Lotus Elan

Finally have my Elan

PostPost by: 325racer » Fri Jan 30, 2015 6:54 am

I have been a long time fan and in a way had an Elan my entire life, but just in October finally gained possession of one. The story starts over 40 years ago whenever my parents purchased this Elan from its original owner. In my 40 years, I know the car has only run a handful of times in the past 30, as its been apart for most of that time. Prior to that I know it ran at some point as my parents used it to autox, until one year in the early 80s they couldn't find the right brake pistons, so they started kart racing and the Elan was doomed to sit in the back of the garage until I got it running sometime while I was in high school. There were more complications, it stopped running for a few years, then I got it running again sometime around 2000, when it again had issues and has sat in the back of my parents garage since then.

Well, they are now trying to sell the house and needed the car gone, so during a business trip back to Massachusetts where it was, I packed everything up and put it on one of InterCity Van Lines trucks bound for Sunny San Diego where it now lives in my garage. At the moment I don't have the funds or time to really start on the restoration.. overall she's not in bad condition, the paint has some cracks and bubbles, but from 5 feet away looks good, the seats, etc are intact, just dirty, suspension is Ok, rear shocks will need rebuild or replacement.

Where she needs work is the engine and transmission. Due to parts availability way back in the late 70s or early 80s, my father moved or fabricated or something the syncro springs. I recall all working except 2nd gear, while it's drivable if you double clutch, it should be fixed before something bad happens. Moving forward, the clutch will need to be checked over. The starter was already replaced with a Tilton Super starter so that's good! The engine, while bolted in the car for the cross country trip, well, it needs a full go over. My father says that when he did .040 pistons, he thinks the ring gap was not done correctly, so that will need fixing. The head was last sent out to have a small crack repaired and I think "modern" valve guides installed during most recent diss assembly. This work was done by a shop recommended by Callaway Cars, so it should be good work, but the lifter, cams etc must be installed.

When things go back together I'm planning to do an alternator conversion, as well as electronic ignition, and conversion to negative ground, fortunately this car has a mechanical tach, so that whole conversion should be fairly easy. I'm debating if I should do the removable water pump housing, but it cost so much.

At some point down the road, it will need the body stripped and refinished and a new dashboard as the original, while always cracked is now starting to separate near the glovebox.

Now a bit about me. I've been lucky enough to have had the chance to build 2 Caterhams for a friend who was the California Dealer for a while, which really got me back on the horse to get the Elan in my possession. I've also built my BMW E36 racecar, so thats the go fast on the track car. In addition, I have an older Nissan Sentra SE-R, with the original SR20 motor and an older BMW E28 5 series, of and a company car for everyday use. While none of these are super special or expensive cars they are all unique classics that have cult like followings. All of them need attention of some sort and the Elan my eventually displace either the SE-R or the 5 series as I dont really have a huge house, driveway or garage. Fortunately the soon to be wife is so far OK with all this. The current rule is as long as everything is in the garage, or driveway, it good, thank god the size/shape of the driveway can fit 4 cars and 2 in the garage as long as its clean....

So this will be a long term project despite it being a minimal restoration at this point.


Before shipment

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After my embarrassed father cleaned all the mouse shit off the body.

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Upon arrival

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Last edited by 325racer on Fri Jan 30, 2015 6:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: billwill » Fri Jan 30, 2015 2:02 pm

Mechanical Tach? That would be really really unusual.
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PostPost by: prezoom » Fri Jan 30, 2015 5:38 pm

Welcome to the Elan world in San Diego County. There are several of us in North County, that would welcome a new addition to the marque.
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PostPost by: 325racer » Fri Jan 30, 2015 6:03 pm

I'm actually in Oceanside. As this is mostly international, I just put San Diego, vs Oceanside specifically.

I've seen a few cars running around every now and then, I know there's a red S4 I've seen several times.
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PostPost by: AHM » Fri Jan 30, 2015 7:42 pm

looks like a nice car!

Do the absolute minimum to get it running and just enjoy it.

If you start thinking about resprays, alternators, piston rings etc etc you will be a whole lot of money and another 20 years further on.

It is much quicker, less costly and more fun to have a car that works.
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PostPost by: 325racer » Fri Jan 30, 2015 7:55 pm

AHM wrote:looks like a nice car!

Do the absolute minimum to get it running and just enjoy it.

If you start thinking about resprays, alternators, piston rings etc etc you will be a whole lot of money and another 20 years further on.

