Lotus Elan

Chassis number

PostPost by: trw99 » Thu Jan 06, 2022 2:46 pm

"Cars supplied as Kit car never had the Engine No field on the chassis plate completed so no Lotus record exists."

Sorry, but I have to correct this statement.

As a rule, component Elans only showed the Unit No or, post 1 Jan 70, the full VIN. However, exceptions have been seen.

The original engine number of component cars is generally known and in the extant Lotus archives records. That is because a good many of them are based on the accounts departments record of invoices, the numbers of which are recorded against each car; one in the case of factory finished Elans, two for component cars. One was for the bodywork and drivetrain, the other for the engine. Each invoice clearly referenced the Unit Number and the Engine Number, respectively.

In addition, Les, it is Andy Graham at Lotus, not Mr Arnold; suspect you have him confused with the late Graham Arnold of Club Lotus (and indeed Lotus) fame.

I recently posted this on here, in the Jaguar Pearlescent Blue thread, which seems apposite:

'Andy, Lotus Archives on here, is the factory archivist and thus has access to the remaining Elan records at Hethel.

There was a flood in the old fire engine garage during the late 1970s which destroyed a batch of Sprint records, the Unit number range of which is known.

In addition, over the years records have been mislaid, destroyed or removed. Do bear in mind that during the 1960s car manufacturers were not obliged to keep the detailed records they do now.

What Elan records Andy does have access to now are to some extent cobbled together from various diverse sources within the factory. We are attempting to rebuild gaps in those records, which is why it’s always worth keeping original VIN plates and other paperwork from a cars earliest days.'

Occasionally an Elan appears which has questionable 'parentage', shall we say. There is then some detective work required by the owner, me sometimes, Club Lotus sometimes and Andy too. Often it is up to Andy to arbitrate, which is not always an easy job. We have to acknowledge that part of his job entails protecting the Lotus name and heritage (God forbid that we ever have a Bugatti or Ferrari ownership/originality case go through the courts), as well as the future value of all Elans, both monetarily and sentimentally.

As Les has already written, the classic car market currently puts a value on provable provenance. Over recent years there has been a noticeable increase in the number of owners seeking to contact all previous owners of their car, as well as finding out how it was originally specified. This was what encouraged Andy to start issuing Certificates of Authenticity, as do many other classic car brands. Incidentally, Andy can still supply the certificate and letter, rather than the later style package on steroids, that comes with bottle openers and frames and fobs!

I have got a full collection of Club Lotus News. Yes, sad I know. One day when I have time I shall look out the article Graham Arnold wrote about the chassis v. sub-frame case, just out of interest since, as has also been said, it matters what the DVLA think now, rather than what they thought back in the 1980s. After all, legislation has changed in that time.

Interesting thread, chaps.

Tim
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PostPost by: ericbushby » Thu Jan 06, 2022 3:13 pm

t is a very strange system.
A friend has totally rebuilt a Barn Find S4 which had no V5 registration book with it.
The DVLA inspector wrote down the unit number off the VIN plate incorrectly changing just one digit.
They are now refusing to allocate an age related reg. number and saying it is a `built up car`.
Conversely a most wonderful car came to out Club Lotus meeting recently.
It has a Ford escort replica fibreglass body on a Lotus Plus 2 frame and running gear. It is registered and badged as a Lotus and has a 1967 Reg No.
When I queried it, the owner said DVLA were happy with it. He had sent photographs of the `body alterations` to them.
I think though, that if too much of a fuss is made they would just tighten the regulations to make things easer for themselves. We need to be careful.
Eric in Burnley
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PostPost by: 512BB » Fri Jan 07, 2022 10:15 am

rgh0 wrote 'That is perfect if the "non matching numbers cars" are cheap if like me you buy a Lotus for life, so resale value does not matter.'

Hmm, you will have to tell me where you purchase your crystal balls, as personally, I do not know what might be happening in my life next week, let alone in 10 years time. Illness, avalanche, sunami in Cambridge, who knows. Therefore I prefer to buy cars that I know I could sell quickly should the unforseen happen, and non matching numbers cars do not fall into that category. Yes, I have cars that I consider for life as well, but as we have seen over the past 3 years, life sometimes throws us some curved balls.

Tim wrote 'In addition, Les, it is Andy Graham at Lotus, not Mr Arnold; suspect you have him confused with the late Graham Arnold of Club Lotus (and indeed Lotus) fame

No Tim, no confusion. If you go back to my first post, I have edited it to make it better understood owing to Grizzly's 47 edits, [rollys] which do not work on my puter for some reason.

