Lotus Elan

Creating a new classic car

PostPost by: rgh0 » Tue Jun 27, 2017 10:27 am

My Toyota Landcruiser tow car is now 18 years old and close to 400,000 km. It has never given me any issues and I have only needed to just do routine 6 monthly checks and maintenance of wearing items myself on it for the last 18 years (i.e. fluids, brake pads, greasing, plugs, and occasional V belt and wheel bearing replacement, never had to replace the clutch!!).

Toyota claim the Landcruiser is designed for 300,000 km without major maintenance and that and more has certainly been my experience. I have pampered it with synthetic engine oil and the best Redline gear oils and other fluids which I am sure have helped. Now I am starting to see end of life items such as, replaced the shocks, have a noisy alternator bearing, an axle shaft seal leaking out diff oil (only oil leak ever on the entire car despite its complex drive train), the spider gears on the front diff having excessive backlash, leaking valve stem seals resulting in increased oil consumption (don't I wish a Lotus Twin cam could go 400,000 km without oil leaking down the valve stems :lol: ) .

I need to decide if I take on a long term maintenance view and turn it into a classic car. The economic sums add up

$4000 a year in maintenance at the most to fix these sort of items doing much of the work myself is much cheaper than $10,000 depreciation a year on a newer 3 or 4 year old tow car

I also like the fact that the 1999 Landcruiser FJ105-FZFE is one of the last cars you can open the bonnet and still see the engine and have some hope of doing it yourself :roll:

But do I really need to spend time looking after it versus spending time on the Lotus that is the question .... life is never easy

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PostPost by: wotsisname » Tue Jun 27, 2017 10:45 am

In theory, a newer vehicle should be ultra reliable, need no maintenance (outside of the regular schedule)........in practice ????
I have a newish (4 years old, 60K miles) 7 seater as a family "taxi", thinking it would do the above. The reality:- 2x warranty claims (failed clutch pressure plate with associated damage & an issue with the EGR valve & manifold) + now have a faulty sensor or faulty controller (the dealer cannot tell me which until they do the work) + failing suspension (front) bushes which seems a little early to me (even allowing for the potholes & speed bumps that proliferate the UK roads)...
I don't have the inclination nor time (and the skills ?) to be fiddling with this vehicle

Not sure this helps in anyway ! other than to say it's pot luck either way ?

[I feel so much calmer now]

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PostPost by: rgh0 » Tue Jun 27, 2017 11:29 am

Hi Adrian
Thanks for the feedback.
I think I have the skills to look after a 1999 Landcruiser long term but not so sure about more modern cars.
Also not so sure about the time that it may take. I can afford to have a Lotus off the road for a time but the family tow car is more critical. Cant pull the Elan to a race with the Esprit if the Landcruiser needs work :roll:

Certainly a degree of luck in getting a long life out of a car but also helps if the routine maintenance is done with sympathy and understanding and not relying on "dealers" and their doubtful attention to detail

I have been investigating local parts suppliers and have found a couple I think I can trust .Fortunately a large population of cruisers here and a strong base of old cars being maintained so parts are readily available from people who make locally or get made to their specifications overseas (AKA China) and supply around the world so they know what they are doing (e.g. Don Kyatt / Terrain Tamer and ARB).

e.g. New uprated 120A rated alternator for A$180 including a powder coated alloy body off the self and complete set of OEM wheel bearings and seals for 4 wheels $200 just 10 minutes from where I work.

Cheaper than for a Lotus and i dont need to order from UK or USA :D

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PostPost by: Chancer » Tue Jun 27, 2017 11:40 am

12 years ago I bought a 3 year old but very high mileage (300000kms) VAG group TDi for next to no money, it looked and drove like a new car and for what I had paid for it I intended to just drive it into the ground, if I got only one year out of it it would have been money well spent.

12 years later it has 500K kms on the clock and I still cannot kill it, it has been supremely reliable and all but minor non essential parts are still original.

Like you my vehicle has now entered a new stage, still 100% reliable but odd insignificant bits failing, I have taken the decision to keep it, replace them as and when and also to spend some of the money I am saving upgrading parts which are dirt cheap on t'internet or at the breakers just to improve the feel like springs and shocks.

In recent months I have replaced the thermostat (running temp had dropped 5-10?s) had to twek the brushes on the heater fan motor (temporary fix will need replacing), in the 12 years I have replaced tailgate struts, brake discs (all serviceable but crack in one) coolant temp sensor, airbag module all just minor things and dirt cheap and easy to replace none of which stopped the vehicle from functioning.

The electro_mech clutch on the aircon went years back I bent the pump shaft trying to replace it without my proper Tools, now I am going to replace the whole pump to get back the aircon, I would much rather spend money on improving the driving experience, making a classic as you put it than on depreciation or garage repairs/diagnostics for overly complicated things on a modern vehicle.

