Lotus Elan

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PostPost by: draenog » Tue Apr 22, 2014 2:14 pm

Hello,

I joined in December and have been lurking on the site for even longer, so it's time to introduce myself.

Classic cars is just one of my interests (others include vinyl records and vintage radio/TV). I got a 1972 VW camper in 2005, and I've had several MGB GTs since then (my current one is from 1968). However, I've always wanted to get a Lotus (admittedly, The Avengers and The Prisoner had an influence there). But I've always been put off by the price and the reputation (Lots Of ...). So when an Elan +2 came up locally sold by a reputable dealer I got it (went in to "have a look at it" on the way into work and bought it - how did that happen?).

That was back in November. I couldn't collect it immediately (and the garage wanted to replace the rotoflexes, rebuild the servo and replace the master brake cylinder). In the end I collected it on 23rd December, the day of the big storm before Christmas (I had arranged it before this was forecast). Driving it home on the M4 with the storm coming in, everything seemed to be OK. Then, just as I got to the M48 Severn bridge it started to misfire. Tried to coax it across (I live just over the bridge) but it conked out right in the middle as the storm hit. Easy to diagnose - the battery was completely flat. Wouldn't turn over, and I couldn't even wind the window up from paying the toll (it was bucketing down by then, with strong winds). Ring up the RAC, and they promise to be there within the hour (blocking half the bridge). However, the Police duly arrive with their Land Rover, wanting to drag it off as they were preparing to close the bridge. On explaining it was fibre glass and that the RAC was on the way they held off - but at least their Land Rover was now stopping a HGV from crashing into the Elan. The RAC finally turn up after the Police control room begin to ring them. With a booster power pack, the Elan starts and I get it home with no more incidents.

The good thing with getting it from a dealer is that you get a warranty, useful for early problems (the experience with the MGBs showed that lots of things go wrong at the start, from exhausts falling off to a blown head gasket). The garage collect it, and diagnose a bad earthing point, meaning the battery wasn't charging. They bring it back, but it stalls when I drive it into the garage and won't start again. Luckily the garage was still there. Removing the distributor cap, and the wire is broken off the condensor. I get a new condensor from the garage a couple of days later and fit it, but it still won't start. The garage come and collect it again...

This time the garage fits electronic ignition. I'm a little unhappy at this as I prefer to keep things original, but some research shows that this is a worthwhile upgrade on an Elan. The garage has also done a compression test. One of the cylinders was low (number 3?), and the head needs to come off. They report that it looks like a valve wasn't correctly lapped in, and that the head needs to go off to a machine shop. Luckily, all done under warranty.

I finally get it back at the start of February. Work and weather means it went straight into the garage. A couple of things needed doing - none of the door locks worked, and the air pipe is off the air cleaner (taking out the filter housing shows it and the grille all rusty, so they also needed sanding down and repainting). So at the moment all I've managed is a quick 10 minute drive around the block! Seemed to go OK, but with a little hesitancy. I'm hoping that this is just down to it doing nothing but idling in the garage for the last few months, which should be cured by a long drive.

Forgot to mention the car details. It's a 1970 Elan +2s, reg number PSS 360H (original engine has a Nov 1969 date code). Bought from Cleevewood Garage Bristol, for 9K which seemed good for a +2 with MOT.

Thanks,
Rob.
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PostPost by: tonyr27 » Tue Apr 22, 2014 4:36 pm

Hi Rob,

A fraught start to ownership stuck on the Severn Bridge! I'm sure you will enjoy the Plus2. Post some photos on here when you get chance.

TonyR
1968 Plus 2 Cirrus White
1966 S3 FHC Medici Blue
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PostPost by: KevJ+2 » Tue Apr 22, 2014 4:37 pm

Hi Rob, wow! What a baptism of fire :shock:
Hope things go better for you soon, but you at least have a great intro story to tell. I too have had MG bgts and although I like them, I find the Lotus more challenging and therefore more rewarding (that's the theory).
I think the electronic ignition is a must IMHO but can understand your reluctance to stay original.
Good luck for the future and after your bridge saga - things can surely only get better :D
Kev.
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PostPost by: draenog » Wed Apr 23, 2014 2:19 am

Hi Tony and Kev,

Thanks for the kind words. Now that I have the door locks replaced and I can actually lock the car I feel happier about giving the car a run (I normally have a passenger - my brother - so we have to drive somewhere and leave the car). In fact, I'm mad that it took all weekend to get the locks done, and I only had time to go for a 10 minute drive! The weekend can't come soon enough :(

Thanks,
Rob.

