Lotus Elan

Provenance of Unit No. 4441

PostPost by: WilST » Mon Aug 24, 2015 7:16 am

I wasn't sure where to post this question, it's not a repair, so I put it here. Please move if necessary.

I finally realized a long-sought goal, finding a nice S1/S2. Bought it for what I thought was a reasonable price on eBay of all places. Cosmetics on my S2 are done, major mechanicals are supposedly all good. A lot of the minor electrical stuff isn't working and various cables are stuck (throttle-eeek, bonnet catches), but it'll all get done.

What is really bothering me though is the data plate for this car. To put it bluntly, the Unit No. on the plate looks faked to me. The car has a good provenance (owned & restored by Anthony Rivera 1990-2012), so I'm hoping that maybe the factory did them this way at times. The Unit No. is just very lightly and shakily scratched on the plate. The photo makes it show up better than when using a MKI eyeball. My apologies, I can't for some reason make the last photo of the Unit No. stay horizontal. I tried rotating it every which way, no luck.

What say you, do I have something to worry about?

LtFront.JPG and

Plate Overall.jpg and

Unit No..jpg and
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PostPost by: trw99 » Mon Aug 24, 2015 7:38 am

Looks as if it may be a replacement plate, which have been freely available for years.

The scratching/scribing does not look similar to that of the factory. There are plenty of examples of USA VINs on this forum to compare yours with.

Interestingly my records have your engine no down as 2069, although most engine numbers of that period are 29##; I therefore believe that my copy of the records has the 9 transcribed incorrectly as 0.

For your own piece of mind contact Andy Graham at Lotus and he'll give you a provenance certificate for your Elan.

Tim
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Mon Aug 24, 2015 8:04 am

I have seen a few different 'styles' of scratching the numbers onto the chassis plate, some neater than others! Yours doesn't look too bad to me, and looks pretty similar to my old Elite and S2 chassis plates. The earlier cars had the information scratched on with a scribe, sometimes with very little detail, and sometimes with transcription errors.

Here's a Canadian S2 that was on ebay a few years ago.

Mark
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Mon Aug 24, 2015 2:17 pm

Your "scratched with a blunt nail" unit ID plate looks pretty original to me.

I have always thought ,If we collect enough samples we should be able to confirm authenticity by the hand writing of the various guys who did it over the years.

I am always more suspicious of neatly stamped numbers or etched numbers as these are more likely to be a replacement in my opinion as no one would produce such a bad looking fake and scratch the numbers like Lotus did orginally. Although Lotus did stamp or etch the plates during the 60's and 70's for some of the production at least but I have never seen an authoritative list of what was the actual style of marking for various unit numbers / times / years.

cheers
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PostPost by: WilST » Mon Aug 24, 2015 10:56 pm

Thank you gentlemen for your erudite opinions. Looks like roughly half & half, original vs. non-original. Much better than I feared.

Tim, thanks for the Andy Graham tip. I have an email in to him now. Fingers crossed.
Pacific NorthWest USA
'Memes are not Facts'
Elan S2 26/4441 (Archivist Verified)
Panoz Esperante (an updated Elan)
550 Maranello (easy to get in trouble with that one)
Range Rover 2-Door 5-sp. (scarce in US)
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PostPost by: bitsobrits » Tue Aug 25, 2015 2:47 am

Looks legit to me. My early S1 has similar low quality "scratched" numbers for the unit, with stamped for the chassis number.

Mine also happens to be on a Lotus Components plate, which I have seen on other S1's and early Elites.
Steve

Elan S1 1963-Bourne bodied
Elan S3 1967 FHC pre airflow

Formerly:
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Elan S3 1966 FHC pre airflow
Elan S3 1967 FHC airflow
Elan S4 1969 FHC
Europa S2 1970
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PostPost by: EnfoKen » Wed Aug 26, 2015 3:45 am

It looks like my plate on 4448.
I have three S2 Elans and they are all "hand" etched with different
styles of wrighting . Stop worrying.
http://thegaragista.com

Elan S2 26/4448
Elan S2 26/3924
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PostPost by: Certified Lotus » Thu Aug 27, 2015 10:27 am

My plate is hand etched also. No worries.

image.jpg and
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PostPost by: denicholls2 » Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:41 pm

Like Rohan, I would be alarmed if it looked like it was professionally created/stamped. In my experience, that did not happen.
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PostPost by: WilST » Tue Sep 08, 2015 9:43 pm

Indeed, a happy ending to my initial question. I now have my official Classic Certificate of Vehicle Provenance inhand!

When I asked him specifically about the unusual markings on my data plate, Andy Graham wrote the following: "These cars are before my time, but I was told these plates were fitted to the bodies, during manufacture the VIN plate would be marked with the cars identity. It was not possible to stamp the VIN plates without risk of causing damage, so an air powered scriber was used (this was later changed to VIN plate stamped before being fitted so that they were clearer and easier to read). The early Elan S1 had a separate unit number and chassis number, this was later changed so that the number match, but Lotus still entered the unit number 4441 and then wrote CH. NO. 26/4441 in the box below to identify the chassis number. Many UK cars went down the line without engines installed, so the person marking the engine numbers was different from the person writing the unit number, hence the difference in writing."

Pretty interesting, have more confidence that my data plate is indeed the original, correct one. Also good to know what the hard to make out scratchings in the box underneath the Engine and Unit No. boxes mean.

Thank you Andy Graham for a pleasant and straight-forward certificate application process.....!
Pacific NorthWest USA
'Memes are not Facts'
Elan S2 26/4441 (Archivist Verified)
Panoz Esperante (an updated Elan)
550 Maranello (easy to get in trouble with that one)
Range Rover 2-Door 5-sp. (scarce in US)
WilST
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