Lotus Elan

Elan S4SE identification

PostPost by: kfbrinton » Thu Mar 22, 2018 6:15 pm

I have a Elan S4SE 45/9638 manufactured 11/1969. The engine number is G/20943. All of the numbers on the car match the identifying plaques on the car. I have had the car for many (40+) years however I have never tried to determine its proper model year. I have heard there are listings with chassis and engine numbers that can help identify the model year. Any help would be appreciated.
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PostPost by: nmauduit » Fri Mar 23, 2018 8:32 am

Hello,

Andy Graham, archivist for Lotus, has access to official records and is really helpful regarding tese questions : he comes on the forum on a regular basis under the pseudo

LotusArchives

you may want to drop him a line (you may also purchase a certificate of provenance from Lotus http://www.lotuscars.com/ownership/cert ... provenance )
S4SE 36/8198
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PostPost by: gherlt » Fri Mar 23, 2018 8:33 am

Welcome on the board.
You should contact trw99 on this forum, he has all data and he most probably will give you a date.

Meanwhile you can go to http://www.elanregistry.org, there you will find a lot of Elans listed with chassis & engine numbers, you will find where you car fits in between.
1964 S1 (engine ready, awainting body paint)
1967 S3 DHC (now adjusted by Brian Buckland, totally calm idle)
1969 S4 FHC (final interior stuff)
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PostPost by: trw99 » Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:19 am

Welcome.

Your car was invoiced by the Lotus factory at Hethel on 15 Dec 1969. That would have been to the relevant US Lotus importer who had ordered the car. The likelihood is that it was shipped later that month, thus arriving Stateside in Quarter 1 of 1970.

The invoice date is the only certain date we have for the majority of Elans produced. It tended to be raised once the car had been fully built and was ready to depart Lotus. Therefore the car will have been on the production line for a few weeks before the invoice date.

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PostPost by: pharriso » Fri Mar 23, 2018 12:25 pm

kfbrinton wrote:I have a Elan S4SE 45/9638 manufactured 11/1969. The engine number is G/20943. All of the numbers on the car match the identifying plaques on the car. I have had the car for many (40+) years however I have never tried to determine its proper model year. I have heard there are listings with chassis and engine numbers that can help identify the model year. Any help would be appreciated.


11/69 means that your car is a 1970 model year car.
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PostPost by: lotocone » Fri Mar 23, 2018 4:10 pm

My Elan is 45/9807 which was built in Dec. 1969. It has been registered as a 1969 car in Michigan. Maybe some States used the build date for registration instead of the import date.
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PostPost by: pharriso » Fri Mar 23, 2018 4:22 pm

I think US States in the 60's & 70's did whatever they wanted... This was before standardized Vin numbers which defined the MY. The emissions plate under the hood defined to what MY standards a car was built to.

I had all sorts of trouble with NY because I registered by elan with the full vin on the tag, had to re-register as just 0260K.

Some States (notably CA) forced registrants to add digits...
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PostPost by: Esprit2 » Fri Mar 23, 2018 6:40 pm

kfbrinton,
The date given on the car's number plate (11/1969 on yours) is the "Build Date". That term is a little mis-leading since it is the date the paperwork was pulled to start the process, not the date the car was completed. There could be weeks between the 'Build Date' and when the car was completed, and in the case of the all too frequent parts shortages, there could be months.

I've never seen an official "completion date" for any Lotus car of that era. The production records copied by Sports Car World were from the Sales Department, and list the "Pass to Sales Date", which is the date when Manufacturing officially turned the car over to Sales. The next dates that were recorded and are commonly quoted are the Invoice Date and the Ship Date. Neither of them have any particular correlation with when the car was actually completed (or the intended Model Year), other than they occurred sometime after the car was built. During times of slow sales, the car could have sat in inventory at Lotus for considerable time before being invoiced or shipped.

In short, there is no official published date that clearly states any Elan's model year (any pre-1980 Lotus). One can surmise that if someone owns a 1971 Elan with a Nov 1969 Build Date, then clearly some shady dealer pulled a fast one back in the day. But does the car have a clear birthday... no, not really. For your car...

11/1969 = Build Date (when the paper work was pulled to start the process)
15-Dec-69 = Invoice Date, which was before it shipped, and before it arrived in North America.
It became a drivable car somewhere (?) in between.

All that uncertainty changed in 1980 when gov't mandated VIN formats included a code letter for the car's legal model year.

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PostPost by: elansprint71 » Fri Mar 30, 2018 6:08 am

Welcome; I think you might never get an exact answer to your date questions; Lotus records are not complete for that period (were they ever complete back in the day?). The guys already mentioned in this thread are the best custodians of what information there is out there.
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PostPost by: 69S4 » Fri Mar 30, 2018 7:21 am

kfbrinton wrote:I have a Elan S4SE 45/9638 manufactured 11/1969. The engine number is G/20943. All of the numbers on the car match the identifying plaques on the car. I have had the car for many (40+) years however I have never tried to determine its proper model year. I have heard there are listings with chassis and engine numbers that can help identify the model year. Any help would be appreciated.


My S4SE Elan is 36/9562, so about 75 before yours (assuming the numbers were used in order) and the info I managed to track down about it many years ago said built Aug 69 and road registered Dec 69.

As usual though with anything containing the words Lotus and 1960's in the same sentence, caveat emptor applies.
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