Lotus Elan

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

PostPost by: bcmc33 » Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:45 pm

Robcall said:
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).

This reminded me of something told to me many, many years ago by someone I have no reason to disbelieve, even to this day.
I was told that Lotus had a habit of duplicating the VIN and varying the DHC/FHC/Federal suffixes only. Allegedly, of course.
From all accounts, I guess CABC had a penchant for creative accounting ? even up to the time of his ?death?.


Brian Clarke
(1972 Sprint)

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PostPost by: trw99 » Wed Mar 28, 2007 8:52 am

Brian

"....his "death"." You mean, the king is still alive? Have you seen him? Were reports of his death exagerated? :)

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PostPost by: bcmc33 » Wed Mar 28, 2007 9:26 am

I have no inside knowledge, only a vivid memory of such heavy rumours doing the rounds at the time in 1982.
I well remember working at the Ford Advanced Engineering Test Centre at the time of the announcement ? and not many people believed a word of it.


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PostPost by: tonycharente » Wed Mar 28, 2007 9:58 am

He's living in South America with Lord Lucan...
1969 Elan FHC S4 SE
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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Wed Mar 28, 2007 10:45 am

Please allow the dead to sleep, this doesn't have anything to do with Sprints or S4's. If you must, take it over to Free Parking

Thanks Gary
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PostPost by: trw99 » Wed Mar 28, 2007 11:21 am

Nigel

I have looked at some of my correspondence with the factory again. I was told that that there are many batches in the books which have'nt got any information next to the VIN numbers.

So I summise that records of VIN's exist, it is the "works order" information that is missing, presumed consumed by the factory flood. That would explain why the factory is unable to supply that information to owners of the affected cars.

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PostPost by: robcall » Wed Mar 28, 2007 7:11 pm

trw99 wrote:Nigel

I have looked at some of my correspondence with the factory again. I was told that that there are many batches in the books which have'nt got any information next to the VIN numbers.

So I summise that records of VIN's exist, it is the "works order" information that is missing, presumed consumed by the factory flood. That would explain why the factory is unable to supply that information to owners of the affected cars.

Tim


As the missing works orders unfortunately cross S4/SE and S4/sprint manufacture we are still no further forward in defining originality.
02/71 appears to be official sprint production-its the cars manufactured prior to this date that had a works sprint converstion that need authentification.
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PostPost by: trw99 » Thu Mar 29, 2007 7:43 am

Yep - and there's another poser, too. Just when was the Sprint introduced into North America and Europe?

The earliest Federal VIN I am aware of is for Aug 71. The first road test appeared in Jan 72, which means the car was probably tested in Oct or Nov.

The earliest European VIN I have is oddly enough Feb 71, though I know of several from Apr 71. The first road tests in the European press appeared in Dec 71, suggesting a Sep or Oct testing period.

There will have been a number of S4s in shipment and at the dealers at the time of the Feb 71 UK Sprint launch, so there will have been a delay before the first Sprints arrived.

Any one have any other information on this?
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PostPost by: Leo Leentvaar » Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:38 am

I've received information from Norfolk (Chis Brown) on my car

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we had any information on your Lotus Elan Sprint with chassis number 0054H. Any information we may have on earlier cars is held in a series of invoice books with limited information but sadly for your car we do not have anything at all infact for any cars showing the 'H' suffix around this period. I can only assume that there may have been another invoice book with these cars included, so I apologise that I do not have anything I can forward on although I hope you are enjoying your Elan ownership.Unquote

So it all ties up with may of your comments on creative book keeping, floods. Thankfully Tim was able to fill in the gaps on my car.( :D )
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PostPost by: Tony Mongillo » Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:33 am

In reference to the earliest Federal Sprint...

My car is 7104070164K. A federalized Sprint from April 71.

The car was picked up at the factory in England by the original owner and shipped to the US after his Army tour.

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PostPost by: trw99 » Fri Mar 30, 2007 12:59 pm

Thanks Tony. I suspect that yours is an exceptional car - could even be the first Federalised Sprint built!

I have been doing some more delving into the issue of S4s converted to Sprint spec by the factory. Looking at the Sports Car World Elan records, there are 24 cars listed as being fitted with a Big Valve engine. At present I know of 4 more. With one exception, they all have VINs that put them as having been manufactured before the Feb 71 relaunch of the Sprint. The dates on the SCW records are called "Build/Invoice" and that is different to, and later than, the VIN.

For example, the earliest is 0018G, a UK DHC. My records indicate that that was built in Jan 70. The SCW Build/Invoice date is Apr 71, but we have to be wary of these SCW dates as listers have indicated that some are accurate according to their records, some are not. There were probably more of these cars, since we also know the SCW records are not complete.

I believe these cars are S4s that were sitting in the factory new-car parking and had been awaiting delivery to dealers. Having not been sold, they were then taken back into the factory, probably in the Nov 70 to Feb 71 period, had their engines upgraded to Sprint spec and had the other mechanical changes made to them. This would account for the Sprints we know of that still had bonnet bulges, dash mounted ignitions and silver wheels. Perhaps some were repainted in the Sprint colour scheme.

Does this make them Sprints? It does in my opinion, if you define a Sprint as an Elan that originally left the factory with a Big Valve engine, upgraded Rotoflexes and the differential strengthening fitted.

There are, as is usual when looking into Lotus history, other questions that need answering. When was a car given it's VIN? Probably when the body joined the chassis, or when the engine was installed. Anyone know of someone who worked on the line at Hethel in the early 70s?

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PostPost by: rgh0 » Fri Mar 30, 2007 1:46 pm

Has anyone ever had a close look at an unmolested S4 upgrade to Sprint spec car . Did Lotus really change unsold S4 cars totally to include all the Sprint features or did they just swap on a big valve cam cover and a quick paint job. On second thuoghts there are enough plain coloured sprints around to not even worry about the paint job, just the cam cover would do I suspect ?

Or was it really that the Sprint features were progressivley introduced on the production as parts ran out for the S4 equivalent and at some time in that slow and random transition Lotus changed the name formally to Sprint.

Probably both happened knowing how Lotus was organised or was that disorganised.

cheers
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PostPost by: Jens » Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:46 am

Regarding the organization of Lotus in the seventies I guess we can state that chaos actually just is a higher form of creativity.
And, what they did then still keeps us busy today... Like Sherlock and Watson we keep searching for the truth, because it just might be out there.

//J
"Make the suspension adjustable and they will adjust it wrong - look at what they can do to a Weber carburetor in just a few moments of stupidity with a screwdriver..." (CABC)

My one problem is that distance keeps me from my Elan. (36/5395)
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PostPost by: Oasis1 » Tue Feb 16, 2016 2:47 am

Hi, I am looking at a sprint in the USA. It's a FHC and is a 1971 in the listing. He claims it's a real sprint. The vin is 3619170g19517 and he is also providing me with the following numbers 36/19170. How do I determine with is a real sprint? Thx Jim
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PostPost by: trw99 » Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:48 am

3619170g19517 is not a correct Elan VIN.

The 36 probably relates to it being a Type 36 FHC. No Elan ever had a unit number as high as 19170, or 19517 either. g is entirely erroneous for this car; a G would indicate a UK market DHC.

The correct VIN for any Federal FHC Sprint should look something like this: 7106180123J In this example of an imaginary Sprint, 71 is the year, 06 the month, 18 the batch no, 0123 the unit no and J is for Federal FHC. More Sprint info on my web site.

You need a photo of the VIN plate in the engine compartment. Once you have that I shall be happy to help with regard to authentication.

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