Lotus Elan

Project: Chunky Redbone

PostPost by: 2mAn » Thu Sep 01, 2022 10:43 pm

Hello. My name is Simon and I'm an idiot. I do things the hard way. I don't learn my lesson. Rinse and repeat. However, I do like to document my builds though as I lean on others who are smarter than me to try and steer me in the right direction, and limit my mistakes. So join the ride. I also have a small YouTube Channel which currently showcases my Alfa Romeo Giulia Super build. Feel free to check it out if you enjoy that format:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChjAqZ ... lhEjQlR4yA

I (usually) enjoy the process of building, and typically while I didn't grow up with a poster of a Lotus Elan on my wall, as I've "matured" I realize characteristics of cars that I enjoy. My main recipe lately has been that I enjoy 200bhp in a 2000# (~900kg) car more than I enjoy 300bhp in a 3000# car. So with that in mind, a Lotus Elan is high up on the list of cars I want. I test drove one back in '20 when I still had my Datsun Roadster and while I wasn't impressed with the fragile feeling I got from the Elan when compared with the unrefined toughness of the Datsun I knew I'd need to have one some day. The seed was planted.

Not long ago I nearly bought an Elan racecar, and then a project pre-airflow 67 FHC. Researching both got me here and posting. Neither of those two came to fruition but it did motivate me to place a WTB on a Spyder chassis. Not long ago, a private message came through with the pic below

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For once, location, timing and funding were actually all in alignment. So after enjoying the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion my brother and I headed up to San Jose (my hometown) and picked up this NOS Chassis. It was purchased in 1990, but never installed.

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Overall its in great condition but there are a few areas that need my attention where the paint has flaked off. I convinced my folks to let me drop it off at their place, though halfway back from Central California with a semi filled truck bed, I believe we may have been able to also drag it home along with the other stuff we took from their house.

Regardless, its there now and I spent a little bit of time cleaning it up before I left. Some before and after pics.

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Last edited by 2mAn on Fri Sep 02, 2022 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
-Simon
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PostPost by: 2mAn » Thu Sep 01, 2022 11:13 pm

so whats the plan here?

I'm not sure yet to be honest. I know I have always wanted to build a car from 'scratch' and have always wanted to build an "Ultimate" car. I believe starting with both a Spyder Chassis, paired with uprated dual wishbone suspension & the best steering out there is definitely a good start. So that's step one. Make this thing a roller. It will be a very slow process, at least until I have it back at home in Los Angeles and the Alfa project is 'done.'

Not knowing how these things go together I made my first wise purchase

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I plan to acquire pieces starting at one end before shifting focus (and funds) to the other end. I think I'm going to start at the back. Before I get to that I had to assess the other pieces that came with the Spyder chassis. I'm pretty sure the short set of nuts & bolts are for the engine mount arms -> chassis, but not sure about the really long threaded studs. Are those for the a-arms?

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Finally theres the pic of the TC Engine Arms and the Transmission mount.

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I cant wait to update this, but this is all I have for now. Hoping to have some pieces by Thanksgiving when I head up next... or perhaps if I sell enough of my other parts/ dream projects/ car junk I can drag it home sooner and work on it in my own garage.

Stay tuned!
Last edited by 2mAn on Fri Sep 02, 2022 1:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: mbell » Thu Sep 01, 2022 11:48 pm

Congrats, lucked out getting one so close.

Your correct, the studs are the front arm pivot pins. They are removable on a Spyder chassis, will be tubes in the front uprights fit them through.

There is also an alternative gearbox mount and associated holes in the chassis for the 5 speed box. That might be useful depending on what you do engine/gearbox wise.
'73 +2 130/5 RHD, now on the road and very slowly rolling though a "restoration"
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PostPost by: 661 » Fri Sep 02, 2022 10:50 am

Congratulations.
The steering is already 'ultimate' , although you would do well to check the bump steer once you've got the chassis built up.
As for rear double wishbone suspension, simply not needed with standard-ish drivetrain.
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PostPost by: 2mAn » Fri Sep 02, 2022 1:16 pm

Thanks guys. Yes, it was funny because my WTB was literally “is there one stashed in the rafters, unused… ideally in CA” and this checked all those boxes.

And I agree, Steering just needs to be fresh, and suspension needs very little improvement over OEM to hit my “ultimate” mark. That’s why starting here was a no-brainer. I just have to make sure good, quality parts are used.

