Lotus Elan

What is an original Elan?

PostPost by: garyeanderson » Sat Jul 30, 2011 9:35 am

Maybe that should read "whats an unmodified Elan". Seems that this question starts to be asked when Value starts to rise with no apparent cause. So the Elan being in production from 1963 to a point in 1973 I believe and the Elan changed. 4 different models with some sub models. All of these subsequent models were modified to be improved, cost less to build, put more money in the Hand of Lotus, make the Elan More appealing to a wider range of people. Replacement parts were not always available everywhere so one had to make do at times. I think Lotus did the same, I don't know why the Elan ended up to be the poster child for "Miss Unreliable" as they are as good as most of that era and if properly maintained do nicely. I guess we know many of the change points and what was changed along the way at the factory but the subsequent parts that were sold as replacement parts we know little other than the point (in some cases) where the parts appeared. There are many places in the parts manual where a note is put in to indicate that a parts change happened a a certain point. What happen when those were replaced by an owner? Those parts were superseded and not available so a follow on part was used. Still factory supplied parts but wrong for that model being repaired. Now we get back to that value thing again. Lets say we have a one owner Elan with 50000 miles, a fair number but not excessive for a 45 year old Elan maintained with factory parts with those "running changes" and say another 45 year old Elan with 15,000 miles thats been sitting for 40 years and all of the unrestored (still there but old and tired and some just beat) parts have not been replaced. One is still driving and the other is suitable only for restoration or parts, What is worth more and to whom? Why do you think this is so? So which would you buy? Does this forum need a STOCK section?

I guess I am at a loss to understand the mood change on this forum. At one time it was great to see any Elan brought back from the dead, Now there seems like for ones hard work to be shown and appreciated here it better be original or you'll get 150 views and no replies.

I like stock and unmodified Elan's and I like modified ones too, they are ALL great and those that can't see that are just missing out on half of the fun.

I guess you already know I think you need more than one Elan.

p-a
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PostPost by: nebogipfel » Sat Jul 30, 2011 10:26 am

I was thinking about the subject of modified Elans yesterday while my mind was wandering at work.

I was thinking of it in terms of Elan values specifically. It has always seemed strange that the Elan has lagged behind cars which are technically inferior, more abundant and lower down the "social scale". Even the humble MGB (roadster) has pretty much caught the Elan in terms of value.

My conclusion FWIW, is that Elans suffer an image problem because so many of them are altered, often radically and they then get a kit car/bitsa image rather than the image they deserve. If you consider other classic marques, originality is important but for some reason Elan owners seem to think they must make improvements to what is, lets be honest, close to perfection as originally conceived.

On the subject of originality I am always amazed and sceptical about cars which suddenly appear on the market having only covered 40.000 miles in 40 plus years. I know they exist but they must be rarer than hen's teeth.

Originality can certainly be taken too far. There is a (very) early Mini in C&SC this month which is basically a wreck bought for a crazy sum of money and the conclusion has been reached to leave it as it is as important historically. The fact that it has already been bodged and has a replacement door and the fact that it will continue to deteriorate in it's current poor state seems to have been overlooked.

Surely it would make sense to restore the car, retaining as much of the original as possible so that it is preservable for the future. In 20 years time that sympathetic restoration will be part of the cars history .....and that, FWIW is my view of the attitude we should take to all classic cars.
Last edited by nebogipfel on Sat Jul 30, 2011 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Sat Jul 30, 2011 10:32 am

Gary, I think that those of us who crave ?originality? are in a tiny minority here on the forum?I can think of only 4 or 5 guys out of the regular posters who have the affliction! No mood change here.

For me, originality isn?t a binary thing?a car isn?t either ?right? or ?wrong?. I suppose when looking at any given car, it?s the degree of original specification that I?m looking for. I only know of three Elans that I would call properly original?.still with the paint, chassis, engines and even in one case the tyres they left the factory with. The air in the tyres has probably been replaced, but the car is so close to being 100% original otherwise! Oh yes, it is unusable as well.

But most cars tending towards original nowadays are, in the strictest sense, quite a long way off being built to original specification. They may be the original colour, have the original matching numbers engine, original specification interior and woodrim steering wheel. But often they can be overdone, with shiny powder-coated bits everywhere, and very shiny two pack black for parts under the bonnet, where they used to be satin. The shiny stuff has for me replaced the chrome plating that hot rodders used to do to everything, and looks just as horrible.

