Lotus Elan

Himalaya Rally 2007

PostPost by: jcocking » Wed Mar 07, 2007 9:10 pm

Peter and Allison Coates are taking on the Himalaya Rally in their Elan coupe. As they send emails, I will post the information provided in this posting.

We'll arrive in Udaipour in India on Friday and hope to find our "Dakar Elan" in the Maharaja of Rajastan's classic car museum after its two month journey in a container from UK. The rally organisers have set up a blog site at
http://www.himalayarally.blogspot.com/ where there should be regular reports on progress through India, Nepal and Bhutan but as the other cars are Rolls and Bentleys there are no prizes for guessing which ones will feature in their reports.
Drive shaft1.JPG and
Its the land of "make do and mend" but hopefully not to the extent we had to in Morroco on our way to Dakar in 2005.
himalya_route.gif and
The route to be covered over the next couple weeks
Jeff Cocking
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PostPost by: jcocking » Sat Mar 17, 2007 12:50 pm

Update from Tuesday:

Now completed 700Kms over some very bumpy roads with goats, cows, people and other obstructions everywhere. Top speed in towns 15mph so have nearly overheated. On country roads not much better at 30 mph but did find a good road in the desert and got up to 80mph. Sleeping policemen and potholes normal but have found no traffic cops. Loads of second and third gear work but Elan behaving well. Will try to send some pictures later.

Today in Bikaner tomorrow 9 hour drive to Amritsar.
Jeff Cocking
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PostPost by: cliveyboy » Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:07 am

A rest day in Shimla, hill station in the Indian Himalayas where the
British goverment of old India used to come in the hot summer months.
The rally was reported in the local papers, the english languauge
version (others are in local language Hindi) had one picture - not the
Rolls or the Bentleys or the Mercs but a little Lotus. Rather spolit
the story by descibing it as a 1965 Volvo - but they are similar?
Now approaching the border to Nepal after a couple of problems
hopefully now resolved. One was the front shock absorber which leaked
after bumpy road sections - term "road" used in its broadest sense. A
hammer and cold chisel was used during the repair process (don't
ask!). Have now arranged with Susan Miler of Mick Miller Classic Lotus
(Far Flung Parts a Speciality) to ship some replacements to Kathmandu -
and if someone says that's not a first.....!
Other problem was after an oil change when the refitted sump plug just
carried on turning and turning. Used vast quantities of PFTE tape
(plumbers mate) so hope that works. That's life on a rally!

Sorry no photos just yet but there should be some on the blog site we
sent earlier - will try harder once we get to Kathmandu.

Oh, and there have been complaints from other rally cars that the
Lotus grabs all the attention and interest!

Bye for now
Alison & Peter
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PostPost by: cliveyboy » Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:58 am

We arrived in Kathmandu - it seems a long tme ago to find a parcel
from Susan Miller (Mick Miller Classic Lotus - Far Flung parts a
Speciality) waiting for us - well done DHL! As the repair was holding
up reasonably we decided yo carry on as we were and just to jack up the
front springs a bit to try to raise the ride height. Worry then became
the upper wishbone bushes - you know that when you tighten them up it
sets the static ride height - but these were tight and flopping up and
down in the breeze! Not worried about suspension side of things but
the steering could get tricky!

What else has the car suffered from? the entry to Kathmandu was slow
hot and dusty, traffic uses all parts of the road which is shared with
stopped busses, broken down lorries, motor bikes, cows, dogs, goats
pedestrians and cars all making a hell of a row. The last few
kilometres took over an hour, fuel was low (petrol strike(), oil
pressure falling and water was up to 108 degrees. Somehow the car did
not boil over, the oil pressure was back to normal next day and we did
not run out of fuel!

Before that in the mountains the brake servo packed up, first it did
not work, the it pushed the pedal back then got really angry and dthe
brakes up solid - so we bypassed it, re-routing a pipe direct from the
master cylinder to the brakes. As it was pouring we completed the
bypass next day so left late and had to drive in the dark next day
through a village on a rough dirt track with kids clamouring foe "one
rupee, one rupee", with bumps potholes and animals to negotiate well
you've probably guessed the headlight relay packed in! Fortunately an
organiser's vehicle came along so we followed in his dust cloud praying
he could judge our ground clearance. Anyone who has followedour
earlier rallies will be suprised to hear that we have not yet lost the

We left Kathmandu in a petrol crisis hoping we would find enough fuel
to get to India - we are now in Bhutan - so yes that problem was a non

Now lunchtime so this afternoon will be spent doing some basis
maintenance - finding why the fuse has blown, getting the wipers, fuel
guage, indicators and handbrake light to work - and a first for a rally
- doing a donut! (we've alrady done an oil change, points and

Minor problem still with t.he passenger door flying open on right hand
bends and the window has collapsed but we still have 4heels so that's
an improvement!!