If I have a major breakdown I would scrap it but would not buy a newer vehicle, mine is 2001, in fact what I would look for to replace it would be a Toyota BJ40 jeep!
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PostPost by: Craven » Tue Jun 27, 2017 12:46 pm

I think it?s generally understood by those with this idea of perhaps preserving a vehicle their final downfall will be availability of the electronic unit of one sort or another, ECU etc.
Not just the faulty units but the technical expertise needed, availability and understanding of the software, engine mapping.
I?m hoping though my 1996 Mercedes AMG 230 Kompressor ( Manual) that I bought new and has just 75000m will join the Classic Status.
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PostPost by: Elan45 » Tue Jun 27, 2017 2:05 pm

In addition to the Elans and race cars, I am now attempting to get my '86 Toyota Corolla AE86 back on the road. I bought it in 1993 w 60k miles, beautiful interior, rust-free and it was my summer driver for about 10 years. I put it away when we did the addition on our house and it was blocked into my son's garage by other projects. It is now blocking my son's old single cam Honda 550 in there too, so has to move.

We dropped the tank yesterday to check and probably replace the fuel pump, but once out, the pump itself looks fine and makes all the whirring sounds it should, but the maze of plumbing supply and return lines on the outside are rusty and don't appear readily available. I may be forced to make it all from scratch.I think 1st try will be a good wire brushing and paint to preserve what may look bad but still be serviceable.

This is my modern classic. With 160k now on the clock, the prop shaft u-joints will soon need replaced which may require a whole new shaft, as the joints ""were not replaceable". I suppose I need to find an AE86 site like Elan.net, but so many of these became drift cars, that I won't find anyone else who just liked it stock.

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PostPost by: 661 » Tue Jun 27, 2017 3:00 pm

I too got tired of depreciation and got this from a friend as my daily

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PostPost by: Gray » Tue Jun 27, 2017 3:45 pm


If you can't maintain the Landcruiser, I don't know who could. I'm sure the parts will be available for a long time.

New cars can be just as unreliable as old ones, a 12 months old Mercedes 320CLK I had years ago went back to the main dealer 15 times in the first 15 months I had it. We have had a few Ford Focus as second cars, they have been very reliable, a Skoda Octavia VRS I had as a company car was excellent, a couple of minor items in 72,000 miles in 3 years, the Toyotas I had in the 90s were pretty reliable. I have had several Audis in recent years, reasonably reliable, although not got a lot of confidence in the dealer, seems to take several visits to get anything sorted when there is a problem. I currently have a couple of year old Audi S4, not sure I will get the latest one as there seem to have been a number of issues. If you get a new car I think it pays to get one that has been in production for a few years to get something reliable.

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PostPost by: mbell » Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:59 pm

This is always a tricky decision... There the obvious things to consider like on going maintenance costs v depreciation. Reliability of both options... In theory the new car will be more expensive and more reliable but that not always the case.

But bigger things for me are is there something available that is better than the landcrusier? I.e offer a significant functional or enjoyment improvement over the Landcrusier?

Fairly recently got the wife an XC70, nice car but not that interesting to drive however good for the longer highway trips I drive it on (and big enough to put a +2 spyder chassis on the roof :) ). However I can't even check the oil level on it! There no dip stick and just the computer that requires the engine warming up and car parking on the level and leaving for magic length of time before it will tell you the oil level. Also probably no way for me to change the oil and reset the computer, lucky it has 4 year servicing after which point the local Volvo place will probably get it if i haven't found a way to reset it myself. The downside is the Volvo dealer is 30+ mins away so taking it there for a service will be a lot more time/hassle than doing it myself.

Personally I run a 15 year old BMW 540i (6 speed), it's high maintenance but if kept on top of will do 300k miles and all most all the fault are well known know. It needed a 4K$ repair for the timing chain guides fairly recently which I did as the car option here in the US are terrible if you want a manual, good to drive and somewhat user serviceable car. I live in fear of the day I have to replace it...
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PostPost by: Davidb » Tue Jun 27, 2017 8:11 pm

Rohan, as a former service manager I would say stick with it and replace the "consumables". Historically, alternators, shocks, starters and brake parts need replacing on a fairly regular basis--some say seven years is average per component (except brakes obviously). You have done the critical thing in my experience: changing the fluids--do you change the anti-freeze? That is one that people ignore and it comes back to bite them-usually in the heater core...
You have amortized the original cost of the vehicle long ago.

However, modern vehicles get great fuel mileage, don't rust and are remarkably well made-for the most part-with very good warranties.

