Lotus Elan

steering wheels

PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Thu Jan 06, 2011 12:06 pm

Most of the PVC covered wheels split and cracked up 30 plus years ago Gordon, so I'm not surprised that you haven't seen one. I think that a car would have had to have been kept in a garage all its life and not in a hot climate to find a perfect one. Most have now been re-covered in leather, hence some folks swearing blind that the PVC covered one never existed.

The S3 Elan had 3 styles of wheel. They started out with the woodrim, the same as the S2, then when the S/E came out, it got the leather covered wheel that Adi has shown above, whilst the non-S/E stayed with the woodrim. Some time towards the end of S3 production, they all got the 'signed' steering wheel with round holes as per the S4 / Sprint....the slotted spokes were no more.

Below are a couple of pictures of my wheels. The first is the 15 inch PVC covered signed wheel on my early Plus 2 with 4 holes per spoke. I have another early Plus 2 with an identical wheel except that it's not signed. The 'S' Plus 2, and a few earlier cars, got the black spokes.

The second is my 14 inch PVC covered signed wheel from a non-S/E S4 or Sprint with 3 holes per spoke. The third shows the seam at the bottom...no stitch holes!

Mark
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060111 001.jpg and
Early Plus 2 PVC covered 15 inch signed wheel
060111 004.jpg and
Std S4 / early Sprint PVC covered 14 inch signed wheel
060111 005close.jpg and
PVC cover seam
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PostPost by: GrUmPyBoDgEr » Thu Jan 06, 2011 12:34 pm

Nice Photos Mark,

I think I've mentioned it before; a picture saves a thousand words!

About 6 years ago I sold a Chapman signature PVC covered wheel at the Stonleigh (Sp.?) parts fair.
The PVC had a couple of small splits in it & the wheel had no hub.
It was on the LDC stand all day with a 150 GBP price tag on it with no takers but I was told that one of the dealers had his eye on it.
At the very end of the day he made an offer of 120 which I accepted.
My S4's original skinny leather covered Chapman wheel was in a terrible state with the leather hanging off & a lot of the rubber padding missing.
A black Motolita 13" wheel was fitted so that I could drive the car from GB to Germany without cutting my hands to shreds.
That wheel was soon replaced by a similar polished Alloy wheel which better looks the part in an Elan but does dazzle a lot when it catches the Sun.
The original Chapman wheel is now restored & will find itself in a prominent position in the workshop of my new home back in GB.
I much prefer the feel of the fat 13" wheel & in fact to my old Elite I fitted an 11" wheel; which was a dream.
Each to his own as they say :wink:

Cheers
John
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Editor: On Sunday morning, February 8th 2015, Derek "John" Pelly AKA GrumpyBodger passed away genuinely peacefully at Weston Hospicecare, Weston Super Mare. He will be missed.
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:10 pm

11 inch wheel, John?!! Did you just pad the wheel nut?

I must confess that I have to drive with a thick 13 inch rim as well, and found an old MotoLita many years back that took the original horn push. As nice as the woodrims look, I wouldn't drive a car with one fitted. I met a guy a long time back who had an accident in an E type with a woodrim. The only damage he sustained was to have his forearm ripped to shreds by the splintered wood which wouldn't have happened with a leather covered rim. No wonder they are banned from racing.

They do look good though!
Mark
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PostPost by: GrUmPyBoDgEr » Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:28 pm

"11 inch wheel, John?!! Did you just pad the wheel nut?"

No not back then but the wheel "nut" is now well padded & I put that down to good Bavarian Beer. :lol:

The smaller wheels do make access into any small car much easier for the taller driver.
Your story of the injuries caused by splintered wood rim wheels is backed up by many other similar stories.
After market wood rimmed wheels in Germany have been illegal for ages & quite rightly so.

Cheers
John
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Editor: On Sunday morning, February 8th 2015, Derek "John" Pelly AKA GrumpyBodger passed away genuinely peacefully at Weston Hospicecare, Weston Super Mare. He will be missed.
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PostPost by: andyelan » Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:15 pm

Hi Everyone

Although I don't know much about early cars, I know late Plus 2s and Europa Specials came with leather covered wheels (black spokes for the Plus 2, both unsigned), I'm not sure whether this was an option/pseudo option but I assume it was, like the oatmeal trim, an attempt to give the cars a more upmarket feel. They were after all very expensive in their day.