A car that has been restored to truly original specification is very rare, and the closest thing you can get to buying a new Elan?.and who wouldn?t want a new Elan if one was available? Because they?re so rare, and so desirable, the price is high?.simple economics. It also costs a huge amount more to get a restoration as close to original as possible rather than compromise on two pack paint, powder coating, any old carpet so long as it?s black, a modern servo, a TTR radiator?etc. etc.

In the E Type world, a basic restoration by the E Type specialists is ?100k. They reckon to add ?20k to that to make an authentic original specification restoration, and that?s a hell of a lot more to get it ?right?. But the difference is very obvious when you put one car alongside the other. One looks like it?s come out of the factory, and one looks like it?s been restored.

There is a book entitled ? Corvette Restoration, State of the Art? by Michael Antonick. This guy became obsessed with restoring his Corvette to as close as possible original restoration, and wanted to not only use the same materials as were originally used, but have the same sort of mistakes / compromises. Orange peel and runs in the paint, thin paint on the suspension parts with a bit of surface rust?..it?s how Elans used to arrive at the dealers as well! If you want a brand new factory Elan, it also had all these faults.

As for modified cars, I think that they can be interesting as well. I really appreciate ?period? modifications to Elans, such as (some) flaired arches and big wheels and BDA engined cars (but I?m a bit biased there!). I also appreciate a re-engineered Elan, such as John?s Zetec S4 and Alan?s Duratec S4, which I?m sure are brilliant driving machines.

But I really don?t see the point in the ?upgrades? to Elans such as electric fuel pump, electric headlamp lifters, Japanese starter motors or even conversion to alternator for the earlier cars. It bugs me when people who do these modifications claim they are doing them because the original units were crap, whereas in reality, they were probably worn out. The problems with the modifications are often compounded when guys realise that the wiring loom is now overloaded, so that is also written off as crap, and a new loom with 20 fuses and relays added, that unfortunately, isn?t documented and which the next owner has no chance in understanding.

Yes, making these changes probably makes using the car a tiny bit easier for the current owner if he?s engineered it correctly, but so would replacing the engine with a modern one, or indeed, replacing the car with a modern sports car.

But that?s just my perspective I expect?and maybe the other 4 or 5 on here who are interested in originality.

Mark
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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Sat Jul 30, 2011 11:41 am

Mark
I started the thread in the mods section just to see what folks that have done them thought of the mods that they had done to understand that point. I think that we can say that the Elan being built and designed in England may be the perfect point A to point B winner. Going elsewhere in the world things are not the same and what works where it was designed and built no longer works. That may be a reason that larger auto companies have test facilities in cold and desert areas. Well Lotus didn't and sold them everywhere and so folks had to do a bit of afterthought engineering. Some clearly unnecessary but when you are sitting at a traffic light and the only thing moving in your lane is the temperature gauge on the march up the scale then it becomes uncomfortable to drive. So do you just leave the Elan in the garage on days when you think traffic will be a problem (like every day) or do you make it work the way it needs to so that you can sit there and not have to worry about it.

From my point of view, I have alway started with a low investment Elan and did what I wanted. Not one was running, they were all piles of parts. 2 or 3 piles of parts were needed to put one back together. So now there are these orphans that were hurt hard initially from neglect and now saddled with being raped are really only suitable for the likes of ebay. Worth more dead than alive, is what they have become. So 40 to 50 years after the start is that the thing to do with these mongrels? To expensive to restore but in my view just to nice to toss out with the bath water. Out of the 8500 Elan's built the handful of nearly completely stock serve as a model for some and the ruination of many of the mongrels that still have a bit let to give.

p.s. - Speaking of projects, how are yours coming along?
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PostPost by: gordont » Sat Jul 30, 2011 12:06 pm

". So the Elan being in production from 1963 to a point in 1973"
Off topic but I thought it was the 50zth anniversary next year? Are we a year early?

John regarding the mileage of cars mine has I believe original 16000 miles from new (12000 by me in 2 years) but is modified with all them usual 26r buts and body mods.

