Lotus Elan

Elan again

PostPost by: yvesmontreal » Thu May 28, 2015 1:39 am

Hello

I've always liked small cars with sophisticated drivetrains. Abarths, Alfas, Alpines... I could go on A to Z.

My first car was an Alfa GTV. I joined the local Alfa club and met people with a similar infection. At one of our meetings, another Alfa owner mentioned one of his friends had just put his hands on a Lotus Elan. This was right down my alley...

I met the guy who had quite a lot of experience with Lotus cars; his main interest was (and still is) Europas. He explained that a Lotus needs regular maintenance and repairs; he pretty much described a fix-it, drive-it cycle which was getting tighter and tighter as the car got older. He said at some point it was a must to rebuild the car to extend the cycle.

I went for a test drive in his Elan. After 200 feet, the distributor moved, it backfired, and we were stopped on the side of the road. Short cycles indeed. But in 200 feet I was hooked.

This is how I bought my first Lotus (26 0469) in June 1980. I was 21.

The car had been raced at some point; lowered suspension, widened steel rims, fixed headlamps a la 26R, hardtop only, virtually no muffler, and redline blackened out to 7200 rpm. It would pull 7200 in 4th gear (130 mph).

I rebuilt it, it ran like a 4 wheel Japanese super bike. I eventually crashed it when I was street racing a Japanese super bike (current cars such as Vettes and RX7s were a breakfast treat). By 1983 it had moved to its next owner and I was still alive. (It is currently being restored for vintage racing).

A few years down the road I bought another S1, Fiat engined and in pretty sad shape: would be easier to list the usable bits than the missing/useless parts. It went to somebody who wanted to build a replica 26R. I kept a Seven America in my basement for a few years as a vintage racing project; eventually traded it on a basket case 59B which was still a saleable asset in the middle of the 90s recession. End of Lotus life for me.

I spent several years trying to find something with a similar feeling. The two closest finds were a Saab Sonett (less powerful, but small, nimble and apparently homebuilt but way too tight for my 6'3'') and a Dino 308GT4 (too powerful, too peaky for traffic, and too uncomfortable for long distances).

Until two weeks ago. A Kijiji ad for an unknown S4 DHC (I knew pretty much all the Elans in town). Same owner since 1988. Not driven since 2005. Was in very good original shape before storage and kept in dry, heated storage with a dry fuel tank. Price was right.

I'm a Lotus owner again.

This Elan will share a garage with my 2000 GTV and my Citroen DS.
Yves in Montreal
1969 Elan S4 DHC
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PostPost by: gibbon » Thu May 28, 2015 7:48 am

A great story, and a love stable of cars there, and you have the fortune of living in a great city!

Congrats on the new purchase.
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PostPost by: yvesmontreal » Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:10 am

Car is now home...
Attachments
P1010511.JPG and
Yves in Montreal
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PostPost by: dbatten65 » Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:44 pm

Yves;

Just wondering if your still online out there.

26 0469 never made it into a Vintage Racer, but I might buy it and restore it.
Just had a couple of questions for you.

Thanks
David
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PostPost by: yvesmontreal » Sat Sep 23, 2017 10:44 am

I'm still here...

Did you hear that 26 0469 is for sale? As of earlier this year it was safe and sound, all apart, somewhere not far from you, and the owner was still planning to rebuild it for vintage racing.
Yves in Montreal
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PostPost by: el-saturn » Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:11 am

is that a junior VELOCE btw?? ---------- i've driven all your cars at one time: my 1st car was a giulia super 1600!! sandy
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PostPost by: yvesmontreal » Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:31 am

It's a 2000 GT Veloce.

I've been an Alfa owner almost continuously since 1977 - 40 years this summer!

I should dig out the photo of my GT Junior with a ski rack and the Elan frame on top.
Yves in Montreal
1969 Elan S4 DHC
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PostPost by: dbatten65 » Sat Sep 23, 2017 3:37 pm

Yves;

Yes I know the owner, I crew for him occasionally. He built a different Elan into a Racer and we test ran it last year and he has run it in a couple of races this year.
26 0469 is still in parts and the body is still crushed, cracked and missing parts of the rear fenders etc.

Can you tell me what history you know of the car. You mentioned the headlights, lowered body and wider tires. Do you know if the engine was modified or just rebuilt. Was any other work done to it?

In it's current state the chassis, engine, suspension and brakes look like they were all redone some time ago. Did you do that work or was it already done?

Any background you can give me would help.
You mentioned you crashed it while road racing, I take it that is how the body ended up in the state it is in now. Was there any other damage, such as to the chassis etc?

Thanks for you help.
David
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PostPost by: yvesmontreal » Sat Sep 23, 2017 9:44 pm

Hello

Manny Vardalas found the car in a Montreal West backyard in the late 70s. Being a Europa guy first, he decided to sell it after he got it in running shape.

I heard about it from a common friend/Alfa club member. I bought it Summer 1980. There was no information about the car's previous history. The mods mentioned above were already done, and it ran 5.5'' widened rims with the original centers and hubcaps, although the hubcaps may have been from Manny's reserve of Europa parts. The engine had stock cams and the 4:1 cast manifold, coupled with 8 ft of straight pipe and a mostly empty Thrush muffler. It did sound like an airplane and did smoke a bit when getting under way. I eventually ran it all the way up to the 7000 rpm redline in 4th gear - somebody had blacked out the tach redline. It computes at 126 mph.

I took the car apart over the 1980- 1981 period, got the frame welded (crack on top of rail/front suspension uprights) and rebuilt the brakes and suspension with new bushings, hydraulic kits, a new S4 double master cylinder, fitted the missing hand brake components. I installed Dave Bean headers, did not touch the engine otherwise. I made a new wiring harness with a 10 fuse box from a Fiat 124 BC.

With a cosmetic refurbishing of the body and interior, I got the car running again Spring 1982. I ran it as far as a Shannonville Vintage festival, as a spectator.

Following Spring I hit a curb hard to avoid a sliding motorcyclist. Two of the widened rims were bent, as well a the steering rack and a piece of the left front wheel arch. I fixed it with a steering rack from a Spitfire (had to mix parts from the bent one with the new one, as it was much newer) and the car acquired TR7 rims.

Sold it a few weeks later to Earl, who ran it as a daily driver for a few years. He was hit in the back by a truck, which separated the trunk from the rest of the body. The car moved to a Lotus-friendly body shop where it spent all of 1990. It was dismantled for repairs and it was found that the pressions accident had mildly bent the frame at the front.

The shop went bankrupt with the car apart. This swallowed the insurance money. I helped Earl collect all of the parts from the shop. He put everything in storage until he sold it to Claude a few years back.

There is no evidence that the car was ever raced, other than the mods to which it had been subjected. Racing archives do show a couple Elans being campaigned in the early days of Mt-Tremblant, the most successful being the Max Nerriere car. But there were two 26R in Montreal until the 80s; these were more likely to have been raced.
Yves in Montreal
1969 Elan S4 DHC
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PostPost by: dbatten65 » Sat Sep 23, 2017 9:56 pm

Sounds like the car has had a bit of a rough and tumble past. You have given me a lot to think about and look into.
Thanks very much for all the information on it. It certainly gives me a better perspective on the car.
Cheers
David
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