Lotus Elan

Engine rebuild woes

PostPost by: davidj » Tue Jan 26, 2021 12:29 pm

I thought I would take a few minutes to recount my experiences of having my engine rebuilt with one of the major Lotus engine rebuilders here in the UK. I will withhold the company’s name for now, as I still have not run the engine and may have issues with it. However, if anyone is considering having their engine rebuilt, they can PM me.

My engine has not been run since 1980. Previously I have either used East Lincs motorsport (excellent) to rebuild engines or done it myself but because there was considerable money invested in this project, I thought it wise to go with an established Lotus “expert.”

Initial contact was good. He answered his phone, was friendly, gave me a reasonable price and arranged to pick up the engine. First mistake. All communication was verbal and he did not say what was actually covered in the quote. After stripping the engine the costs quadrupled. Nothing was broken, just worn out. In addition he also wanted to run the engine on a rolling road which added an extra £600 and required a working set of carbs and distributor, both of which he wanted to sell me. I was planning to refurbish the originals once the engine had been returned.

We agreed on a price to put the engine together, and the engine was returned with the carbs but no jets or trumpets. After numerous unanswered phone calls and emails, 6 months later they eventually arrived by which time I had also discovered the engine was fitted with a 45D distributor. Eh! After numerous more unanswered emails and phone calls, I eventually got to speak to the boss. He did not know why it was fitted (you fitted it!!!!) but assured me that if I sent it back complete with cap and leads he would have me a replacement in 10 days. After another six months and many more unanswered phone calls and emails, still no distributor or leads!

Sorry for such a long post, and yes, I should have got a written spec of the likely costs upfront based on previous work. I understand this is difficult as until the engine is stripped down, it is unknown but once the engine is in bits, the remanufacture has you over a barrel and can charge what he likes. However, what has annoyed me most is the customer service I have received has been appalling and why would an expert fit a 45D distributor which has an incorrect advance curve! Two years later, I still have not all the parts to actually run my engine. :(
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PostPost by: nmauduit » Tue Jan 26, 2021 1:11 pm

well, on the bright side at least (last) you got your engine back...
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PostPost by: alanr » Tue Jan 26, 2021 2:01 pm

Do you think you get anywhere with any recourse after the two of years of hassle you have had if there are any issues with the engine when you finally do get to run it?
Personally I think you should name and shame to warn others of your experience with this company! At the very least your broadcast dissatisfaction and naming the company just might force them to improve the way they currently operate.

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PostPost by: gherlt » Tue Jan 26, 2021 3:58 pm

davidj wrote:I will withhold the company’s name for now, as I still have not run the engine and may have issues with it. (

I agree with Alan. You got your engine. Even if you got further problems, what are your legal options anyway ?
As you said you do not have any written agreement, So I do not think any legal action makes any sense.

So, warn others to use this service without any written agreement. Generally that applies to any service whose cost (or potential damage to delivered items) can go well beyond 200 GBP/EUR/...
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PostPost by: h20hamelan » Tue Jan 26, 2021 4:08 pm

If you paid for the parts you have a case
Demand parts or social media (courts?) will hear about it
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PostPost by: davidj » Tue Jan 26, 2021 4:17 pm

Yes I guess you are correct I have not much recourse, but I live in hope that the company is a member of this forum, realizes how useless they have been and the issues can be sorted in an amicable manner. Given that I have already tried to ring them 5 times today on three different phones. this may be wishful thinking.
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PostPost by: Plus2cabby » Tue Jan 26, 2021 6:36 pm

Hi David

I had a similar experience several years ago with a company that regularly advertises in club lotus , even down to selling me the later distributor !
I ended up stripping the engine before installing - revealing second hand pistons which some quite skilled machinist had turned and milled the valve cut-outs on the tops of to disguise their provenance and mis-matched con rods, to name a few issues.

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I was lucky , only 6 months had elapsed since purchase via credit card , I put the engine in back of daily car and drove all way down to London to embarrass company owner in person - eventually getting full refund for the short engine I’d bought at what must have been one of the last Donnington shows.

In a separate transaction they had refurbished and converted to unleaded my spare cylinder head - Al aka Promotor on here rectified numerous issues for me and built me a engine , a great guy very skilled engineer and honest.

Hope you get a satisfactory result

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