Lotus Elan

About to buy car but advice needed please!

PostPost by: Ashley68 » Tue Jan 10, 2012 1:34 pm

I am indeed. At least I will be if it drives as good as it looks!

Regards.
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PostPost by: Ashley68 » Tue Jan 10, 2012 1:42 pm

jimj wrote:Yes, Ralph is right, don`t have your expectations raised too high by the natural enthusiasm of enthusiasts or you`ll be disappointed. I love our Elan but I have a number of close friends with classic cars who love their completely different cars.
Firstly you need to REALLY want a classic car, then really value the specific qualities of an Elan. It may just not be your cup of tea....but I hope it is.
Jim

I have had a good poke around it already and done everything but drive it. It was due to be serviced when we last there so a drive wasn't possible. Absolutely love it so far. I have a passion for mechanical things and love clever engineering. I'm looking forward to a bit more involvement than I got with the VX. It was a brilliant car but beyond the usual care not much was required from me apart from driving it.
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PostPost by: Spyder fan » Tue Jan 10, 2012 2:29 pm

Ashley,

Welcome!

That looks a very nice car, I'm sure that I saw it on Paul Matty's display at Donington in August last year. He had about 4 FHC cars on display, in the same colour 3 of which had a higher ticket price than yours, but I liked this one the best due to the bolt on wheels, the stromberg carbs rather than webers and the very nice standard of original/restored finish. Webers are just as reliable as Strombergs if set up correctly, the main problem appears to be that there are so many bits that you can fiddle with, whereas the Strombergs have very little adjustment to play with or jets to change or mess up, therefore they have a reputation for being more useable on a road car simply because they are often standard as new out of the box. Webers apparently release a little more power, I doubt if it's noticeable on the road.

The radiator is a Tony Thompson 26R type complete with swirlpot, it's an excellent setup and will keep the engine unflustered in the heaviest traffic on the hottest days. I have one with modified inlets in my +2 zetec and it keeps 190bhp + cool all day long.

A VX220 is a very different beast, sort of an Elise but with build quality :lol: I hope you enjoy the Elan experience, I don't think that maintenance costs or component problems will be an issue with such a good starting point.

Regards
Kindest regards

Alan Thomas
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PostPost by: Ashley68 » Tue Jan 10, 2012 6:01 pm

Thanks for the info Alan, it's always good to be aware of the non standard bits and where they came from. Also good to know that they're from a reutable supplier and are proven to work. In addition there is a larger cooling fan fitted to this car.

I think given that I plan only road use the Strombergs will be fine. I wonder how different a Sprint would be to drive on the road when compared to the car I'm viewing?
I thinks there's around 20bhp in it. Given these are such light cars maybe it's noticable??

Regards.
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PostPost by: Jas » Tue Jan 10, 2012 9:34 pm

Hi Ashley

When I look at Paul Mattys site it looks like "your" car has been sold, hope that it is to you.
http://www.paulmattysportscars.co.uk/showroom/stock-detail.aspx?id=2366
If not, then he still has some other nice Elan's DHC for example.
Jannik
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PostPost by: Ashley68 » Sun Jan 15, 2012 8:28 am

Well the test drive was brilliant, but I do have some reservations (wish I didn't!). The first is relating to oil leaking. I know these are almost expected to dribble but I'm not sure about this. When the car was moved out of the showroom there was a small 'puddle' of about 8cm in diameter on the floor. It was clean engine oil. Is this acceptable? There is also no record in the file of any work/restoration being done to the engine. Also when we arrived I was advised that a valve guide had come astray which resulted in head off and new valve guides being fitted along with new valves. Apparently there was some sort of valve train noise when the throttle was blipped and a loose guide was found.

Now, while I am accepting that maintenance will be required and a certain amount of 'nursing' I don't have the pockets that can withstand having jobs like that crop up too often. I appreciated the honesty and am happy that the head went to John Smirthwaite for correction but I'm surprised at this happening at all for a car in this condition.

As I said, it has a pile of invoices for bodywork and almost everything else but nothing at all for any engine work.

Got to say that the engine was fabulously quiet though. Couldn't hear it when stood next to the car with the hood down.

Almost convinced but am I being paranoid??? Rather than find myself with trouble in store I'd rather lose my deposit if it came to it. :?

Reassurance/advice welcomed!
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Sun Jan 15, 2012 10:26 am

Building a non leaking twin cam is possible but not easy and most leak a little. Whether its a problem or not depends on the quantity and where its coming from.