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PostPost by: rgh0 » Fri Jan 07, 2022 10:24 am

My crystal balls come from hard work and intelligent planning. My remaining life may be one day or 30 years but the probability of selling any of my Lotus while I live is very very small and the price I would get even if I did sell is not of any significance compared to the joy of driving and using them now.

If you buy a Lotus for investment and resale value then that's your privilege and also I suspect your loss of enjoyment to some degree so not my choice

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PostPost by: Grizzly » Fri Jan 07, 2022 2:42 pm

ericbushby wrote:It has a Ford escort replica fibreglass body on a Lotus Plus 2 frame and running gear. It is registered and badged as a Lotus and has a 1967 Reg No.
When I queried it, the owner said DVLA were happy with it. He had sent photographs of the `body alterations` to them.
I think though, that if too much of a fuss is made they would just tighten the regulations to make things easer for themselves. We need to be careful.
Eric in Burnley
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Indeed it is a minefield........ It's all in the wording, so if you keep an original chassis they would be fine with a different GRP body just as long as you call it a 'Chassis' and meet the 8 point system. As soon as you modify the Chassis or Monocoque of the car they're ears prick up and you find yourself in a world of headaches and aggravation.
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PostPost by: Grizzly » Fri Jan 07, 2022 2:45 pm

512BB wrote:No Tim, no confusion. If you go back to my first post, I have edited it to make it better understood owing to Grizzly's 47 edits, [rollys] which do not work on my puter for some reason.

Leslie

Sorry, I was trying to keep it on-topic and not veer off like these threads often do...... that worked out well........
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PostPost by: smo17003 » Fri Jan 07, 2022 2:54 pm

As a matter of interest does anyone know how it works, regarding DVLA, for the Heritage shells that are available for Mini's and MGB's? To me it appears that they're on more of a sticky wicket than we are.

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PostPost by: Grizzly » Fri Jan 07, 2022 3:01 pm

smo17003 wrote:As a matter of interest does anyone know how it works, regarding DVLA, for the Heritage shells that are available for Mini's and MGB's? To me it appears that they're on more of a sticky wicket than we are.

Mike

They are fine....... they are a direct replacement part made to OEM spec (in the original presses etc in most cases). I've seen a number of them on the original reg number, as long as you build it from a donor and not from off-the-shelf parts you're fine.

All comes back to Modified!! when you're talking about radical changes to an original car.
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Fri Jan 07, 2022 10:58 pm

I guess there are three ways of looking at it and all three arguments have been used and at times accepted by the DVLA for an Elan / Plus 2

1. It is a chassis with a body on top and you can do anything you like to the body - e.g. fit an escort replica bodyshell
2. It is a monocoque body with subframes and you can do anything you like to the subframes as long as the body is original e.g. probably the argument Arnold used and Spyder use today.
3. It is a combination of the steel chassis and body and both must be original e.g. the requirements of at least some overzealous DVLA officials

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PostPost by: 512BB » Sat Jan 08, 2022 7:44 am

'If you buy a Lotus for investment and resale value then that's your privilege and also I suspect your loss of enjoyment to some degree so not my choice'

And not mine either. I have never bought a car, Lotus or otherwise, for investment. On occasion, I have bought cars because I thought they were cheap. and thought I would turn them over to help pay for the cost of my storage units, but I don't regard THEM as investments. Loads of peolpe used to do that back in the day, when cars, specially Lotus, were cheaper, and sellers did not know the value of what they had.

Then there are the cars that I have bought as keepers, such as the lowest mileage Sprint in existance, known to me anyway, 1600 odd miles. That, and other cars I own were never bought as investments. The fact that they all have gone up massively in value is just by the by. I bought them because I liked them.They don't get driven much, but that is just purely down to time constraints, and I still get a massive buzz out of just looking them over, so no loss of enjoyment at all. And that is my choice. smilie

Gone a bit off topic here, sorry Chris.

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PostPost by: Grizzly » Sat Jan 08, 2022 12:07 pm

rgh0 wrote:I guess there are three ways of looking at it and all three arguments have been used and at times accepted by the DVLA for an Elan / Plus 2

1. It is a chassis with a body on top and you can do anything you like to the body - e.g. fit an escort replica bodyshell
2. It is a monocoque body with subframes and you can do anything you like to the subframes as long as the body is original e.g. probably the argument Arnold used and Spyder use today.
3. It is a combination of the steel chassis and body and both must be original e.g. the requirements of at least some overzealous DVLA officials

cheers
Rohan

Ok, so what you have to take into account is when the Uk was part of the EU, so someone somewhere thought the German TUV approach was a great idea...... the TUV is very OTT about fitting Modified parts to cars (you can only fit TUV approved parts or you can't pass the test). That has been evolved into the UK rules and regulations over a number of years......

