Lotus Elan

Elan chassis 36/6810

PostPost by: cadwell » Fri Jul 31, 2020 11:25 am

The above was bought from Lotus by a USAF pilot for use in UK. He took it back to the USA in 1985 , but he has now passed away and I am buying it from his estate.
I have the original Lotus warranty and sale document from the Lotus factory, which is dated 28th June 1969 which doesn't fit in with above chassis number which I think should be an S3 S/E. It is RHD.
The car looks like an S4 (Coupe) from photos which is a bit confusing.
Also the New York reg document says it is a 1967 car, so I am even more confused.
Did he buy it secondhand from Lotus? But then why does it look like an S4?
Engine no. is LP 7556 LBA
This has a Big Valve cam cover to make things worse, and as these engines did not come out till Oct 1970 it will probably not have the original engine when I receive itIt also seems to have rocker switches on the dash, which, of course are S4!
Any views from the experts on this?
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PostPost by: alan.barker » Fri Jul 31, 2020 11:33 am

Of couse S4 as i'm sure you know is with the square rear wheel arches.
For the Engine i would look to see if the Head has the "N" stamped on it.
If original Chassis it should be stamped/etched on the top Flange.
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PostPost by: snowyelan » Fri Jul 31, 2020 12:24 pm

Hi Cadwell,

I'm hoping its a typo on someones part but it appears you have the same vin as Rob?
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PostPost by: cadwell » Fri Jul 31, 2020 12:50 pm

Yes you are right, I should have said that was one reason for the query.
I am asking the seller to give me the chassis no. from the car as I cannot see it having 36/6810, when it looks like an S4 with S4 wheelarches and rocker switches.
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PostPost by: trw99 » Fri Jul 31, 2020 2:00 pm

Unit No 6810 is well documented and well known as the ex-Graham Hill S3 Elan.

I can give you the correct Unit No for this Engine No, which was invoiced by the factory in late August 1966, as a S3. It is of course entirely possible that engine and unit have become separated over the years, or that the car was re-bodied with a Series 4 body, perhaps when the early bodies were unavailable.

The Big Valve was not production-ised until February 1971; it was announced at the October 1970 Motor Show. Many cars have been retrofitted with BV cam covers or even genuine BV engines, so the fact this has one is no indicator at all as to it's true identity, unfortunately.

Please contact me by PM or my website below.

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PostPost by: tvacc » Fri Jul 31, 2020 6:02 pm

Hi all,
I am the one with the car. I will go out and see the car this evening. It is about 20 min from my home. I bought the car from an estate and honestly never checked the paperwork I got against the car ID plate. I dont mind the possible buyer questioning this and I hope we are all wrong as if we are not then maybe I got taken advantage of. There was only one Elan in the estate.

In any event, I am not trying anything funny here. You should all know me. Been in the Lotus game a long time and if there is something amiss, we shall figure it out.

Edit, If I go out there and this is 6810, do I have an ex Graham Hill car?

Please all, I was not trying anything "funny" here. I had to buy the car sight unseen. I paid for the car, got the paperwork long before I ever saw the car. Just the way estate sales work. It was soon after I picked up the car and stored it a friends place that I took ill an spent quite a bit of time in the hospital so I have only seen the car once since I picked it up. I am at a point in my life where I have to start getting rid of cars. due to health issues. When the original poster said he was looking for an Elan coupe I contacted him as it is right hand drive. I told him I would be interested in selling it if my son did not want it as I first promised it to my son, as he has grown a fondness for right hand drive cars. The original poster and I have been exchanging information, shipping options but have not really agreed to a deal.
If this is an ex Graham Hill car, I suspect I will have a tough time getting it from my son. I will let you all know what I find out.

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PostPost by: Thornts » Fri Jul 31, 2020 7:30 pm

Hi Tony and Cadwell
I just spent a long time composing a reply to this but the site logged me out and I think I lost it all, unless someone can tell me where it went! Consequently this is the brief 'holding' version.
Guess I should dive in as the owner of 36/6810. Apologies, I have only just caught this thread but in the mean time people have already said what I would have done. If you are putting any value on it being 36/6810 (which in fairness I don't think you are), I would approach the car you are thinking of buying with caution. Tom, who hunts for and finds things in barns is active on this superb forum might want to dive in at any time as I bought 36/6810 from him more years ago than I care to remember. I know all about the car's early life in the UK, as Tim and Snowyelan have alluded to and have a detailed paper trail of the car in the US going back to 1981. As I say, briefly, between Tom and I we have owned the car for nearly 30 years.
If the paperwork that comes with your car relates to 36/6810, I would of course be very interested...
Best wishes
Rob
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PostPost by: Thornts » Fri Jul 31, 2020 10:53 pm

Hi Tony and Cadwell.
I've dug my car's file out and can put a little flesh on the bones which I hope will help:
In 1981 Lotus Cars responded to an enquiry from a Christopher Young, then of Pembroke Me. I don't have a copy of the enquiry from Christopher but the response from Lotus confirms the car "was originally manufactured for Graham Hill and completed on 5th March 1967. The chassis number should read 36/6810."
At the back end of 1990 Tom Cotter spotted the car for sale in the Asheville Citizen-Times in North Carolina while at an Austin Healey meet. He agreed to buy the Elan from Christopher (by then running a business "Designs in Wood" in Brevard NC), got into a bidding war but thankfully prevailed; the sale was concluded on 26th January 1991. Tom's understanding then was that Christopher had owned the car for some 20 years, taking us back as far as 1970, give or take.
I tried to buy the car from Tom in July 1992 and eventually prevailed early in 2000.
I hope this helps clarify what I know about the car, look forward to hearing how you get on at your end as it would be beyond exciting if you have paperwork relating to 36/6810.
Best wishes
Rob
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PostPost by: tvacc » Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:27 am

