Lotus Elan

1965 Seven S2

PostPost by: SENC » Mon Jan 20, 2020 10:23 pm

Not an Elan, but there are so many knowledgeable people here I suspect I'll get as much or more good advice and assistance here as on USA7s, where I'll maintain a similar thread (at least long enough to see if there is any value).

As I posted a few weeks ago, I've brought home a stablemate for my Elan, a 65 Lotus Seven S2. My "new" Seven spent most of its life in Melbourne suburbs of Victoria, having been imported by the original owner when he emigrated from London back to Australia in 1966. Its first 35+ years saw two owners, a couple paint jobs (1 well done to full-body BRG, the second a very sloppy red over the green), and about 45k miles. It was apparently primarily a road car, though it was run in at least a couple club events and hillclimbs (with a broken piston to show for one of them). Since then, it has had 3 or 4 owners (still working to fill in the gaps) and been driven very lightly (less than 5k miles if the odometer is to be believed, and what I've learned so far leads me to believe it). The poor paint job was scraped off in the early 2010s and the car stayed aluminum and and green until it was exported to the UK in 2017, where the latest owner returned it to aluminum and red, as it left Cheshunt in 1965. To my knowledge, the bonnet, nose and one front wing are the only body parts that have been replaced.

7circa2008-1.jpg and
circa 2008


7circa2013-1.jpg and
circa 2012ish


7circa2017-1.jpg and
circa 2017
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PostPost by: SENC » Mon Jan 20, 2020 10:25 pm

The car has its original frame and engine, a Cosworth 1500 with twin Webers (whose numbers also match the records of how it left the factory). The Serck radiator and gas tank are correct, as are the Armstrong dampers, and lamiplate dash and door panels, so it seems unlikely the car has had major damage or a major renovation at any point, and that many of these parts may be original.

smaller1.jpg and


smaller3.jpg and
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PostPost by: SENC » Mon Jan 20, 2020 10:26 pm

The car started remarkably easily given its overall lack of use, and when it came up to temp it idled very smoothly. I've only driven it onto and off of my trailer, then partially around the block from my street to alley to garage. One rear brake was dragging, and I didn't trust any of the hydraulics or other mechanicals enough to get out of 1st gear or give it any more gas than it needed to move.

I've started on the rear, rebuilding the brakes (shoes, cylinders, springs, flexible line) and replacing the rubber bushings in the a-arm and trailing arms. I've also replaced the brake and clutch master cylinders. Next up will be the clutch slave cylinder and hydraulic line, front suspension bushings, trunnions, and inspection/testing the front brakes.

smallbrakes.jpg and
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PostPost by: StressCraxx » Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:23 pm

PM Sent.
There is no cure for Lotus, only treatment.
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PostPost by: Chrispy » Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:53 pm

Looks like a good little project!
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PostPost by: Mazzini » Tue Jan 21, 2020 7:50 am

That's a fine looking original car. I hope you're happy with it.
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PostPost by: JohnCh » Tue Jan 21, 2020 3:08 pm

Glad to see you've chosen to document your journey both here and on USA7s. Although there is some membership overlap, I think big chunks of both forums will be very interested to follow along and can likely offer assistance in different areas.

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PostPost by: The Veg » Wed Jan 22, 2020 4:39 am

Very nifty! Keep the updates coming.
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Wed Jan 22, 2020 8:59 am

Henry,

Have you decided whether to keep it original colours? I must say it looked brilliant in aluminium all over! These days I guess it would be quite easy to wrap the bits you want in colour?
Steve

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PostPost by: ecamiel » Wed Jan 22, 2020 9:30 pm

Great car. You will find it is very much lighter than any of the Caterham or other copies. Mine weighed 900 lbs. wet.
The front bay tended to crack and the SCCA required that a tube be added to triangulate the structure. My car's frame cracked in a race allowing the steering rack to move resulting in a crash.
When I called Lotus about it they said everybody knew about the problem and assumed the owners would fix it. The fix then appeared in the SCCA specs book as a required mod.
I would suggest you inspect and fix it accordingly.

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PostPost by: SENC » Wed Jan 29, 2020 2:28 am

elanfan1 wrote:Henry,

Have you decided whether to keep it original colours? I must say it looked brilliant in aluminium all over! These days I guess it would be quite easy to wrap the bits you want in colour?


My plans are to keep it as-is, I really like the aluminum and red combination. Though some areas of the aluminum show their age and a thorough paint job might hide the flaws, I like the patina and aging it has that show it has been used not just stored. As good a shape as it is generally in, I can't see doing a complete restoration to factory condition, I think this one is going to be best restored mechanically where and when necessary but otherwise used and maintained as the 55 year old fun car it was intended to be.
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PostPost by: SENC » Wed Jan 29, 2020 2:31 am

With rear brakes back together, I started dismantling the front suspension and steering.

