Lotus Elan

Replacement chassis: how long might it last?

PostPost by: Grizzly » Mon Feb 08, 2016 11:11 am

Quart Meg Miles wrote:There is, of course, the small matter of the factory's insistence that the chassis should not be repaired.

When mine was patched by an engineering company, not a garage, with identical material from a +2 chassis, the welder found it didn't weld properly until he ran the torch over it a second time. I had cleaned everything to bare metal.

The Factory and Spyder have been Reconditioning chassis for years (you might find thats due to it being of heavier gauge rather than being made from any thing exotic)

AussieJohn wrote:If correct numbering became an issue then I wonder how many chassis would have the piece with the correct number being welded into the new chassis; not hard to do!

Of course you know its against the law to tamper with ID numbers? its called Ringing but your right if you wish to mislead a potential buyer it's not hard to do.
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Mon Feb 08, 2016 11:18 am

A properly protected sub frame (aka chassis) will last indefinitely. Most people restoring their cars these days protect the chassis properly one way or another and the cars are garaged and driven in fine weather only. The original chassis had no corrosion resistance and in most climates had a short life in everyday use.

As for matching numbers cars and changing the sub frame ( aka chassis):

One of the reasons Lotus owners dont worry about it is they are not w**K**s like other car owners. Lotus owners drive their cars because compared to most other classic sports cars they are actually good to drive still :lol: !!!.

Another reason is that given Lotus' ability to not keep records or build cars consistently to a specification then it is impossible to actually know with certainty what an Elan was when it left the factory in terms of both numbers and specification even the colour is hard to determine for many cars

Another reason is that with the good record keeping of most manufacturers it is very easy to create a matching numbers car especially if that adds value so it becomes a self reinforcing outcome. My original sub frame ( aka chassis) had no number on it. Lotus must have lost the metal number stamps that day. It would not be to hard to stamp my replacement sub frame (aka chassis) that came from Lotus with no number with the original unit number.

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PostPost by: Grizzly » Mon Feb 08, 2016 11:36 am

512BB wrote:There is a completely different mindset with regard to replacement chassis on old Lotus cars versus other manufacturers. You cannot compare values of a standard road going Elan with say an E type or a Ferrari of the same period. They are not remotely seen in the same light, and never will be, and values reflect that. Lotus Elans, +2s, Europas, even Elites, will ALWAYS been seen as horrible little unreliable plastic kit cars, by many in the motoring world, and anyone with a view, and that will never change.

That is the reason why it makes very little / no difference to a Lotus' value if it retains its original chassis or not. Indeed, if a restored Elan was offered for sale at say ?45k, and it retained its original chassis, that would almost certainly be seen as a negative for the car, it not having a new galvanised one. The perceived thought being that the chassis will have to be replaced at some point.

Back in the day, it was not uncommon for a chassis on an Elan to have to be replaced after as little as 4 years from new, due to rusting of the front uprights, they were so poorly protected against rust, and original chassis on cars today must be in the tens rather than hundreds.

Leslie

Yes i've heard that before but the world i live in that would just make a numbers matching car even more valuable because of its rarity. I completely understand why given the choice of having it repaired for ?600 and a new Galv chassis for ?1200 considering the amount of work to remove / refit it may well be tempting to fit the Galv one that you would never need to revisit but seems the lazy route (No offense meant)

Thing is i can't think of another GRP bodied car that the chassis is swapped as a matter of course? but then next to many other GRP cars of the day the Lotus chassis is very simple and there for cheap.

As for comparing Jags and Ferraris etc i get what your saying but it doesn't have to be big money cars, we recently restored a Jenson 451, Scimitar se5a and a Tuscan. they where all on there original chassis.

But as you say maybe Lotus cars are just looked at differently.
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:08 pm

Grizzly wrote:
512BB wrote:
But as you say maybe Lotus cars are just looked at differently.


And long may it stay that way :D

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PostPost by: Grizzly » Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:12 pm

rgh0 wrote:A properly protected sub frame (aka chassis) will last indefinitely. Most people restoring their cars these days protect the chassis properly one way or another and the cars are garaged and driven in fine weather only. The original chassis had no corrosion resistance and in most climates had a short life in everyday use.

As for matching numbers cars and changing the sub frame ( aka chassis):

One of the reasons Lotus owners dont worry about it is they are not w**K**s like other car owners. Lotus owners drive their cars because compared to most other classic sports cars they are actually good to drive still :lol: !!!.

