Lotus Elan

Whats with all this originality fetish?

PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Fri Jun 06, 2014 3:22 pm

Well if you don't bother maintaining a car then it will go wrong!

After 50,000 miles driving Elans with donuts and dynamos, summer and winter, day and night, I've never had exploding donuts, slowing wipers, dimming lights and the points have never needed to be cleaned by the side of the road.

The vacuum pods don't slowly go down when going up a hill either, and the cable on the electric window doesn't snap every two weeks. The bodywork doesn't crack when you look at it, and the car doesn't catch fire every other time I've started up. The carburetors don't go out of tune every months, and the water pump doesn't need replacing every service.

The wheels stay on for days at a time, and the chassis doesn't bend or crack if you run over a small pothole in the road.

These are all just myths derived from the experience of having knackered and ill-maintained cars.

The only 'original' spec things that have gone wrong are coils and condensers made to the wrong specification in Vietnam...fit the right stuff and they last for years.

Mark
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PostPost by: trw99 » Fri Jun 06, 2014 3:29 pm

Mark nailed it!

Tim

(A well maintained original of 60 years, still on original chassis)
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PostPost by: AussieJohn » Fri Jun 06, 2014 4:13 pm

When I bought my just 3 years old S2 in 1969 I thought it was fairly standard until I realised the wings were bigger, alloy wheels were fitted, adjustable top front wishbones, a big valve head and 85 mm bore with different cams and a 4.1/1 diff. These differences only became obvious after comparisons with the odd standard Elan [of which there were very few]. At the time of purchase I thought it was too new to be modded but I was well wrong; I would have argued with anyone that it was original.
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PostPost by: Spyder fan » Fri Jun 06, 2014 4:14 pm

trw99 wrote:Mark nailed it!

Tim

(A well maintained original of 60 years, still on original chassis)


So did Rohan, he used a gas powered Nail Gun, whilst Mark is still content with his Stanley hammer :mrgreen:

PS:
I'm picking up my birthday Chinese takeaway in the S4 later on this evening, the suns out and it's over 20 degrees C, we will be sitting on the deck watching the sun go down later.
Kindest regards

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PostPost by: trw99 » Fri Jun 06, 2014 5:03 pm

"..will be sitting on the deck watching the sun go down later".

You're definitely getting older ...

It'll be the rocking chair next.

Tim
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PostPost by: PeterK » Fri Jun 06, 2014 6:24 pm

Happy birthday Alan, and enjoy the sun and Chinese

Peter
(Zetec Plus 2 getting closer to being a car than the pile of bits in boxes I bought)
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PostPost by: el-saturn » Fri Jun 06, 2014 9:13 pm

yepp - my car is handbuilt - by myself AND i could drive at night and i really have to accelerate heavily to notice dipping lights - my cars? wipers work and it doesn?t leak in the rain, it?s heart will turn higher than it has torque (8000), the windows function like in a rolls royce, everything is 100% functional - better than most elans left norfolk: i used to fulfill engineering tasks for Audi, Porsche and Daimler: so quality and precision becomes one of your virtues - and YES i?d fit a 2,0L BDG if I could!!!!!!!!!!!!! cheers sandy
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PostPost by: gherlt » Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:56 pm

I love my wife for her beauty, her kindness (to me), her virtues and for her caracter.
She would not be her, if she would not have her caracter. Her caracter implies fault and limitations (so do I).
She would be boring if she would not have caracter. I love her "original".

Heroes in motion pictures need to have caracter (=faults) and a good villian, if not, the film would be boring.

Our car has beauty, some virtues and virtous driving abilities. I love it's racy sound, its directness in every haptic gesture, in every sensorial aspect. The car is balanced - power, brakes, wheels, steering, gears. And it has caracter. Its lightness with age makes it more fragile than other, it needs a mantainance that should be more intensive/careful than other cars might need. (Hmmm, just as me, except for the lightness, never been there...)

If you put more power in, you need better brakes. you need other gears. If not, you loose the balance power-brakes-steering. You finish on an other car with the looks of an Elan. (I speak road cars, I want to especificaly take out racing, that is another world.)
Buy an Evante. Buy a TVR. Buy a better car. Do not try to emulate the wolf in sheeps clothes.
Think of an old Rolls Royce with a modern BMW engine in it. Possible, yes. Powerful, useful, might be. General opinion ? Not very tastefull. Value ? You would not sell it for the same price. Buyer would install old engine as fast a he could.
If you start with mods, you loose the balance, the feeling, the integrity, NVH. You change her for "better".
What is *better* ? Less noise ? Less rev's on the autobahn ? More power ?
You can't change the car in some aspects. It' will continue to be small, noisy, windy, bits will continue to fall off or crack, it's at least 40 years old !

But as ever, there are (n+1) opinions as (n) people gather. I understand the needs to upgrade a car, there are aspects which are unique to someone's needs. But the Elan, which I (and many others) think of as a perfect drivers car, is "mobiles Kulturgut" - "mobile cultural heritage" more or less. You cant tell your children how the old times were showing remakes or playing modern music based on old songs. My daugther sees the differences between an old car and a new car. She understands certain aspects of life 50 years ago, because she sees it in my car. She is aware of progress.

