Lotus Elan

More Interesting Factory Pictures

PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:09 am

Eric, I love the S1 / S2, partially because of it's, let's be realistic, rather crude attempts at keeping the weather at bay!. It's why I'm spending a small fortune restoring one. These issues were the main criticism levelled at the car in the 1960s, and why of course, the S3 had the door frames, fold over hood (top) and full length boot lid.

The early Elan wasn't alone in having such equipment. Most Brit cars of the 50s and early 60s had something similar, and when cars like the E Type came along with simple to operated fold over hoods, the rest had to follow.

As I mentioned above, when I was looking for my first Elan in the 70s, the early cars didn't get a look-in. Remember, I wasn't buying a 'classic car' for occasional use in the summer, I was after the latest, fastest and most impressive machine I could buy for my ?400...and it had to be my everyday car for years and live on the street.. At the time, the later Elans looked far more sophisticated, and the appeal of electric windows in 1975 to a young lad was just irresistible! Prices then were something like ?800 - ?1200 for a S4 / Sprint, ?500 - ?700 for a S3 and ?200 - ?400 for an early car, reflecting their desirability at the time. I have a receipt for my S2 that the previous owner received when he bought the car in 1973....?130!! A car where you had to assemble the hood, and pull and push the windows up and down, was seen as very old fashioned.

It is that very same simplicity or 'purity' of the early cars that I disliked so much in the 70s which appeals so much now.
Mark
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PostPost by: Frank Howard » Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:19 pm

Elanintheforest wrote:Eric, I love the S1 / S2, partially because of it's, let's be realistic, rather crude attempts at keeping the weather at bay!...These issues were the main criticism levelled at the car in the 1960s, and why of course, the S3 had the door frames...

It is my understanding that the reason the S3 (and S4 and Sprint) have door frames has to do with a decision made by the bean counters at Lotus. The road cars were all designated type 26 until the coupe came along. Among the differences, it had a roof and utilized different shaped doors (which incorporated the window frames for sealing against the roof). Consequently, it required a completely different set of moulds. For a period of time, if you ordered a convertible, you got an S2 type 26 and if you ordered a coupe, you got an S3 type 36. Here's where the bean counters came in. As it was not cost efficient to run two sets of moulds, a savings could be had by retiring the type 26 moulds and using the type 36 moulds exclusively. If someone desired a convertible, the type 36 mould would be utilized however the roof would be laid up only an inch or two in the back and there was a special mould incorporated for the top of the windscreen. After the body cured, the small portion of the rear of the roof was simply cut off with a saw. As the type 36 doors were designed to incorporate the window frames, these frames were included. This model was designated as the type 45.

Mark, I must say you appear to be interested in the Elan for all the right reasons.
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PostPost by: 1964 S1 » Sat Apr 18, 2009 1:20 am

Paddy's right.... mine will also keep me dry at 45ish to 50 mph without the top,,,,but alas, wayyyy toooo many traffic lights in the US A.
I think I've told this tale here before...... One of the most romantic drives of my life was coming home from a local restaurant with my wife, it had been and was raining, but the sun was out, near sunset. I'd left the top/hood assembly at home (another benefit of S1 S2 technology, try leaving it at home with a type 45), in order to improve gas mileage and storage capacity. Anyway, light rain began to fall on the way home and the only thing we had was a red umbrella.... with sunlight coming through! It was great, I slipped it beneath the front edge of the windscreen and we were good up to speeds of 40 mph + ! Unfortunately, no radio, hence no French music....
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PostPost by: trw99 » Sat Apr 18, 2009 6:47 am

Going back to the theme of the thread (which is a very good and enjoyable one!), there is great footage of Chapman in his plane and at Hethel, along with the factory floor and an Elan, +2 and Europa being driven on the factory circuit. I have posted the link before, back in 2005, but on re-visiting found it did not work.

So go to http://www.britishpathe.com and enter Lotus Factory into the search box. You should get two returns, the bottom being 'Extra! Lotus Cars' with a picture of Chunky. Click on the Download button, fill in the form (it is free) and enjoy some one and a half minutes of great nostalgia! Then you can waste a great deal more of the working day by searching for Lotus content and see some wonderful Pathe news footage from bygone races.

