Here is the Stark automotive FAQ, split into three main sections:
Part 1 – Kit parts & fitting
Part 2 – Warranty
Part 3 – Ordering
Part 1 – Kit parts & fitting
Which cars can be converted to Honda power with the Stark kit?
All Rover-engine’d Elise and Exige variants, whether RHD or LHD, can be converted to Honda power with one of our kits.
Specifically: all Series 1 Elises, all Series 1 Exiges, the original 340R and Rover-engined Series 2 Elises.
One minor exception is that our exhaust manifold will not fit a 340R without modification.
Our kit cannot be used with Toyota-engine’d cars or the Series 2 Exige, although you may find some of the individual kit parts useful.
The kit comes in two main forms: a S1 (Elise, Exige and 340R) kit and a S2 kit – the main differences lies with the driveshafts, exhaust manifold and electrical systems.
What parts are included in the kit?
The full kit contains all the mechanical parts required for the conversion. See kit contents for more information. Also included is a detailed build manual and electrical guidance notes.
You will also need an engine donor package and either an aftermarket ECU (we recommend K-Pro) or an ECU immobiliser bypass box, kit upgrades and your choice of optional extras.
The kit does not include a conversion harness loom but the electrical guidance notes explain the wiring changes and pin-out connections required.
What sort of peak power and torque figures can I expect?
Using our sports manifold, a good quality induction kit and exhaust system, mapped on a Hondata K-Pro ECU, most customers have typically seen power figures between 220bhp and 235bhp (166 – 172lb-ft of torque). Figures will depend on lots of variables such as the health of the donor engine, the dyno used and the mapping etc.
Here’s an example dyno graph from one of our recent conversions (S1 Elise, K20A2 engine, K-Pro v4, full Stark kit, de-cat link pipe and ITG induction kit):
How difficult is it to fit the kit?
We have designed and engineered the conversion so it can be done on a DIY basis by anyone with a reasonable grasp of car mechanics. Obviously, if you don’t know a spanner from a screwdriver then you are going to be on a steep learning curve but any competent home mechanic is going to find it pretty straightforward.
How long does the kit take to install?
The main, mechanical side of the conversion can be completed by two experienced mechanics in two long days. However, home DIY converters may take much longer. Partly because they work more slowly than experienced mechanics and also because many of them take the time and opportunity to recondition other parts of their car during the conversion project.
Is the conversion reversible? Is there any cutting of the chassis required?
The conversion is fully reversible. The only way the chassis is touched is for a few mounting holes to be drilled for the front & rear engine mount arms (rotational steadies) and a little grinding to the subframe around the driveshaft exits.
Can I retain the Lotus alarm and immobiliser?
Yes, our conversion retains the Elise’s original alarm and immobiliser.
Which Honda engine do I need?
The kit is designed and intended to use the K20A2 engine from the 01-05 Civic Type R (EP3) or the K20A engine from the 00-06 Integra Type R (DC5 import).
The JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) K20A engine from the Integra DC5 is slightly different to the K20A2 engine; it features different gearing, slightly more power (but this becomes less of a difference when either engine is used with our manifold) and a limited-slip differential as standard.
If using the DC5 K20A engine, you will need to use a Civic EP3 top idle pulley & bracket or one of the aftermarket adjustable pulley kits.
Other non-Type R versions of the K20 such as the K20A3, K20A4 are lowered-powered variants and should not be used.
The K20Z engine from the later ‘FN2’ Civic Type R cannot be used without substantial changes to the throttle body, gearbox mounting etc so is not generally recommended.
Can I use a Honda K24 engine instead of a K20?
Yes, the kit can be built using the 2.4-litre K24 engine as a base. Similarly, K24 block/K20 head combinations can also be used.
The main changes required are a) use of an alloy sump from a K20A/A2 engine, b) a spacer for the engine side mount due to a 20mm difference in block height and c) a small modification in the right hand engine mount for a different bolt pattern.
Do you recommend the engine is refreshed before being installed?
As of 2017, a K20 Type R engine is at least 10 years old and has probably seen 100k miles, or more, of enthusiastic use. Therefore, unless you can drive the donor car for a decent period of time or are confident of the engine’s history, we now recommend a basic refresh is carried out before the engine is installed ie a new timing chain and tensioner is fitted as well as the usual service items. Stark can supply these parts alongside your kit as required – see our Engine Preparation Kit on the Kit Upgrades page.
I am interested in the conversion but don’t want to fit it myself, can you recommend a professional installer?
Can you give me some advice on buying a donor engine?
This is covered in detail in our build manual which is available to buy separately.
