Lotus Elan

Intro and Sprint restoration advice

PostPost by: mjp78 » Wed Nov 26, 2014 11:14 am

Hi all, I have been reading the posts on here for a few months (thank you ? it?s an amazing resource) so thought I had better introduce myself and would like pick you brains for a bit of advice on specialists.

My father recently gave me his ?71 Sprint, which he has owned since the mid-70s and was an everyday car when I was little, but has been off the road for 30 years awaiting him to have time to restore it. The car has been well stored in the dry and is basically sound and complete. With a little bit of work I think it even might start, but didn't want to risk a stuck valve or something causing untold damage just for a few minutes of enjoyment! I've spend the last few months thinking about restoration plans, doing some research (thanks to Tim Wilkes) and reading everything I can find; Brian Buckland?s amazing ?book? arrived the other week but for some reason I wasn't allowed to take it on holiday!

It needs all the usual things, replacement chassis, re-spray, engine/gearbox/drivetrain/suspension rebuild etc, etc, etc?.

I?m fully aware of my skill set; I can manage a bit of maintenance but undertaking something of this complexity and scale is well beyond me at the moment, I simply wouldn't do it justice. Also I do not realistically have the time or the space (I live in a flat in central London) so I?m looking to get it professionally restored. I know a ?cheque book restoration? might engender a few frowns, but frankly it?s a case of getting it done so it can be used or it sitting in a garage for another 20 years.

I?m looking to keep it original as possible with maybe a few practical, and reversible, upgrades. Whilst aiming for something top-drawer am not looking for something totally concours, it?s going to get used not polished and put away. I appreciate this will be eye-wateringly expensive, and probably more expensive than buying a mint one, but I never plan to sell the car and want this doing once and properly!

So I?m compiling a list of companies who might be able to undertake the job and wondering if anyone had any names to add to the list or recommendations? Good or bad ? probably best to PM me! Or if you've come across a great one that?s been done by someone that would be good to know too.

Thanks again for all the information so far! Martin
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PostPost by: john.p.clegg » Wed Nov 26, 2014 11:50 am

Martin

Firstly, I would let "the wife" know who's Boss

Welcome
John :wink:
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PostPost by: trw99 » Wed Nov 26, 2014 1:54 pm

Welcome Martin!

Gerald Turner at GST Performance should be on your list. He used to work with the great Peter Day and runs an excellent workshop at Studlands Business Centre, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7SS (http://www.gstperformance.co.uk)

I'm sure you would wish to speak with Paul Matty (http://www.paulmattysportscars.co.uk)

Tim
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PostPost by: fasterbyelan » Wed Nov 26, 2014 2:43 pm

Make sure you get quotes for work to be done. And make sure they are stuck to, things can get out of hand rather quickly ie expensive. Although I'm doing the majority of the restoration work myself, the cost of parts that need to be replaced is adding up. Add labour cost and OUCH!.

Better to know the pain up front than find you need to find an additional ?10000 at the end!
Karl 8)

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PostPost by: mjp78 » Wed Nov 26, 2014 3:00 pm

Thanks all!

Hi again Tim, Paul Matty definitely on the list. Heard some good things on GST (think on an esprit forum) but wasn't aware of the Peter Day connection, that's really interesting.


Cheers John - sounds great on paper; we all know how that pans out in reality!!!
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PostPost by: Europatc » Wed Nov 26, 2014 7:26 pm

Welcome Martin nice little project, I just hope that you're not shocked easily and that your sat down when you ask for a price
happy rebuild
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PostPost by: mjp78 » Thu Nov 27, 2014 8:25 am

thanks Stuart - had a good lie down already! understand the financially sensible thing to do would be to sell it and go buy one that's already done. But no fun in being sensible!
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Thu Nov 27, 2014 9:20 am

That sounds like a great project Martin, and there's no way you can sell your Dad's old car...and the car you traveled in as a kid I expect.

The bottom line for a full professional restoration is a frightening number, at ?50k to ?60k. But with the Elan you can spread that over a few smaller projects with two large ones!.

I would first of all get someone to remove the rolling chassis, build up a new chassis with all your original bits and pieces re-furbished. That would sort out your chassis, engine, gearbox, diff, suspension and brakes in one go, and wouldn't take too long to do, and should be done for under ?20k quite easily.