Regards
Andy
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PostPost by: Heuer » Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:33 pm

Everything you could possibly want to know about classic steering wheels seems to be in this archive of photos: http://mk1-performance-conversions.co.u ... rchive.htm
Elan S4 DHC
E-Type S1 OTS
E-Type S1 FHC
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PostPost by: spanner » Fri Jan 07, 2011 8:11 pm

Thanks for the link Heuer.

I made this one-off wheel with hand tools in 1966 - I was 17 years young with no internet distractions.

Jim
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steering wheel.jpg and
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PostPost by: cabc26b » Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:36 pm

I never minded the wood wheel , I drove with one for awhile back in the 90's that seemed more robust than the riveted wood wheel on the 63 ( might have to make change here ). The never ending 64 project has a leather wrapped slot spoke wheel that feels sturdy in the garage...

George

PS the type 46 europa's have the 14 inch PVC wheel - It seemed just right on the europa.
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PostPost by: gino1 » Sun Jan 09, 2011 10:22 am

Hi Sarto,
If you get in touch with Vincent Haydon he'll sort you out for a very nice new repro S2 wheel.
Gino
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PostPost by: Alasdair » Tue Jan 11, 2011 1:29 pm

Interesting topic,

I am currently restoring a 67 S3 DHC that sat since 1979, the steering wheel is the wooden type and in good shape, what is interesting is, all I kept from my 1964 Lotus Cortina is a very nice original steering wheel, exactly the same as the Elan wheel that I am restoring. So, they were on Cortina's as well. I was going to sell the Cortina wheel thinking it was different that the Elan, I no longer have the hub which would have had Ford splines?

Cheers.
Alasdair.

1953 David Brown Cropmaster
1954 S1 Land Rover
1962 Elite S2
1966 Lotus Cortina MK1
1968 Elan S3 SS Coupe
1968 Austin J40
1969 Elan S4 SE DHC
1972 Elan Sprint
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:07 pm

They are different hubs, Alasdair, and I think that the Lotus Cortina wheels have a deeper dish as well, but I may be wrong with that. Otherwise they certainly look much the same.

I have some pictures of the Lotus Cortina wheels on my website...have a look here:

http://www.lotuscortinainfo.com/?page_id=430

Lots to choose from!

Mark
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PostPost by: mikealdren » Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:17 pm

Alasdair,
I think you may find the wheel is worth more as a Cortina wheel. Lotus Cortinas fetch silly money in the UK and are very sought after. As a result, many people convert standard Cortinas and there is always a good market for genuine parts.

Mike
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PostPost by: mac5777 » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:22 pm

Alasdair, If both of your steering wheels have 6 bolt holes and the spokes have one screw that attaches to the wood rim and comes in three pieces as in my photo, it would be my guess that the wheel will work on both.
Mark's Cortina wheel pictures are great and his first wheel photo looks like my Elan wheel. The dish or offset portion also looks right. Another way to check the offset, is to check if the horn button is close to being flush to the wood rim. If Cortina also used the Triumph Spitfire steering column, they should be interchangeable. Hubs for Spitfires and Elans are available and the pencil push horn rod are also available on ebay. Most buyers already have a hub. An original wood wheel is worth a small fortune. If the wheels turn out to be identical, I would list it as original for both. I have been told that Elan wood wheels have sold for 600.00 to 800.00 GBP which means in USD $1,245.00. Mine sold for $960.00 to Japan with several bidders in that range.
I will take advantage of Mark's and Gino's suggestion for a good reproduction wheel unless a garage find turns up. Ya right

Sarto
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lotus elan 1966 S3 FHC
36/5785
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PostPost by: RotoFlexible » Wed Jan 12, 2011 2:39 am

The wheel in Sarto's photo is identical to the wheel from my S2, except that the wheel in the photo is in great shape and mine is not. I have been corresponding with Mike Lempert in South Carolina (http://www.pbase.com/mdlempert/wheels) about restoring my wheel. He confirms that the individual spokes indicate a Springall, but he prefers to rebuild these wheels with a continuous aluminum rim embedded in the wood, for safety. Given the difficulty and expense of replacing an original wheel, I am going to see if he can do this reversibly. Ideally, I would like to get a slightly beefier rim, finished to match the new dash (which I am going to have built by C&G Woodcraft).
Andrew Bodge
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PostPost by: Gordon Sauer » Wed Jan 12, 2011 7:11 am

To each their own but I can't imagine destroying the original wood wheel in an Elan--like I've said, it's a single piece of beechwood wrapped around on itself and then finished beautifully--it's readily refinished; to sandwich in a piece of metal just doesn't seem to offer real added protection--you can still get t-boned, run over by a jacked up truck, lots of stuff to befall you in an Elan. Gordon Sauer
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