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Why restore an Elan

PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 6:16 am
by Famous Frank
Some of you may have noticed I'm in the process of restoring my 66 S2 SE. Please allow me to explain why I'm taking on the this project and what is involved with this one. Let's start by saying, I truly enjoy restoring cars. I many times think I like the restoration more than driving or showing of them later. This isn't my first restoration but it is the most extensive I've tackled. One thing to remember, when I say "I restore", it should always be read as "we restore". Every car I've ever restored, I could not have done the work without the untiring assistance of Club and Forum members. That goes for all the clubs and forums, but especially this forum. It is by far the best and the members are above reporoach! Thank you all.

I purchased this car almost 4 years ago from an ad in Craigslist. It was 10 miles from home, mostly complete, but didn't run. Although I paid more than I should have, I justified it by telling myself, I could have spent thousands more looking at others in different parts of the country and could have eaten up gobs of cash flying / driving looking at others. Then I would also have had the expense of towing it home. It had not run since the early 1980's. It was in an accident in 1976 and was very poorly repaired, although at that time, it may have been a typical repair for the period. Looking at it now, it could not have driven very well after the repairs. As a matter of fact, it would have been a very dangerous car to drive. I believe the previous owner brought it down from the New York area.

Where does the time go? Well, many times, it goes hand in hand with the financial funds available. You can see from the pics, it didn't look all that bad from the outside. The left door had fallen off but that could have been from a bad nylon hinge or ??? The paint was still shiny, although not an original color, and like I said, it was mostly complete. Upon closer inspection, the more I looked, the more it needed every part either replaced or refurbished for it to become a show car example.

By the way, I'm still looking for a pedal assembly bushing or a pedal assembly I have listed in the "Wanted" section.

Next phase to follow.

Re: Why restore an Elan

PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:03 am
by paddy
Good luck with it Frank. It looks like at least you have most of the hard-to-find trim and fittings, so the rest is just time and money :)


Re: Why restore an Elan

PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:10 am
by robertverhey
Yep the journey is more enjoyable than the destination. That applies to the restoration and also to the outings once it's done...almost reluctant to start pulling mine apart


Re: Why restore an Elan

PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 4:45 pm
by Famous Frank
Paddy, Robert,

Time and Money! Reluctant? Well most of us don't always have the money. Time comes and goes (too quickly), and I'd be reluctant too if mine were at least a driver and a safe one at that.

We've had a huge storm come through the Atlanta area Sunday night. I've measured 8 inches of snow, then some ice on top of that, and next to nothing in the way of removal equipment, so I'm working from home and have a little more time to look at this forum and to get into the garage.

BTW, remember how said the faolks on this forum are unbeatable. Well my best friend Greg Zelazek (also on this forum, who owns a 72 Sprint) has been with me most of the way. He came with me when I purchased the car and helped get it on my trailer. And for the last 35 plus years has assisted me in dis-assembling many of my cars. It's a standing joke that he always helps take them apart but is never around for the assembly. So two years ago I started the dis-assembly. Where has the time gone? I can't believe I started this two years ago. The dis-assembly is like an archeogical dig. It reveals the skills or lack of previous people that have touches this car. It revealed poor workmanship, damaged parts, and a lack of caring.

There were some moments Greg even tried to get me to get the started and take it for a short ride before we took it apart. I was too lazy and this time my laziness paid off. The fuel lines were cracked or broken, the fuel in the tank had turn to mud, the donuts were broken, and many other parts were unsafe.

So it was two years ago this month that I started removing everything from the body. You may remember it was at this point I discovered part of the left front body had been replaced with that of another car and learned there are ribbed floor Elans and flat floor Elans. Mine was now both!!! Taking out the seats revealed floor repairs, emoving the head revealed broken fuel lines and removing the fuel tank revealed the muck and marbles rolling around inside. The door fell off because it weighed almost 100 pounds (without the glass or inner door panel). It is filled with 3 inches of bondo. A true artist had been at work in 1976.

Here are a few shots of the body coming off the frame. Again, it is not easily done without the help of friends and neighbors. Also, you get fewer complaints from the neighbors about the body shell laying in the yard when they helped you remove it and put it there! Keep plenty of beer, coffee, and soft drinks around.

