Lotus Elan

Lotus Elan Plus 2S seems dead

PostPost by: chiavasi » Sat Dec 02, 2023 4:57 pm


I have just bought a 1969 Lotus Elan Plus 2S and only got her home this Wednesday. It is my first Lotus and first classic so please excuse my ignorance.

I've just got back from trying to take her out for her first proper drive. It was cold (around freezing or slightly below) and damp and she was in an unheated garage. It took me a brief while to coax the engine on. It was on then I took my foot from the throttle and it turned off. When I tried turning her on again, it wouldn't fire up, and very quickly the battery started fading. I connected the battery to another car and jump started it. I kept the motor running for a few minutes while I disconnected the other car. Then reversing out of the garage I stalled the Lotus (I need to get used to such a low clutch) but now when I tried turning her on absolutely nothing happened: no signs of life from the starter motor, no lights on the dashboard or anything. I reconnected the other car to jump start the Lotus again but there was still nothing whatsoever....

I'm wondering if a fuse could have blown or something? What do you think?

Thanks very much for any suggestions anyone might have

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PostPost by: 512BB » Sun Dec 03, 2023 9:30 am

Good morning Simon and welcome to the board.

One of the first things to check is the earth lead from the battery to the chassis, that it clean and tight, and that the battery is in good order. Whilst you are at it, check the connections on the starter solenoid and the cable going down to the starter motor.

It is possible that the bendix gear on the starter motor is stuck in the ring gear on the flywheel. To free it off, put the gearbox in 3rd gear and rock the car backwards and forwards. You may have to do this quite vigorously. If it is stuck, you will hear a bit of a click as it frees itself. You can then try to start the car. That situation can happen frequently if the battery is weak and low on volts, and over the winter I always jump start my cars from another car to save the battery struggling when the engine is cold.

When you do get it started, run the engine up to temperature to avoid condensation.

If you don't already have one, get yourself a factory workshop manual, invaluable. Often for sale on ebay for about £20 ish.

Good luck with it and let us know how you get on.

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PostPost by: gus » Sun Dec 03, 2023 3:05 pm

Both battery terminals
Battery cable ground to chassis. This connection is bolted to a bobbin on the boot floor, so check both the top and bottom for tightness
Large power stud on firewall starter solenoid
3/8 terminal on the firewall starter solenoid.

Any one of these will give you a no power condition

Poor connections on the fusebox can give a no power condition, but I would think on the S type it would be less of an issue. In 1984 I had the same experience with my non S[ 2 fuse] where the windows would not go up in the rain the first weekend of ownership. Finally wiggled a fuse and viola, life.
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PostPost by: chiavasi » Sun Dec 03, 2023 5:17 pm

Thanks very much Leslie and Gus - very much appreciated

It feels like I've joined a family - thanks for your warm welcome and the help

I charged the battery overnight last night - I didn't try it again today as I've been busy with other stuff but will try next week and then follow your suggestions

Next stop ebay for that technical manual

Thanks again!
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PostPost by: richardcox_lotus » Sun Dec 03, 2023 9:07 pm

Hi Simon

Welcome to the forum. Where in Kent are you? At https://northkentlotusgroup.org/ we have a couple of Elan and Plus 2 owners.

You don’t have to bring the car along to come and say Hello :D

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PostPost by: cliveyboy » Mon Dec 04, 2023 8:22 am

Hi Simon
Welcome to the forum.
Don't get too disheartened about a few initial niggles. Its usually something simple bad connection or battery (especially when its really cold)
As mentioned the main earthing point on the chassis is a good one to remove and also clean up any other main connections such as starter motor etc. I also add additional earthing when ever I can. Remember as a fibreglass car it cant earth on the body so all earthing has to trace back to the chassis It made a difference on my Elan.
Check condition of main battery cables as they might need replacing with age etc.
I would do a voltage check to see where the power is. Make sure battery has enough voltage (that would be my guess as to your issue)) then see if it reaches all the other places it needs to
Batteries can have a hard time as they can be stood for a while. I have a trickle charger permanently connected but sometimes even then it needs the booster charge connected the first few times I fire it up.
I have an electric pump on mine which makes it much easier to get fuel to the carbs initially, otherwise it can take some cranking to get it started with the mechanical pump.
Starter motors can jam (whole sections about it on this forum).
As you have just bought it the chances are its not been run much recently so just needs a bit of TLC.
Hang in there it will all be worth it when the issue is sorted.
1972 Elan Sprint FHC
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PostPost by: chiavasi » Thu Dec 07, 2023 9:31 pm

Thanks again everybody

Richard - I'm in Westerham so I guess that counts as North West Kent for your club? I've had a quick look around the website and it looks good would like to join in the Spring once I've got a bit more free time
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PostPost by: The Veg » Thu Dec 14, 2023 10:39 pm

Welcome Simon! You'll find that earths are usually the answer to all Lotus electrical questions! :mrgreen:
1970 Elan Plus 2 (not S) 50/2036
2012 BMW R1200GS
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PostPost by: tonyabacus » Tue Dec 19, 2023 9:42 pm

Hi Simon
Not sure from one pf your responses whether you have put a new battery on or not, but one issue that is sometmes overlooked is the battery and its capability to turn the engine over.

Rather than do a long explanation, have a look on the internet for the information on the amps and CCA (cranking amps) and how they affect the ability to provide enough power to turn over an engine.Hope you get to enjoy your new toy.
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