Mbell: I used to work for Volvo, I drive an XC70 as an everyday vehicle but it is a 2007 so I can check the oil! (and more importantly on an Xc 70, the transmission oil) I was not aware that you cannot check the engine oil on later ones-that is ridiculous!
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Tue Jun 27, 2017 10:11 pm

Wasn't it Top Gesr (UK) that went out of the way to try and destroy a Toyota Landcruiser (or was it a pick up). Anyway they drowned it bashed and crashed it etc. and it still started and ran. They got a bit cheesed off that it just kept going so arranged for it to be out on top of a 10 storey building that was going to be demolished. The demolition crew blew up the building - they recovered the car and it still ran!

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PostPost by: 2cams70 » Wed Jun 28, 2017 12:24 am

Having worked for the big "T" at the time when the LC100 series model Landcruiser way being introduced to Australia I can say that Australia is a very important market to Toyota when it comes to Landcruiser. Australia is the largest worldwide market for Landcruiser so Toyota takes development and testing here very seriously. I've been on T&D outback drives where Toyota Japan engineers have documented, measured, photographed and recorded absolutely every type of road surface encountered. It's not commonly known but the Landcruiser is a joint development between Toyota and Arraco. Toyota responsible for powertrain and Arraco responsible for body and chassis.

I can also say that you probably have the best powertrain combination for reliability. There was another powertrain available in the earlier LC80 series that was the exact opposite so despite it's reputation as with any manufacturer Toyota has both it's good and bad models!

I agree what has probably helped most in your case is a single sympathetic and knowledgeable owner administering regular TLC.
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PostPost by: Bombay Racing Green » Wed Jun 28, 2017 9:59 am

Good morning Rohan,

Stick with it and make it a classic. The prices for the BJ40 Landcruiser have gone through the roof lately. There are several always advertised here in Ireland. Two are for sale here at Sprint prices!
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Wed Jun 28, 2017 12:40 pm

Thank you for all your replies, it has certainly helped clarify my thinking

My conclusions having thought about what you all have said is to keep the Landcruiser for the next 20 years and make it a classic tow car to go with my three Lotus :D

It makes sense based on a range of factors from your comments plus my own experience

1. I know the cars history from new and know that it has been looked after well by myself with no accidents or mechanical problems and it has not been stuff around by anyone including dealer workshops, except once where a safety recall to check the front brake disks bolts occurred about 10 years ago. I had this free check done but the dealer workshop stuffed the re-installation and over tightened the bearing end float and this resulted in a premature wheel bearing failure :twisted: The car also has zero corrosion in its metal body or chassis. This is the ideal starting point for a classic

2. The car is at the bottom of the depreciation curve and if looked after well will maintain or increase its value from here. This is the last of the live axle Landcruiser wagons and is as tough as it gets in terms of drive train and suspension. The 1FZFE engine is a classic producing good power, tremendous torque and great reliability. The earlier cars are too crude and the later cars are to soft and to sophisticated in my view to become true classics. In terms of a tow car for my purposes plus a car to go skiing or just every day cartintg stuff around you cant get anything much better even new. Fuel costs are higher than a modern turbo diesel but fuel costs are a small proportion of total ownership costs. A classic that is competitive in use terms with modern cars while not losing value is ideal - that is what Elans are all about.

3. The support for this car locally is great with a number of committed suppliers who can provide the parts needed off the shelf at low cost, the numbers sold in Australia are large enough that supply of parts for the next 20 years looks good. Especially if more people like me decide to make it a classic

4. Working on the 1999 Landcruiser is something I enjoy and can do in practice compared to most newer cars. The only challenge is that some parts are so big its not possible to easily do in my garage. For example there is no way I could pull the engine easily on my own so somethings I will have to outsource. The reliability of those major parts appear to be such that this will not be a big problem as I don't tihnk I will ever need to actually pull the whole engine :lol:

When I compare the above to my alternate plan which was to buy a 3 to 4 year old smaller and diesel engined tow car such as a Toyota Prado or VW Touareg or Jeep Grand Cherokee. I conclude it would cost me more in total ownership costs and I would enjoy driving it less and it would meet my practical needs less also

I will need to plan my maintenance of the Landcruiser so that I dont end up with it out of service for an extended time at the wrong time but thats manageable and the cost of renting a tow car for a few days a couple of times in the next 20 years if needed is not great.

My next challenge is my son is turning 18 soon and wants to get his first car.. He has studied ever option from the 70's 260Z to 2010's MX5 thats allowed on new probationary licence here and his current favorite is a 2004 Gen 4 Golf R32 . Now teaching him to maintain that will be a challenge :) but less of a challenge than a Gen 5 DSG Golf R32. Looking after my daughters 1996 Corolla is walk in the park in comparision.

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PostPost by: jimj » Wed Jun 28, 2017 2:27 pm

Rohan, look no further;
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/172749040649? ... 1555.l2649 actually..........it is a bit far. We`ve just bought a Golf R, it`s by far the best car I`ve ever driven. RRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, it`s a pirate.
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