With refurbished wheels, new tyres and exhaust, and maybe some fiddling with the little bits like the headlamp vacuum system, you can then get the car on the road and try it for a while, and plan out the next stage, It doesn't matter if the paint is a bit tatty and there are a few gel-coat cracks etc., Brian Buckland drove his car around for years like that!

The next bit can also be done in stages,and many of them. Things like overhauling the doors / re-chroming the frames can be one job, replacing the dash (if needed) and overhauling the heater and wipers another, tidying up the upholstery and carpets another, and of course, getting the car re-painted another.

There are lots of ways the work can be done, but you will have to figure out what you want from the car. There is always a danger that a full restoration to perfection will result in a car that you don't want to use for fear of scratching it / undoing that 'perfection'. There are sadly many classic car in garages like that, and I've had a couple!

Mark
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PostPost by: Spyder fan » Thu Nov 27, 2014 9:22 am

mjp78 wrote:thanks Stuart - had a good lie down already! understand the financially sensible thing to do would be to sell it and go buy one that's already done. But no fun in being sensible!


Welcome Martin,
It's a rare thing to be able to preserve a piece of motoring history that also has a personal family connection.

One piece of advice I always give to anyone undergoing a "specialist" restoration is to insist that any parts that are removed from the car and not refurbished or re-used are placed in a crate and remain your property. I have seen original badges replaced with new incorrect items and side repeaters replaced with modern Tat, and nobody seems to know what happened to the very sought after in any condition originals. Gear knobs replaced with ones that say Lotus on the top and without the gate pattern, the list is endless and the cost of the real stuff is immense.

If your seats and interior door cards are in reasonable condition don't be tempted to recover them with leather, instead do some research and find a good coach trimmer that can restore vinyl, dash tops are extremely scarce as well, don't settle for the ABS type replacements if yours is serviceable.

Let us all have some pictures here soon, I'm known for modifying my cars, but I like originals and you will get nothing but sound advice from me and others here on restoring your car properly. Tim Wilkes is a mine of information on the Elan Sprint and will be able to tell you with 99% certainty what's correct for your car.

Regards

Alan
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PostPost by: Mazzini » Thu Nov 27, 2014 9:31 am

Alan - outstanding advice.
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PostPost by: elansprint71 » Thu Nov 27, 2014 1:01 pm

Paul Matty has shut up shop (or is about to do so). The premises are for sale, no idea if someone is going to take on the business elsewhere. I believe that Pat Thomas has also packed in, but think the business is still going. Double whammy!
Welcome to the forum, sounds like a great project.
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PostPost by: trw99 » Thu Nov 27, 2014 6:48 pm

Alan said "Tim Wilkes is a mine of information on the Elan Sprint and will be able to tell you with 99% certainty what's correct for your car."

As usual Alan has got it wrong! Maybe 80% if I'm lucky! I don't think anyone can be 99% certain about Lotus in the 60s and 70s!

Tim
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PostPost by: Europatc » Thu Nov 27, 2014 7:40 pm

Good evening again Martin
with regards to bodywork and paint work I have not used them myself but I went to look at an Elan that had the bodywork restored and painted by SMS in Spalding Lincolnshire 01406 371 504 and it was truly stunning the shut lines and everything. I believe that they are not the cheapest (another sharp intake of breath moment) but must be as close to perfection as you can get
crack on number 1
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PostPost by: Spyder fan » Fri Nov 28, 2014 8:20 am

trw99 wrote:Alan said "Tim Wilkes is a mine of information on the Elan Sprint and will be able to tell you with 99% certainty what's correct for your car."

As usual Alan has got it wrong! Maybe 80% if I'm lucky! I don't think anyone can be 99% certain about Lotus in the 60s and 70s!

Tim


Ah bless! Humble as well as bigoted :lol:
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PostPost by: jimj » Fri Nov 28, 2014 9:37 am

My impression is that you want to give the car to someone who will return it to you completely finished, not having some of the work done here and some there. Last year I went with a pal to look at a car for sale here; http://www.classicandracecars.co.uk . It`s a small operation, the car was mint and he bought it. While he was out test driving I had a nosey round. I was most impressed, especially with work in progress. I know it`s not near you but it may be worth emailing them some pics. of your car and see what they say.
You could post the pics. here too as we all like that.
Jim
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