Lotus Elan

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

PostPost by: denicholls2 » Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:09 pm

I'm with Gary. Paying a premium for a Sprint is folly. :roll:

If Lotus had kept to clear boundaries on the production of cars, it would make some small amount of sense to distinguish between a Sprint and a plain old [better performing due to lower weight of less paint] S4. As things are, only rather spotty sales records establish whether your VIN was a select car, and if there have been changes to either body or chassis, arguably you don't have the same car anymore.

All of which contributes to the truth that the limited edition Lotuses aren't worth more than their less touted counterparts, except to a very few who value the history their difference represents. These few would do well to understand they represent a very small percentage of existing or potential Lotus owners, and that their personal preference is not ever likely to be translatable into any significant investment value. Kinda like Lotuses in general. :)

Your opinion may vary.
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PostPost by: gjz30075 » Fri Mar 23, 2007 9:07 pm

Tim,
Do you have a link to your Sprint website? Any info you need from my car, you're welcome to.

Greg Z
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PostPost by: reb53 » Sat Mar 24, 2007 6:34 am

I'd have to agree with Mark on this.
I have the original VE. 60 "Registration Book" for my Sprint which has the date of "original registration" quite clearly stamped and written as April 1971.
The "type of model" is "Elan Sprint".
Yet the build plate number starts as "7007". ie. July 1970.
I can only assume that the first owner, who was about 70 years old and selling it after 1 year, decided to forge some paperwork, convert his S4 to Sprint spec. and then sell it.
Either that or there were a bunch of unsold S4s sitting around that were upgraded to Sprint spec. and quite legitimately sold as Sprints.
Which rather gives the lie to the Ross/Robinshaw assertations.
As Mark comments, I don't think it is as cut and dried as they suggest.

Ralph.
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PostPost by: robcall » Sat Mar 24, 2007 9:35 am

As VINs records 0172-0501 are lost at the factory the truth may never be known.

Were all sprint conversions done at the factory?
One theory that springs to mind is that these were dealer-stock kit cars(given the build and registration dates-?modified by the dealer to sprint spec?


Nigel Robertson

PS I also understood the picture of the Jochen Rindt/test sprint was taken 7/1970 at Brands Hatch-the 'big valve"a secret up until then.
Last edited by robcall on Sun Jul 22, 2007 2:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: Leo Leentvaar » Sat Mar 24, 2007 10:23 am

Thanks guys!!! 8)
This surely is a lively site and I greatly appreciate your input.
It provided me, especially Tim's input, with valuable insight.
The gist I get from the story developing here would make an excellent source for a book. I ran the chassis # and engine # through Tim's list.

I am delighted to inform you that in two weeks time I will be a member
of this jolly bunch and have meself a genuine Sprint on the driveway.
Yesterday I struck the deal and the classic car specialist seller will have it MoT'd and serviced. (hence the two weeks wait)

Yesterday I had it on the ramp and the back bone looks clean and untarnished. The car itself has been handed over from one collector to another and basically was left standing for 2 years.
Things like brake servo, fuel pump, thermostat, exhaust(SS) , dynamo, starter look new or refurbished. Rotoflexes look used but okay. Compression graphs from a year ago show healthy pressures.

I've asked the guys in the shop to check out the cam chain and pump
once they service it.
As the car's been standing for a while, the petrol's gone stale and the Weber's do need a good clean out.

Furthermore I think the car needs a good shake down this summer and I need to put on miles on the clock to convert the car back from a wall flower in into what it's supposed to do, drive, drive drive and bucketloads of fun (me grinning like a Cheshire cat)

One guy in the work shop suggested to convert the Lucas ignition into an electronic one as that would improve reliability and given the fact that the carbs sit over it, easier maintenance as well.

As I do intend to take the car to Scotland in June I need a door mirror
on the RH side (this is a continental export car LHD) so I am after a bullet type door mirror.

Again thanks for the support and I will probably frequent the forums here and shower you with questions regarding ownership and the car's peculiarities. Last but not least I will provide Tim the car's details once ownership has been formally transferred to me.
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Sat Mar 24, 2007 12:21 pm

That's great, Leo, you're going to have a lot of fun. Search the archive for 'mirror'...there has been a lot of debate on which is the best, and I don't think that the bullet type came out very well. They do look good though. Check out those rotoflexes very carefully. They may look OK now, but have a look after the car has been driven for a while, just to make sure they don;'t deteriorate quickly. One final note, I don't think that electronic ignition makes the car more reliable, but does make it maintenance free if you go the contact-less route. Again, there has been a lot of debate about this on the forum.

Ralph / Nigel...it is fact and not conjecture that the factory took back from the dealers 'many' unsold S4s and converted them to Sprint spec. I was talking with a guy only last week, who had the earliest genuine Sprint, and this was verified by the factory. His chassis was 7003! He has no axe to grind, and isn't trying to pass a S4 off as a Sprint, as his car was written off last year.

Just how many were done like this is unknown (at least by me, maybe Tim has some numbers). The reason for taking them back was that the S4 wasn't selling well by then, and it certainly wasn't going to sell sitting alongside a Sprint in the showroom. The conjecture is that if a S4 was sitting unsold by November / December (lousy selling months in the trade anyway) AND it was Cirrus White, it would definately go back. Easy to put a different colour on top. If it was another colour and needed some paint rectification anyway, it would go back. If it was an unpopular colour, it may go back. There is a second category (again, conjecture) that some customers had their late S4s 'converted' by the local Lotus dealer AND had the records amended at the factory to 'Sprint'.

My S4, which is 7001, wasn't registered until August 1970...7 months sitting waiting to be sold. As it's Cirrus White, had it have remained unsold, it could have been the oldest Sprint now!!

