Lotus Elan

Relibility

PostPost by: JELLYBELLY » Mon Apr 05, 2004 9:00 pm

Does anyone have any tips for running a twincam as an everyday car? I do about 15000 rural miles a year and get the impression from most people that I would be mad to even think about it. However nieve as it may seem I don't see why a well prepared, well looked after engine would not be reliable with some suitable mods; Bigger oil pump, 3 core rad?
Or should I go down the spyder zetec route?
Thanks
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PostPost by: schwartzd13 » Mon Apr 05, 2004 10:02 pm

I used my 69 S4 as a daily driver for more than a few years, in Los Angeles. If it can handle that, it should be able to handle your needs. Just use common sense, maintain it properly, and you'll enjoy yourself immensely. Make sure you have a thermostaticaly controlled electric fan to keep it cool if you're in a hot climate.
My experience overall has been the more you drive 'em, the less they break.
I'm sure others will weigh in on this topic.
-David
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PostPost by: poiuyt » Mon Apr 05, 2004 10:22 pm

That's what I was told when I bought my Elan last Fall - ride it hard and put it away wet - or something like that.

Hell I've put 176,000 miles on a 96 VW GTI-VR6 and everything is original. The more you excercise thes things the better they run.

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PostPost by: steveww » Tue Apr 06, 2004 9:03 am

Being an old car it will require more day to day maintenance than a modern car. However as long as you stay close to the service schedule it should be as reliable as any modern car and a lot more fun too :D
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PostPost by: types26/36 » Tue Apr 06, 2004 5:53 pm

Jellybelly,
Dont know where in the world you are located but from your post I would guess its the U.K. Twincams are as relible as any of the 60's/70's cars if NOT neglected, its not a complacated engine and if you are in the U.K. there's a garage (and a pub) on every corner, in some climates some T.C.'s tend to run hot but this should'nt be a problem in the U.K.
One thing I would recomend is to fit an alternator, the electrical system is marginal at best.
Some people like to fit a hi-torque starter but I do not have problems with my Lucas starters after all they started a million Mini's......and Morris 1000's befor that!
Electronic ignition is a good addition (saves getting to those points) otherwise normal servicing, grease (or oil if you prefer) the trunnions (dont want to start a debate on oil verses grease- its been done to death) and your T.C. should be just fine.
Dont go down the Spyder/Zetec road, lets keep those T.C.'s running.
Regards Brian. :rolleyes:
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PostPost by: nebogipfel » Tue Apr 06, 2004 6:26 pm

Agreed lets keep the (at least fairly) standard Lotus's on the road.

Another thing to consider with going the Zetec route is the cost and complexity. OK it may well run for many miles but when it does go belly up on the side of the road suddenly that old ?2 set of points or condenser will seem very atractive :)

On the modern stuff just diagnosing the problem can be a nightmare before you realise how much fixing it is actually gonna cost!

John
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PostPost by: LaikaTheDog » Tue Apr 06, 2004 7:59 pm

Ran my Plus 2 every day for 3 years commutng in to London. The only resons I stoppped...moved jobs and lost my parking space in the center of town...
the secret... use it every day, sounds a bit odd what with wear and tear, but sitting around just does not suit the lotus, or for that matter MGs. My car is standard apart from electronic igntion which is a must. but basically if you don't like looking under the bonnet every so often, get a zetec...or a mondeo
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PostPost by: JELLYBELLY » Tue Apr 06, 2004 9:24 pm

Thanks for the replies.
While the engines out I'll get it checked. As for a fan, what size do I want? I see Burton Power do a thermo switch that goes in the water hose. Anyone used one? Are they a suitable replacement for the original?
I like a fiddle under the bonnet but in the garage not 11pm on an unlit Welsh lane in the snow!

