Lotus Elan

Independent inspection, up t'north

PostPost by: Hunt74 » Wed Oct 08, 2014 5:40 pm

Hi, I?ve just started the process of buying my first Elan, a ?69 S4/SE DHC. Thanks to all the great information on this forum I feel like I had a reasonably well informed check over of the vehicle.

However, this being my first classic car, many things are alien to me such as stromberg carbs, wonky instrument gauges, backbone chassis etc, all part of the fun and experience you all say. With this in mind I?d really like to get the car checked out by someone with a lot more knowledge. I?ve searched on the forum but can?t find a definitive answer, for example Peter Morgan is a recognised Porsche specialist who carries out Pre Purchase Inspections (PPI).

So to my question, is there such a specialist for classic Lotus? If not are there any recommendations for someone who might be willing to carry out such an inspection in Yorkshire. More specifically in Knaresborough, which probably gives away which car I?m looking at.

http://www.lawtonbrook.co.uk/current-st ... TIBLE-1969

Not one for the purists I?ll grant you, but it?s had some interesting and for me appealing upgrades, plus I think it looks a stunner in the pistachio over white.

Not sure if any of you know this car, WKC 50H, it was originally blue and then spent many years being yellow, until the respray 2012-2013.

Lots of work has been done on this car recently, but I can?t establish when or if its had a new chassis. I didn?t have access to a ramp, but managed to get this photo of the front end, sorry I didn?t realise my camera was in B&W mode;


Excuse my ignorance but is this an original chassis, a galvanised or a Spyder??

I plan on getting in touch with Tiger Racing to establish how they extracted 127bhp from a non-big valve head. As I mentioned it?s still on strombergs, there was quite a whiff of petrol when lifting the bonnet and during the test drive, is this normal or does it point towards a fuel leak? It also seemed to be running pretty enriched for the first 10 mins or so, it was a cold day so is this just the automatic choke?

As you can see many naive questions which is why I?d like to get it check before completing on the deal.

Thanks in advance
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 4:39 am

Hi James and welcome to the forum
It looks like a nice car.

127hp out of a relatively standard Stromberg headed engine is pretty easy. Sprint cams, 10.5:1 comp ratio and an 83.5mm bore and a decent exhaust system should do it comfortably.

The chassis is standard Lotus design, cant tell from the photo if its painted or galvanised.

The chokes are manual and you should not have any significant petrol smell. Have a look under the Strombergs for leaks from the plugs in the bottom of their fuel bowl.

I have done inspections for people here in Australia - happy to fly to the UK to do one but I think you may baulk at the airfares :lol:

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PostPost by: Hunt74 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 8:49 am

Thank Rohan

Yeah I think the airfare would push the price a little too high, it's already top end!

Sorry about the photo, but it did look like a silver hammerite paint finish to the chassis, so this would indicate an original Lotus, unless people go to the trouble of painting a galvanised one? No indication is recent history (back to 1994) of a chassis being purchased or fitted, so it might be an old one.
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Thu Oct 09, 2014 8:58 am

James, there are a few basics to consider when looking at any Elan, and I would certainly think about them for this car.

First is value. Elan values have gone up a fair bit in the past few years, along with most classic cars. There have been a few cars restored to perfection (and original specification) that have sold for ?40k plus, but they tend to be Sprints.

If this car is as good as it looks, then they are asking top money for it as a Stromberg S4 DHC IF it had been restored to original specification. Unfortunately, being painted in a non-original colour (for an S4) and the Sprint livery does de-value the car, as many who want these cars do want originality. I agree with you that it looks superb in Pistachio over White, but many wouldn't, even on a Sprint!

Something to check is if this is an original DHC (chassis type 45) or a FHC with a chopped top (chassis type 36). It makes no difference to the driving experience, but again, it devalues the car by a fair bit if it's a conversion.

The main thing to check out is the recent paintwork. Who did the work, how much did it cost, and are 'before' and 'during' photos available? It's very easy to make these cars look good with a bit of filler and a blowover for under ?2k or so, but a proper bare-shell repaint with the inevitable fibreglass problems fixed properly is ?5k plus.