I wonder how many folks restoring their Sprints have found the burnt sand colour underneath the two tone and thought it must have been a done-up S4? It may just have been a factory Sprint after all.

Now Tim, just to make it a little more tricky, I knew a car in the 70s that was a dhc Sprint in Pistachio Green with big arches and 6 inch Revolution wheels...the owner was a chum of mine and he ordered the car to this specification new from the factory...no dealer mods, all done at the factory. I wonder how many 'specials' like this were created?
Mark
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PostPost by: elansprint71 » Sat Mar 24, 2007 3:36 pm

Tim,
I have not seen a post from Jim at Unibrain for a very long time :cry:

I would be interested in seeing any info that you have, the Sprint is my favourite too!

Mine is STH10K, first registered 10th May 1972 (my 21st birthday!!!)
Vin 72050474E
Engine M.26553
Yellow over white.
It was FHC until August 1994 when the PO got SMS Autospray to cut the top off and fit a DHC kit, cost ?1759.74, which was a lot of money but it is a very good job!

Cheers,
Pete.
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PostPost by: elansprint71 » Sat Mar 24, 2007 3:48 pm

We had a guy in our group until recently who had one of those factory S4 to Sprint conversions, it was given the mechanical bits but stayed in mono-colour blue.

I imagine that any dealer who had unsold S4's in stock would be pretty pissed-off with Lotus (normal situation?) when they brought out a better spec car, if it were me, I'd be demanding an upgrade.

Cheers,
Pete.
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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Sun Mar 25, 2007 11:52 am

All this talk of factory "upgraded to Sprint spec" and dealers doing the same are still in my mind S4's and not Sprints. I could take my April 70 Coupe and upgrade it to sprint specs but it still would not be a Sprint, it would be a S4 with period mods brought up to Sprint spec. The same goes for my 64 S2, I could do all the mods that make it a 26r but it will never be one. Tim, are you sure you want to publish all of the Sprint changes on the web, there are enough problems with folks trying to pass off S4's as Sprints whether for profit or whatever reason.
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Sun Mar 25, 2007 12:42 pm

I really believe that the better informed folks are, the better decisions they can make. The price difference between a Sprint and an S4 is very, very small, and usually reflects that the Sprint has had more money spent on it. You certainly wouldn't make anything other than a huge loss putting a big valve engine in an S4 and giving it a two tone paint job over just selling the S4...I really don't think that profit is a motivator here.

A 'real' factory converted or created Sprint can be backed up by a letter from the factory whilst a home converted one can't. What's the difference?...in mechanical terms, absolutely nothing of course...if the conversion is done properly. For the purist originality is everything, and provenance is all part of that originality. As mentioned earlier, many 'real' Sprints have been repainted from Pistachio, Colorado and Burnt Sand to gold leaf colours...I'm sure the purists wouldn't like that either, and it would probably affect the value in the same way as a car being an S4 converted to Sprint.

It all comes back to originality, and some people will pay more for an original car than a changed car...and the better informed they are, the less likely it is that someone will be able to pass off a car that is not what it's being claimed to be.
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PostPost by: robcall » Sun Mar 25, 2007 1:57 pm

"A 'real' factory converted or created Sprint can be backed up by a letter from the factory whilst a home converted one can't. "
Only they can't Mark-if the VIN ends 0172 to 0501 there is no factory record.This has been the case for both Elans I owned.

There was a time when sprints were more highly prized-and priced-Ive seen s2/3's in twotone!
I agree with everything else you state tho' :D :D

Nigel
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Sun Mar 25, 2007 2:13 pm

Oh bugger :shock:
What year / month are those missing records? I understand that 'copies' of the Lotus Sales ledger were made in the dim and distant and are in private hands...and I think what you're saying is supported by the chassis number list on the Sports Car World site not going beyond 1970. I can see a plea coming on to Club Lotus to try and get hold of this info from folks who may have it. I'll have a think.
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PostPost by: gjz30075 » Sun Mar 25, 2007 2:40 pm

Then I suppose the letter I have from Mike Pomfret is bogus? In it he states, among other points: "The original works order was w/o 1573" and
"It was a genuine factory built "Sprint"" (his quotes around Sprint, not mine).

All the other info he wrote back to me with looks to be simply info I gave him to help him in his record searching.

Greg Z
'72 Sprint 0243K
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PostPost by: robcall » Sun Mar 25, 2007 3:27 pm

I had to check my records. I requested a copy of the works order in 1984 for chassis no. 0415G and received 0415E (FHC).Further correspondence revealed no record for 0415G.(pre-e-mail days).
I conversed with John Hostler in january of this year regarding my latest aquisition and it was he who confirmed the missing orders 0172-0501.This time the model ID letter was not stated so may be DHC only but who knows?
I did not ask for any dates as the enquiry was specific to my own car.

These are the VIN nos-not works order nos.
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PostPost by: tonycharente » Sun Mar 25, 2007 7:11 pm

Leo Leentvaar wrote: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.


Hello Leo,
and greetings to all you happy Sprint owners...

IMHO, the thing is ALL Sprints are nothing but "pimped up"S4.....

The S4SE already had exactly the same cams as the Sprint, and the tiny difference in valve size is not enough to make any big difference to the power output, certainly nothing like that claimed by Lotus' (shall we say) "imaginitive" sales blurb. The only reason the Sprint accelerated any better despite their greater weight was they usually had the lower rear axle ratio, thus DROPPING their top speed - and making them totally unsuited to today's roads. This is why the fastest top speed of all the road tests of the time was achieved in an S4SE....

Now guess what model I have...
Tony
1969 Elan FHC S4 SE
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