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Elise s2: 135 power mods

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Hi everyone,

I bought a low mileage and completely original s2 last year. I love it but I wish it was more willing to rev and spend more time at a high rpm . I'm fairly happy with the amount of power the car has, as I use it mainly for local b-roads and I'm planning the odd track day this year or two.

Naturally, I've started looking at options to change the way the engine seems to run out of puff above 5k rpm.

Seeing as I want to keep it as original as possible, I don't really want to modify the engine too much, so when I heard that a set of Piper 270 cams are a straight drop in with no need to change the ecu or flow the head and that it would get the engine to rev more keenly after 5k rpm, I'm interested.

However, I've also heard that a set of mgf 135 cams do the same, as I've read in another post around here. 

My question is - is it worth buying a brand new set of piper cams + verniers or am I just as well off by sourcing a good set of mg 135 cams?
Also - is it worth simply getting the cams and the head breathed on? Is this possible while retaining the stock ecu? How would that affect reliability?  

The goal is to keep the Elise for a few years while I save up and eventually get into an sc car later on, hence not wanting to modifying it too much.

I also wanted to potentially change the induction but whilst keeping the look in the engine bay as stock as possible - I looked into the eliseparts and ITG induction kits but the tube going from air manifold to air intake seems a bit low quality - any recomendations for something a bit more oem looking? 




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I put 135 cams in my old engine, with a simple K & N cone filter (no cold air feed pipe) and a different back box and it was a huge improvement. Another 17 or 18 bhp is a fifteen percent increase (or thereabouts) and very noticeable on such a light car.

As you say, they also allow the engine to rev much better between 5000 and 6250 rpm. There is a corresponding loss of a bit of low down torque but it's not bad.  It is an excellent mod for the money, really really good value and I thoroughly recommend the cams.

Be aware my K&N is a lot noisier than the oem set up - if that bothers you a k&n replacement filter to go in the existing air box might be a good compromise and it would retain the stock look.

It's also worth considering that some back boxes are a lot lighter than oem too, which helps the handling, especially if you fit a lightweight battery as well but that's getting a bit off topic. Some are also quite noisy too so choose one that suits!

If you wanted to you could have the head ported and maybe fit bigger valves but that would be a lot of money and probably wouldn't work as well as you would want it to on the factory ecu so then you are into at least another grand for a mappable ecu and mapping - personally I don't think it's worth the spend especially if you are planning on swapping the car in a year or two.

Go with the 135 cams, drive the car for this summer at least and take it from there would be my advice.

Good luck with whatever you decide!

Oh and ps if you get the cams fitted professionally you might want to fit a new style multi layer steel head gasket if it doesn't already have one, and new cam belt, tensioner and water pump as they need changing every 4 years - badically you might as well bring forward the C service. Gav at Unit 4 in Burton did mine (top chap) and very reasonable it was too


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This shows the air filter, although ignore the vvc plenum, my old engine with the 135 cams started blowing big clouds of oil smoke (rings I think, but it had done 106,000 miles, many of which were quite hard miles) so I swapped it with this one which had the ally plenum, much lairier cams, a ported head and Sport 135 ecu. I wouldn't advise putting a vvc plenum on to your car because, again, they cost a lot of low down torque apparently. 

Edited by DeanB
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Reading your original post I'm afraid I know nothing about the Piper 270 cams, sorry.

The MGF cams will not really affect reliability beyond the fact that they will probably mean you use the engine at 6000 revs more often and revs are wear  obviously. I doubt you would notice anything though - even with the 135 cams in it should still comfortably cover 100,000 miles plus if run on good oil, serviced regularly and warmed up properly before giving it the beans.

Hope all that helps 🙂

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Good info from Dean there, and I would just like to add that his car (I assume with these mods) jolly well goes like stink - there's really very little difference in real world performance between his car and my 250 Cup. 

Hmm, probably doesn't help that he's a much better driver too :lol: :drive:

Edited by duncx
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Its all sage advice. Couldn't agree more with above

Based on what you want and your short ownership a set of tf 135 cams is all you need. Biggest bang for your buck and hits the brief you've set.  Say £120 plus fitting 

After that it's law of diminishing returns,  personal preference and individual disposable income.

