Lotus Elan

my 26R Serial number

PostPost by: david caroll » Sat Mar 14, 2020 4:56 am

Sirs - i am completely baffled as to my 26Rs serial number. it had a real Lotus s/n plate where you would expect it, reading 26-S2-23, on the left firwall. this car was raced in 1966 by Rob't Colombosian of Autolab Imports in Woburn MA. i then bought if from them, turning in my 2 Elites on it for the race car and a promise to go through it to make sure everything was working right. this was done by Terry Secher, and later Jean Guy (Frenchy) Fiset who later became my business partner in repaitring/maintaining Lotuses, although we also worked on other types, including Ginetta, which made sense since i owned G4 #W166.

i loved my Elan, but made the horrible mistake of turning it in on GT 40 #P/1058, which i hated right out of the chute. Skip Barber was my Sales Manager, and as nice a man as i've ever known. i autocrossed the 26R in 1967-8, and at Bryar, before it became NHIS, which i also regret, i beat all comers including Skip in his beautiful McLaren MkIIB. the lap record was something like 1:19.6, and i lowered it to 1:19.2 (i think) in an autocross mid season 1968, and that record stood the whole rest of the season, only being beaten by Jerry Hansen in his new Lola T70. i wasn't that great a driver, but i knew Bryar intimately, and at that track you just couldn't beat m Elan.

of the 2 Elites, the second had the wonderful ZF close ratio box and was a Stage II. i only got it because the first one got T-boned by 5 drunk kids in a cast iron Pontiac sedan full of beer bottles and condoms (!) and was fixedso badly by Pete Pulver that in the short drive bewtween Millville NY and Lime Rock, the whole LF box behind the wheel well lifted so high there was a ridge across the top of the fender about 1 3/4" high, and i was afraid to drive anywhere i might be stranded if the whold front moncocque collapsed. and i adored the Elite with its seat-of-the-pants feel, and its cornering on rails. i saw my 1st 2 Elites in Germany when i was over there in the Army - the first, baby blue went wuffling by me in my Jeep as I drove back from Frankfurt to Kaiserslautern; the second, a heart-stopping red Stage III i Peter Lindner's window in Frankfurt. it was his own racer, i think.

thanks for listening to this long ramble, and if you can help with my 26R's s/n problem, i'd really appreciate it. sincerely, –david carroll
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PostPost by: mark030358 » Sat Mar 14, 2020 12:11 pm

The usual suspects will be along shortly I guess. But a great story.....
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PostPost by: nmauduit » Sat Mar 14, 2020 4:39 pm

david caroll wrote:Sirs - i am completely baffled as to my 26Rs serial number. it had a real Lotus s/n plate where you would expect it, reading 26-S2-23, on the left firwall.
...
thanks for listening to this long ramble, and if you can help with my 26R's s/n problem, i'd really appreciate it. sincerely, –david carroll


nice story, but would you please rephrase what the actual problem is, I'm not sure I grasped the issue you're facing?

ps:
https://elanregistry.org/app/car_details.php?car_id=703
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PostPost by: Davidb » Sat Mar 14, 2020 5:47 pm

That plate sounds right-although they didn't look right! There was no "26R" just "26". I had 26-S2-18 in the eighties but I cannot remember now if the dashes were strokes or, indeed, dashes...

Edit: On the series one 26Rs the chassis plate DID say 26R! (I had 26R-5 ; can't now remember if it was a dash or a slash)
'65 S2 4844
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PostPost by: one-two » Sat Mar 14, 2020 6:39 pm

Hi David Caroll, I would love to hear some more about your 26R. I have half an idea that it might have come to the UK slightly later in life. Would be great if you could post some more info here on the forum or by email as you prefer. Hope to hear from you soon! Best wishes, Robert
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PostPost by: elansprint71 » Sat Mar 14, 2020 8:09 pm

David, welcome to the forum!
Do you have any photographs you could share with us? It is great when we can add any historic images, no matter the quality and also any personal information about the car.



Great to have you with us.
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PostPost by: david caroll » Mon Apr 06, 2020 3:31 pm

elansprint71 wrote:David, welcome to the forum!
Do you have any photographs you could share with us? It is great when we can add any historic images, no matter the quality and also any personal information about the car.



