Lotus Elan

How do you tell a Sprint is a Sprint and not an S4(SE)?

PostPost by: Leo Leentvaar » Thu Mar 22, 2007 9:25 pm

I am interested in buying an Elan Sprint.
After loving this car from afar for 20 odd years, ever since I've been a teen boy, the moment of truth is nearing.
So I need your help here, ladies and gents.

Before being bedazzled by the Gold Leaf Colours and Sprint livery, how do I make sure it's the realy McCoy and not a "pimped up"S4.
As it is a matter of provenance but also the premium in purchase cost, I'd like to be sure I am dealingwith a proper car.
Any input from the petrolhead cummunity is much appreciated.

Thanks in advance for your input :D
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PostPost by: hatman » Thu Mar 22, 2007 10:28 pm

The surest way would be to check the original log book if it's still available, failing that a check of the engine and chassis numbers with the Lotus historian will confirm or deny. As a Sprint, it should, of course, have the big valve engine and black wheels with chrome finishers as visual clues (plus of course 'Sprint' badging, rather than S4). :)
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PostPost by: archigator » Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:45 pm

Contrary to many publications, not all Sprints had black wheels. There are numerous period sales brochures that showed the Sprint with "aluminum-colored" wheels as well.

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PostPost by: 1964 S1 » Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:43 am

There are numerous threads on this topic with the usual insightful in depth discussions concerning typical Lotus production vagueries.
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PostPost by: Frank Howard » Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:50 am

Besides the differences already mentioned above, the only other one I recall is that the Sprint has the reinforcement bar on top of the diff.
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Fri Mar 23, 2007 8:55 am

Non-federal Sprints had a flat bonnet as Strombergs were no longer used. They also had a single tail pipe instead of the twin pipes. At some point, the later Sprints adopted the same cheapo horn push and steering wheel as the Europa and Plus 2.

Leo, in case you didn't know it, not all Sprints were 2 colour. They could be ordered from the factory in one colour, at extra cost. The Gold Leaf colours were probably no more common than many of the other colours originally, but lots of people went off the 70s colours like Pistachio Green and Colorado Orange and had them painted red over white...it now seems that half the Sprints are red over white.

So if you find a good monotone Sprint, put a twin tailpipe on it and a nice original Colin Chapman signed steering wheel, you could have a Sprint thats as nice as a S4...Some folks may say that it's the Sprint that's a 'pimped up' S4, as you put it, not the other way round :P

After all, the factory called them the S4 Sprint.
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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Fri Mar 23, 2007 10:29 am

According to the Ross/Robinshaw book, If it was produced before (7102) February 1971 its not a Sprint, I don't know if this is true or not. I have read it was introduced to increace sagging sales of the Elan that was getting some what aged in the eyes of some people.

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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:08 am

I don't think that Ross / Robinshaw got it completely right! It gets very hazey when trying to pin down specifics for Elans.

There seem to be a few cars around that have been agreed by the factory as 'Sprints' with a chassis code starting 7003, through to 7101. Some of these may have been unsold S4 cars that were given the Sprint treatment at the factory towards the end of 1970 / beginning of 1971. It wasn't too unusual to have an Elan sitting unsold for 6 or 9 months, especially in one of the more unpopular colours. Some others were built towards the end of 1970 to try out the big valve engine in the Elan.

Have a look at the attached brochure from October 1970...it looks like they hadn't sorted out the two-colour scheme by then (probably printed Aug / Sep 1970). It also states that there will be 'no major changes just rationalisation and detail modifications' and that the big valve engine will be available in the Elan 'towards the end of the year'. That's probably as definitive as it gets. The rationalisation I guess was the big valve engine across the Europa, Plus 2 and Elan range, which was more marketing spin than a big advance in power, as an S4 with L1 cams and a little fettling to the carbs would produce much the same power.

I've heard that there are a couple of folks in the UK pulling together a book on the Sprints, which should be interesting...anybody know anything about this?