What ancillary parts do I need to get with my second hand engine?
As well as the main engine/gearbox (ideally together as one unit) you must obtain all the items shown on our Donor Package page.
Do I need to upgrade the brakes?
Unless they’ve recently been refreshed, we recommend you carry out a refresh of the brake system ie fit good quality pads, new discs if required, replace the flexi hoses and change the brake fluid. This should be sufficient for a road going car.
If you are venturing out on trackdays, then you can consider the AP Racing 4 pot calipers for the front with vented discs and race brake fluid (etc). We can supply everything from new pads to a full upgrade alongside your conversion kit.
Can I retain the air conditioning?
This is not an integral feature of our kit as the Honda air conditioning pump sits right where the mid-chassis rail is on an Elise. However some owners in hotter climates have retained air conditioning by mounting a pump on the top and front of the engine, replacing the auxiliary belt idler pulley and mounting the pump on a simple metal bracket as illustrated here:
The kit comes with a shorter ancillary drive belt for the engine less the aircon pump.
Some Japanese and Australian import engines use a different drive arrangement due to a different power steering set up. As such, these may need a different top belt tensioner to be sourced locally.
What electrical/wiring work is required?
We include detailed guidance notes on the electrical/wiring requirements for the engine conversion. In essence, you will need to connect the Honda engine and Rover chassis looms together, following our guidance notes and pin out diagrams.
You will need some basic car electrics tools and supplies such as wire snips, a soldering iron, insulating tape etc. These are not included in the kit as you’ll probably already own them. They are listed out in full in the supplied notes and easily sourced.
Note: the Exige S1 & 340R use non-standard looms and a different Lotus ECU (oddly, the same one as found in the Esprit V8). We do not provide full wiring instructions for these two models although our notes will help to some degree. In our experience, most owners of these cars install the Honda engine on a standalone basis, complemented with an AIM dash, and keep the original engine/loom/ecu combination together in case the car is returned to its original specification.
Is support available?
The detailed build manual should be sufficient. If not, we are happy to answer any mechanical questions by email (normally within 24 hours).
We do not offer technical support on electrics but 95% of our customers have found our guidance notes to be sufficient. Plenty of help is also available from fellow converters on the web or, if you’re really stuck, we recommend the use of a local auto electrician.
Can I use the standard Honda ECU?
The standard Honda K20A2 ECU from the Civic Type R EP3 can be used, however it will need to have the immobiliser disabled to work – we can supply a bypass box as an optional extra.
We don’t recommend using the standard ECU/map beyond the short-term as the engine will run lean with our sports exhaust manifold fitted.
The K20A ECU (from the JDM Integra DC5) does not have an built-in immobiliser but the above warning about lean running still applies.
Which ECU do you recommend?
We recommend the Hondata K-Pro upgrade which consists of a hardware modification to the factory ECU. Effectively, a new chip is installed in the ECU motherboard and a USB socket is added so a laptop can be plugged into the ECU. Free Windows programming software (“KManager”) is available from the Hondata website.
This upgrade turns the factory ECU into a reprogrammable ECU which can be remapped like other standalone ECUs whilst retaining the original Honda programming and functionality underneath.
You will need to send us your Honda ECU for the K-Pro upgrade.
Can I fit a supercharger?
The short answer is “yes”. Many of our customers have successfully fitted supercharger upgrades, and both the Jackson Racing (manifold replacement) and Rotrex kits are popular choices.
For the Jackson Racing (“JRSC”) kit, the common consensus is to buy the DC5 Integra version of the manifold, not the Civic EP3 version, as it allows more clearance to the bulkhead.
Please note that this information is provided for information only; we do not guarantee fitment or offer any warranty towards custom installations such as fitting a supercharger or turbocharger.
Is the kit suitable for non-standard K20 engines?
The kit is designed, guaranteed, warranted and sold for conversions based on standard Honda K20A and K20A2 engines. That said, many of our customers run highly tuned N/A, supercharged and turbocharged engines and have yet to report any issues with the kit itself.
Can you build me a tuned, naturally aspirated K20A?
Yes, please contact us with your requirements.
Do I need to change the clutch?
It’s certainly worth checking the clutch before installing the engine, then replace or upgrade it based on condition. Especially as a clutch change for a converted Elise is not an easy job – if in doubt, renew it. We can supply new Genuine Honda, Competition Clutch and Exedy clutch kits (OEM, Stage 1, Stage 2 etc) alongside your kit, see our Options page.
Do I need to change the timing chain or tensioner?