Another reason is that given Lotus' ability to not keep records or build cars consistently to a specification then it is impossible to actually know with certainty what an Elan was when it left the factory in terms of both numbers and specification even the colour is hard to determine for many cars

Another reason is that with the good record keeping of most manufacturers it is very easy to create a matching numbers car especially if that adds value so it becomes a self reinforcing outcome. My original sub frame ( aka chassis) had no number on it. Lotus must have lost the metal number stamps that day. It would not be to hard to stamp my replacement sub frame (aka chassis) that came from Lotus with no number with the original unit number.

cheers
Rohan

Your probably right, We Rebuild cars all the time and we can send the finished car to lets say Ferrari for example for inspection and they will confirm the car's spec,Numbers etc and put it on a register which adds anything from ?10k up to a cars value. Jag, Mercedes, Aston etc all do a similar thing but with Lotus if your lucky you get a Laminated Certificate that anyone could knock up :) (If the records still exists that is) So maybe there just isn't any point of going for the Full Concourse because how would you prove it?
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PostPost by: denicholls2 » Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:14 pm

AussieJohn wrote:If correct numbering became an issue then I wonder how many chassis would have the piece with the correct number being welded into the new chassis; not hard to do!


I suspect that if you put three cars on sale that were otherwise identical,

One with the original and unrepaired chassis,
One with a repaired original chassis
and one with a galvanised replacement

The highest-value car would be the galvanised one and the lowest the repaired original.
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PostPost by: Grizzly » Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:19 pm

denicholls2 wrote:
AussieJohn wrote:If correct numbering became an issue then I wonder how many chassis would have the piece with the correct number being welded into the new chassis; not hard to do!


I suspect that if you put three cars on sale that were otherwise identical,

One with the original and unrepaired chassis,
One with a repaired original chassis
and one with a galvanised replacement

The highest-value car would be the galvanised one and the lowest the repaired original.

Do you think? Any classic car if you put a Numbers matching Concourse car next to a High level restoration (Not matching) there would be a massive value difference, some even prefer Survivor cars now, Original Un-restored cars go for mad money (but have to be numbers matching too). A Galv chassis is nice to have but unless your daily driving it almost worthless (Modern Rust protection and coatings are more than enough for fair weather driving), Maybe its just not possible to build a Concourse Elan so people don't even try?

Lets not forget Spyder and Lotus do/did a Recon service for your Original Chassis so when you say Original Repaired i don't see Bird s**t welding by some DIYer i see it properly done on a jig by a pro. I suspect a new chassis is just more convenient thats all (also i don't think you can buy new Galv chassis as they had issues with them just like early Spyder space frame chassis did as well)
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PostPost by: billwill » Mon Feb 08, 2016 1:06 pm

AussieJohn wrote:If correct numbering became an issue then I wonder how many chassis would have the piece with the correct number being welded into the new chassis; not hard to do!


Simpler still, one merely buys a set of number punches and punches the number into the 'chassis' at the correct location.

A genuine Lotus Replacement chassis will have an LR number there already.

Elans were designed to have replacable chassis; other classics were not.

It's also designed to have a replaceable fibre-glass body too. It's all there in the workshop manual.


But this matching numbers rubbish is merely a foible of the rich car collectors; It could go out-of-fashion as easily as it came in.
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PostPost by: Certified Lotus » Mon Feb 08, 2016 1:13 pm

I replaced my original numbers matching chassis on my '64 Elan S1 only because I was building a fast road car with more HP & adjustable suspension and wanted the extra reinforcement of a new 26R chassis.

The original chassis was in remarkable condition except for the cracks on the motor mounts which needed to be welded (again) and a few areas under the chassis where someone had jacked the car and put dents in the chassis.

It should be known that one of the previous owners did a frame off restoration in the late 80's and completely cleaned the chassis repainting it in the original red oxide paint. It was also fairly obvious that this car spent most of its life garaged which is a huge help to an un-galvanized metal frame.
dsc05567.jpg and
S1 Chassis with drive train

dsc05575.jpg and
S1 Chassis Motor Mounts

img_4491.jpg and
S1 original chassis


Look at the early Elan Classic Motorsports magazine is restoring. It has spent many years in a field unprotected from the elements. The latest photos on line with the chassis removed from the body show it to be in amazing condition considering were it has spent many years on cold, wet soil.
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PostPost by: gus » Mon Feb 08, 2016 1:52 pm

Yes, I am sure it looks great, but wouldn't want to ride in a car[or spend money on one] that had that chassis in it

If you plan on polishing your car in the driveway, by all means leave an original chassis in it.

If you plan on driving it as it was intended, not so much

When buying a car, an original chassis is a huge question mark

These aint Corvettes
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PostPost by: Grizzly » Mon Feb 08, 2016 2:25 pm

gus wrote:Yes, I am sure it looks great, but wouldn't want to ride in a car[or spend money on one] that had that chassis in it

If you plan on polishing your car in the driveway, by all means leave an original chassis in it.

If you plan on driving it as it was intended, not so much

When buying a car, an original chassis is a huge question mark

These aint Corvettes

I think you have it the wrong way round, a Sheet metal chassis is easy to inspect for damage the problem starts if you have a Tubular chassis like a TVR etc that might look great but are dangerously thin in places.

I think your just trying to start some kind of Argument as you have no idea what condition that chassis is in from Pictures? its Ludicrous to say you wouldn't use a car with that chassis under it because of a Cracked engine mount that could be very easy to repair?

gus wrote:When buying a car, an original chassis is a huge question mark

No buying any car without having it Inspected is a Huge Question mark...... I've never bought a car without seeing it on a ramp first and if i am not sure what i'm looking at i take some one that does. If anything an Elan is one of the easier less risk cars to buy.
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PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Mon Feb 08, 2016 3:31 pm

I think Bill Will is correct.

