Lotus Elan

Winter Walk Reveals Barn Find Sprint

PostPost by: trw99 » Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:39 pm

The heavy frost makes for a wonderland country vista as I walk along the well-trodden footpath through the Surrey countryside. The sun is still weak behind the cloud layer and my breath hangs in the air. In the far distance the consistent sound of a motorway and rumble of an airliner taking off are no longer remarkable enough for my hearing to be diverted from the sounds of this crisp morning. The birds noisily warning of my presence, the herd of cows recently released from their milking shed and the barking of a dog down in the valley all take an auditory preference.

As I move on over the crest of the down my eyes are drawn to the vista before me. The wonderful English countryside and the warm red brick of the farmhouse, the grey of its attendant barns and the wend of the sandy footpath melding into the farm track. I walk on, my thoughts having little form as I enjoy the day. Reaching the track I head south along it, passing by the side of a large storage barn. As I do so, my eye is drawn to a barely glimpsed form through a crack in the side of the barn. My attention is bought back into sharp focus. Surely not, I think. I back track. With my eye to the crack I peer into the gloom within.

My delight and excitement force an exclamation. I can make out the dim form of an Elan. It looks Colorado Orange and yes, those are the correct gold bumpers. I have to know more. I now step around to the side of the barn and to a large door that is ajar. I look around and can see no-one, which is a shame as I would like to approach this as calmly as possible and with the knowledge and acquiescence of the farmer at least. However my need to know overcomes that hesitation and I step through the door, pushing it open a little more to admit enough light.

2011 Barn Find 2.JPG and


It?s clear that the barn is not used a great deal. It is smaller than I had at first thought. To my right there is a white sailing dinghy sitting on a trailer, the tyres of which have little air in them. It looks like a Wayfarer. The varnished top sides look dull, dressed in dust. The cover is half on, half off. But then my eyes are drawn to the Sprint that sits in front of me, a large pile of dry, cracking brown oak leaves blown around the car?s lower regions. The fabric roof lies half folded with its grey frame on top. The two doors have been taken off and lean against the wall to my left. They look complete with the all important chrome frames and the Sundym tinted side windows covered in years of grime, dust and detritus. The black and silver number plate indicates a 1971/72 date. The gold bumpers look to be in the correct original gold, albeit covered in cobwebs and more dust, a crack indicating some carelessness at some stage in the cars storage.

The Colorado Orange paint is in mono and there are no gold sidewinders fitted. Under the dirt the paint appears original, with what may be described as honest wear. The chrome work around the rear lights and on the boot hinges and petrol filler cap is again dull with time and dust. There is a hole where the radio aerial should be. I raise my eyes into the cockpit. The windscreen interior surround trim hangs limply from along the top rail. There is a gaping hole from where the radio has been liberated at some stage in its life. The ashtray is missing from the cracked and dried wood veneer of the dashboard. The hard to find original steering wheel is still in place, though the centre horn surround has disappeared. Oddly, the correct varnished gear knob with the black shift pattern button looks almost like new, sitting incongruously atop the dull black plastic of the tunnel top cover.

2011 Barn Find 3.JPG and


I am now officially excited. This looks to be a complete Sprint in barn find condition!

I move around the side of the car, brushing past the sad looking doors and disturbing years of leaves as I do so. I notice parts sitting in the passenger side foot-well, some new, some old. I start to suspect that at some stage, someone has started out on a light restoration of this car, but perhaps got waylaid before they had gone too far. There is a Len Street window sticker still in place in the lower corner of the windscreen. I squeeze along the side of the barn to get to the front of the car. There are marks and muck on the paintwork here. It looks as if they may have come from disturbances above; mice, rats and birds all probably having made some contribution to the mess. The front of the car is all there, complete, no bashes. The familiar green and yellow roundel sits happily on the front of the bonnet, waiting to be cleaned and gleamed, proud to announce the heritage of these wonderful sports cars. I crouch down to peer into the front opening, noticing the usual chipping along the front edge of the bumper, hinting at those summer days blasting along fresh smelling country lanes. The meshing and registration numbers are missing but I can see the air filter canister and the red trumpet of the air horns, as well as sundry pipes and wiring.

2011 Barn Find 4.JPG and


2011 Barn Find 5.JPG and


I move again around the car and decide I?ll explore a little further. I have neither heard nor seen anyone and assume that, hidden away in a little used barn, I am safe to do so. I reach down onto the dash board to see if the bonnet pull will still work. It does! I wonder how long it has been since that wire last moved. Reaching around I lift the bonnet to discover it is not attached to its spring and I lift it off. The engine peers up at me, appearing sadly forlorn and only hinting at the power that can propel the little car along. Happily everything seems to be there. Webers, their tops oxidised, clearly in need of refurbishment before they will bellow again. The Big Valve cam cover asks to be cleaned up. The oil filler cap is still retained to the cover. Part of a Negative Ground sticker clings to the top of the voltage regulator. The VIN plate is still there and I make a mental note of its number, having to clear away the husks of acorn nuts to do so. Peering further into the engine confines, I notice that the rear of the air filter canister, the back plate attached to the carbs as well as the radiator side plates are all a red oxide colour. This puzzles me. Were they replacements? Were they the original items refurbished? Why had they not been repainted black before they were re-fitted? They would reinforce the theory about a light restoration having been started at some stage in the distant past.