A 8cm patch of oil under a Lotus on a painted floor after a few days in a showroom is certainly not abnormal - a few drops spread out a long way. They should be able to tell you where the leak is from and whether it should be fixed and the cost of fixing.


regards
Rohan
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PostPost by: Leo Leentvaar » Sun Jan 15, 2012 10:41 am

Hello Ashley,

the deeper you dive down into the matter of (potential) Elan ownership the smarter you get.
There are obviously more experienced and technically astute members here than I will ever be.
Nevertheless I will try do to my tuppence worth here.
Never forget this car is about 40 years old, so there may be some components that need attention at some point in time.
Regarding the oil spill on the floor, the 1600cc twink Kent engine is known to seep some oil. I think it is important to know the source
of the leak. Could be something as daft as a sump plug washer not fitting flush. My car had a leak from the tacho drive this year causing small spillage.
Any car left standing for a long time and small leaks can form puddles of oil. I regard, small sweaty seepage around the head as part of classic ownership.
Enginewise, it's nice they took of the head for repairs and hope they fitted valves that can cope with leadfree.
My experience is that a full engine rebuild can set you back anything between 5.5 and 6.5 kGBP (if I look at my car that cost me ? 7.500 about 2 years ago).
If the head has been off they should have checked the timing chair and the tensioner condition. These are critical parts IMHO and if their condition is unknown I would
treat them as suspect and replace them asap. Next I'd ask for a compression test forn the cylinders.
I would discuss these issues with Matty and seek some reassurance, you pay top dollar for the car so expect the seller will show some guarantees with the sale of the car to you (or any 1 else for that matter). Hope it helps.
1971 Sprint DHC
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PostPost by: 69S4 » Sun Jan 15, 2012 10:43 am

I do get oil drips under my car when it's parked but it's usually dirty engine oil so the patches are black(ish). If it's new oil I'd wonder if some had been spilt when it was being refilled and has taken a while to work its way down. There's been a lot of debate over whether an oil leak free twin cam is possible, with some past members going to extraordinary lengths to try to achieve it. I've never managed it but it doesn't bother me that much as long as it's just the odd drip. My rough rule of thumb is that if I clean up under the engine and I don't get any drips for the next couple of hundred miles that'll do me.

A stock TC engine should be mechanically quiet when it's warm and idling. Re Strombergs, the SE spec vs Sprint spec is very little - about 8bhp according to the published figures, so hardly noticeable on the road. What you will notice is that the Strombergs are a lot more economical if they're set up properly, maybe 20+% better. OK you lose out on the noise and the visual appeal and the economy may not be a big factor if you don't do a lot of miles but worth bearing in mind.
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PostPost by: UAB807F » Sun Jan 15, 2012 5:12 pm

Hi Ashley,

A few drips of oil are nothing to get worried about, I'd be more concerned about the loose valve guide problem on a newly restored engine. But this is Paul Matty you're dealing with and he's been in the business for years (he even did some work on my elan, pre my ownership in the 70s) and you don't last that long without a good reputation. I reckon if you asked them they'd run the car on a lift and you could see exactly where it's coming from. If you're concerned about the engine's health I'm sure PM would do a simple compression test, oil pressure on a calibrated gauge, etc. to set your mind at rest. Given the price you're paying I don't think that's unreasonable.

That's the difference though. Modern cars just don't leak, that becomes the accepted "norm" and so an Elan's engine looks like the Torrey Canyon all over again. (or select your own favorite oil disaster :) )

Brian
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PostPost by: brian245 » Sun Jan 15, 2012 8:38 pm

I just found this site and as an ex Elan owner thought I would make my first posting positive in saying that over a 15 year period of ownership I found the Elan to be totally reliable other than a couple of broken cables in the window lift mechanisim.
In that time the car was driven regularly, although not everyday and covered quite a high mileage alto I can't quantify it now.
I would have no hesitation in recommending them as a throughly enjoyable drive and the odd oil drip is of little consequence
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PostPost by: Ashley68 » Mon Jan 16, 2012 12:12 pm

Thanks to all for your advice and knowledge sharing. The net result of all this??????

It will be delivered Friday! :P

Great community and an even better dealer, thank you Paul.

Fingers crossed for the weather!
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PostPost by: Leo Leentvaar » Mon Jan 16, 2012 2:37 pm

Ashley68 wrote:Thanks to all for your advice and knowledge sharing. The net result of all this??????

It will be delivered Friday! :P

Great community and an even better dealer, thank you Paul.

Fingers crossed for the weather!



YIPPIEE!!! congrat's mate, and.., if you have good weather we'll have it as well!!
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PostPost by: UAB807F » Mon Jan 16, 2012 5:29 pm

Great news Ashley, I looked at the car on PM's website and it looks perfect. Drive it whenever you can, it'll take a few miles to get used to it if you're coming from a mid-engined car but there's no car better for putting a smile on your face.

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PostPost by: elansprint » Mon Jan 16, 2012 5:31 pm

Ashley welcome aboard i used to call in Peter Days regularly when at Cambridge i think you can rest assured that the engine will have had what work was neccessary done more than likely a full rebuild his attention to detail was second to none & Frank at Option 1 is a perfectionist. With it standing for a while a few issues may crop up but i would enjoy it for 3 months put some miles on it then pop it back to Matty at that price i am sure he will rectify under warranty. As for the driving i have 2 modern TVR's which have massive power but there is just something sublime about an Elan on a bumpy B road. Peter Day always insisted he preferred the Stromberg engine against conventional wisdom enjoy yourself
Ian
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