You can also do some basic checking yourself of the bodywork, ensuring that the gaps between the wheels and the sills / wings are the same both sides, and looking for any evidence of new panels being fitted poorly.

The car has 45k miles on the odometer, which almost certainly means 145k miles, and any car of this age and mileage will have had a large amount of time and money spent on it to be properly restored to 'fantastic condition throughout'. Check for a very large wad of bills!

Lots of basics to look at, and the overall value to consider, before getting into a detailed inspection.

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PostPost by: Hunt74 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 10:06 am

Hi Mark

Many thanks for the comments. Now I've slept on it I'm starting to think it's not the right car for me. All the TTR bits and pieces appealed for light track day use, but as you say it's strong money for a non-original S4 on strombergs. There are sprints out there for similar money.

As for the paint, again no evidence of who did this and to what standard, it was only done within the last 2 years so still looks OK at the moment, but as you say no way of knowing how well it was prepped.

It is a type 45 according to the VIN number. Curiously on the V5 it was first registered 1984, could this coincide with when a chassis was replaced and the DVLA got confused?

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PostPost by: Plus 2 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:21 am


(edit.........I was obviously typing this as you were replying.........I think you have made a wise decision)

There are so many things especially mechanical that even a visual inspection cannot pick up so right to check out the bills history and seek a photographic record of the work. Especially look at how long ago the paintwork was done as if not done correctly can be a blistered mess with osmosis in 12 months

I would not believe if done properly stage by stage photo's would not be available. It is also hard to see if the doors have been corrected but they do look like they have which to me would be a 'must' when paying premium price......stuff the concours purist I hated the way my Elan doors fitted and corrected them on all my small Elans.

What does bother me again when displaying a car like this no one can be bothered to spend a few pence on the mouse eaten foam strip under the bonnet, sorting out the badly fitting/damaged front bumper RHS chrome strip, and the poorly installed front windscreen finisher that is causing distortion and likely breakaway of the actual rubber joint. If the small detail that can be seen is not done properly question then what you can't see is my motto.

I may be wrong but the paintwork does look a little 'flat' from the lighting reflections in some areas on the photographs, the wipers are parked the wrong side............OK it is my pet hate as any old wiper motor seemed to be used that was in stock at Lotus. I like to see the first action when the wipers are switched on that the drivers vision is cleared and not all the passenger side rain on the screen dumped in front of me when switched on. :shock:

The quality of the interior trim needs checking thoroughly as the drivers seat piping looks already as if it is splitting away.

It may also be the quality of the photo's but the front under valance appears lop sided and deeper on the passenger LHS....RHS as viewed and some of the chrome bits looks more silver painted.

I certainly could not put up with that steering wheel and the leather joint where it has been sewn and the exhaust pipe looks as if it exits at an angle. I only had S1's 2's and 3's so never had an S4 so it may be correct but aesthetically looks horrible IMHO.

That's not to say the car is not worth every penny as Lotus classics have been undervalued for many years but it just has to have been done right and to me that would mean a new galvanised chassis, no oil leaks (well hopefully) and for sure no vibrations driving through the gears to 100mph and then heavy braking maintains a straight line.

For me, I just would not though buy one with Strombergs and only had Webers or Dellorto models........but that is just me. The Mot's say the car is yellow but pistachio is green so should indicate when paint was done maybe and the reg number can just be made out so worth a search if you have the right contacts..

As for the 'walnet' dash well I hope it is just a typo as everyone knows 'walnut and leather' forms much British classic car luxury. I don't like to pick people up on spelling but always worry when I see key feature words spelt wrong in a high class advert.

I do like the polished wheels though but as similar fitted to my MGB how could I criticise, just wish I had bought the same for my +2 as the laquer contaminated in 6 months. However I have painstakingly removed it all now and just keep the Dunlops regularly polished.

You are right to proceed with caution and do find someone who will do a thorough inspection but equally important has Lotus background knowledge.

I am in France..................... air fares a lot cheaper :mrgreen:


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PostPost by: Europatc » Thu Oct 09, 2014 9:34 pm

Hello James
you could try Pure Speed in Knaresborough. I have had no dealings with them but I am a member of NYLOC and they do deal in classic lotus as well as others. Check their website out
all the best
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