You've got a lovely car and if you're  happy with the sound leave it at the cams.  For a variety of reasons I not a big advocate og aftermarket filters, but I did need a better sound and got that via carefully chosen  backbox (hanger 111 signature)

If you wouldn't think twice about giving the local garage some more money  and still meet the brief then 135 cams / SMALL (that's small) bore 421 janspeed and a nice exhaust would give you  +bhp / maintain torque / nice idle / standard road manners and give you a nice sports car sound track.  now you're  in for circa £120 + 540 + 450 + fitting. Still good for the difference you get/feel/hear

Decisions descisions...Nice one to have though enjoy!


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Sorry I cant offer any advise, as what I know about mechanics can be written on the back of a match box🤣

but what I can say is welcome to Lotus ownership I just know your going to enjoy it


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Thank you everyone for taking the time to reply - that's a lot of good advice !

DeanB - That's exactly what I plan on doing. A C-service to get the head gasket done + fitting of an aluminium rad ( it's leaking a bit). Would it be worth adding an oil rail + a prrt kit? Or would an 82ºc thermostat be enough once I have the new gasket and radiator?

I love love the car and would love to keep it for life but after having spent hours on youtube looking at clips of 2zz powered Elises, the kind of rev-hungry engine they seem to have + a tubular exhaust really does appeal to me - I love revvy engines so I'm ok with having a bit less torque at the bottom

My car also has a Lotus sports exhaust (apparently an option at the time?) I have no idea if its any good performance-wise but It sounds great - not too loud and raspy like a Larini, but still nice enough. The only thing missing is a bit more of an intake sound ( would a simple K&N filter replacement make enough of a difference? I have a cold air intake (filter +cold air tube) in my mk2.5 mx-5 and it makes it sound like its on ITBs - hence me still considering an intake, but I really wish there was an option that looked more OEM than what's currently out there. 

I've looked around for a set of 135 cams and have only found a couple of used examples : Example 1 and Example 2   - how could I know these are actual 135 cams and if they're in good condition? Is it possible to refurb a cam? 

And adding a small-bore manifold is very tempting too..

Thanks everyone - I'm really enjoying the car so far, having driven it from London to Lyon and Lyon to Lisbon in my short year of ownership ! It's not the best grand tourer out there but boy does it put a smile on my face when on b-roads  :)


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I have the Eliseparts PRRT kit on mine. I'm no engineer but Rover developed similar kit themselves later on in the life of the K series so it seemed a good and relatively inexpensive bit of insurance.

I haven't bothered with the beefier oil rail  - Gav at Unit 4 has fitted countless MLS head gaskets without them and hasn't had hardly any come back so they probably aren't essential but they probably do offer a little bit more insurance I would guess. If you don't mind spending the money on fitting then why not?

Beware aftermarket air filters as they can make a LOT more noise than oem - mine gets on my nerves sometimes.

As for those cams I'm afraid I don't know how to tell which are 135s and which aren't, sorry. I bought mine off a trusted mloc mate Martin R. Maybe someone else can help on here or if not SELOC. I guess you would need to look carefully at them for wear marks and you could have them crack tested by an engineering firm but if they look to be good with no scoring I would probably put them straight in as it's very rare to hear of cams failing.

By the way if you like the sound of your exhaust keep it!

Glad you are loving the car. I still love mine after ten years!


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  • 2 weeks later...

Give Kiwi Rog a ring (make sure you've got a spare hour) he will be able to offer the advice you need for your particular application. 

I remember he advised me against piper 270s but suggested piper 663s instead and the better cam.

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Interesting, why did he advise you against the 270 cams? 

I saw this video with an S1 elise with just a 421 header + exhaust + cold air intake + cams and you really see the car revving more up to 7k rpm 

Dean, thanks for the tip on the filter! You reckon it'd make a noise difference? I'm up for trying it!

And if anyone in the meantime has any clues on how to get a genuine 135 cam, let me know! I should be doing my radiator swap and c-service at the end of this month so fingers crossed I can find one and put it in at the same time.

And just to confirm, a 135 / piper 270 cam are a straight drop in or is there anything else to change? 

Thanks again! 

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It's roughly 5years ago I went down the modded K route I genuinely cannot remember 100% it was something to do with more time at peak power I think.

My S1 made 155bhp with a 4-2-1 VVC head &  ITG filter. That's 155 on Mr Webster's rollers which have a reputation for upsetting big power claims.

I know Dean has suggested a K&N open filter, but I would suggest going for an enclosed one. Anything open cone is just going to suck hot air in which isn't what you really want.


Edited by Alex B
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