Lotus Elan

Looking for Elite 503 in U.S.

PostPost by: rdssdi » Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:22 pm

I recently saw a 1974 Lotus Elite 503. I am intrigued by the design. I understand there are a variety of engine and transmission problems. It looks like the transmission is the same used in the +2 130.

If anyone knows of or has one for sale please contact me. I wantr a complete car running or not. Thanks

Bob
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PostPost by: alan d bell » Mon Sep 23, 2013 10:03 am

dear bob,
elites and eclats were the worst cars ever produced by lotus, I had an elite for 11 years and it cost me ?18000 in repairs, not including running costs like new brakes, batteries and servicing.
faults: gear boxes Austin maxi innards in a lotus case, worked in elans but was not strong enough to take the increased weight and torque in the elite, I fitted three of these seriously under engineered boat anchors.
rear suspension. drive shafts used as the upper link, the pushing and pulling on the diff output seals results in failure and releasing oil into the inboard drum brakes ujs also suffer from this set-up. trailing arms can get dry where they meet the hub carrier resulting in a loud ping when crossing a bump. the bolts holding these and the lower arms to the hub carrier can fail, usually under cornering stress especially if the have been replaced with anything less than OE spec (aircraft quality)
chassis. seriously prone to rust especially in the rear cross member.
headlights. vacuum operated subject to failure.
save your money or buy an excel where galvanising and Toyota running gear solved these problems.
regards, alan
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PostPost by: gus » Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:20 pm

They go for pretty shot money, one just sold on ebay on long island

There was a nice rhd excel on ebay a while back, but rhd

[edit]
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/1983-Lot ... v4exp=true


no excels ever really came to the US

I have thought of the Eclat for toting the kids around but am not in need of a project,and most seem to be
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PostPost by: rdssdi » Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:55 pm

Alan

I thought at one point in Elite production they installed a getrag transmission. I may be incorrect.

I understand the fragility of the Lotus 5 speed box. It was a problem in the +2 also and some +2 owners resorted to installing the Ford 4 speed used on earlier +2's such as mine. I wonder if a ford type 9 or equivalent transmission could be used in an Elite? Ford T5?

The 907 engine has problems also. It is not a freewheeling engine therefore if the rubber cam drive belt slips one tooth the valves kiss the pistons. All the other engine problems could be cured as the Esprit used that engine in normally aspirated and turbo versions. Without the same reliability issues.

The rear suspension problems appear to have no fix but constant repair. That troubles me. Apparently Spyder Engineering offers a rear suspension mod using the original chassis adding pick up points and new suspension arms taking the load off the drive shafts. They will rebuild an original chassis including this spec. Interesting but expensive.

The Elite on Long Island NY that sold on E-bay for around 1600 dollars U.S. also included a rebuilt Buick (Rover) aluminum V8 engine. It also did not have a title and was sold with a bill of sale only. The seller had no idea of the cars previous owners or what state it was last titled in.



Bob
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PostPost by: rdssdi » Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:57 pm

I believe that the original rear suspension geometry included a "bind" that was compensated for by the bushings and or suspension arm flex. Something that just bubbled up from my aging memory.

Bob
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PostPost by: jimj » Wed Sep 25, 2013 1:07 pm

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PostPost by: RogerFrench » Wed Sep 25, 2013 3:20 pm

alan d bell wrote:dear bob,
elites and eclats were the worst cars ever produced by lotus, I had an elite for 11 years..............


Were you under threat of torture or what? If it was so dreadful why keep it eleven years?
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PostPost by: gus » Wed Sep 25, 2013 3:38 pm

I do not think they were that bad, just unpopular. Europas and Esprits used the same suspension style and had similar repair cycles. The timing belt issue had several reasons, one IIRC was the smog pump would seize and it ran off the belt.
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PostPost by: zog » Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:51 pm

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PostPost by: pharriso » Wed Sep 25, 2013 5:18 pm

"Looking for Elite 503 in U.S."...

