people have had a go at coming up with a workable alternative that would combine the key, with the alarm fob to have a more integrated key - pretty much inline with most car manufactures these days.
Unikey (I believe produced by Blackwatch racing) was the last real attempt at this, and reading the forums, it seems that they are currently working on an alternative/ updated version. I have also seen the 'flick' key conversion, again it looks as if it would work pretty well and looks good.
My problem has always been that I did not want to pay a huge amount of money for something that I consider a minor annoyance and I also wanted something that looked pretty close to what OEM would have looked like. I like to have my cake and eat it too!!
So, after years of searching, I finally came across something that seemed to fit the bill.
What do you need
1. Blank key fob - After some searching, I came across the Smart Roadster blank replacement key on eBay. What makes it perfect is the fact that its round, small and have plenty of space inside to accommodate the Cobra internals. Oh, its also very cheap - less than £10!!
2. Some double sided sticky pads
3. Corsa cheap blank key - From your local Blacksmith.
4. Dremmel or equivalent.
5. Superglue or equivalent
7. A Vice - or a way of holding the key steady for the cutting
1. Once you have all the ingredients in place, start by preparing the blank Smart key. Open it up and firstly remove the key by unscrewing the little screw holding it in place. Once that's out of the way, dremmel away the little stubs in the 'shell' to form an empty cave.
Note: Do not remove the outer studs as these help to hold the two sides together and maintain the integrity of the structure.
2. Get the blank Corsa key cut to suit your existing key and using a vise and hacksaw, 'trim' the grip element of the key down so that you remain with just the metal centre, and an extended key length.
Note: That what you are trying to achieve here is good enough length to allow the key to be inserted into the new holder, whilst still providing enough key to enable it to function in the key barrel.
3. Existing key fob. Open up the existing key fob and remove the Cobra internals. Please be careful in handling the internals as they can easily be damaged.
4. Prepare the sticky pads and have them ready to go in.
1. Place the Cobra internals into the new 'shell' and line up the buttons so that the main button is directly under the large 'lock' button. Whist doing this, ensure that the second button (the sensor disabling button) is lined up with the second button.
Note: It is important that you ensure that the main button lines up directly underneath, however the second button will be slightly off centre. Don't worry about this too much as I find that it still functions pretty well. Its hardly used anyway
2. Once you are happy that you placement is workable, please use the double sticky pads to hold the cobra unit in place. This will ensure that the unit does not move under normal circumstances.
3. Check the fitting, by gently placing the other half of the blank fob. I had to dremmel away a couple of there places, but this will purely be dependent on how you place the Cobra internals. Once happy, you can close the top and test.
Warning: Be gentle in closing off the other half. You run a huge risk of damaging the internals. Also be aware that if its too tight, the buttons on the internals will be depressed as such re-set the fob. Be careful and methodical.
4. Once happy with the fitting of the main part, you can now start working on the key. The key needs to be trimmed slightly to ensure that its tapered at the end to allow you to push the key into the slot. It needs to be tapered so that it jambs in the slot. I used the vice and a metal file to grind it down slightly.
5. Once you are happy that the key fits in nicely, I would advise you that you then use a touch of strong glue in the hole before pushing in the key and letting it set.
Before the glue is completely set, try the door and the ignition key to ensure that you have allowed enough length on the key for it to function correctly. Once set, you can now start adding those finishing touches to make it perfect.
I opted to buy some sticky Lotus logos and placed one on both sides of the key. It works pretty well and seems to give a very OEM look. Its your choice on this one.
After many years of searching for a perfect, workable solution, I am very pleased with the end results. They key works well, I don't have additional dangley bits, it looks bloody good and best of all, its CHEAP!!! My kind of mod.
If you try this, I hope it works out for you, but once again, please oh please be careful and methodical.
As for me, I can call this job done!!
So, I have been using my version of key for some years now and worked really well and looked the part. Certainly for the money, I don't think there is a better way of smarting up your standard Corsa key.
Anyway as any Lotus ownership is all about trying to improve and patch-up the car, I decided to try another version. The approach to this one is very similar to the original idea in as much as the Cobra internals will fit okay, however there is a certain amount of messing about to get the buttons line up right and placed into position.
Without going into too much detail, you will have to smooth-out the internals and by using sticky pads, place the alarm internals in the right position. Its trial and error, but you will get it in the end.
Donor key fob came from Land Rover Discovery Series 2 I think. These are about £6 on ebay...
I think its a very nice shape and very similar to the new OEM key in size.
The key comes with a blank key and all that you want from this is the end, black plastic holder which you will use to hold your new key in the fob. There is a retaining pin in place that you will just need to knock out.
As you can see, the fit is pretty good.
Please note: In terms of replacing they key, there may be other, easier ways, however all that I did was get a normal cheap key cut, I then removed the holding part by cutting it off with a hack saw, I then shaped the end to match the width of the blank key.
Once that was done, I then drilled a hole through the key (please ensure you use the original blank key as a template for the location) then replaced the plastic end bit ready to push back into the main fob.
After about an hour of messing about, this is what I ended up with. It is very comparable with the original one in terms of quality, however this is smaller in form and fits into the steering column/ starter area a lot better.
Compared to the original one...
Total cost, about £8:00, including the new key. It requires a bit of effort and some Blue Peter magic, but it certainly worth the effort.