Regards

Jack
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PostPost by: elj221c » Tue Apr 06, 2004 11:17 pm

Used my S2 as a daily commuter 26 miles round trip from suburbs to the West End, London, up the A3 for a lot of years in the '70s. Less traffic then of course but I was never let down once. Lucus all the way! Also lots of motorway stuff weekends to race meetings. Standard cooling, ie. two blade prop on water pump pulley and that nice big Marston rad. Oh, and Cosworth pistons, BRM phase 3s and LOTS of oil! What a gas!
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PostPost by: steveww » Wed Apr 07, 2004 4:27 pm

Depends which radiator you have in your car? If it is a baby elan S4 or later then Lotus used quite a small Triumph unit which was marginal. I have just updated my S4 to a bigger rad with a 10" electric fan from a thermo switch. The only way to go in modern slow traffic. If you need details of where to get the parts from just ask as I do not have the info to hand as I type this.
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PostPost by: rickf » Wed Apr 07, 2004 6:52 pm

I use a Griffin aluminum dual-pass Scirocco radiator in my +2. I had to tilt it somewhat to fit it in. It came with an electric fan and shroud. I don't use an egine driven fan at all. The fan is controlled by ta standard Otter switch. I just drilled a hole in one of the radiator tanks, got a new switch and grommet and popped it in. It works great for traffic, but I think I'll put a bypass manual switch in for autocross.
Cheers,<br>Rick<br>1972 Elan +2
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PostPost by: DrEntropy » Fri Apr 09, 2004 1:04 pm

My Elan S-3 DHC was my daily driver from 1971 thru 1993. Frame-off in '75 and engine swap in '88. Lucas throughout (I've been accused by most friends as being an incurable purist), with the occasional change of starter, generator brushes, window lift cables, etc... most "wear items." Just keep the oil changed, and the TC tuned. My S-3 has "03736" showing on the clock (put a "2" in front of that!) as it languishes in the garage awaiting the next frame-off. Priorities changed in '94, but now it's time for me to get it running again.

IMHO: If you start with a properly sorted car, you can keep it running as long as you care to drive it.
Dr E--
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PostPost by: 1964 S1 » Sun Apr 25, 2004 1:45 am

I ditto the IMHO(?) above.

I had a thermo switch in the upper rad hose type electric fan but removed it when I realized I didn't need it. (I also thought the installation was pretty clunky.) It worked fine but I've never had an overheating problem on any one of a number of Elans I've owned. I think IF you have overheating problems, check the radiator 1st, then timing, etc.. rickf's solution, the Scirocco with the fan in the shroud and removal of the belt driven fan sounds perfect if yours overheats. Friends in the car parts biz might help, for dimensions of various radiator/fan configurations if needed. I run all of mine with stock fans and radiators.
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PostPost by: worzel » Thu Apr 29, 2004 8:34 am

Re the replies mentioning cooling. Don't pay for expensive new electric fans. Go to a breaker and pick up a pair from a defucnt Citroen BX19 (some models used two). One will do as a spare. Huge motor and perfect fit for the elan (looks like it was made for it). Might need an alternator though as it draws a massive current. One of these will drop the temp from 95 to 75 in less than 90 seconds. Fit an early plus 2 rad (the full width one and have it 3 cored and I'd suggest using a manual switch rather than an otter type. Good luck

John
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PostPost by: berni29 » Mon May 10, 2004 6:49 pm

Hi

Just to add my experience of running my plus 2 as an everyday car. I used to use it as a "station" car evey weekday, and it would take me wherever I needed to go at other times including a once a year 800 mile in a weekend driving trip to North Wales.

Because the journey to the station was less than 10 minutes drive, and in winter the car would run like a total pig the whole way there I fitted a webasto "thermo top" petrol powered water heater, which had a electronic timer. So the engine water would be at 78C before I got in every morning (and when I got off the train) and the car would run fine. That and an electric fan (from a Nissan Micra, bit weedy but worked fine) and later in life an electronic ignition. I used to run a big battery because of the short runs and water heater (electric water pump inside).

The car only failed to start a couple of times mainly due to the battery.

To be honest I neglected the car a bit and drove it quite hard, and apart from oil changes it was only when I noticed something was not right (for example donut coming undone) that I looked under the car at all.

I will be kinder to the next one.
Racing green +2s with green tints. See it at:

www.searchsmart.co.uk/lotus
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