I think just get out and enjoy them no matter if original or modified doesn't matter.
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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Sat Jul 30, 2011 1:51 pm

gordont wrote:". So the Elan being in production from 1963 to a point in 1973"
Off topic but I thought it was the 50zth anniversary next year? Are we a year early?

John regarding the mileage of cars mine has I believe original 16000 miles from new (12000 by me in 2 years) but is modified with all them usual 26r buts and body mods.

I think just get out and enjoy them no matter if original or modified doesn't matter.


The first invoice dates were 23 January 1963 for 26/0002 and 26/0003
There is no invoice date for 26/0001

Tim can give the last Sprint

back to the topic
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PostPost by: nebogipfel » Sat Jul 30, 2011 2:44 pm

gordont wrote:John regarding the mileage of cars mine has I believe original 16000 miles from new (12000 by me in 2 years) but is modified with all them usual 26r buts and body mods.




Gordon I don't doubt that yours is correct but it's my experience that so called time warp cars are a very unusual find and it's odd that there seem to be quite a few very low mileage 40-50 year old Elans around. It's particularly odd because the Elan was not a cheap car in it's day and in the main was bought and driven by enthusiasts.

I am a bit of an old sceptic and would want serious documentary evidence :)

Sorry still off topic :wink:
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PostPost by: Tahoe » Sun Jul 31, 2011 5:27 am

An original Elan is what most owners strive for, but personally I love all Elans modified or not. Take mine for instance. I'm at a point in life where I had 3 other Lotus's one of which was an S2 Elan. My recent S2 purchase was one of those cars that was purchased as a parts car by the previous owners, but they saw potential and didn't part it out and use the parts as spares for their race car. As a result, I bought a car that was far from original, but the spirt was still there. Today after less than a year it has an alternater, gear reduction starter, Pertronix ignition, Panasports, flared fenders, Mota Lita steering wheel, CV axles (ready to install), Spyder frame and suspension, headers, Aluminum radiator, roll bar, etc. I think you get the point. It is not stock, wasn't when I got it, but it could be brought back to stock appearance and parts with alot of effort, and eBay searching. I have many of the parts to bring it back already, and the rest of parts could be obtained as reproductions or sourcing originals. RIght now I feel priviliged to be able to drive my Elan and enjoy it any time I want. Do I wish it was more original, yes I do, but I also know that I understand what a great car it is in any state, and to me it's more important to drive it and enjoy it. Original examples are extremely important, but those of us who have non-original, slight modified examples that we drive, keep the spirit alive, and the comments and complements I get on my not so perfect Elan are priceless. By the way I'm so excited to install my new Aluminum fuel tank, order a new dash board, restore my newly aquired original hardtop, and new exhaust system, that I can hardly wait for WInter to arrive again. Next Spring I'll be able to enjoy those new additions, and dream of what I'll do the following WInter. In the mean time I'm looking forward to a Sunday morning drive in the Elan with my dog in the passenger seat tomorrow morning.

Cheers, Russ
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PostPost by: vstibbard » Sun Jul 31, 2011 8:01 am

Re Gordon's S2, I bought this car over 15 years ago and restored it before selling it to Gordon.

Sold new in mid 1966, the car was bought by the Jones Family (Aussies) living in UK 1970/71 when approx 5 yrs old, it was pulled apart by another Aussie friend (now a very respected Ferrari Restorer in Sydney) of the PO an Aussie living in UK to send it to Australia and avoid paying import duty and taxes (which were high), I spoke to the father who bought the car and met David his friend who pulled the car apart when I was restoring it, and was told, they found and subsequently bought the car from a mechanics garage, the car had supposedly sat for the majority of the 5 years outside a mechanics garage having suffered a broken a camshaft and the owner had not come up with funds to fix it, as found it had the cylinder head removed, still missing one cam, dash was cracked and warped instruments in place with odo showed 7580 miles, top of bores had original pistons frozen and heavy surface rust and red paint covered with moisture bubbles...., the Aussie bought new pair of SE cams, sprockets, valves and new bushes and mounts before sending it to Australia.
When I bought it from the Son of the Aussie who bought the car in UK, everything removed in UK was with the still with disassembled car in 1993, all new parts were present that David said had been bought, in between it had been stored in a hay shed on property in Western NSW, a very dry environment, sadly the shell had suffered from junk being placed over it.
It took me 16 years to finally finish the restoration. On stripping engine, main and little end bearings showed little wear, thrust washers in good order, selector forks and synchro's and hubs like new, clutch and cover with limited wear which tended to confirm the history as told and mileage, rear uprights had never been apart, with no witness marks indicating removal of shock absorber top retaining collar, all wishbones pitted with surface rust, disks rusted away from outer edge but in centre once surface rust removed were very close to original thickness.. all pointed to a laid up car and seemed to match with the history as David had shared it.
Either way Gordon's using it as it was intended to be used .. his daily driver, and long may he continue