P.S. Yes, I've had fun with the MGB GT, and I'll probably keep the 1968 one after all the work I've done on it (it's now very reliable). However, I've always felt the performance didn't match the looks. I'm not a racer as such, but the acceleration is a bit pedestrian, and road handling is predictable rather than exciting. You could say it's a 46 year old car, but even the reviews of the day said the same thing. Those reviews instead sang the praises of the Elan :D
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PostPost by: draenog » Wed Apr 23, 2014 2:48 am

Further to my P.S. I've also over the years looked at getting a Triumph GT6. Another fantastic looking car, and I would love to drive one, but again the reviews of the day point out the limitations of using a "saloon car" engine and suspension. Only the Elan seems to have been designed from the outset as a sports-car. Of course, the +2 isn't a two-seater Elan, but I couldn't justify the cost! Even the +2 was almost double what I paid for the MGB GT :roll:
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PostPost by: KevJ+2 » Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:58 pm

Hi Rob, yes I completely agree about the BGT. They are a great car to restore on a budget especially with such an abundance of spares available through the Hive etc. I mostly got rid of mine as it seemed (for me) to become too small. It was for this reason I decided to restore a larger car and having previously owned Lotus cars, including a sprint, the +2 seemed the perfect choice.
I spent almost seven times what I did for my non running BGT and this was for a barn find nut and bolt restoration :( and will I guess cost me over five times as much to complete. This said, the end product is in another league as your comments suggest.
Do you think you will keep your BGT, or plough extra money into the +2 bottomless pit? I admire you for having both, but once you start enjoying the Lotus, driving the MG might feel a bit, well, ordinary :?:
Look forward to seeing some pics. I will soon post some of my soon to be rolling chassis - exciting stuff!!
Kev.
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PostPost by: draenog » Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:18 pm

It's taken a while, but here's some pictures:

front.JPG and

side.JPG and

back.JPG and

inside.JPG and

engine.JPG and
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PostPost by: john.p.clegg » Tue Nov 25, 2014 7:27 am

Rob
Nice...my only niggle is that you have too much ignition lead,maybe it's the colour or maybe you should re-route them between the 2+3 inlet ports or even the rear of the head..

But Nice

John :wink:
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PostPost by: draenog » Tue Nov 25, 2014 2:04 pm

Hi John,

Thanks! Yes, I really want to move the ignition leads. The reason why they're like that is the distributor cap is in the 4 o'clock position - from looking at other pictures I see most are in the 8 o'clock position. To change it I'll have to take the distributor out and re-do the timing. It's running well at the moment, so for now I'm leaving it like it is.

The other thing I want to do is get rid of the throttle return spring attached to the bracket on the cam cover. As it's a Weber, it should have a spring attached to the backplate. I got the spring, but couldn't get it to fit as the fuel pipe is in the way? It has a replacement mechanical fuel pump (all metal), with the outlet pointing towards the engine. This means the pipe goes through a curve, leaving little "slack" to move it out of the way of the spring. I believe you can take the top off the pump and rotate it so that the outlet points in the right direction, but to get at the fuel pump I'll need to remove the carbs. Again, I'm a bit nervous of doing this, as it's running quite well at the moment, and I don't want to upset the carbs. Maybe over Christmas...

I've got a refurbished Weber cam cover in red, which according to the Wilkins book is the colour it should be. The cover on it at the moment was originally painted black (you can still see a little bit of paint remaining) and is a Stromberg cover. The bonnet also has the bulge so initially I thought it might have been converted, but it has its original engine which is F21598 which according to the Wilkins book is a Weber engine.

The main cosmetic issue with the car is the dash - it's what everybody notices. When I got it the areas where the varnish is lifting were covered up by dark varnish painted on the top, but it was all lumpy so I scraped it all off as personally I think it looks "more honest". Eventually I need to either refurbish it or get a new dash. I'm reading the current threads about dashboards with a lot of interest!

Thanks,
Rob.
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PostPost by: john.p.clegg » Tue Nov 25, 2014 3:23 pm

I'll second the Rustins Plasticote and Lettraset...

John :wink:
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