2011 Barn Find 1.JPG and


I put the bonnet back into place and return to the side of the car. I carefully remove the hood sticks and fabric, careful lest I might disturb a mouse nest, and find myself looking down past the seat backs through the aperture and into the boot. The spare wheel and tyre, petrol tank and remains of the front opening grill are all there. The carpet has been removed from the front faces of the two rear turrets. Speaker wires flop over the top of the sloping floor carpet. An aerial lead and the main battery earth wire are there too. Cob webs drip from the boot lid. It has been a dark place for a long time. I put the hood back in place and step around to the back of the car again. Getting down on all fours and I attempt to gain some idea of the state of the chassis and suspension. It was too dark to draw any sensible conclusions about that. My mind is whirring furiously and my imagination is already months ahead of me.

2011 Barn Find 6.JPG and


What to do now? Is this something I can take on myself? What would be the real cost of getting this car back on the road? Would the owner sell? Who is the owner? Although all the parts seem to be there, can they all be resurrected? What could be rescued, what would have to be refurbished, what would have to be renewed? How much would the owner accept to part with the Sprint?

I backed quietly out of the barn and pushed the door to. Still there was no sign of life in the yard. I circled the barn. Then, starting to make my way through the yard and over the track toward the farmhouse, I am bought up sharp and stand still. I needed to think properly about this. I turned around and regained my original footpath, carrying on walking. My head continued to spin with the possibilities I had found in the barn. Shall I? Could I? Can I? Should I?

Tim
Last edited by trw99 on Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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PostPost by: tcsoar » Tue Mar 05, 2013 3:03 pm

WOW!!!

Would cetrainly have me in a spin if it were me.

If it was me then I think I would at least have to try and contact the owner of the farm and enquire about the car. Then if possible aquire the Elan and get it back to my garage, thats when I would really take stock of whats involved and decide if I could take the project on or not. If not there are probably a few folk on here who would be more than willing to take it on.

Either way, to get another Elan back on the road would be a positive.
Regards,

Chris.
From Essex and looking for some new paths to walk, 8)
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Tue Mar 05, 2013 3:07 pm

No brainer!

Yes you should write a book!
Steve

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PostPost by: RogerFrench » Tue Mar 05, 2013 3:29 pm

Could you? Can you? Should you?

You must!!!!
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PostPost by: john.p.clegg » Tue Mar 05, 2013 4:28 pm

Do the farmers down your way not have shotguns? They do up here!!And trespassers are fair game...

John :wink:
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PostPost by: Bombay Racing Green » Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:14 pm

You must go and knock on that farm house door. You've nothing to lose but quite alot to gain.

Good luck!

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PostPost by: elansprint71 » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:18 pm

Get orff my land.............
No record at DVLA; how much for the boat?
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:14 pm

C'mon Tim - this thread has now had 3 titles:

A Winter's Walk

A Winter's Walk - A Short Story

and now

Winter Walk Reveals Barn Find Sprint

so is this just a story with generic photos? or have actually found this car? - and if so what have you done about it? Have to say if it were me I'd have kept it quiet until I'd bought it as you may have flushed out others that already know about it.

Update us.
Steve

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PostPost by: Etienne 7 » Wed Mar 06, 2013 5:44 pm

Two words: "Do it!"

Regards,

Etienne
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Wed Mar 06, 2013 6:59 pm

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Otherwise respectable Essex lad wandering on his lone around the Surrey countryside, breaking and entering?

Too flowery a writing style for Timothy, methinks. And it's not even April 1st yet.

Great story, and fab looking restoration though.

Mark
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PostPost by: types26/36 » Wed Mar 06, 2013 7:06 pm

Completely agree with Mark,
I think this is a ?wind-up? .....quite a coincidence that Tim (a self confessed Sprint-aholic) comes a across a ?barn find? and a Sprint at that, something that most of us only ever dream about!
Did I ever relay the story of that 26 R Shapecraft that belonged to the little old lady......
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PostPost by: J.E.S » Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:38 pm

I do hope it is a Boy's Own story - otherwise this self confession of forced entry and burglary could see Tim in receipt of an ASBO.
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PostPost by: collins_dan » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:19 pm

I think we haven't heard from Tim because he went back for another look and the farmer came home....
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PostPost by: Spyder fan » Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:54 am

I think you are all being too hard on Tim.

You may say he's a dreamer, but he's not the only one :mrgreen:

It would be nice to follow another restoration from the start though, my barn find is pictured below, I wonder what became of it :wink:
Gone but not forgotten-2 (2).jpg and
01 s4 fhc.jpg and
03 s4 fhc.jpg and
Kindest regards

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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:01 am

Farmer schmarmer!

Who is the rosy cheeked lady(?) in the 4th picture with a bobble hat and a headlamp on.

Strange barn too with concrete panel walls and a double metal up and over door!

C'mon Tim you have had your fun - whats the story?
Steve

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