Lotus Elan

Manhattan Motors / Ecurie Shirlee / Bob Challman cars

PostPost by: bluesbrother30 » Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:50 am

Would like to get some idea of how many Loti are left that were purchased from or serviced at the Southern California Lotus Dealership of Bob Challman's Manhattan Motors.

I would love to get my hands on a Manhattan Motors license plate frame if someone has one and would part with it.

Mike Summers
Nor Calif
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PostPost by: StressCraxx » Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:20 am

bluesbrother30 wrote:Would like to get some idea of how many Loti are left that were purchased from or serviced at the Southern California Lotus Dealership of Bob Challman's Manhattan Motors.

I would love to get my hands on a Manhattan Motors license plate frame if someone has one and would part with it.

Mike Summers
Nor Calif


Sorry Mike, no luck here. I think they read "Manhattan Beach Imported Cars" on the frames as I recall. There were some that said "Ecurie Shirlee Corp". You might check with Mike Ostrov or Dennis Ortenberger about a license frame.... They are probably your best resource.

Reminds me of Challman stories...
I remember visiting his dealership in Manhattan Beach in 1971. He was a curmudgeon. Would not let you test drive a car unless you bought it. He might take you for a ride though if he liked you or thought you were "worthy". He would not sell you a car if he did not think you could afford to keep it, or simply if he didn't like you!

My friend Dave J bought his S3 DHC Elan in England direct from the factory. It was the third one off the assembly line after Colin's and Jimmy's. After returning home from touring Europe, Dave took his Elan to Challman for its checkup. Challman exploded when he saw the car. He refused to touch it until he received a commission on the sale. The telexes flew between SoCal and Chestnut until he had his cheque in hand.

He threw a young Cal Poly graduate engineer, Dave Bean out of his dealership. Twenty years later, Challman walks into Dave's dealership in Santa Barbara. Dave recognizes him and says "Get the hell out of my dealership!"

During the 1992 West Coast Lotus Meet, I had the privilege of driving him through the Sonoma wine country, then over Oakville Grade to the Napa Valley, stopping at some of the smaller wineries on Silverado Trail.
He pronounced to the dinner crowd "This fellow here, drives badly and smells even worse!!" He was pointing at me.

Sorry for the lack of a caboose on this train of thought.....

Regards,
Dan
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PostPost by: bluesbrother30 » Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:07 am

Dan, here are the plate frames
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Challman Frame blk.jpg and
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PostPost by: bluesbrother30 » Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:10 am

Dan, also attached is a pic of a small dash plaque that the dealership was giving out with the cars. The owners name was engraved when they delivered the car. Nice PR

m
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B C Lotus Plaque 01.jpg and
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PostPost by: abstamaria » Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:54 pm

I raced for some years in the friendly vintage race meetings here the Ecurie Shirlee 23. It still resides in the the country.

Andy
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PostPost by: bluesbrother30 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:44 pm

Andy, is that the 23 I did the research on and was talking with you about buying?? 23-S-64?

m
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PostPost by: abstamaria » Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:57 am

Yes, that's right. Did you finally get a 23? I think you told me, but I forget now.

Andy
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PostPost by: Ianashdown57 » Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:38 am

My 64 S1 was originally purchased from Ecurie Shirlee. It lived in the LA area for most of its early life and then moved to Washington for a few. It was parked in a dark Washington garage in 1974 until last year. It has now returned home, almost, living in San Clemente, about 70 miles or so south of Ecurie Shirlee.

Ian
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PostPost by: PDXjunkman » Thu Jan 31, 2013 3:56 am

Count me in too. My 1964 S1 was also purchased new from Bob and somehow ended up in a collapsed barn in Jewel Oregon where I found it just over one year ago.
Cheers Silas
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PostPost by: StressCraxx » Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:26 am

bluesbrother30 wrote:Dan, also attached is a pic of a small dash plaque that the dealership was giving out with the cars. The owners name was engraved when they delivered the car. Nice PR

m


Mike,

I had heard about those plates, but the first time I have ever seen one. Thanks!

Dan
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PostPost by: Sking06 » Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:36 am

Purchased my '69 Elan S4 from Bob in October 1970 on my return from Vietnam. Still have the car, still have the license plate frame. BTW you can put half a million miles on an Elan and not have it fall apart.
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PostPost by: Patrick » Fri Mar 31, 2017 5:06 am

I bought a Europa from Bob in '71. Got the same initial odd treatment and was told I couldn't buy a car from him as, "You don't know how to drive." In order to qualify my driving ability, I had to read two books as specified by him. Dennis Jenkinson's THE RACING DRIVER, and GUIDE TO COMPETITION DRIVING, by Paul O'Shea. Both of which he very conveniently had available for me to buy. Long story short, I bought the car, which I have to this day, as well as both books. I realize this is not a forum for Europas, but I am addressing the topic of cars bought at the Ecurie Shirlee Corporation. In addition to the previously mentioned license plate frames, Bob's company slogan, printed on paper license plate fillers, was ARE YOU HAVIN' ANY FUN? Bob and I became in time, very good friends and ran around a lot. Eventually, he ended up with a Volvo dealership in Whittier and then a Cadillac agency, which he hated. Bob was actually a hell of a nice guy, funny and had a lot of great and some incredibly tragic stories to tell. He got Alzheimer's and then died. One interesting side note on the dealership in Manhattan Beach, Calif. One of the mechanics there was a fellow named Len Frank, who became in later years, an automotive journalist of some note, in addition to hosting THE CAR SHOW on KPFK PACIFICA RADIO on weekend nights. Anyone interested, I have two Europas for sale.
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PostPost by: 1963 S1 » Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:47 am

My Series 1 was originally sold by Ecurie Shirlee Motors. The car remains in California. No dash plaque but it has the license frame. I'm not the original owner. And have not been able to trace back the ownership history for the 'original' purchase story; I wonder how many books needed to be read before it rolled off Bob's lot...
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PostPost by: msd1107 » Tue Aug 18, 2020 8:32 pm

I bought my '69 FHC from Challman.

Went in and told him I wanted a CR transmission and 3.55 CWP. He said that was too high geared until I showed him graphs that the Elite was similarly geared. He took my 50% deposit and delivered a stock car. Took me a while before I got the car configured as I wanted.

No special reading assignment. He took my '41 Cadillac in trade. A few years later he let me test drive a 5 speed Europa, trying to upsell me. My wife and I liked the Elan better.

Reliable car. Drove all over the Western US including rain/floods and snowstorms. Unfortunately, it perished outside pf Palm Springs when it caught on fire and I could not shovel sand fast enough.

Salvaged the 5 1/2 wheels and CR transmission and they are in my current '68 FHC.

Eventually switched the maintenance from Challlman's shop (30 miles away) to a local mechanic who was both Lotus and Jaguar trained. He kept both my Elan and MK II Sedan in fine fettle, no problems, drove both everywhere.

David
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PostPost by: StressCraxx » Wed Aug 19, 2020 1:25 am

msd1107 wrote:
Eventually switched the maintenance from Challlman's shop (30 miles away) to a local mechanic who was both Lotus and Jaguar trained. He kept both my Elan and MK II Sedan in fine fettle, no problems, drove both everywhere.

David
1968 36/7988


Was the local mechanic Frank Monise?
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