Great to have you with us.
hello Lotus friends - i am sorry to take so long getting back to you - my wife recently died after a long fight with dementia, one of today's scourges, and unlike many husbands, i adored my wife. we have a long love story which i won't go into, but we met in 1954 and fell in love at 1st sight - something else i think is as rare as our 26Rs are now, at least the kind that "bears it out, even to the edge of doom" – one of my favorite sonnets, which i was reciting to her as she lay dying.

now, as to my 26R, i owned it in part of 1966, all of 1967 and part of 1968. i've given many details to Mr Larsson, but to recap the main stuff: it was delivered, badly prepared, to Autolab Imports in Woburn MA, USA in the fall of 1965 and Terry Secher and Jean Guy (Frenchy) Fiset prepared it over the winter of '65-'66. Mr Barrie''s (?) comments that it might have been in Britain at some point are not only undoubtedly true, but i believe it had been raced there because the type of disarray it was in was unmistakable evidence of racing history, things you can't do with normal street wear - worn out brake pads - impossible to wear out on the street – i know, as i both autocrossed it and drove it on the street during my whole ownership, and those hard compound pads just wouldn't, and couldn't wear out.

it was driven to an SCCA New England Regional championship in 1966, mostly by Robert Colombosian, who raced under the name Bob Colombo, but very occasionally by John Todd, who was a 3-way partner in OTC Racing, along with Bob as the "C", and Henry Olds, a silent partner and Business Manager. they raced it under the aegis of a tax write-off, as advertising for Autolab Imports.

i have many stories of Autlab, as i worked there during the same years i owned #23, but i'll tell just one as it praises someone i still like, respect and admire as the best kind of chap to be in our sport:

i am talking about Skip Barber, who was at that time my Sales Manager and as nice a man as i ever worked with, or even knew - he was kind, gentle, incredibly knowledgeable, both about the business and about racing- there can't be a sports car driver alive who doesn't at least know about Skip. he of course owns Lime Rock Park and was a very successful Can-Am driver with his McLaren MkIIB - a car i tried to get from him in an even swap for my GT40, which i stupidly traded my beloved Lightweight Elan on and regretted for the rest of my life. i've told Mr Larsson that if i could have that car back, i'd hang it from my living rm ceiling just to have it back. i've missed it all my life, and at least i'm happy to have finally found it, and even happier to know Mr Larsson is still racing it - after all, that's what they were intended to do.

i autocrossed #23 in 1967 and part of '68, very successfully with the Corvettes of Mass Club (COM) but only gained FTD once, even though this car was clearly faster than most of the competition including John Paul, Sr. in his very fast 427 Cobra, and all Cobras, 'Vettes and everyone else except Monty Wells in his extremely fast Ginetta G4. i actually owned a G4 myself, which my girlfriend (who never had a driver's license) fell in love with when we had if for sale in our show room at Autolab. it was #W166 and i sold it to Robert Cummings, another salesman there, who wrote it off on his honeymoon trip (!) but i understand it was rebuilt and still exists. forgotten who has it now.

anyway, i wish to clear up the thing about FTD, in this case at Salisbury Beach, a little (but fast) parking lot course in Hampton, NH. the COM drivers hated my Lightweight because we were always in contention for FTD. they didn't want that record to be taken by an "outsider", especially in one of them funny foreign thangs, but one day, i was the last car to run, i had 2 runs, and on my 2nd run i just pipped Monty's time by a few fractions of a second. well there was not legitimate reason for Monty to get another run - he had his two tries, and i beat him fair and square, i was loading the car up to go home and heard over the PA speaker that Monty was being given another run. i was duly perplexed and went over to Lyn Cosa - a very sweet young lady, and the official Timer for those events, and asked her why Monty got another run. forgotten her answer, but it was something like a pylon jumped out at Monty on the back straight and scared him, so he gets another try.

there was nothing i could do - she was the timer - which reminds me, i also never saw the stopwatches either, but it wouldn't have made any difference. they were in charge and that was that. Lyn was John Paul's girlfriend at the time, so what could i do. but it was cheap, and below the dignity of people who are racing unofficially, for fun only, and i regret ever being part of such a lowly affair. at least i was man enough to go to the little watering hole we all met at after our events, and accept my runner-up trophy. i think i threw it away as soon as i got home.

further evidence of how fast that car was is that a little later in the SCCA season (1968 now) i set a record at Bryar (now NHIS) that stood against all comers for the rest of the season, including Skip, a much better driver than i, and his McLaren, and all Cobras, Corvettes, Formula cars of any stripe, Can-Am Cars, what have you - everybody, bar none. as i said that car was blazing fast, especially on a track like Bryar. of course that was the perfect track for it before it was expanded to become NHIS, and of course i knew the track the way Bobby did - in fact, he set FTD in 1966 in an SCCA race at Bryar, a record that stood until the end of the '66 season.

the car would have been Nationall SCCA Champ, but it blew a freeze plug at Sebring with Bobby aboard while he was leading his class and, i think, was in some startling placing like 6th overall against the best drivers in the world. i told you, that car was, and must still be, inordinately fast.

i spent the winter of 1966-67 with Frenchy dolling it up a little for the street, but very little. perhaps the most noticeable change was that i hated the pop-up headlites and threw them away (FAR away) and had PL700s faired into the fenders, quite distictive, as they were left uncovered and the scoop in the fender was much shorter than usual. this is one way i recognized my car in a picture on some track when it was painted yellow you can hardly miss those distinctive headlights.