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PostPost by: trw99 » Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:33 pm

piss-ant wrote:
gordont wrote:". So the Elan being in production from 1963 to a point in 1973"
Off topic but I thought it was the 50zth anniversary next year? Are we a year early?

John regarding the mileage of cars mine has I believe original 16000 miles from new (12000 by me in 2 years) but is modified with all them usual 26r buts and body mods.

I think just get out and enjoy them no matter if original or modified doesn't matter.


The first invoice dates were 23 January 1963 for 26/0002 and 26/0003
There is no invoice date for 26/0001

Tim can give the last Sprint

back to the topic


2012 will be the 50th anniversary of the announcement of the Elan at the October 1962 London Motor Show.

There is no invoice for 26/0001 because it was given to Jim Clark - apparently.

The last Elan to come off the Hethel production line on 6th March 1973 was 0102H, a Regency Red DHC Sprint to European specs and sold to someone in Portugal (was there a Portuguese main dealer in 73? Anyone know who that was?). It was first registered in August 1973.

The last numbered Elan was 0103H, a Sprint/5 that went to Denmark, though it actually rolled off the production line on 27th February 1973. Cars 0096H to 0101H were all signed off on the either 1st or 2nd March 1973.

Lotus announced the end of the Elan in the August/September edition of Lotus World and the last dealer price list I have is dated 11 May 1973; you can see it here: http://www.lotuselansprint.com/Document ... y%2073.jpg

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PostPost by: collins_dan » Mon Aug 01, 2011 3:05 pm

Fortunately, there is no ultimate arbiter of originality, other than the owner and future owner. I think it all depends on what your motivations, resources and intended uses are for the car. I buy cars that I would like to drive and then I drive them. If I find that something is limiting my ability to drive the car, such as running hot, poor running due to inconsistent fuel pressure, lights that are barely visible at night, a desire for it to start when I turn the key, not wanting drive shafts shot through the body of the car... then I look to other car owners to make suitable (but in many ways as invisible as possible) upgrades. Do I consider a car that has gone through those changes original? Honestly, its not a question I ask myself, but its more original than not. I also still have all the original parts, in the event that a future owner has a different opinion. Dan
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PostPost by: elj221c » Mon Aug 01, 2011 3:36 pm

Tahoe wrote: In the mean time I'm looking forward to a Sunday morning drive in the Elan with my dog in the passenger seat tomorrow morning.

Cheers, Russ


Gary, don't let Beau see this. He too will want a seat!

Back to topic:My S2 is far from original spec but it is 'original' to me the way it is. As far as I know the car was made the way it is around '70 although I have no documentary evidence. I bought it in '75 and have only known it thus and it's because it WAS diferent that I bought it.

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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Mon Aug 01, 2011 6:24 pm

elj221c wrote:
Tahoe wrote: In the mean time I'm looking forward to a Sunday morning drive in the Elan with my dog in the passenger seat tomorrow morning.

Cheers, Russ


Gary, don't let Beau see this. He too will want a seat!

Back to topic:My S2 is far from original spec but it is 'original' to me the way it is. As far as I know the car was made the way it is around '70 although I have no documentary evidence. I bought it in '75 and have only known it thus and it's because it WAS diferent that I bought it.

Roy
'65 S2 (original to me!)


Hi Roy
Beau has a chair in the house and most nights in the summer he's on the floor, in the winter he's in his chair with his blanket over him. I don't think he cares to much about comfort so he is perfect in my Elan as there isn't much.

Did you do the Spyder chassis swap?
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PostPost by: elj221c » Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:22 am

Yes, I did the chassis in '82. I was driving round one of my favourite right hand bends when the left front turret broke away from the chassis. The only thing holding everything on was the bolt at the top through to the engine bay and a bit of rust. Quite an exciting moment!

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