I am not going to be able to out till tomorrow. Car is against the wall and I cannot pull it out to get a picture of the VIN plate. It is on casters but with my health issues I cannot pull/lift/torque heavy things any longer. I need to have someone help me.
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PostPost by: cadwell » Sat Aug 01, 2020 6:15 am

Thank for this Rob. Well, I think you are going to be very excited as Tony has originals and I have copies of the Lotus Warranty for the sale of your chassis number, but the strange thing is it is dated June 1969. Tony also has the USA reg with that chassis number. All will be revealed today when Tony lets us know the chassis number of his car? As I have previously said it is an S4 so it seems the paperwork will not match the car. Tony is as confused about all this as the rest of us are!
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PostPost by: Thornts » Sat Aug 01, 2020 7:08 am

Hi Peter
Yes, I'm massively excited about original paperwork turning up, as I said before, this forum is an amazing asset. Obviously it is never a good thing when two cars appear to have the same identity but in this instance some good may come of it. Tony, please do not rush to get sight of the chassis plate, it isn't going anywhere and your health is way more important than a bunch of numbers on a 4x3 piece of aluminium or even aluminum.
How about this for a hypothesis: Graham and Jimmy are given/loaned Elan S3 SE FHCs in March 1967 and a year later the marketing guys want them to be seen in +2s. Jimmy gives his S3 to Jabby Crombac (presumably with the OK from ACBC) as he leaves to meet his destiny at Hockenhiem. Graham returns his in exchange for a silver +2 and the S3 kicks around at Hethel ending up as just another used car. Roger Putnam, Lotus PR at the time who handed the S3 over to Graham (having been done for speeding on the way to the photo opportunity!) told me that was common practice and even Jimmy's S2 sat on the lot for some time before selling! A year or so later 36/6810 is finally sold to the USAF pilot, hence the 1969 sales and warranty paperwork. Lotus passing a second hand car off as new?? From there the car makes its way to the USA and the NY registration stating 1967 starts to make sense. The pilot then sells the Elan to Christopher but not all the paperwork gets passed on with the car. Some time later he acquires an S4 and 50 years later the history of the S3 is mistakenly associated with that car.
As I say, just a theory though I wonder if the estate night be able to confirm or deny. Not surprisingly, memories from half a century ago can be less than perfect.
Any chance the paperwork might relate to a nearly new car Peter/Tony? Perhaps it was just assumed it was for a new car because of the warranty?
Anyway, all exciting stuff!
Best wishes.
Rob
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PostPost by: trw99 » Sat Aug 01, 2020 9:34 am

Peter has kindly sent me a scan of the Lotus Cars (Sales) Ltd Warranty. It is made out to a chap based in New York.

To confirm, the Unit No is 36/6810 and the Engine No is LP7556LBA.

Rob, I very much feel that your hypothesis is bang on. It seems clear to me that 6810 was sold by Lotus, probably at a knock down price in June 1969 as a secondhand car (one careful owner, a Mr G Hill!) with a factory warranty. If that is the case, the one small anomaly regards the Engine No.

In the factory records 7556 was first fitted to an Elan that was invoiced by Lotus in August 1966. I believe Putnam handed the car over to Hill in March 1967. Rob, is that engine still with the car? Or do you have another Engine No recorded for it? In the factory records there is no Engine No recorded against Graham's car. It is entirely possible that 7556 was fitted to a Lotus company car, very lightly used and thus fitted to the Hill car after his use to help the new owner feel that it would be a reliable runner!

To get back to Peter's original query, we shall have to await Tony's inspection of the VIN plate of the S4 to determine it's provenance. And Tony, worry not, we know you to be one of the good guys!

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PostPost by: Thornts » Sat Aug 01, 2020 10:48 am

Thanks Tim and firstly +1 for your comment re Tony, something of a legend in the Lotus world even on this side of The Pond.
The engine is indeed interesting with as you say, no number against 36/6810 in the copy of the factory chassis records I have. Given Graham collected the car from IWR (another excuse to share the attached) I had dreams of him having had a whizzy engine built for the car but both Ian Walker and Roger Putnam confirmed this was not the case. Great for you to have been able to date LP7556LBA to 1966 Tim which is probably around the time 36/6810 was being built - it has a Cheshunt chassis plate though Roger picked it up at Hethel to take it down to Graham - but with it being allocated to another Elan it seems unlikely it is my cars original unit. The second hand engine/warranty theory has some legs I'd say.
Peter and I are in touch directly and the questions seem to be:
How did "my" paperwork end up in an estate sale?
Did the deceased ever own my car?
What is the identity (chassis and engine numbers would be great) of Tony's car?
Is it possible Christopher Young bought my car from the now deceased USAF pilot and Tony's car is a second, likely S4 Elan?
Answers on a post card...
Thanks to all
Rob
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PostPost by: Elan45 » Sat Aug 01, 2020 2:57 pm

My 45/7380 Super Safety has a Cheshunt chassis plate, so I think this just confirms that Lotus wasn't going to waste any parts that were perfectly good, but just had an obsolete address printed on them.

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PostPost by: Thornts » Sat Aug 01, 2020 4:05 pm

Absolutely Roger. I can see some poor guy in purchasing getting the boot for ordering 500 Cheshunt chassis plates in January '66 because he got a good deal for bulk!
Cheers
Rob
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