well, i have many other stories, like a guy in an E-Type Roadster in rural Northern Massachusetts who i came upon and he kept speeding up more and more and thought he was going very fast, and couldn't understand this odd litte thing behind him who couldn't understand that he was King of the Road in his mighty E-Jag, until finally i saw a short straight where it was safe to pass, and i blasted by him like he was standing still and went on to potter along on a nice leisurely Sunday drive.

well, i've detailed much else about the car, but that's all in earlier emails and can be looked up. more to the point is that i have many pictures of S2-23 both before and after my street preparations (which amounted to a little spare carpeting and the lights and some instrument changes. i drove it and autcrossed it for more than 2 years, and it never gave me a bit of trouble on street or track. we went over it before i made the awful mistake of trading it in on GT40 s/n P/1058 at Al Grillo Ford in Lynn, MA.

in an ironic sequel to the GT40 disaster, i ended up selling the GT to Skip, of all people, who agreed that it was in terrible shape when he got it. oh, the body was alright and interior, but it had unmistakable signs of having been raced. it was palmed off as a show car, used only as an advertising tool for Ford, but you can't hide the kind of disc wear, brake dust that gets into everything, and so forth that that car showed. it had been raced alright, but like the Monty Wells thing, you could never prove it. Skip sold it on, to Harvey Seigel, whom i won't discuss any further, thank you, and that's the end of it until now.

you must agree this diatribe has gone on long enough, so forthwith, the pictures – i hope; i had trouble attaching them last time. but for now, keep on truckin' Mama, truckin' my blues away... –david carroll

PS: i sitll can't understand this arrangement and can't seem to attach my jpegs of S2-23. could one of you, preferably Mr Larsson, give me a reguar email address and i can supply my pictures that way? my email is [email protected]
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PostPost by: nmauduit » Mon Apr 06, 2020 7:30 pm

Hi David,

just tried to send you a mail at the address you mentioned, but it bounced : would there be a typo by any chance (e.g. missing "e") ?

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PostPost by: vstibbard » Tue Apr 07, 2020 1:18 am

David,

What year was your car? If correct it sounds like it was an S2. You mentioned that your car had pop up headlights, to my knowledge this was a feature of the S1 26Rs only, by the time they got to S2's they either had perspex covers or the later smaller headlight apertures referred to as "Chinese eye".

I'd love to see pictures, if it helps I can create a dropbox folder that you can save them to and I will upload to this thread to share with the forum. I'll need a correct email address to send you the dropbox folder link.
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PostPost by: trw99 » Tue Apr 07, 2020 9:17 am

Vaughan, the S2 26Rs that went to non domestic markets retained the usual Elan pop up headlights.

I believe this was something to do with local market regulations. Of course, many owners then fitted the 26R versions once they had the car in their possession.

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PostPost by: bigvalvehead » Tue Apr 07, 2020 10:37 am

What exactly is the problem with the chassis no?
Post some pics of car and Vin plate.
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PostPost by: vstibbard » Tue Apr 07, 2020 10:02 pm

Hi Tim,

Thats at odds with my understanding, but happy to be corrected, for what its worth my 26R #40 was delivered new to Australia with Chinese Eye headlights, see picture of it being loaded for its first test day at the track.

26R S2 40 as collected & loading for first race.jpg and


I knew that S1 26Rs were delivered with headlight buckets and many were subsequently changed to perspex covers.

Cheers

V
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PostPost by: nmauduit » Wed Apr 08, 2020 7:28 am

on behalf of David who initiated the thread, here are period photos of his 26R he forwarded via DM

liteweight after 3_4 front.jpg and
David Carroll 26R period photo


liteweight 3_4 R front.jpg and
3/4 right front


liteweight after D driv.jpg and
interior L


liteweight after low front.jpg.jpg and
liteweight after low front


liteweight rear(1).jpg and
liteweight rear(1)


liteweight thru trees(1).jpg and
liteweight thru trees(1)


liteweight after rear.jpg and
liteweight after rear


liteweight B4 3_4 front.jpg and
liteweight B4 3_4 front


liteweight B4 dash.jpg and
liteweight B4 dash


liteweight B4 front.jpg and
liteweight B4 front
Last edited by nmauduit on Wed Apr 22, 2020 8:14 am, edited 2 times in total.
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PostPost by: one-two » Wed Apr 08, 2020 10:53 am

Fabulous pictures!
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PostPost by: trw99 » Wed Apr 08, 2020 11:45 am

[quote="vstibbard"]Hi Tim, Thats at odds with my understanding, but happy to be corrected, for what its worth my 26R #40 was delivered new to Australia with Chinese Eye headlights, see picture of it being loaded for its first test day at the track.
V[/quote]

I'd bet that was because Oz received domestic RHD cars. Maybe it was only the Federal market that had 26Rs with pop up headlights.

Tim
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