Lotus Elan

Road & Track... we made the list...

PostPost by: pharriso » Tue May 10, 2016 10:43 am

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PostPost by: dgym » Tue May 10, 2016 12:04 pm

I've owned two on the list and want some of the others.
1967 S3 Coupe (left the factory in 66)
original rego PPC 8E
original owner B.M. Wetherill ..are you out there?
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Tue May 10, 2016 12:33 pm

Lotus Elan "unreliability" is part myth and part reality

The reality is

1. The car is very deliberately lightly constructed and very deliberately built down to a cost and these design aims can lead to unreliability. In most cases however they did not occur provided adequate maintenance in done on the car

2. Maintenance work on an Elan is VERY time consuming and expensive due to the compact construction and some of the design decisions to minimise weight and cost. This means that owners tend not to do the needed maintenance work or seek out cheap maintenance solutions that then lead to unreliability.

The Myth is

1. Elans were badly designed and badly built kit cars - that is just not true, they were designed by the best in their era and their performance and handling reflect that. They were advanced technology of the time and just not built like a truck as TR's and MG's of the era were

2. They are fundamentally unreliable and this is unsolvable - from someone who has race an Elan for 36 years and over 30000 racing miles without excessive maintenance I can say that is not true

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PostPost by: jimj » Tue May 10, 2016 1:51 pm

It`s just cheap journalism making cheap shots. Since when was a Triumph Spitfire desirable?
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PostPost by: Fred Talmadge » Tue May 10, 2016 3:14 pm

I would never say the Elan is a reliable car, but as far as Lotus cars it's surely not the worst. The S1 Esprit was pretty bad with some serious design flaws. Still I'm okay with being in a list that includes the Miura.
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PostPost by: Carmenite » Tue May 10, 2016 3:29 pm

I've owned 3 of the cars on the list. A '80 Ferrari 308 GTB that caught fire on the freeway and left me stranded. A '86 Jaguar XJS V12 that inexplicably died in the middle of a busy intersection and had me directing traffic until the tow truck came.

The Lotus Elan I still have and I don't have anything really bad to say about it.
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PostPost by: prezoom » Tue May 10, 2016 3:36 pm

As I leave my house and crest a small rise, I can see the back of a very large garage that used to belong to John and Elaine Bond. Each time I look at the garage, I am reminded of the original magazine and its wonderful writers. Today, for me, it is hardly worth reading. Although, I can confess to purchasing last months copy to read the story on a very good friends son, with their grandson also mentioned.
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PostPost by: persiflage » Tue May 10, 2016 5:26 pm

A touch fragile maybe but no more unreliable than most cars of the period.
A lifetime ago I ran my Elan as my everyday steed for 6 years before the dreaded chassis worm struck. Apart from one ongoing issue which I eventually got to the bottom of the car did me proud ..... And it's still one of the prettiest machines to have driven our roads. :)
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PostPost by: Chancer » Tue May 10, 2016 5:47 pm

All cars of the epoque were fragile, raw materials cost money and over-engineering to create a vehicle that would run reliably for 20 + years like todays cars would have been stupid when they rusted away in less than half that.

The suspension components for example were made for the Triumph Heralds and GT6's and arguably had less work to do on an Elan in normal road use.

While back in the UK I ordered a SH part for my French pals Mazda MX5 Mk1, it was a rear hub carrier, just the upright and bearing carrier, no disc or caliper, I was staggered at how heavy it was, it felt like it was made for a truck and alone it weighs far more than the complete Chapman strut and probably the driveshaft as well.

Removing a 2000e type 4 speed Ford gearbox is dead easy single handed without mechanical aids, you try doing that with an MT75 box, it feels twice as heavy despite having alu/magnesium casings, the shafts, gears and bearings are just so much larger diameter, try comparing a Lotus Elan ally diff casing and differential to one from a Sierra and its the same story, massively heavier, but also massively more reliable.

When I saw the first Spyder cars conversions with Zetec engines, MT75 gearboxes, Sierra/Granada diffs and driveshafts, Sierra rear hubs etc I admired the engineering and knew they would be a quantum leap in reliability but its a huge amount of extra weight added in the areas where Lotus made such and effort to reduce it to a minimum, I have not driven one but would expect the dynamics to be more like the MX5, is that the case?
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PostPost by: TonyCaldwell » Tue May 10, 2016 5:56 pm

Wonderful! Who can beat my 4 out of the 9? And I wish it was more!
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PostPost by: gjz30075 » Tue May 10, 2016 11:25 pm

Obviously they've not read this article. This came "Motor" in 1967
scan0003.jpg and
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PostPost by: DrinkMan » Wed May 11, 2016 12:56 am

We currently own 2 on the list. Love them both. Our Spitfire is a blast to drive and very reliable (all Lucas is gone). And while still in our first year of ownership of the Elan, the love affair is going strong.

I want to pile on that I used to own a Alfa Romeo Milano - a GTV6 with 4 doors. Loved it. It was a lot more reliable than the Porsche 944 that my carpool buddy drove (actually didn't drive much, my Milano was the better of the two).
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PostPost by: msd1107 » Wed May 11, 2016 3:00 pm

I remember the Road & Track owners report. I called the Elan the least reliable car they had followed. Furthermore, they said that if a part could fail, it would fail in at least two different ways.

Well, that is a bunch of crock.

I drove the Elan for years and years. It was more reliable than our American sedan, and was less expensive to maintain, also.

Of course, I bought it from Bob Challman and it was maintained for years at his shop. Every 3,000 miles. Then I switched to an English mechanic who was trained on both Jaguars (I had a MK II Sedan also) and Lotuses. Same story for both cars. Maintenance every 3,000 miles. Both cars were reliable daily drivers.

Some people can trash the most ruggedly built car, and that is probably why these cars have developed such a poor reputation. But our Elan's are dead simple (except for Webers) and with regular maintenance are quite reliable.

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PostPost by: Davidb » Thu May 12, 2016 2:09 am

The problem is that people are looking at 50 year old cars and trying to compare them to newer cars-a ridiculous comparison. I have owned two or three on the list-the Range Rover was the worst but that was probably because of lack of maintenance-all alloy engines need regular coolant changes. (It was already old when I got it yer 'onour).

As regards the American obsession with Lucas electrics-NO electrical system can be expected to survive fifty years of weather changes, abuse and wear-AC Delco and Bosch don't do they?

Funny seeing a Lambo and a Spitfire on the same list...

Wouldn't it be nice to have a magazine like R&T used to be? :)

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PostPost by: Bud English » Thu May 12, 2016 3:48 pm

Davidb wrote:Wouldn't it be nice to have a magazine like R&T used to be? :)...

I couldn't agree more. I've subscribed to R&T for over ... well I'm not going to say how long after doing the math. (How'd I get so old, damn it). :wink:

A few years back I transferred my, paid up until sometime in 2017, subscription over to my thirty five year old step son. It's now more his style. He loves it and I don't miss it a bit.

RIP Road and Track.
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