As of right now the plan for suspension is something adjustable, but specific pieces are TBD.
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PostPost by: 2mAn » Tue Oct 11, 2022 9:18 pm

First major purchase has been made, may not have much more to take to my parents house when I head up next month.

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These are quite sharp looking, I also had them install the bushings and purchased some additional hardware to go with the chassis as I'm literally bolting it together one piece at a time. I really am hoping to sell a few parts that will help to get some more pieces for the car. If I can source rear knuckles and the shock housings it will be a nice big step in the right direction.

Curious about suspension choices. I'm a fan of Koni and it looks like TTR sells a set, but also sells custom valved stuff. What are opinions and experiences with various companies and their offerings out there? I noticed that Mr Zog likes using AVO Coilovers, but I haven't seen those nor know what those are ideally suited for.

Thanks!
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PostPost by: ill_will » Fri Oct 21, 2022 7:23 pm

The TTR fast road setup is excellent for the road, imo. I managed a couple of laps round the top gear test track too before the brakes overheated, which was fun, but I can't remember much more than that.

If I remember correctly I had the dampers
set around 15 - 20% up from minimum damping, at both ends.
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PostPost by: 2mAn » Fri Nov 25, 2022 6:52 am

Well, Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans, and Happy Thursday November 24th to the chaps across the pond.

I arrived and noticed an Admirer... I may or may not have placed him in the shot. :)

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I bought a set of Body mounting bolts, but being that I have no body and this is a new frame there are no holes so those will be bagged for a while. They are nice, zinc-plated hardware though. Moving on, I got the front A-Arm studs installed. That was simple enough. The main thing planned was to install the rear Arms. I’ve got them started, but before I get too far I thought I should double check with the experts here...

Do I have the bolts in the correct orientation? The manual said this is the right way, multiple times, but searching for something different I read about someone not being able to remove the arms because the body prevented that. Another comment was that the book was updated, so I’m not sure if my 10/72 book is still accurate

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Keep in mind that the frame is upside down in these pics
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PostPost by: smo17003 » Fri Nov 25, 2022 11:21 am

Hi Simon,

You have the inner bolts fitted correctly there - both bolt heads "inside" the wishbone i.e. facing each other.

You might want to read this thread regarding the outer bolts and the requirement for washers between the wishbone and the hub housing. viewtopic.php?f=42&t=51032

And looking at the earlier photo of the studs and bolts, the long studs should have a Nyloc at one end and a pair of plain nuts at the other. The longest bolts would be for the anti-roll bar links to chassis and the bolts with the coned washers are for the diff tie rods to chassis. I can't remember what the shorter bolts are for unfortunately.

I do have a copy of Spyder's instructions for a chassis change if you're interested.

Mike
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PostPost by: 2mAn » Sat Nov 26, 2022 12:39 am

Thanks for that confirmation and with sunlight back out I spent a little more time wrapping up the stuff I could do on this trip... all the progress can be seen in this pic. It’s not much but it is progress.

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Comparison shot of where I was at the a few days ago, also I love the Fall colors here

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And that’s that for this trip. We’ll be back again in a month for Christmas, but not sure I will have anything more to add by then . I’ve sent a few messages around, but so far no real leads on the next few parts... and unless I sell some more parts, I won’t have an order to place for the front arms yet either.

Excited to move this along, no matter how slow it is
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PostPost by: The Veg » Sun Nov 27, 2022 5:17 pm

Exciting stuff Simon!

I've always loved the idea of 'homebrewing' a car, of almost any type. I remember back in the '80s there was an article in Car And Driver in which somebody had determined that basically every part for a Ford Model A was available from one catalog or another, and so built a new Model A from mail-order replacement parts...and then drove it from coast to coast! I wish I still had that magazine; would love to read that article again! And then there are the Frankenbuilders who take various old rusty components and weld them up into a rusty redneck hot-rod. And then there's making an Elan from differently-sourced bits! I love it all and am looking forward to see how your project progresses!
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PostPost by: 2mAn » Sun Nov 27, 2022 9:32 pm

The Veg wrote:Exciting stuff Simon!

...and then there's making an Elan from differently-sourced bits! I love it all and am looking forward to see how your project progresses!


Thanks!

After dealing with my Alfa Giulia Super project and throwing expensive Alfaholics parts on a car that also has been (questionably) ‘restored’ once before, I kept wondering how it would be to build a car from the ground up. This way it’s effectively a brand new 1965 car. As for the overall build I hope you’re still excited when I select a powerplant, and decide how the cosmetics end up...but that all won’t be for a while
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