I have the car for 3 years now and have done some miles in regularity rallies in Greece as well as leisure drives. By far my longest journey was when in 2010 I did the MSA Euroclassic. It covered a route from the Nurburgring to Bavaria via Eastern Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and Italy. Driving to and from Greece made this a long drive as well and one that wasn?t marred by any particular problems.
It was with the confidence of that trip that this one was planned.
It started with a heat soaked 2 and a half hour drive from Athens to the port of Patras to catch the ferry for Italy. 35 degrees Celsius and driving at a steady 60 mph with the car packed to the brim. It was a formidable first test for the car to pass in view of the difficult miles ahead.
We packed 3 medium bags, a tent, 2 sleeping bags, 2 mattresses, 2 folding chairs and a medium tool bag! Problems we had before setting off where limited to a weird noise from the back axle and brake light not functioning. Our ride height was quite low due to being so heavily packed plus some geometry issues to be addressed in the UK.
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Italy welcomed us with a heat wave even greater than Greece! 40 degrees and the air blowing steaming hot! The car was running 95-100 degrees! Our only solace where the tunnels on the autostradas. The longer they where the cooler they where! We drove to Assisi, a great drive and well worth it for the destination alone!
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The other recurring problem on this trip was the exhaust bottoming out and coming apart just in front of the end box. This happened countless times during the trip resulting in a Cobra like growl coming from the rear! It happened because for the ride height and the short length of the mid section. The first night we stayed at Lucca just north of Pisa. A very charming, walled castle town, where we watched Italy being thrashed by Spain in the Euro final. The Italians reaction to the Elan was wonderful and we even got interest from the Carabiniery just to check that everything was ok one of the times we were refitting the exhaust!
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A great drive on the Autostrada del sol. Past Portofino, Genoa, Ventimiglia, Monte Carlo and then on to Grasse, our resting point for the night. After checking out the town we couldn?t resist a drive around the Alps Maritimes??? What a scenic drive that was? however we run out of gas just on the crest of one of the passes! At a height of 700m there was nothing for it but to roll tha Elan down the mountain and hope to find a gas station at the bottom! It seems the Gods where with us that day as there was a Shell station right at the bottom! That was too close!
The roads around this part of the world are magical. We then drove to St Paul du Vence for a well deserved dinner.
Route Napoleon. We had the whole day to transverse it from Grass to Grenoble. What can I say about this road but that every petrolhead has to do it at some point. The first half is very good as is the last quarter. The bit inbetween being a bit of motorway and nothing interesting. A bonus was a very nice private museum near the start with low milage unrestored post war Citroens. A truly mouth watering display including the earliest DS known in the world!
Grenoble itself is a very nice town and after a walk around the old part we retired to our hotel.
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An uneventful drive to Limoges with the only highlight being taking the D941 at the last part. A great driving and deserted road.
The weather was holding up to this point. However things deteriorated after Limoges.
Le Mans! At last! The last push to Le mans was soaked however once we entered the town and tried to navigate around it to get to Parking Bleu on the circuit where we had booked a camp site the sun came out! We promptly set up tent and started mingling with the neighbors. Great atmosphere mostly of Brits arriving and setting up their tents. Tvrs, 50s Sumbeams, pre war Bentleys, Elises, Esprits, Healeys, Caterhams, Mgs, Jags et al made up for an exciting mix and just strolling through the campsites was a joy!
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Friday Saturday Sunday
We parked infield at Club Lotus France and met up with Christian and the president of the club. We where part of the display of Elans mostly from France and the UK and we where probably the furthest travelled car having clocked 2000 kms already. Walked around and swa amazing cars once again such as Zondas and F40?s. The atmosphere in the pits was magical as where the practice sessions on wet tarmac! Met the guys from Classic and Sportscar wich for me was a treat as I have been a reader since 1987!
The races where great! We satyed up till 2 am to wach the night raes as well. A must in Lemans! What I have most in memory was the epic sound coming down the start finish straight! There where really too many things to remember?
Club Lotus France and Christian organized a nice champagne birthday party for the Elan 50th and we all got a nice plaque to put on our cars (mine?s going on the dash somewhere) Thanks Christian.
Also a great 3-4 laps of the circuit where memorable and mind you we were not going slowly! These where not parade laps as demonstrated by two accidents happening in front of us. One involving a modern Mustang and the other a 60?s Aston DB4!
All that was left on Sunday afternoon was to pack up and head to the UK. The car was scheduled to go for an overdue checkup at Paul Matty?s on Tuesday. I would then fly back in a week?s time to take it home, but that?s another story!
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2000 Elise S1 - Sold
Athens - Greece
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