On a Volvo I might think another way...

(And finally, just to make it clear. I love my wife more than my car.)

A bit late, but of course ... Happy Birthday !
1964 S1 (engine ready, awainting body paint)
1967 S3 DHC (needs new starter)
1969 S4 FHC (running great ... done 60km ... engine damage :-( )

Brian Bucklands 2nd edition available ! Look here: https://theelanman.com
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Sat Jun 07, 2014 1:05 am

There are actually N factorial opinions when N people meet as every individual expresses a slightly different opinion to everyone else!!!!

All we are discussing here is the spectrum of opinions on how original a car should be kept or not and why. . Everyone falls into different parts of the spectrum for different reasons. The reason there is a range is that people have different purposes in life and with their cars. Some want to drive them hard, some just want to look at them, some like tinkering some like polishing, some dont care about future value as they never intend to sell, some see them as an investment etc etc etc.

The Jay Leno car or the Evante or a Mod sports Elan are one end of the range.and there are many examples at the other end of "near" original elans ( i say near as none have the original air in the tyres :lol: ). Most fall somewhere in between. with more or less "improvements" to tyres, wheels, drive train engine and electrics which is good as this range of opinion and cars is what keeps this site vibrant and interesting for me at least .

cheers
Rohan
"Respect the past but always look to the future"


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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Sat Jun 07, 2014 6:59 am

But Rohan, you weren't expressing as opinion regarding whether or not modifications are a good thing. You are claiming that the original design is deeply flawed and unfit for purpose, and people who keep them original don't use them!!

rgh0 wrote:exploded donuts chewing out your chassis, driving in the dark in the rain with the battery going flat the wipers slowing and the lights dimming, trying to clean and reset the points by the side of the road, spinning out in the wet on a set of crap cross plys.

People who keep their cars so original that these things are part of the original experience generally don't actually drive them and at most take them to cars shows on sunny summer days !


And that is plainly wrong, as I do use them in original condition, as do many others!

As I've said many times, I'm certainly not against modifications in classic cars where the mod actually adds value. Most of my cars have upgraded engines developing 20% to 40% more power than standard. But I see no point in the so-called upgrades which replace parts that work perfectly well in standard form.

I think that my issue is that folks coming to the Elan now for the first time, reading that a lot of the original equipment is so poor, will actually believe it. The myths get perpetuated, and for the next generation it becomes fact that driving an Elan with donuts or with a dynamo, with a mechanical fuel pump and vacuum operated headlamps, just can't be done!

There is a lot of bull talked about the Twincam engine as well. Perhaps over time, with the myths that the engines going out of tune every week, water pumps fail regularly, and oil leaks out faster than you can top it up, they will all be all replaced by the more efficient Zetec.

I was at Prescott hill climb a couple of weeks ago and it was great to see the Bugattis and Alfas, still with their straight 8 engines and superchargers, And magnetos, which we all know can't possibly work. And there was even a Ferrari from the 1950s who had driven from London on crossply tyres....how dangerous is that??!!

Not one of the pre-war Aston Martins had been upgraded to disc brakes, which work so much better. They didn't have seat belts or roll bars, and some of them even had 6 volt electrics....how can that work?

But the guys seemed to still be having a lot of fun in their grossly inefficient machines, which also seemed to work very well.

And many of the cars were driven to the hill climb...on public roads....in the rain.

Mark
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PostPost by: reb53 » Sat Jun 07, 2014 7:17 am

As it's your car I guess you can do what you like with it.
The "concours" thing about having the correct labels in the engine bay etc. I don't really understand, and can't be bothered with.
However, nor can I understand the need for continual improvement as it has no end, and you end up with a car that is so far removed from the original I'd have to wonder why you bought it in the first place.
There are plenty of hot hatches that will run rings around Elans on a simple performance basis, but not many, ( I suspect as I haven't driven them all....), will give the same driving pleasure now, let alone in another 50 years.
If you start to widen tyres, fit smaller steering wheels, harden/alter suspension, hot up motors, you are moving further and further away from the original Elan experience which made the car so special.

I'm really glad I didn't buggerise around with my car when I bought it 38 years ago.
It wasn't my latest toy where I wanted to modify everything and try to "Out Colin" Colin.
I decided if what I did didn't change the way it looked, or the way it drove, and was done for the sake of reliability or safety, then I'd do it.
So pretty much what Rohan mentioned, electronic points, longer lasting shocks etc.

Ralph.
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Sat Jun 07, 2014 8:23 am

Elanintheforest wrote:But Rohan, you weren't expressing as opinion regarding whether or not modifications are a good thing. You are claiming that the original design is deeply flawed and unfit for purpose, and people who keep them original don't use them!!