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PostPost by: DJ908 » Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:14 am

Reading the thread ?Delamare Road yesterday and nearly fifty years ago? prompted me to search through my records and find who I had contact with at Hethel in 1968 and 1969. And that led me to this thread which although it has not been active for some years could I suspect be revived with some more factory pictures.

Attached are a couple of pictures which I took in April 1969 when I returned my car to the factory for some remedial work to be undertaken under warranty.

Many (most perhaps?) of those cars sold in the UK were delivered as kit cars and I travelled back to Sheffield where I was living at the time with the local Sheffield agent?s driver who had come down to the factory with his Morris Minor van and car trailer to pick up a new Elan. So while they were assigning the car he was to collect across to him I wandered around the yard taking a few photos.

The blue fixed head?
196904-21Ptw S4 FHC Elan kit Hethel.jpg and
It could have been my car which had been delivered to me some months before by the same Sheffield based driver. He gave me strict instructions when he delivered the kit to me not to drive the car after I had completed the assembly. I was to ring him and he would come by with his trailer and take it back the Hallamshire Tyre and Motor Co, the local agent, to be prepared for its more formal handover and delivery to me.

The fibreglass bodies show the fibreglass build numbers which is incorporated into the gel coat and which should match up with the number visible on the bulkhead just beside the starter solenoid, behind the brown wire. This number was created by laying what looks like a piece of dymo tape face down in the mould. The boot lid, bonnet and doors in my car all have the same number.
196904-22Ptw Elan bodies Hethel.jpg and


Nobody seemed too concerned about me taking these photos. They might, I hope, be of interest to others.

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PostPost by: robertverhey » Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:18 am

What a great photo! And I see they've started leaking oil even before the chassis and engine have gone anywhere near them!
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PostPost by: pharriso » Wed Mar 20, 2013 2:09 am

robertverhey wrote:What a great photo! And I see they've started leaking oil even before the chassis and engine have gone anywhere near them!


too funny!

Is it me, or does it look like the shells have had front & rear sections grafted on?
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PostPost by: trw99 » Wed Mar 20, 2013 8:21 am

Great snaps Robert, thanks. Now when you go to visit at Hethel you have to surrender your camera at the front gate - unless it's an open day and they've hidden what they don't want you to see.

It's interesting to see the crayon number on the front of the S4 FHC. It looks like 2864. It would be logical to assume that to be the Body No (as opposed to the Unit No). However, Body No 2864 would have been a S1 from 1964. I wondered if it could read as one of the post Jan 1970 'new system' numbers, missing out the 0 and with the fourth digit being the type letter E, F or J. 0286E was a June 1971 Sprint (F and J types did not reach 200 units), so I 'm not sure that theory works either, given this was April 1968!

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PostPost by: richardcox_lotus » Wed Mar 20, 2013 8:38 am

Thanks for resurrecting this thread with some new photos. I'm fascinated by the blue elan. It looks like its sitting on the rear hubs - so is it on a chassis or isn't it ?

It also looks like the bumper trim strip has a locating screw by the wheel arch. Can someone tell me whether this was correct or not ??

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Richard
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:37 am

Richard, the kits did come with the rear suspension assembled, leaving the new owner to put the rear wheels on and lift it up at the front like a wheelbarrow to be able to move it to wherever it was to be assembled. I put an article up here a while ago about building a kit Elan, but can't find it now....it is here somewhere!

I think that the end of the chrome strip is just turned out a little and reflecting some light.

Great pictures Robert...thanks for digging out this old topic to add them.

Mark
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PostPost by: DJ908 » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:20 pm

I shall attempt to answer a couple of queries here and then post some more pictures taken around the factory later.

Robert - oil leaks? With no mechanicals in the cars yet? Clearly you are a real Lotus owner, a British car owner and who understand that they were never able to overcome the leaking oil problem.

But I have to tell you that what you are seeing in the photograph is what we regard as a rare phenomenon here. Its called rain. Its that wet stuff that sometimes falls out of the sky. As it did on the day I visited. And which has occurred here this week for the first time in about 8 weeks.

Richard - your question about the dressing strip along the bumper.
196904-21Ptw S4 FHC Elan bumper detail.jpg and
Yes it is or was on my car and this car here held on by a little chromed crossheaded screw that went through the end of the strip and the wheel guard itself.

