Lotus Elan

Is this genuine or not

PostPost by: smo17003 » Sun Feb 18, 2024 3:20 pm

FWIW the Oxfordshire registration number would have been issued May/June '66

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PostPost by: Ray419G » Sun Feb 18, 2024 4:07 pm

I was interested in this thread about Shapecraft Elans, very educational - while I had previously heard of them, I knew little about them.
One thing I have noticed from looking at Tim’s Club Lotus article, together with pictures of other examples found on the internet, is there seem to be subtle differences in the roof shape between the first car converted in 63 and subsequent examples. In particular, the corner radiuses of the rear screen and boot apertures seem bigger on the later cars, and the fuel filler is slightly repositioned. This can be seen when comparing the photos of “39PG” (the 63 original) with that of “TDF1” (the S2).
The puzzling thing is that the one coming up for auction seems to be a closer match to the 63 original than any of the later cars, even though it is a 66 S2. I appreciate though that the addition of the vinyl roof etc does make proper comparison of its shape more difficult.

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PostPost by: Spyder fan » Sun Feb 18, 2024 5:13 pm

I have discussed this car previously with a couple of Shapecraft experts / ex owners namely Malcolm Rickett’s and Don Hands. Both say it’s an after the event conversion nothing to do with Surbiton Motors or Shapecraft themselves.

That said, it’s an S2 Elan with a fast back coupe roof conversion advertised with a “come and buy me!” auction estimate, no racing provenance, no famous name connection, but hey what a nice looking old Lotus 8)
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PostPost by: RIB » Mon Feb 19, 2024 1:35 pm

In older posts Chris Burton stated that the first Shapecraft Elan had the aluminium roof fabricated straight onto the car, presumably by Shapecraft and that Barry Wood got Shapecraft to finance and build a mould (buck) for later roofs. I thought that all subsequent Shapecraft roofs were made by Shapecraft using the buck. This results in a roof about 50-75 mm higher, providing greater headroom, and it is probably better aerodynamically. I believe that these later roofs were fitted to the body by Surbiton Motors which also carried out the trimming, glazing and painting.
Before I saw the car being auctioned, all of the other Shapecrafts that I have seen have the higher roof and were presumably all made using the newly created buck. This car has a roof profile much closer to the first Shapecraft than all the others, but the top of the rear window is higher than the first Shapecraft, providing a bit more headroom, albeit not as much as those made using the buck.
Surbiton Motors had ceased trading by the end of 1964 and did not produce any more Shapecrafts. Shapecraft owned the buck and could have made more roofs after 1964. If this one was made by them, they did not use the buck. However, the design is so similar to other Shapecrafts that I think that it is unlikely to have been made by anyone else; if it was, it is a very good copy.
I see that on the “cars for sale at Spyder” thread, someone has described the car as “a tatty, badly cobbled together S2”. Yes, the bodywork is a bit tatty, but the car is not cobbled together. I had a good look at the car in 2022 and it is clearly a car that was modified by its keen owner in the 1970s, with the vinyl roof possibly fitted to cover imperfections. It has had very little use since the 1980s, hence the need for the mechanical refurbishment that was carried out in 2017, although I am not sure what was done for the £11,000 cost.
It is a genuine Elan that been stored, largely unused for 40 years, which is a Shapecraft or a very good copy. The best guide for its value is the Shapecraft auctioned by Historics Auctions in 2013, which was in similar long-term ownership less than 10 miles from the Bonhams one. The Bonhams car is complete and can be driven, whereas the Historic car needed significant work before it could be used.
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PostPost by: Elanman99 » Mon Feb 19, 2024 8:23 pm

Is there a register of Shapecraft Elans?

In the mid/late 60's one of my then friends bought a Shapecraft secondhand and after a few weeks had the interior re-trimmed at Harold Radfords. I went with him to collect and remember being shown an all green Lotus Cortina that they were working on for Stirling Moss.

I do recall the Shapecraft bit was aluminium, but I cannot remember the full registration number, although it did have four numerals followed by 'DK' (Registered in Rochdale)

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PostPost by: trw99 » Tue Feb 20, 2024 9:19 am


I do keep such a register, alongside my overall Elan and +2 registers. I know of two possible cars that may be the one you write of.

26/0016, an early March 1963 Elan, was registered 7360 TJ, another Lancashire registration. The first owner was Mr John Wadsworth of Burnley who, aged 27, won the 1964 Alpine Gold Cup for a completely clear run in his Cooper 1275 S. The Shapecraft, painted red, was featured in the Robinshaw & Ross Elan book. It is currently in Japan.

It has been reported to me that a second Shapecraft was bought new in Burnley, at the same time as the Wadsworth car, Burnley being then a wealthy industrial town. Apparently the Elan was bought as a standard kit, built and then sent to Surbiton to have the roof fitted. It was subsequently badly damaged in Italy, repaired in Yorkshire and then written off by an employee of the repair shop. It could have been resurrected, possibly.

Could this second car be the one to which you refer?

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