Lotus Elan

Elan S4 rebuild - reflections on 50 year with same car

PostPost by: PSLarsen » Tue Dec 22, 2020 3:50 pm

Good afternoon,
The story on nearly 50 years with my Elan, its restoration and rebuild, is finally online for all to see. Buying an Elan nearly new in 1972 and keeping it until now, is somewhat unique and provides some advantages. In recounting this tale, you will see many references to LotusElan.net for technical assistance and encouragement. It is hard for me to communicate how much I appreciate what you all have written over the years and your gracious willingness to help.

So, here is my opus, regarding my Elan: I'd love to hear what you all think about it.

My Elan: https://stevelarsen.net/cars/lotus-elan-1969/
Main page on my site if you wish to wander about: https://stevelarsen.net

With my thanks!

Steve Larsen
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lotus page.JPG and
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Sun Jan 03, 2021 3:39 am

Great stories and a great read on your web site. I love you're taste in cars.

cheers
Rohan
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PostPost by: mwhitaker » Sun Jan 03, 2021 3:35 pm

What a fabulous read- you have managed to do what we would all like to do-congrats on keeping this car for half a century. Thanks for sharing.

Cheers, Mark Whitaker

69 Elan S4 DHC
45/8396
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PostPost by: seniorchristo » Sun Jan 03, 2021 4:12 pm

What a terrific story! I haven't delved in to the rebuilding process yet but it looks like an ultimate Elan restoration.

However I must offer this as an alternative to your production figure of "over 15,000".

From Robinshaw and Ross "Elan and Plus 2" I quote:

"Thus total production including 26R's was probably within the range 8,676 to 9,153 and certainly not the optimistic but so often published 12,000-plus figure, which must remain highly suspect."

Best of Luck
Chris :)
67 Elan Super Safety
67 Elan +2
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PostPost by: elansprint71 » Sun Jan 03, 2021 5:07 pm

Great work Steve; welcome to the forum.
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PostPost by: andyj007 » Sun Jan 03, 2021 10:34 pm

this is just so cool , you need to post a pic of the freebie stuff you got from factory.. just no one does that any more allow access any more i just love that whole adventure, risk and care free times of youth ..
Bravo
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PostPost by: The Veg » Mon Jan 04, 2021 1:32 am

Great stuff Steve! I've only given it a preliminary skim, but I like the presentation and I'm looking forward to digging in deeper. And as a budding automotive writer myself, I feel that I'm in good company.
1969/70 Elan Plus 2 (not S) 50/2036
"It just wouldn't be a complete day if I didn't forget something!" -Me
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PostPost by: 1owner69Elan » Mon Jan 04, 2021 2:06 am

Steve, really enjoyed reading your Elan restoration and saga. Certainly struck a few chords with me as the original owner of essentially the same car, a 1969 S4 SE Federal Elan. My car, 45/9182 was built around 6 months before yours My saga started in 1969 when I picked the car up at the Hethel Lotus factory. I didn't get the royal treatment you did on your visit (a few years later), even though I had an appointment and was purchasing a car. They seemed to be rather busy elsewhere.

Picking the car up in the UK reduced the purchase price from $5K to 3.5K, a significant discount that made the purchase possible. When you could also buy a used AC Cobra or a new Corvette in the US at that time for $5k, or less, it wasn't surprising that not many Elans were sold. But at $3.5K for the Elan and $3.2K for an MGB, a no brainer for me.

I noted that your Elan moved around the States as your career took you to various parts of the country. My car did most of its wide travels just after I picked it up as I drove it through England and Wales, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Spain. Through some amazing roads and scenery and with ample high speed runs. After two months and some 6000+ miles I exported the car back to California where it resides to this day.

I generally followed your philosophy on my recent rebuild: keeping original parts where practicable or desirable but upgrading in areas that could be meaningfully and tastefully improved, but not materially altering the body. I did deviate from this a bit in exchanging my Stromberg head for a new Weber one (something I wanted to do since the day I picked up the car), lots of 26R upgrades including hubs/wheels (within stock arches), enhanced engine performance, wiring redesign with additional fuses/relays, limited slip diff, etc... But, still an S4. Albeit with substantial performance.

Your opportunity to enlist the aid of a proven group of specialists (including Brian Buckland!) certainly gave confidence in achieving your final result : a first rate Elan, as well as what must have been a highly enjoyable group effort. Whether it is the "most perfect" in the world I am sure would elicit a lively debate amongst the members of this Forum. There are a number of amazing Elans to be had here. Some utterly original down to the nuts and bolts used, to lightly modified cars, to full up resto-mods, to race oriented versions....

In any event, well done, excellent documentation of the rebuild, including the 50 year personal journey.

PM sent.
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Street 181 BHP
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PostPost by: Pastapesto » Mon Jan 04, 2021 2:10 am

Hello & welcome Steve

I had a pretty good look at the Elan stuff and some of the other information and really liked what I read. Will have a much greater in depth look when I have the time. Also really like the NSX & MP4-12C....very wise choices to compliment the Elan. Great looking garage too.

Well done

All the best

Adam
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PostPost by: andyj007 » Mon Jan 04, 2021 8:13 am

just been reading lots of other parts of your site.. still loads to get through what a great read! ...
one quick question, whats the internal width of your 3 car garage.. im just designing one myself, it looks perfect size for my needs!
regards
Andy
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PostPost by: PSLarsen » Thu Jan 07, 2021 9:43 pm

Based on some terrific input from 1owner69Elan, I've re-written the last paragraph of my rebuild saga. Here is the new version with thanks to 1owner69Elan and others on this board.

"Conclusion: So, I’ve worked to address several of these cosmetic and other minor issues. In addition, one contributor on the LotusElan.net bulleting board, going by the handle “1owner69Elan,” helped me a great deal as well. He went through all of my photos and notes on the car and gave me a number of good suggestions. When its your baby and you know why you did everything the way you did, it is terrific to get someone elses take, and his was very helpful. While this is an awesome car in just about every respect, I have learned that a great many people have poured time and money into rebuilding many of these incredibly awesome machines. Along the way, decisions and trade-offs are made, consistent with a set of values and goals, a vision if you will, for what each owner has in mind for his project and what he or she wants to have when its fully completed. A panel of judges or even another skilled Elan expert may have different ideas and values and could have made other choices. I’m totally fine with that, because I am fully onboard and confident that every decision I made on this car was the right one – for me, for my vision of what I wanted the car to be and consistent with the superb advice and support I got from my coterie of experts and helpers. One of the most wonderful and rewarding aspects of a project like this is looking at all of the various options that occur, weighing each one carefully, making a decision and then executing to the highest degree possible."
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PostPost by: PSLarsen » Thu Jan 07, 2021 10:03 pm

One more thing. I am more than happy to provide some of the things you've asked me for, such as the diagram of my garage with the dimensions. But I don't know how to do that here. I am hoping it is okay if I provide you my email address - [email protected] - and ask that you send me the request via email. That way I'll know how to forward you a diagram or other stuff that I can't seem to figure out how to do here.

Thanks. I hope this does not violate any rules.

Steve Larsen
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