My dressing strip became detached once and sort of flicked up over the bonnet where it sat until I pulled to a stop and took it off. (I don't think I have ever been bothered to put it back on!!)

More later

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PostPost by: PBrown60 » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:56 pm

Great photo's Robert.

Am I hallucinating or is the Lotus badge on the front Blue?

I've only seen the Green/Yellow and the Black. Were there any other color badges?

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PostPost by: DJ908 » Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:49 am

Oh heck - as they say up in Yorkshire! Oh heck!

Paul you have extremely good eyes but they deceive you this one time. It is a black badge.
196904-21Ptw S4 FHC Elan front showing badge.jpg and
Please give me a little leeway here. The photo was taken back in March 1969, on a simple 35mm camera, on a dull day, in a bit of a hurry - well slightly furtively and the film used generated a Kodachrome slide.

I scanned this slide with a fairly sophisticated film scanner many months ago and have given the scanned picture a quick once over with Photoshop Elements. The colour is not a totally true representation of what I saw that day but if I pick out the badge and nominate it as the black point in the picture it darkens the blue to an almost black hue. So I have lightened the picture just slightly and focussed in/trimmed on the badge itself. Believe me it is black!!

This same photo will I hope also show Robert who is resident "across the ditch" from here - across the Tasman, that it is rain that has formed the dark shadows on the ground around the car.

[I must find Mark's posting on assembling an Elan from a kit and read about his experience and if necessary add some of the stories around the assembly of my kit car and a couple of others as well.] Richard this was a photo of a fixed head coupe kit, absolutely identical to my car which arrived in the dark one December evening and was unloaded into the area where I assembled it. Yes the rear suspension was installed, only because in order to trim the interior out and put the back screen in the shock absorbers had to be in place. Let me add to this though if Mark's earlier posting does not cover this detail, I will do so on a separate thread rather than clutter this thread up which is relating to factory photos.

But I want to pick up on a comment made by Tim and ask him a question relating to my car. This is a photo of the build number of my car which corresponds to the crayon numbers he was commenting about in his response.
20130321-4070Ptw DJ908 build number detail.jpg and
As you can see the build number on my car is 2688 but the serial number of my car is 36/8507

I do not think they relate in any way at all. I suspect that build number was perhaps the 2,688 fibreglass body made by Lotus and might well be part of the sequence that included Plus 2's and Europa's. This would have related to the production jobs which went through the factory. I suspect the serial numbers were added to the cars, after they had ceased to be a production job and before the sales team started allocating them to particular customers/dealers.

I have some more photos of taken in the factory yard which might give us all a clue.

Tim are you able to tell me when 36/8507 was manufactured? As distinct from when it was delivered?

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PostPost by: trw99 » Thu Mar 21, 2013 6:52 am

Robert

The info for your car is that it was fitted with engine LP17381 and the date in the books is 2 Dec 68. It is the last car on the records with the LP engine prefix.

Is your car fitted with Weber or Stromberg carbs? Strombergs were introduced around Nov 68, unit no approx 8600.

As far as has ever been established, Elans were, at various times, only ever allocated Type, Unit, Body, Batch (1970-1971) and Chassis numbers, plus engine prefix and number. Now my knowledge is not so good on the pre-1970 numbering system, but in general my understanding is that Unit nos were allocated in consecutive order (until 1970 and of course acknowledging the 3000 added at unit 49). Lotus records tend only to have the Unit and Engine number. Bourne bodies were numbered with a builder?s plaque but thereafter our general knowledge of the Body and Chassis numbering system is not so clear. It may be that the body number on your car and the one in your photo is one of a sequence started from the time the body shop moved to Hethel and that yours is the 2,688th body out of the same.

Works Order Sheets (or build sheet) were used during a cars journey along the production line; the examples I have mention only Body, Engine and Unit number - and tend only to have the Unit one filled in.

Have you written to the factory to find out what if any additional info they have against your car?

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PostPost by: rgh0 » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:27 am

I have always assumed Lotus restarted the body number system for the type 36/45 bodies as they came out of the moulds hence a 2688 number in 1968.

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