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PostPost by: richardcox_lotus » Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:13 am

One tip to look for, where owners have spayed an S4 to look like a Gold-leaf sprint. They then mistakenly re-attach the S4-Only chrome trim strip on the sill, each side.

I've seen quite a few like this - "Doh !", springs to mind
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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:41 am

Hi Mark
In any event, I wouldn't pay premium money for a Sprint, let alone one made before the February 71 date. Once its in print its hard to dis-spell the fact/myth, even if its dead wrong. This is just my view, besides I like roadsters, I don't see the attraction of the later Elans unless they are Coupe's.

Gary

Ps there seems to be some stretching of the facts in the advertisment with the "over 10,000 units produced", this is after all from the Lotus Sales Department.
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PostPost by: trw99 » Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:13 pm

Hi Mark

I am putting together a web site dedicated to the Sprint, not a book, though someone else may be writing one.

I have done most of the research and really only have to get a site up and running now. Not something I know anything about, so it may take me a while.

The content will include:

The Elan Before The Sprint
Sprint and Big Valve Inception
Sprint Technical Data
Sprint Differences
Performance
First Chassis Numbers
Paint Colours
Dealers
Carbs
5 Speed Box
Last Chassis Numbers
Different Sprints
Published Media
Number of Sprints Made

I am keeping it entirely contemporary so that the site can act as an historical (and I hope not hysterical!) reference. I have also put together a register of Sprints from information gleaned over the years, though I can not put that into the public domain. It has been helpful in getting close to knowing how many Sprints were made, for example.

Getting back on post, I have had a long discussion with Leo about the Sprint he his interested in buying, one of the few LHD DHC European spec cars.

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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:36 pm

That's great, Tim...it's folks like you who will help set the record straight (as far as it can be!) for the future, and take the Ross / Robinshaw 'facts' onto the next level of detail. Would you put the 'sales register' information on the site? Whilst it's not too detailed, it does establish the factory version of the facts at least, and wouldn't contravene any Data Protection laws. I fear that at sometime all the Lotus records will be lost as it potentially goes through yet another sell off. The interest in the old cars at the factory now is virtually nil, except for the 'heritage' marketing bull that can be extracted.

Having a look through the archives, you have a pretty detailed view of the S4 as well. Is the site going to cover that model, as they are so bound together?
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PostPost by: trw99 » Fri Mar 23, 2007 1:23 pm

Mark

I am only covering the Sprint. Even though they are so closely related, I have always had the softest spot for the Sprint and it is the version that most interests me.

The situation with the factory is an interesting one. I believe it would be most appropriate if they could handover historical information to one of the clubs. At least then it will be kept by an interested body and be available to the people who are most likely to want access to the information. I certainly feel I need to give some of the information I have to someone else, just in case I am run over by a bus tomorrow.

With regard to the register, I have built up two. One is as detailed as the information as I have on each car. The second is just the car VIN - build date, (batch no.) and chassis number. It is this second register that I think you are refering to. In which case it may well be helpful to put that on the site. Would that be something listers would agree with?

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PostPost by: bcmc33 » Fri Mar 23, 2007 4:03 pm

This subject sounds interesting, but I am reminded of "The Elan Registry" which covers all Elans from S1 to Sprint, and when I look at it today it still has only 190 registered.


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PostPost by: trw99 » Fri Mar 23, 2007 4:55 pm

Brian

The more detailed registry I have built up has over 240 Sprints on it, though I do not have all the VINs for them. I do tend to have type, location, current ownership. With others I have original colour, engine number, registration number and some VINs. Now I feel like a real train spotter!

Unibrain's register is a great resource and I clearly do not want to duplicate that in any way. My registry is for my own use in helping me to get a better idea about how the Sprint was made and other factors that contribute to our knowledge of them. My aim is to share this knowledge with regard to Sprints, not build another public register.

To that end I will for example, be laying out what I understand to be the first and last VINs for each Sprint type, as far as I know them at this time, as well as the numbers for the S4s produced in 1970, since that has a bearing on numbers of Sprints produced.

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