Mark


Hi Mark

I don't think I indicated the original design was "deeply flawed' - if I did, it was certainly not intended. The Elan design is one of the most elegant and well executed automotive designs of all times, done by people who were world leaders and some of the best ever in sports car design. I am not passionate about deeply flawed designs but I am passionate about Elans :lol:

I was trying to demonstrate that no design is perfect and all always have compromises based on technology limits of the time and depending on what motivates you, you may make more or less changes while still retaining the basis reason we drive classic cars. You make less changes than most who regularly drive their cars based on your particular set of motivations.

For example the use of donuts (that are asked go beyond their acceptable reliable limits of deflection in an Elan) was certainly a design compromise that adds nothing to the classic driving experience versus modern CVs and certainly adds to reliability and on going maintenance needs and cause major issues when they fail. Lotus themselves recognised this by attempting to add a restraining pin and cup on later cars ( which did not help on my plus 2 when I broke a donut as the pin broke off at the same time and the chassis was damaged) and also by using UJs and spline on the 26R. However if you don't mind the work to check and regularly change them and don't do to many drop clutch starts and don't mind the risk of chassis damage then donuts can work OK.

The example of why don't people put disk brakes on pre war Astons is also illuminating as it again demonstrates that some possible changes that improve performance are generally not adopted - why? I believe its for a range of reasons in the example cited - e.g. the drum brakes work ok for the usual use of these cars. The brakes are visible and replacing detract s from the look, they would devalue the car for a range of buyers etc etc. However if historic racing rules allowed use of disk brakes in pre war Astons I bet every car racing would have disks brakes within a season !

I had an interesting discussion with a guy racing a mK1 Lotus Cortina recently. When talking about building engines he said he you needed to use "L" blocks as eligibility people were getting fussy that you had to use the L blocks. When I told him his car would not originally have had a "L" block with a L casting into the engine mount boss he did not believe me. I also told him he need to go back to the original half moon head if people were fussy about using the original castings and again he did not believe me. Perceptions of originality are indeed interesting.

A special note: To all who think Lotus in general or Elan in particular are unreliable versus other cars - they are not !!!!

cheers
Rohan

PS Mark if you really want to get me going than lets start a discussion about all the "bull*****" talk about twin cams to see who has heard the most outrageous claims and worst rebuilds :D
Last edited by rgh0 on Sat Jun 07, 2014 9:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: AlfaLofa » Sat Jun 07, 2014 9:10 am

When I got my Elan back on the road in 2001 after it had spent 24 years lurking in garages I was naturally very keen to use the car at every opportunity.

I was still at work back then and soon discovered that the original (re-cored) radiator was totally useless in A34/A41 rush hour traffic around Bicester. The radiator overheated at every opportunity resulting in regular stops by the side of the road.

I bought a TT aluminium rad and the problem was solved.

I have now retired and I now live nowhere near Bicester - but I've still got the TT rad fitted. I suppose I ought to refit the original for the sake of "originality" - but I really can't be ar*ed.

(During the rebuild I also fitted the later larger front calipers).
Steve
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'70 Morris Minor 1000 (Owned since '85)
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PostPost by: jimj » Sat Jun 07, 2014 10:17 am

This has turned into an interesting thread and, thankfully, devoid of subjective exaggeration and hyperbole (that`s polite for cow droppings, only male). I suspect the original poster was seeking to justify, unnecessarily, his choice of an Elan-bodied-something-else which is quite different from an Elan with CVs or an alternator which is how the discussion has developed.
My point is that no-one need be defensive about their choice ` cos it`s their choice, innit? Live and let live, I say, well, apart from the people I don`t like, obviously.
Jim
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PostPost by: worzel » Sat Jun 07, 2014 11:11 am

Hi

I'll add my input. True story- I've not "elaborated" on it. I've had my sprint since 1978 and with the exception of 1983 (for a chassis change) it's been in continuous use for 35 years ie used on average at least twice a week for short and long journeys so it's definitely no "garage queen". I've modified a fair old bit- mainly for my convenience so it has a bigger rad, a pretty powerful electric fan from a modernish car, no servo with bigger front calipers, a 5 speed box, electronic ignition, silicon water hoses, electric lifts for the lights, modern fusebox, alternator plus various other alterations. I've not altered the engine spec nor have I messed with the suspension or steering since there's nothing wrong with their design.

Two years ago I happened by chance whilst on holiday in the UK (I won't say where in case somebody recognises the car) to see a sprint in a garage showroom. Wandering around the owner appeared and we struck up a conversation. His car was remarkably original (it had been partially rebuilt) and from memory he'd owned it about 20 years. I asked him the killer question- "use it much?"- about twice a year (and the MoT was one of those trips). When pressed he said he wanted to preserve its originality and in any case coping with modern traffic (levels/hold ups etc) he found problematic. He dis say though that he'd had plenty of performance cars over the years and this was definitely the best of the bunch.

I wondered to myself how he knew that!

My point- well a few- saving it for what exactly, originality at what cost (he seemed nervous about using it), Now I'm not saying a totally original car is unusable today but since I personally prefer (after an awful lot of work over the years) to have a car that once I've turned the key pretty much behaves itself I'll go with some alterations over bog standard- and don't anybody say these cars were perfect when they left the factory- they need to remove the rose tinted specs!

Pile in with your views please

Regards

John
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