1. Is a loophole that to be quite honest could well be closed now (not checked in 3+ years) but the DVLA were more interested in Structural changes rather than cosmetic, so for argument's sake, you could fit a DHC shell to a FHC chassis as long as it was new!! (big no no using parts already registered to another car). If the owner of that Escort bodied car had described it as a Monocoque rather than a Chassis then he wouldn't have got past the first hurdle.....

2. The DVLA considers a Monocoque as a Body with integrated chassis (the suspension hangs off the Monocoque), the best argument in my opinion is to say the Subframe is part of the suspension any thus the Monocoque is not Modified!! but the fact is as soon as an Engineer looks at the car your screwed.... they are not daft, if there is any debate the Engineer will just google the Wiki page and read 'Lotus Elan comprised a fabricated mild steel backbone chassis' and that's Jenga....... it's not 1970 where they took someone's word.

3. This is the closest to the truth...... as i said from minute one!! today, right now the DVLA don't like anything structural that's not OEM or OEM design and it has to be new or new old stock (unregistered to another car).

I don't know how it works in Australia and frankly, i could be a bit out of date here since we have dropped out of the EU, but that's the general gist of it. I'm sure you could argue the Subframe thing but honestly, there is too much on the internet contradicting the argument.... the only thing that would move you forward is if you had definitive proof an OEM design Chassis wasn't available and that would open doors to other options.
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PostPost by: Grizzly » Sat Jan 08, 2022 1:04 pm

512BB wrote:'If you buy a Lotus for investment and resale value then that's your privilege and also I suspect your loss of enjoyment to some degree so not my choice'

And not mine either. I have never bought a car, Lotus or otherwise, for investment. On occasion, I have bought cars because I thought they were cheap. and thought I would turn them over to help pay for the cost of my storage units, but I don't regard THEM as investments. Loads of peolpe used to do that back in the day, when cars, specially Lotus, were cheaper, and sellers did not know the value of what they had.

Then there are the cars that I have bought as keepers, such as the lowest mileage Sprint in existance, known to me anyway, 1600 odd miles. That, and other cars I own were never bought as investments. The fact that they all have gone up massively in value is just by the by. I bought them because I liked them.They don't get driven much, but that is just purely down to time constraints, and I still get a massive buzz out of just looking them over, so no loss of enjoyment at all. And that is my choice. smilie

Gone a bit off topic here, sorry Chris.

Leslie

Exactly...... you tell people your experience of buying a car cheap and making a huge profit on it and then wonder why people do something similar as an investment? I know people that will buy anything they think they can make money on, i used to know a salesman at Joe Macari who had hundreds of stories of businessmen just walking in and asking which car he thought was the most appreciating asset!! we don't deal in £250k+ cars but we still get collectors that would spend huge amounts of money to keep the appearance of originality.

I'm not saying it's right (FAR from it) but where there is money to be made people will try it...... there are people i know that get more of a buzz from a profit made than driving a sports car down a country lane, different strokes for different folks.....
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PostPost by: Donels » Sat Jan 08, 2022 5:13 pm

What an absolutely brilliant thread, no one lost their cool.......and we all learned something. This is a great website, very informative. Thanks chaps.

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PostPost by: englishmaninwales » Sat Jan 08, 2022 11:32 pm

Donels wrote:What an absolutely brilliant thread, no one lost their cool.......and we all learned something. This is a great website, very informative. Thanks chaps.

Dave

Agreed. I think the average age of the users on this forum lends itself to a low internet troll count. Speaking about my age, of course :lol:
Malcolm

Edited to add: apologies for going off topic!
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Sun Jan 09, 2022 12:38 am

I dont think my item 1 is a loophole or likely to be closed - i.e. as long as the chassis is original you can do what you like with the body. Many pre 1950 car had a chassis and you could buy them as a rolling chassis and have a "Coach Built" body made for it. I dont think you average Rolls Silver Ghost Owner who had a new replacement body in a different style made would want a Q plate

My item 2 is how most cars are made these days with a "monocoque" body but substantial front a rear subframes to carry the mechanical components my Touareg is an example of that . The key difference with the Elan is that the front and rear parts that carry the mechanicals are tied together by the back bone. The original MX5 had a beam along the tunnel that did something similar. its a pity that lotus did not make the "chassis" in 3 pieces that bolted the front and rear Y sections to the centre tunnel section so they could be removed individually. This would have made arguing that they are subframes much easier and been easier for maintenance and repairs also :)

The reality from an engineering sense is my item 3 that the Elan is a combination of a backbone chassis and monocoque fibre glass body and the UK rules dont really cover that rare combination in a meaningful way hence the never ending debate in the UK . Nothing stops you doing the modifications to either Body or Chassis its just whether you get that "dreaded" Q plate.

cheers
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