Lotus Elan

1969 Lotus Elan Identification

PostPost by: phillmurphy » Mon Jul 01, 2024 3:10 am

Hi
I have recently inherited from my father a !969 Lotus Elan what I understand to be a S4 SE DHC.
From the information of engine number and Vin No. (vehicle Identification number) listed below, can this be confirmed?

Engine No. H-16942-B (marked as a "Big Valve" head
Vin No. 36 / 8375

Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Phill
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PostPost by: Ray419G » Mon Jul 01, 2024 12:46 pm

Phill,

Starting with the unit number (VIN) the 36 prefix indicates that the car started off life as a Fixed Head Coupe, while 8375 indicates that the car was constructed sometime in mid to late 1968; others on this site might be able to give a more exact date.
Quite a lot of FHCs have been converted to DHCs, provided the conversion has been done to a good standard it shouldn't be a problem but might reduce the cars value very slightly compared to a factory original DHC.
The engine number is interesting as it is my understanding that H prefix relates to a “Super S/E'' spec, which I believe is rare, most Elans at the time were either Standard or Special Equipment specification. Big valve heads didn't arrive for another couple of years on production cars, but many earlier cars have been upgraded to this standard, or the later big valve heads have been fitted.

Ray.
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PostPost by: phillmurphy » Tue Jul 02, 2024 12:28 am

Thanks for the reply Ray.
From my further investigations on the Lotus Registry, "8375" had a build date of October 24 1968, however, was original fitted with "C" suffix engine and engine no. 16992 (Green cam cover).
Looks very likely and engine swap to Big Valve (vehicle has Black + ribbed cam cover), will need to confirm the engine block marking.
Very interesting review "so far", greatly appreciate your assistance.
Onward, the vehicle is still being brought to roadworthiness and formal registration by the local authorities. Eager to check the vehicle, to qualify the details available to-date.
Cheers

Phill
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Tue Jul 02, 2024 2:28 am

Check with Club Lotus Australia in Sydney as they will probably have further knowledge of the car and its history.

cheers
Rohan
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PostPost by: phillmurphy » Tue Jul 02, 2024 3:27 am

Many thanks Rohan
I am already in contact with Club Lotus Australia, they have a detailed search listing on their website, which I have recovered information sofar

regards

Phill
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Tue Jul 02, 2024 3:33 am

My car is 36/8555 and was invoiced form the factory in August 1968. Lotus numbering was haphazard so it certainly possible that your earlier number had a later build date. Do you have a bonnet bulge? as all cars out of the factory at that time had that bulge even if fitted with Webers to accomodate the Strombergs going on US cars and the planned change to Strombergs for UK cars in 1969.

cheers
Rohan
Last edited by rgh0 on Tue Jul 02, 2024 8:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: h20hamelan » Tue Jul 02, 2024 3:43 am

both my Elan's were not registered in Canada for at least a year after building.
One built in early 67 is a 69, the other late 67 is a 70. Both correctly registered now, 67 & 68.
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PostPost by: phillmurphy » Tue Jul 02, 2024 7:36 am

Rohan
Thanks, there is no bonnet bulge, but is fitted with 2 x 40dcoe Webbers
Phill
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PostPost by: phillmurphy » Tue Jul 02, 2024 7:39 am

h20hamelan

Thanks, I am presently processing registration here in Australia. I understand it has been registered here locally, but expired more than 10 years ago.
Cheers
Phill
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PostPost by: vstibbard » Wed Jul 03, 2024 9:31 am

Hi Phil drop me a PM and I’ll connect you with the Club Lotus Aust registrar.
Cheers Vaughan
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PostPost by: mwhitaker » Wed Jul 03, 2024 9:06 pm

My 69 Elan DHC 45/8396 was invoiced from the factory in Oct 68 as a Federal version with bonnet bulge as per Stromberg equipment-interesting that Rohan's car has an earlier invoice date but later chassis #. Record keeping seems a bit erratic back in the day... only adds to the charm.

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PostPost by: trw99 » Thu Jul 04, 2024 1:18 pm

The only way we have of dating the majority of Elans is via the invoice date. Other records, such as they were at the time, have long since disappeared. So we are very lucky that one man in the accounts department was diligent enough to make his own record of the invoices as they were raised.

Of course, this therefore means that most Elans were constructed some time before the date of invoice, perhaps a week or two, perhaps a month or two. Since Lotus were keen to keep cashflow going, we can assume that any invoice would have been raised at the earliest opportunity!

We must then take into account that those cars which went for export, particularly those destined for North America and Australasia, would have spent several months at sea reaching the distributor in the chosen country.

This all means that dating of Elans is not an exact science. For example, Rohan's Elan, which he says was invoiced in August 1968, is listed in the records as having been invoiced in December 1968. The other thing to bear in mind is that the cars did not come off the production line in strict chronological order, so it is entirely possible to have a car with a Unit No one hundred or so out from another car, invoiced the same day.

In my study of the production numbers it seems that 1968/69 was a time when there was a good deal of change going on in the administration at Lotus. Things were settling down at the new factory at Hethel, where engine assembly and body production had been taken in-house. The company was beginning to work up to going public, which meant it had to get it's record keeping in better order. Yet our diligent fellow in accounts has left a fair few cars with no recorded data against them in his records around this time. Engine Nos are all over the place.

We must recognise that back in the days our cars were made little, if any, regard was taken in retaining records for future posterity and the interest of enthusiasts like us or anoraks like me! Things did get much better after around mid 1971 and the records that survived the flood at Hethel for later Sprints as well as those for the Plus 2S 130s are much better, though Andy Graham can still find new data when it comes to light, having survived office moves, clear outs or over-zealousness from previous administrators.

Tim
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Thu Jul 04, 2024 1:31 pm

Hi Tim

Interesting your recoids now indicate my car was invoiced in December 68. I was told many many years ago by Lotus when I first investigated in the late 70's that it was August 68. This was pre Andy Graham and certificates and maybe referred to a build date rather than an invoice date. Like you say Lotus record keeping around then was hit and miss. I will update my own records :) to reflect the 2 dates

cheers
Rohan
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PostPost by: trw99 » Thu Jul 04, 2024 1:40 pm

Rohan, it is entirely possible that the August date is the production date. I do know that previous archivists at Lotus had more records available to them than we do now.

Unfortunately these records were destroyed or otherwise lost in the intervening years.

Tim
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PostPost by: smo17003 » Thu Jul 04, 2024 8:50 pm

Hi Tim,

Do you know if factory assembled cars sold through a dealer were invoiced at time of customer purchase, or was it the dealer that made the initial purchase? If the former, then a car could potentially sit in the showroom for a few weeks before being sold (invoiced) to a customer.
And if a car was sold in component form (most of them in the UK, I believe, prior to VAT) was it invoiced when the order was placed, or when the car was delivered to the customer? Because of the options available e.g. full SE, standard spec with K/O's etc. I'm guessing that a customer would be invoiced when the order was placed, but because cars were always in production his/her car would just be adapted from what was on the line at that time.
What I'm basically suggesting is perhaps because Lotus offered both fully assembled, and also component cars, it might be (just) one of the reasons why build dates and invoices do not always match.

Cheers

Mike
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