Lotus Elan

Looking for good Elan restoration

PostPost by: Baxter200 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:35 pm

Hello all,

Looking for some advice please. My father owned a 1969 Lotus Elan S4 FHC SE, which is need of complete restoration. I don't really have the option not to do it, as it was his dying wish for me to get it restored.

Can anyone point me in the direction of competent and reliable restorers for this project please. Its not something I can take on myself. as my skill set is limited, but also am about to emigrate to the USA. Once restored, the car will join me for a happy life cruising the Pacific Coast Highway in California .

Many thanks in advance for any help
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PostPost by: awatkins » Tue Jul 17, 2018 4:50 am

If you are open to having the restoration done in the US I could recommend Rich Kamp at http://www.kampena.com who did quite a lot of work on my Elan S3 and has been maintaining Lotuses here for decades.
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PostPost by: MarkDa » Tue Jul 17, 2018 5:33 am

It would probably be more satisfying to have the work done where you can see it in progress.
Take it with you and do the soundings via local owners groups.
You'll also be less concerned about freighting that way.
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PostPost by: 1owner69Elan » Tue Jul 17, 2018 6:36 am

As was raised on a thread recently, importing a non US compliant car into California may be difficult. Here are the rules:

https://www.arb.ca.gov/html/master_faqs ... rs_faq.htm

What is ridiculous is that a 1969 imported Elan has to have conformed to US regs for that time. Even though the car is otherwise now exempt. So other 1969 Elans, like mine, are running around with no restrictions or testing whatsoever required. But, they started out as compliant even if that compliance is now long gone.
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PostPost by: MarkDa » Tue Jul 17, 2018 6:57 am

Can vehicles registered in other states be driven in California?
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PostPost by: alan.barker » Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:35 am

Could you get the Engine and Gearbox taken out and a few other things. Maybe then you could import it as car spares or parts.
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PostPost by: 1owner69Elan » Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:37 am

Yes, of course cars from other states can drive in California.

So, I suppose you are suggesting just registering the car in another state but use it in California. I?m no expert but maybe that could be done.

South Dakota is known for being a registration ?haven?. The car need not ever be in South Dakota to register it there. There are agencies that provide that service. If you go to Mexico you see many cars with South Dakota plates. Avoids Mexican registration and insurance for expats and they can renew via mail.

Whether that would work for California I don?t know. Apparently it?s technically illegal but you have to get caught:

https://www.dmv.org/articles/chp-cracks ... ations.php

But there is also the question of what happens at the port of entry when the car gets off the boat?

All seems to get a bit complicated.

A replica Federal compliance tag, that you can buy from US Lotus parts dealers, might be useful.
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PostPost by: elanner » Tue Jul 17, 2018 12:53 pm

"I don't really have the option not to do it, as it was his dying wish for me to get it restored."

You lucky man. -)

"Once restored, the car will join me for a happy life cruising the Pacific Coast Highway in California ."

Doubly so!

Lots of great advice here so far. You could also ping somebody at http://www.gglotus.org for some pointers to restorers. Then ask a few about importing, restoring, then registering the car. Somebody will have done it and know the ropes.

Start looking for a left hand drive steering rack and pedal box!

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PostPost by: Baxter200 » Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:41 pm

Well thank you all so far for your advice and replies. I'm currently looking to go with a company called Hilton & Moss. Anyone had experience? They certainly look very competent. I think I would prefer to get it restored in the UK, but clearly I have to consider making it US Compliant. I appreciate the advice on that, part of me suspected that due to its age, then these things wouldn't factor.

Also I hadn't even considered switching it to a left hooker, as I wanted to keep it as original as possible (aside from a few bits of modernisation to make it more reliable) but this might have to factor also.

I guess I'm lucky in that my father was an Engineer, and my understanding is he had taken the engine apart, possibly the gearbox as well, and kept that store separately in a garage. The fibreglass looks pretty rough, and from a first quote, I'm looking at at least 30k to get it back to glory. This is obviously a lot of money, but my plan is to keep it in the family, and pass it on to my daughter, so money well spent.

I'll start hunting for the federal compliance tag.

Kind regards all
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PostPost by: MarkDa » Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:46 pm

If you need bodywork doing then seek out a fibreglass specialist.
It's not a big deal to separate body from chassis and you may be doing that anyway if chassis needs replacing.
A full strip back, new gel coat and repaint will cost getting on for ?10k.

You've got a lot of legwork to do on deciding what needs to be done before you choose who does it.
It will certainly be worth taking the car to one of the 'usual suspects' to get an opinion.
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PostPost by: Citromike » Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:02 pm

I have brought multiple Citroen 2CVs to the States and all have been registered in California with no issues.
There is no compliance necessary that I am aware of if your vehicle is from 1967 or earlier.

Further, I have an RHD vehicle here; have had it since 1994, and there are no problems driving it - the Citroens and Lotuses are particularly easy due to narrowness (it's irrelevant which side you are on). The only issue would be paying tolls but that's unlikely to be a deterrent to you.

Bringing in parts and restoring them, then assembling the vehicle and seeking registration could be the most successful path of entry. Or purchasing a basket case Lotus which is already here and using whatever necessary to make one good (and compliant) one from the two. Obviously you have to balance cost and practicality.

I have personally spoken to one gent who found the whole importation issue a boring, so he keeps all his cars in the UK and flies one over for a week or two when he wants to use it. But your budget may vary ...

Good luck on this.
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PostPost by: 1owner69Elan » Tue Jul 17, 2018 6:30 pm

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PostPost by: Davidb » Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:44 pm

Baxter200. Please remember the rule: Double all estimates!
And no, I am not kidding.
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PostPost by: MarkDa » Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:49 pm

2 to that.
Professional labour costs can run up very fast on apparently simple jobs.
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PostPost by: Lotus14S2 » Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:22 am

Richard did work on a couple of my cars, and is truly an expert on the Elan.

What I would suggest is to contact Rich Kamp at http://www.kampena.com, and talk to him about your plan to bring your car into California from England, and what would be needed to get it through the system.
The Feds are the problem.
I brought an unregistered, or specifically out of registration, Elan into California, and once i was able to show the California DMV the documentation that the car was real, they signed off on it immediately.
My wife's uncle brought a S2 Europa into California from England, and was able to get it registered in California after making the federal changes. You have to take the car to a DMV office to have a physical inspection; mostly to see if the horn beeps, and all the lights work. They will look at the chassis plate, and record the numbers to appear on your California "pink slip." You will be handed the license plates, and you will need to install them there. I only installed the rear plate, they didn't seem to care about the front. If you want to keep your UK plates, do not show up with them; just tell them they were removed in England.
A S4 should not be too much of a problem, the worst possible requirement would be installing a dual master cylinder...if that was a federal requirement for the year of the car.
Look at: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail ... rsonal-use They seem to say if the car is more than 25 years old, you're home free.
You should not have to worry about smog.
You might see what the differences are between a Federal car and your car; it may not be that much.
The Europa was a problem because it needed the dual master cylinder, but it also needed all the instrument panel switched to be changed to rocker switches, which I don't think is a problem on the S4.
Richard can probably give you a list of changes that will need to be made, and quite likely he can do that for you..
Good luck,
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