If I remember correctly Graham Arnould, our previous Club Lotus leader, went to some length to explain both to the DVLA and club members that this item is a "sub frame". Should the DVLA think the item to be a chassis, then when that item is replaced, that car would need to be re-registered and may end up with a Q plate.

I think that part of the Lotus requirement for replacement rather than repair was to do with guaranteeing the geometric accuracy of the replacement versus the repair. At the time Lotus cars were arguably the best handling in the world, a claim backed by the World Constructors Championship. This was used as an argument against repair. 50 years on fabrication techniques have improved and an excellent repair may be possible.

I replaced my sub frame, and could not find any number on the old or new item, all I have is the paperwork that came with it.

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PostPost by: prezoom » Mon Feb 08, 2016 3:52 pm

That's almost like saying you wouldn't ride in a fiberglass car because it has stress cracks. The chassis is just metal. Metal can be straightened, welded, patched, reinforced, tempered, annealed, etc. My only concern would be if the chassis had been previously repaired by using yellow metal welding. The exception would be an older tubular chassis, where the original construction used flux pot brazing. About the only chassis I wouldn't attempt to restore, is one that has been in a very hot fire. Worried about alignment? Laminate 3 sheets of good 3/4" plywood, lay them on a nice flat surface, weight them down until cured, and you have an inexpensive chassis plate. Have seen this used successfully to construct/repair any number of cars, as it gives a good reference point for suspension pickup points. Easy to mount jigs and you can draw various reference lines with a pencil, which can be corrected if needed.

As far as improving the original folded metal chassis, if I were a lottery winner, I would make one from 4130 chrome moly and have it stress relieved after welding. Corrosion issues would be diminished and the chassis stiffness would increase significantly.
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PostPost by: Grizzly » Mon Feb 08, 2016 6:47 pm

RichardHawkins wrote:I think Bill Will is correct.

If I remember correctly Graham Arnold, our previous Club Lotus leader, went to some length to explain both to the DVLA and club members that this item is a "sub frame". Should the DVLA think the item to be a chassis, then when that item is replaced, that car would need to be re-registered and may end up with a Q plate.

I think that part of the Lotus requirement for replacement rather than repair was to do with guaranteeing the geometric accuracy of the replacement versus the repair. At the time Lotus cars were arguably the best handling in the world, a claim backed by the World Constructors Championship. This was used as an argument against repair. 50 years on fabrication techniques have improved and an excellent repair may be possible.

I replaced my sub frame, and could not find any number on the old or new item, all I have is the paperwork that came with it.

Richard Hawkins

A sub-frame is used on a Monocoque as a Sub assembly / sub structure.

I'll just leave this here.....
lotus-elan-sprint-004.jpg and
lotus-elan-chassis.jpg and


Richard, I can Guarantee a Chassis repaired on a Jig by Lotus or Spyder would be straighter than a new Galv chassis. I think you are some how under the impression all repairs are done badly.
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PostPost by: gus » Tue Feb 09, 2016 11:16 pm

Grizzly wrote:
gus wrote:Yes, I am sure it looks great, but wouldn't want to ride in a car[or spend money on one] that had that chassis in it

If you plan on polishing your car in the driveway, by all means leave an original chassis in it.

If you plan on driving it as it was intended, not so much

When buying a car, an original chassis is a huge question mark

These aint Corvettes

I think you have it the wrong way round, a Sheet metal chassis is easy to inspect for damage the problem starts if you have a Tubular chassis like a TVR etc that might look great but are dangerously thin in places.

I think your just trying to start some kind of Argument as you have no idea what condition that chassis is in from Pictures? its Ludicrous to say you wouldn't use a car with that chassis under it because of a Cracked engine mount that could be very easy to repair?

gus wrote:When buying a car, an original chassis is a huge question mark

No buying any car without having it Inspected is a Huge Question mark...... I've never bought a car without seeing it on a ramp first and if i am not sure what i'm looking at i take some one that does. If anything an Elan is one of the easier less risk cars to buy.



No it comes from years of experience owning driving and listening. Listening to the sob stories of money spent only to have a chassis that 'looked' good fail. Repairing my own chassis only to have to replace it.

In no way was the Elan chassis designed to last 50 years, ever, full stop.

A motor mount crack is of no significance except for what it means: endless future repairs resulting in eventual chassis failure.

AS I have stated before, my chassis was 14 years old when I purchased it, and had been repaired multiple times. I restored it with new shock towers and closing plates when it was 16 years old, and replaced it when it was 24 years old. The Spyder replacement is now 22 years old and has required precisely zero attention. People have similar experience with galvanized replacement chassis

Bragging about having an original factory chassis is about as useful as bragging about having original factory valve guides, and it adds a similar value to the vehicle.
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