Our advice used to be “no” but as the age of used engines has increased with time (even the youngest units are now ten years old) then we now recommend you change the timing chain tensioner and inspect the timing chain (they can stretch over time). We can supply new Genuine Honda parts as required and include them as part of our Engine Preparation upgrade.
Will I need to remove the front clamshell?
No, the front clamshell does not need to be removed for the Stark Honda Elise conversion. Some people choose to upgrade their radiators at the same time as doing the conversion, in this case, the clam will need to be removed.
Do I need to change the radiator?
If anything, the Honda engine runs cooler than the Rover unit so changing the radiator is not a requirement in order to keep a standard Honda K20 cool in an Elise. This assumes the radiator is in good working order – bear in mind that original radiators can be up to 20 years old now.
What about an oil cooler or remote filter?
Likewise, an oil cooler is not necessary for general road and occasional track use, but would be worthwhile if you plan a reasonable amount of track use.
Is my boot space retained in the conversion?
The boot space is untouched.
Will I need to change the Lotus fuel pump?
It’s optional but , as with the timing chain advice above, we’re now recommending a new and uprated fuel pump is fitted as part of the converion. This is because the original fuel pumps are a) up to 20 years old and b) will be running at their maximum output with the Honda engine in place. We have new in-tank pumps available for both the S1 and S2 original tanks, and aftermarket tanks, and the specification of these far exceed the original pumps – see our Options page.
Do I need a new exhaust system? What about the catalytic converter (cat)?
The full Stark kit (and the manifold sub-kit) includes a sports exhaust which is a two-part system. The two parts are a main header (exhaust manifold) and a de-cat link pipe. The link pipe is designed to bolt up directly to a standard Elise backbox in its original location.
The link pipe can be upgraded to include a sports cat as an optional upgrade for £230+VAT.
Please note that our manifold is not 100% compatible with the Lotus 340R model but can be fitted with some modification.
Do you have an ‘over the top’ style exhaust manifold available which goes over the subframe and through the boot area?
No, not at present.
Which exhaust systems will fit?
We have designed the Stark Honda Elise kit to fit as many different exhaust systems as possible on both the Series 1 and Series 2 Elise, although we can’t guarantee fitment of every different system available.
Our system is to designed to connect to the original S1 or S2 back box and therefore, logically, most aftermarket back boxes which link to the original manifold and link pipe will also work with our system.
To date, we only know of two systems which definitely do not fit without modification (welding and re-angling of pipes) – the Janspeed optional sports exhaust on a Series 1 (with an off-centre silencer box), and one specific type of Lotus Sports exhaust on the Series 2 for systems using our sports catalyst, the decat version fits fine.
We recommend 2Bular exhausts for use with our kits – the 7″ systems are ideal and compatible with decat and sports cat, but the 8″ systems are better if you require a quieter car for track day noise limits. These are a very tight fit, especially with a sports catalyst and may require further a undertray spacing and, possibly, shimming of the engine mounts.
Can I fit a PRC or RRC manifold?
The standard conversion kit uses the original PRA manifold from the K20A2 (EP3 Civic Type R) engine. This allows for approx 20mm clearance to the Elise bulkhead. The K20A RBC manifold is approx 20mm longer (front to back) than the PRA manifold and will run tight to the bulkhead; although plenty of customers are successfully using them. The RRC sticks 20mm further out again than the RBC manifold and therefore cannot be fitted without reworking the bulkhead.
If I buy a kit with the optional Honda K-Pro upgrade, will it run as standard, and what is required?
The K-Pro is supplied with a base map, and immobiliser delete functionality, and will need a couple of hours on the dyno for it to be tailored to your exact setup. Some maps to suit our manifold are passed around by customers on the internet and clubs/forums, however, as every car differs to some degree, we always recommend a final dyno tune is carried out.
Who do you recommend for mapping work?
Most other good rolling road operators will be able to map a converted car. We recommend you check that they have experience of mapping Honda engines with the Hondata system; this is much more important than whether they have experience with Lotus cars. In the UK, we recommend Racecal, CPL Racing and TDi North.
Are there any differences to the way an Elise drives or feels with a Honda engine?
Apart from the obvious benefit and performance results of having nearly twice the original power, the only difference really is NVH (noise vibration and harshness). Due to the limited amount of space available in the Elise engine bay, the K20 engine has to be relatively hard-mounted to limit its rotation.
The result of this and the hard bushes used means that there is more engine vibration transmitted into the cabin than with a standard Rover engine. This is typically more noticeable around idle and never really a worry when on the move, and the more basic build quality means that a Series 1 Elise exerts a little more ‘buzz’ than a Series 2.
The amount of vibration can best be compared to any other sports or performance car when fitted with polyurethane engine mount inserts – more harsh, but not really a problem for a sports car.