Lookng on the bright side, the engine's fine, using very little oil,
losing no coolant and we've not had any punctures - the Michelin van
tyres sound awful round the mountain hairpins, do nothing for
roadholding - but are very tough!

Sorry about no pictures but they may have to wait till we get home!

Bye for now, next report probably from Calcutta.

Peter & Allison
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PostPost by: cliveyboy » Tue Apr 03, 2007 10:59 am

We've left the hills and peacefulness of the kingdom of Bhutan and are
now in Siliguri, the commercial centre of N Bengal where the roads are
hot and full of traffic - and cows - but the biggest problem is busses
parking/breaking down in the middle of the road and being overtaken by
overloaded cyclos - pedal powered carriers of goods. A snail can go
backwards faster!

The car is in serious limp mode. we thought we had killed the rear
shock absorbers when our takeoff from a blind ridge into a stretch of
unmade road ended in a big bang and a lot of clatter from the rear end
- and zero shock absorbing. The unusual problem turned out to be that
the 'collar nut' which holds the shock absorber into the rear bearing
housing had come undone. Putting this nut back in place without
dismantling the whole suspension is not easy but we did manage
eventually with a bit of help - and the shock absorbers then worked.
Sorry I doubted you. Mr Spax!

In Thimpu we found that all front upper wishbone bushes had died but
only one was so worn that the n/s wheel had about 1/2 inch of free
movement - not best practice! Our Bhutan tourist guides (everyone in
Bhutan must have a Guide), phoned a local mechanic who in two hours on
a Sunday morning constructed a very adequate replacement. Wishbones

This trip would not be complete without a donut change and the
electric windows failing - both now sorted and fully functional. Which
is more than can be said for the rear wheel bearing...........

Still we've only got 600 kms to do and it won't be at speed - its the
run-in to Calcutta and one thing that is sure is that boiling over will
be a far more immediate problem that a wobbly wheel bearing or duff
suspension - all things are relative!

Bhutan was very interesting and whilst they are trying hard to have
economically sensible tourism - ie those with money to afford their
prices - there is a limited number of sights to see, only one airport
and at the moment the road connections are like the scenes of
landslides. They are blasting the sides of the mountains to widen the
roads and having them open/closed in two hours windows. In the open
window traffic tries to pick its way in both directions on single track
roads whilst the labourers clear away the dirt and the rocks. The
Lotus's narrow profile makes our passage relatively easy as we squeeze
between lorries but as with all compromises we are not so good at
driving over rocks! Never mind the Michelin tyres have been excellent
and and puncture free.

The engine has been a minor miracle, oil pressure and water
temperature have resisted all our attempts at abuse and it has the
power one expects of a Lotus engine despite the uncertain octane rating
of the fuel.

Sorry no photos but these will have to wait till we're home.

The Lotus attracts lots of attention - people cannot understand how
small it is and it generates quite a lot of laughter.

Bye for now,
Peter & Allison
1972 Elan Sprint FHC
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PostPost by: dusty » Tue Apr 03, 2007 12:56 pm

Great thread, Look forward to the pictures...
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PostPost by: cliveyboy » Sun Apr 08, 2007 9:50 am

The final section of the Great Himalayan Pothole Rally. What was that
I said about the tyres doing well? yes we picked up a nail shortly
after setting off the next day! That was on the only bit of dual
carriageway we've seen all trip.

The day to Calcutta was long - 10 hours on the road and all for 330
kms. The road varied from vaguely reasonable to awful. We drove on a
diversion through a village where the dust from heavy lorries hung in
the air - we were covered just driving through - what the villagers
must think I cannot imagine. We had two sections of uncontrolled road
works. Uncontrilled means that half the road did not exist so all the
buses, lorries, cars and pedal carts had tro use the same track of
rough med and stone. The fun began when you got to the middle of the
section at about the same time as the guy coming the other way. There
was a lot of hooting - even more than usual and eventually one line of
traffic was persuaded to reverse out; the was complicated by the fcat
that all the following traffic has occupied both sides of the road
sothere was no space either to reverse into or for the approaching
traffic to get through. We counted 20 minutes for a 100 yard section
as good progress!

We expected Calcutta to be gridlocked worse than Kathmandu - actually
it was quite easy and the water temperature only got to 95 degrees.
Our wheel bearing attracted attention with one man winding down the
window of the air conditioned tinted glass car to say "excuse me but
your left rear wheel bearing is not good. Your wheel is wobbling" I
said yes we knew but we had only 7kms still to do!

Today we went to the inland docks and left a battered car sitting in a
small corner ofa large warehouse, dwarfed by Bentley and Mercedes -
just the short stretch in UK from Felixstowe to Norfolk and a respray,
major suspension rebuild and numerous other jobs.

Photos to follow hopefully but we've done it. The car has done west
africa and the Indian subcontinent. Where next? One wag suggested the
science museum! Mission Impossible mark 2 completed!

Peter & Allison
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