Why!!?? Lotus road cars started with the stunningly beautiful Elite, through the Elan & Europa to the ugliest car ever (new topic for a thread?..) Oliver Winterbottom (the designer) must have been taking recreational drugs when he styled the Elite...

Well that was my 10 cents worth... :twisted:
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PostPost by: rdssdi » Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:21 pm

Phil

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Perhaps one should be high when viewing or driving an Eclat.

I am drawn to the unusual. I am attracted to the weird styling.

Bob
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PostPost by: pharriso » Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:35 pm

Have you considered a TVR Tasmin? The car was more reliable & came with a good powertrain.

This one may still be available - http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Other-Makes-84-TVR-Tasmin-280i-TVR-Tasmin-280i-/300950720750?pt=US_Cars_Trucks&hash=item46120f90ee&vxp=mtr#ht_1095wt_1165
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PostPost by: jimj » Wed Sep 25, 2013 10:03 pm

http://classiccars.brightwells.com/view ... hp?id=3833 sold for ?750, say, $1100
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Thu Sep 26, 2013 5:04 am

There is nothing about an Elite 503 that is anymore difficult to manage or any less reliable than an Elan from what I have seen.

The 907 engine is similar to what is in my S1 Esprit and it is a very reliable engine if built right just as a Twin cam is. The one in my Esprit has done around 150,000 km's and never been rebuilt or even had its head off in its life since it left the factory. In the last 30 years I have only needed tot rebuild the water pump once and done normal servicing otherwise. The engine in the Elite tends to wear its cam belt pulleys more than in the Esprit as they pick up more dirt on them being at the front ( especially if the covers have been removed) so you need to change the belt pulleys at about 100,000 kms.

The rear suspension is a little less robust than the S1 Esprit version but designed on the same principles and works effectively. You do need to keep an eye on the diff output bearings and seals to ensure you don't get oil from leaks onto the inboard drum rear brakes.

The 5 speed Lotus box has the capability to handle the Elites weight IMHO- the internals came out of a Morris 1500 / Maxi and they weighed about the same as the Elite. They don't break in an Elite from what I have seen but like all Gearboxes they do eventually wear out and need rebuilds. The synchros on these boxes are not great but Redline MTL oil makes a great improvement to the changed. Rebuilding of the boxes is not as easy as some and a lot have been abused and then rebuilt poorly which I think results in the poor reputation to some extent. Some of the components are not easily available but there are work around and the rebuilding challenges are just the same as a lot of people work through with their Plus2 5 speeds. The big advantage is that spare second hand boxes are cheap and relatively easily available ( unlike the Plus 2 version which has a different tail section and bell housing) so you can buy and rebuild one at your leisure.

I have friends who have been long time owners of Elites / Eclats. Passionate Lotus guys are needed just like for Elans as the understanding of the need for keeping on top of the maintenance to keep them running right has to be there..

cheers
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PostPost by: alan d bell » Sat Sep 28, 2013 5:45 pm

roger French,
very clever, I kept the wretched car because I liked its looks and hoped that the next repair would build in some reliability. I had the spyder conversion done and it cured the rear end problems but I still had to fit two more gear boxes. after that I simply gave up and bought an excel. it may surprise you to know that an excel se is more powerful than any na esprit, 180 rather than 170 bhp in the hc esprit, and 160 in the rest, it is more aerodynamic and only slightly heavier so should be quicker. at a club lotus dinner several years ago I discussed this with a lotus employee who was involved in the development of both cars he said that the excel se was slowed by fitting the spats, the only lotus to have such things, I do admit they look good. to say that elites are as reliable as early esprits is true in that they are equally unreliable.
when it comes to esprits, eclats, and elites, and perhaps excels my advice would be do not buy anything earlier than1986 as lotus liked their customers to help with the development of these models which were a complete change of direction from sevens, the first elites and elans.
finally the ?clat sprint had a ford 4 speed box that did not break.
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