Lotus Elan

Sprint Newbie - couple of basic questions

PostPost by: SprintingSophie » Mon Aug 21, 2017 11:35 am


I'm a newbie owner of a wonderful red DHC Sprint, and am enjoying my journey on a steep Lotus and mechanical learning curve. I've had this 1971 beauty back on the road since early June, and we're getting to know each other well!!

There have been a few teething problems (after a 5 year long overhaul) but at the moment we are gliding along and enjoying the summer (Irish weather and roads permitting!). I have a couple of extremely basic general questions (no laughing please) which I thought I'd run by you all. I get lots of advise from all sorts of car buffs, but not everyone knows the specifics involved with a Sprint.

- Starting - I'm getting the car out 1-2 times a week and the more I drive it the better it definitely starts and goes. But starting first time round is tricky - does anyone have any tips for smoothing/easing the process, especially bearing in mind that cooler and damper weather is not far off? The car is kept in a garage and is never out in the rain.

- Recommended tyre pressure - is there a standard pressure? Or is this very specific to the tyres, roads and driving being done?

- Lead into petrol - I'm adding lead to the petrol as advised. Does anyone have any recommendations as to how much is enough and what's too much? I've received all sorts of suggestions to date! Is there a formula - X lead to Y litres of unleaded petrol?

- Oil - I have an amount of oil, and the car's running well on it. I'll have to get more soon and can purchase the same again (although I gather it's tricky to find), but I'm open to recommendations from those in the know.

As I say, I know these are Beginners 101 questions, but we all have to start somewhere - it's a whole new world!

Thank you in advance!

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PostPost by: mark030358 » Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:54 pm

Hi and welcome,
Tyres I run around 18 front 23 rear
Oil a good 20/50 classic oil. Halfords sell it. Or a 20/50 semi synthetic will also work.
I don't run with additives tbh. Unless you have a high compression just use Shell Vpower or equivalent.

If on Dellorto cards, pump the accelerator 3 or four times, then try to fire the engine. If the car is stood and the fuel evaporates then the mechanical pump takes a while to fill the carbs.
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PostPost by: alan.barker » Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:57 am

Never use the Choke :)
On my Sprint i have fitted a Fuel Bulb primer (outboard fuel primer) in the boot so you can fill the carbs before trying to start.
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PostPost by: martinbrowning » Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:56 am

Welcome to the Forum!
I also have starting problems because the car stands unused for periods of time - it isn't my everyday car and only ever comes out of the garage on sunny days. (not many in Ulster!). Because it has been totally restored to original spec I live with the problem. As Mark says, some fit a fuel primer in the boot.
Up to you really - if the car is regularly run then starting will become easier but if it is only used occasionally, and you don't want to move from original spec, then allow more time to start it.

Oil - I use Millers classic 20/50 oil
Additives - I use BP premium fuel and add Millers VSPE (1 bottle does 40 litres of fuel). The "E" version helps to counteract the detrimental effects of ethanol, found in modern fuels, on older engines .

Both of the above readily available from good car accesory outlets or online. (I buy mine through Opie Oils).

Don't forget to use blue or green antifreeze. I mix this with deionised water to reduce scale and crud build up. (Look inside your kettle!)

These are just my own thoughts and others will have different ideas. Whatever though, do not cut corners on regular servicing and maintenance. These are great cars and I guarantee that you will be grinning from ear to ear after every drive.....not many moderns can do that.


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Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.
72 Europa Special, 72 Sprint, 72 Plus 2
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PostPost by: SprintingSophie » Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:15 pm

Hi Alan, Mark and Martin,

Many thanks for these great tips - seriously helpful!

I'm out for a spin this afternoon, so these are all great points to bear in mind!

I'll let you know how it goes!

Thanks again!

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