It is in surprisingly good shape for a 55 year old car. Wishbones and ARB in excellent shape, really don't even need much cleaning and probably won't waste time putting paint on them right now. I'll clean and repaint the vertical links, caliper brackets, steering arms, and dust shields, but they are all solid. Vertical link threads show almost no wear at all!
smallervl.jpg and


The front brake calipers were visually ok but pistons seized. Not knowing the history, I'm taking the safe road and having them fully reconditioned and rebuilt (or more accurately exchanging them for a set already reconditioned). I debated doing it myself, but reconditioned type 12s are fairly inexpensive and it is worth it for piece of mind.

Steering unit likewise looked pretty good on initial disassembly, just tired grease and muck of age but nothing a good cleaning and fresh grease won't handle. I suspect I'll find the same when I pull out the pinion assembly and rack.
smallersteering.jpg and


The car does look a little funny, though, with no front end!
smallfrontnosuspension.jpg and
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PostPost by: Mazzini » Wed Jan 29, 2020 6:59 am

SENC wrote:
elanfan1 wrote:Henry,

Have you decided whether to keep it original colours? I must say it looked brilliant in aluminium all over! These days I guess it would be quite easy to wrap the bits you want in colour?


My plans are to keep it as-is, I really like the aluminum and red combination. Though some areas of the aluminum show their age and a thorough paint job might hide the flaws, I like the patina and aging it has that show it has been used not just stored. As good a shape as it is generally in, I can't see doing a complete restoration to factory condition, I think this one is going to be best restored mechanically where and when necessary but otherwise used and maintained as the 55 year old fun car it was intended to be.


I think you're right, mechanically maintaining the car is the way to go. Too many 7's have had ground up restorations and they end up looking like new Caterhams. There are so few unrestored 7's about and yours is an exceptional car, it's worth preserving.
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PostPost by: SENC » Mon Feb 03, 2020 12:55 am

Thanks Rob, I'm pretty fired up about it!

I'm still digging into the history on the car, and have an interesting possible twist (or alternatively nothing), I'll share here on the outside chance someone reading it may have a tip for further research.

From Andy Graham at Lotus and John Watson, the HLR 7 Registrar, my car left Cheshunt in 1965 - and its unit number (SB2042) fits for mid-65. The frame number, engine number, and carb numbers on the car today all match the Lotus records for SB2042, and the pictures and records I have pieced together from over the years convince me this is the same car recorded in the logs.

According to those logs, the car was sold to a Mr. Slatter. A couple of the Australian owners since have said that Slatter was an Australian national who lived in London and who worked at Lotus at the time he purchased the car, and who took the car to Melbourne, Victoria, Australia when he emigrated back in 1965 or 1966. (I've found an online record of a Slatter (John D) who was a metallurgist that relocated from London to Melbourne in late 1966, who may have been the same person.)

Until now, an oddity in the history is that a registration document indicates the car is a 1964, and that is how its various Australian owners have referred to it. The running theory has been that it was either an error or that the owner claimed it a 1964 to avoid being taxed as a new car on import.

Pursuant to an FOI request, I've received a copy of the original application for registration of the car in Victoria (unfortunately with name and address redacted, as is the custom). According to this application SB 2042 (with matching information to the Lotus logs referenced above) was registered in January 1967.

An unexpected finding on the application is the previous registration number, which as it turns out is a registration number from England (picture below). Unfortunately the last 2 digits are unclear, but I've asked if vicRoads can identify a clearer copy.

What I can read is the first five digits, KAR96. The last digit could be a C as one would expect from a 1965, but also looks a bit like a B as one would expect from a 1964.

regapp section.jpg and


I understand the AR in KAR indicates the car was originally registered in Hertfordshire County (Cheshunt?). Can anyone here confirm that is accurate?

If that is the case, I wonder if the following is a possibility: could the car have been a factory or test car of some sort, registered originally by Lotus in 1964 (with a "B" suffix), known to Slatter and eventually sold to him in 1965, at which point it got its unit number and entered in the logs?

That all seems highly unlikely to me, but enough pieces fit I thought it an interesting possibility/theory on why the car was eventually registered in Australia as a 1964.
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Mon Feb 03, 2020 10:04 am

Henry,

Many but not all of the registering authorities original records are retained. It’s just a case of finding out who has them. It’s more than likely it will be the council themselves though they may have passed them to a local library. A request to the council to look up both KAR 96B and KAR 96C might solve your conundrum. If you send the document above they can see your problem. Hopefully your enquiry will land with someone helpful. I’ve found that this is quite an unusual request and for the staff it gets them out of the monotony of their usual daily activities so they seem to enjoy the challenge.

Good luck.
Steve

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