It is much quicker, less costly and more fun to have a car that works.



Agreed, I'm the items I planned out are what really needs to be done. The respray, etc will be much later, but the mechanicals need to be done. I think way back when, my father did some stuff to make it faster for AutoXing, but some reliability suffered, so my plan is to resolve those. IE, fixing the issue with syncros before something else breaks, going over the engine, as it's already dissassembled (well not entirely, we through it together to bolt in the car for shipment) ensuring that the rings are the correct tolerance, checking bearings, etc, because it's been sitting in pieces for 15 years.

I view the alternator and electronic ignition as minimal cost for the ease and reliability that they should bring so I can just jump in and go for a drive whenever I want.
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PostPost by: Tahoe » Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:00 pm

Nice car! It does look pretty complete, and once drivable should be a fun car. Like others have said, don't worry too much about cosmetics and just enjoy it.
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PostPost by: 325racer » Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:29 pm

Tahoe wrote:Nice car! It does look pretty complete, and once drivable should be a fun car. Like others have said, don't worry too much about cosmetics and just enjoy it.

Thanks, yeah I have everything except the upgrades or repairs that need to be made. Initial goal is to make it driveable, then cosmetics later.
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PostPost by: stovekjj » Fri Jan 30, 2015 10:26 pm

From downtown San Diego, welcome to the group,
I've got the white S3 commuter car that is on a 163-8-15-94 loop every weekday..
and then some weekend play..

This one has been a rolling "restoration".. for the last 30 years, but it just got a repaint thanks to a Jeep that backed into her while parallel parked..

Looking forward to seeing you about... There is a san diego british car council that has a couple of events annually, ..
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PostPost by: 325racer » Sat Jan 31, 2015 1:06 am

stovekjj wrote:From downtown San Diego, welcome to the group,
I've got the white S3 commuter car that is on a 163-8-15-94 loop every weekday..
and then some weekend play..

This one has been a rolling "restoration".. for the last 30 years, but it just got a repaint thanks to a Jeep that backed into her while parallel parked..

Looking forward to seeing you about... There is a san diego british car council that has a couple of events annually, ..


I think I've seen you out and about a couple times, always a pleasant surprise to see an Elan in morning commute!

I went to a couple British Council events a few years ago while I was building the Caterhams. I know for sure I was at the start of the Big Cruise that left from San Marcos that met up with another drive. The owner took the orange and black Caterham on the cruise.
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PostPost by: holywood3645 » Sat Jan 31, 2015 1:58 am

Hi, and welcome. I'm also an Oceanside Cal resident. You may have seen my Blue/white S4 around, I finished my restoration a couple of years back, and can help by pointing you in the right direction as far as local resources etc. Rob Walker is also 'Prezoom' close and Mike 'Cal44' then Ian Ashdown who had a couple in San Clemente, I dont think I have met 'stovekjj' in San Diego yet and look forward to doing so. There are 2 red elans in San Diego that I know off, and another S1 in Oceanside.

There seems to be enough of us to get together socially

James
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PostPost by: lotusS2guy » Sun Feb 01, 2015 12:24 am

lotus_s.jpg and
at Laguna Seca
Have fun getting your Elan back on the road. Your car looks to be the same vintage as mine (26/4618) so if you need a photo or a look see of how things go together. Let me know. I'm in Orange County and would be interested in hearing about cruises, etc. so that I have an excuse to sweep the spiders out and get her back on the road.
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PostPost by: 325racer » Sun Feb 01, 2015 4:18 am

lotusS2guy wrote:
lotus_s.jpg
Have fun getting your Elan back on the road. Your car looks to be the same vintage as mine (26/4618) so if you need a photo or a look see of how things go together. Let me know. I'm in Orange County and would be interested in hearing about cruises, etc. so that I have an excuse to sweep the spiders out and get her back on the road.



Thanks, for the most part everything is together except engine, trans and clutch. Suspension, brakes, interior, etc is all intact as original, so it will just be a matter of putting the engine together and back in. Well, after pulling them out and going through everything first.
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PostPost by: EnfoKen » Mon Feb 02, 2015 3:33 am

Lets get a meeting together and I'll come from OC.
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PostPost by: gino1 » Mon Feb 02, 2015 2:50 pm

Looks like you got yourself a nice unmolested series 2 !

Hope it gives you as much pleasure as mine do.

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