Diary: January 2006
I continue to modify my Elise. When I owned a Lotus (Caterham) Seven, I was constantly changing things. It is a common activity of most old Lotus owners. Increased reliability was a motivation for the modifications. When something breaks, I spent time making sure that failure would not happen again. Increased performance was another motivation. I do not enjoy increasing the power as much as I enjoy increasing the handling and braking. So many of my modifications were to the suspension. I documented my Seven ownership.
Some of my early modifications and maintenance are already documented here in the diary and on my website. One of the modifications I long considered and agonized over was the installation of the original 111R steering wheel. Why bother when the current wheel has an airbag and seems to do the job well enough.
I remembered reading an editorial long ago about the original 111R steering wheel. The author wrote about how the ergonometrics of an automobile make the experience. One of the examples he used was how "just right" the steering wheel of the Elise was. It fit perfectly. I wanted the same experience and so changed the wheel.
I did worry about the lack of airbag. I also worried about the removal of the shroud around the mechanical things such as lock, turn indicator and light stalk. I rationalized that the airbag was a secondary safety device, only needed if the driver was stupid enough not to use the seatbelts. I am sure the airbag still has some benefit. The rest was cosmetics and I always prefer function over appearance.
The new wheel is perfect. The profile of the rim is deeper and slightly farther away from the driver. The texture is similar. It is easier to see the gauges.
I encourage my children to make presents rather than purchase them. I am always pleasantly surprised when I receive these homemade gifts. This one was no exception.