Lotus Elan

Opinions: RHD vs. LHD on U.S. roads?

PostPost by: Vic » Mon May 31, 2021 1:38 am

I wanted to solicit opinions on right hand drive vs. left hand drive for a street driven Elan on U.S roads. I have both RHD and LHD pedal assemblies and steering racks to go either way. This specific Elan S2 (GTS bodywork) was originally RHD and I was going to keep it that way for the novelty, but now am considering building it LHD and actually driving it. This new line of thought originated from following Ross Robins tour of the U.S. blog and his observations of driving U.S. roads. I will also adjust gearing based on Ross' observations.

Let me know what you think,

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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Mon May 31, 2021 8:45 am

Just on pure safety grounds you’ve got to go lhd. The Elan is tiny compared to some of the soccer moms behemoth SUVs and trucks you need to see around them for the many overtakes you’ll perform. Also a no brainier for when you want to sell it on.
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PostPost by: SENC » Mon May 31, 2021 11:51 am

I have an LHD Elan and a RHD Seven. I don't feel any more or less safe in one than the other. The singular exception from a driving standpoint (to me) is when behind a slower vehicle on a 2-lane road - you can't stay up close and take a quick peek around the left side of the car to check for oncoming traffic when you're in the right seat. Having said that, I'm not staying close behind anyone in these little cars - I'm happy giving plenty of distance, which allows me better visibility and as quick as these are there is no problem passing when space allows.

In the minor nuisance category for me, but that may be bigger issues for you, are drive-throughs and parking garages. I can manage both in the Seven because it is so narrow and is topless, though I can also drive under most lot gates and am not generally seeking a drive-through when driving it.

I am told LHDs hold a little more value in the US, presumably because some just aren't comfortable driving an RHD so that market is slightly smaller - but if it were me I'd rebuild it as-is for simplicity and originality.
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PostPost by: baileyman » Mon May 31, 2021 11:57 am

If you build with separate front and rear master cylinders with a balance bar, LHD is much more difficult to fit, requiring a cutout in the LH finder well, relocation of the parking brake. I suppose someone has figured out a better arrangement, but I have not seen one yet. John
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PostPost by: RogerFrench » Mon May 31, 2021 3:04 pm

We have a RHD S3 and it's not really an issue except as noted for drive- throughs and gates. On the road the car is so narrow you only have to hang back a little bit to see round traffic ahead.
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PostPost by: mbell » Mon May 31, 2021 4:17 pm

I have a RHD +2 in the US. I pretty much echo the other comments. I don't have real issues on the road, even the +2 isn't a big car.

With RHD you have more limited visibility generally, especially with size of US cars. So overtakes are much safer if you hang back, which also give more space to accelerate and limit time on the wrong side of the road. Which is good given the lack of crash protection.

Drive through situation are tricker, can always go through backwards...

I'd think a LHD drive would be have big pool of buyers if you were to sell it and so might get you a better price.

If you planning lots of road driving and not planning to keep it forever or move to RHD country with it then I'd very slightly lean to convert it to RHD.
'73 +2 130/5 RHD, now on the road and very slowly rolling though a "restoration"
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PostPost by: 65sunbeam » Mon May 31, 2021 4:26 pm

I have both RHD and LHD cars. Even bought a few RHD cars at what I feel were lower prices due to other potential buyers scared of the RHD! These cars are so narrow that it is mostly a non-issue. Try driving one and find out once you master shifting with your left hand. And drive-throughs? I have gone through in reverse before-that really makes their day. Also consider it is just another anti-theft feature and great training if you ever visit the UK.
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PostPost by: Slowtus » Mon May 31, 2021 4:51 pm

I drove LHD cars in the UK and RHD cars in Europe for a few years and other than comments made above, it was a "non" experience for me, making the transition either way took just a few minutes of mental adjustment.

That said, why drive wrongside when you don't have to?
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PostPost by: Mazzini » Mon May 31, 2021 5:02 pm

65sunbeam wrote:I have both RHD and LHD cars. Even bought a few RHD cars at what I feel were lower prices due to other potential buyers scared of the RHD! These cars are so narrow that it is mostly a non-issue. Try driving one and find out once you master shifting with your left hand. And drive-throughs? I have gone through in reverse before-that really makes their day. Also consider it is just another anti-theft feature and great training if you ever visit the UK.
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PostPost by: The Veg » Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:05 am

My Plus 2 is LHD but seems like it would be too low for most drive-throughs.
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PostPost by: Vic » Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:23 am

Thanks so much for all the comments. I'm leaning towards conversion to LHD. I'm at a point in the build that I could assemble either way and have the parts to do it.
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PostPost by: Paul55 » Tue Jun 01, 2021 6:20 am

For the sake of safety I would change to LHD, the Elan is a performance car and this sometimes includes having to overtake, it's a lot better when you can see the road ahead. I live in Europe and bought a RHD Elan and am in the process of changing it to LHD, it's all pretty basic stuff. Got the main parts, pedal assy and rack from Tony Thompson Racing and the dash from Paul Matty. The pedal assy height on the bulkhead is just about pre determined as there is a bracket already bonded into the bodywork for the cross bar mounting, just have to watch the left to right position as it hasn't to interfere with either the hand brake tube or the steering column. Again the steering can only go in one place as it has two fixed points as a reference, the dash at one end and the rack at the other, the steering column has to fit in between. Did most of it with the engine in place, but removed the engine to fix some oil leaks, and it's easier now to make the new brake and clutch hydraulic lines, and to give the engine bay a quick tidy up.
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