Removing the body revealed more sad problems. Hmm, why is the frame painted black? Because someone has had the body off before. Hmm, what are all of these bends and hammer wack marks on the frame? Because it was bent and someone tried to straighten it. What is the this 6 inch by 8 inch piece of 1/4 inch steel plate welded to the frame? Something someone welded there to try to give the frame some strength. Oh, look at the rust in the from towers!!! Oh, look, every piece of rubber is either torn, rotted, or missing......everywhere!
Even the left rear knock on wheel is BOLTED to the Knock On hub because the drive pins are missing. How would you ever change a tire?

If that is what we see with a quick glance, what is to follow?

Re: Why restore an Elan

PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 12:29 am
by frearther
I'm happy to see that I'm not the only one who thinks that a yellow car needs black bumpers. Silver just doesn't cut it, in my book.


Re: Why restore an Elan

PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:31 am
by billwill
frearther wrote:Frank,
I'm happy to see that I'm not the only one who thinks that a yellow car needs black bumpers. Silver just doesn't cut it, in my book.


My bumpers are Gold.

Re: Why restore an Elan

PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:36 am
by gino1
Hi Frank,
Looks a very nice car and at least complete.
I'm very envious of your steering wheel and I'd love to find one for myself :cry:
So is it going to be White ??


Re: Why restore an Elan

PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:00 am
by Famous Frank
Bumbers. It is a coincidence the car came to me in a non-standard yellow with black bumpers. I bought my first Lotus in 1973. A 72 Europa Twincam. I couldn't figure out why after just winning the 1973 SCCA Solo II title I was now hitting every other pylon in slalom. I lived in Chicago, ..... we got a lite dusting of snow and I was a girlfriends house. I thought, "I had better get the Lotus back to the garage I was renting at the time and get out the Chevy Nova which was my daily driver. While being the first ont to drive down the street in the lite snow, I realized why I was hitting every other pylon. There were four tire tracks in my rearview mirror. The frame was bent and I was dog tracking. A few months earlier, (actually it had been smoking when I bought it) the engine had been smoking like crazy. I sold that car and bought my second Lotus. A 74 Europa 5 speed. Mint with 8k miles. Kept that for a couple of years and took a second at the SCCA Solo II Nationals. Then in winter of 76 bought my first Elan from a friends father who had just bought three make from England. You guessed it. A RHD S2, non-standard yellow with black bumpers. Greg and I had been friends for a number of years at this point and a couple months after I purchased it he helped me take it all apart to do my first frame off. That was in January of 77. How ironic that in 2007 I purchase another yelow S2 with black bumpers and Greg is around (in another state) to help me pull the body off the frame again!!!

Personally, I like the silver bumpers, but everyone has their own taste. That first Elan had issues too, although no where close to the ones on the current car. Although some owner in England had ported the head and installed some cams with 300 degrees duration, when it came to acceleration, it fell flat on its face until you got over 60 mph. The problem was an engine that didn't come alive until 4500 rpm, a close ratio trans, and 3:77 gears. I installed a close ratio trans and a 3:90. Boom, it was like a different car!!! I loved it. I even have a pic of it from the auction site in England. See below.

Someday I'll tell the great story of getting stopped by the police with Greg as a passenger ina RHD car.

Re: Why restore an Elan

PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:43 am
by vstibbard
Hi Frank, looks like big project, I've not tackled one with as many period " dodgy repairer tweaks" my s1 had the fire damaged scuttle with chicken wire and paper, flared guards with pounds of plasticine and it had been acsuccessful racer!

Elans are magnetic once experienced you keep coming back to them, they're so good to drive, like you I've had 4 still have 2, the s1 and 26r s2.

I'm looking forward to you're trim parts For both and have a request for a 3rd centre console please.
Cheers Vaughan

Re: Why restore an Elan

PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:13 pm
by bast0n

My bumpers are Gold

Oh dear....................

Re: Why restore an Elan

PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 6:06 pm
by trw99
bast0n wrote:Billwill

My bumpers are Gold

Oh dear....................

Oi! Whadda ya mean?

Lotus themselves finished the Sprint with gold bumpers!


Re: Why restore an Elan

PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:22 am
by Alasdair
Why indeed?

Re: Why restore an Elan

PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:56 am
by bast0n


'cos I thought that they should be black........! :lol:

Re: Why restore an Elan

PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:46 am
by c42
Or a +2 for that matter.

30082010245a.jpg and

Good Luck

Re: Why restore an Elan

PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:49 pm
by ardee_selby
Q - Why restore an Elan?

A - Maybe to give encouragement to those who follow, such as whoever takes this one on?

Note the comment about avoiding another 26R look alike.

Cheers - rd (No connection with seller, just came across it whilst surfing)