Please note also that the rubber rotational bushes do ‘wear-in’ slightly and become softer after the first 1000 miles or so.
Do I need to replace the two main engine mount ‘rubbers?’
Not necessarily, they are quite robust so they can be reused with our conversion mounts, but any suspect mounts or high mileage parts should be changed. We are able to supply new engine and gearbox side bushes as an optional extra.
What about induction/air filters?
The kit comes complete with a length of induction hose to suit a variety of aftermarket Elise filters that may already be fitted from the Rover engine.
The kit can also be supplied with an optional ITG induction kit.
Is there a weight increase?
Yes, a relatively small increase of c.20kg.
Is there any welding required?
The only welding required is on a Series 1 Elise where the brace bar of the right hand side rear lower wishbone needs moving outboard to clear the Honda sump. Full instructions are included in the build manual.
Part 2 – Warranty
What warranty do you offer on the kit?
The kit is designed and warranted for conversions based on a standard Honda K20A2 engine from a EP3 Civic Type R. All new parts designed and manufactured by Stark carry a 12 month return-to-base warranty against defects in manufacture. Replacement goods are issued on a supply only basis. Customer to bear the return cost. Race and track use is not covered under warranty.
I want to further modify/tune/supercharge my engine, is the warranty still valid?
If you choose to modify your engine beyond the Stark automotive full kit specification, we cannnot guarantee fitment and the warranty will be invalidated. That said, many of our customers have fitted further performance upgrades – all the way up to supercharger and turbo-charger installations – and have not encountered any problems with the kit. We would not expect you to encounter problems with modified installations but they are at your own risk.
What warranty do you offer on third-party parts?
We honour the manufacturer warranties on third-party products. Usually, this means the item will have to be returned, at the customer’s expense, to the manufacturer for their inspection and replacement of the item.
What warranty do you offer on engine donor packages?
There are two main options, a basic donor package without warranty (although we will test drive the donor car and check the mileage before removing the engine/gearbox), and a more expensive package where we will have the engine and gearbox professionally refreshed before sale and sold with 12 months return-to-base warranty. Please ask for further details.
Part 3 – Ordering and lead-times
How do I place an order?
See How to Order to obtain a personalised quotation.
What are the payment terms and method?
Due to the high card charges incurred for such a high value product, payment for full kits is via bank transfer only. Small orders under c.£250 can be paid via paypal.
Full payment when an order is placed is preferable, however we can take a deposit when an order is placed, with the balance due immediately prior to dispatch.
Can I order a custom kit without some of the parts?
Yes of course, we offer smaller ‘part-kits’ and most components individually. Alternatively, if there are parts you don’t need from the full kit, just email and let us know what to omit and we will respond with a personalised quotation.
Will your manifold/driveshafts/mounts be compatible with the manifold/driveshafts/mounts from other kit manufacturers?
Our kit is designed to work together as a whole, and for that reason we can only guarantee the fitting of (and subsequent warranty on) manifolds and driveshafts used with our mounting kit and vice versa.
However, we have sold plenty of manifolds and driveshafts separately to customers at their own request who have either made their own mounts or found them second hand elsewhere.
Do you send kits outside of the UK?
Yes, indeed. In fact, over half our kits are sold to mainland European and “rest of the world” customers as far away as Hong Kong and Australia.
Can you advise me on the road legality and/or insurance of a conversion in my country?
You are welcome to ask and we’ll do our best to help based on previous customer experience in your country. Formally, road registration, legality and insurance are the customer’s responsibility and we make no claims or liability as to what may or may not be necessary and legal in any country.
Is the kit well-proven – how many Stark DIY kits are there out there?
We have been selling the conversion kits since 2007, and there are 100+ Stark cars in more than 15 countries around the world, plus countless other partial conversion components sold to DIY customers.
What are the delivery costs?
Due to the courier costs involved in sending a 50kg box (2 x 25kg to be precise) with such a high insured value, UK delivery is c. £45. EU delivery is typically £60-£100, and non-EU is typically £120-£400.
We will calculate an accurate shipping price based on your order and address as part of your personalised quotation – see How to Order.
Do you give discounts for trade customers?
Yes, please contact us for details.
Can you source an engine for me?
We usually have engine & gearbox donor packages for sale, please contact us for prices and availability.
What is the lead time for a full conversion kit?
Although we try to keep at least one full kit in stock at all times, please allow 4 weeks from point of payment to dispatch. If you require the parts in a hurry, please get in touch as soon as possible so we can get started on your order.
I have more questions!?
No problem at all – please contact us and ask away!
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