Lotus Elan

How comfortable is the Elan +2 ?

PostPost by: davidbalkwill » Tue Sep 02, 2008 8:35 pm

Hello,
I have an MG BGT. Don't laugh too loud, I like its rusticity, and I'm not aiming to break any land speed records. It's my only car, and gets used every week (but not every day), and on longish trips from Manchester where I live to Nantes in france where I used to live.
My (French) wife adores the car, but she's getting serious back problems, and that agricultural suspension isn't helping at all.
So I'm looking for another useable classic sports car, and I'm sure that I've read many articles about the comfortable ride of the light Lotuses. Could you let me know what you think, and what else I need to consider if I do start looking for one of your beautiful cars? LHD wouldn't be a problem either.
I'm mechanically quite happy working on anything (I've just ported the head and rebuilt the engine of the B), and I'm also quite at home with composites.
I'm guessing that ?3000 won't be enough to buy a car with an MOT.
Many thanks for any helpful information.
David
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PostPost by: rocket » Tue Sep 02, 2008 9:42 pm

Hi,iv had my plus 2 since early this year and i can say that its very comfy for both driver and passenger,my car runs well,cruises nicely at good speeds and handles well for an older car...i thoroughly recommend them.If you are going to buy then i suggest you spend time looking.Also spend time on here,theres lots of good advice.As your used to owning a classic i dont think mechanically theres to many suprises,tho parts seem pricey and not always easy to find.Engines cost a small fortune to rebuild,original chassis are always suspect,many have haqd replacements,and dont get caught out buying a car needing new paint,you wont believe the cost of this...There a great car and i get so much enjoyment from both driving and maintaining...id say buy one now...
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PostPost by: memini55 » Wed Sep 03, 2008 12:13 am

David,

My son has owned a +2 for about five years and I have helped rebuild about everything. Only piece we have not touched is the rear diff, so have gotten involved mechanically. It has a wonderful ride and handles very well. He has used as a daily driver when weather is good(we got 84" of snow last winter so it is put in shop) He has taken a number of longer trips with no major issues. On long drives in hot weather, 85-95f the inside cabin will get very warm and it has very little circulation. I am not sure of your climate and if it stays below then should be fine.

Now for comfort, he is 6'3' tall and fits well with seat adjusted back. His legs can strectch out nicely. Are you looking for four seats or just two? Back seats are not good for anyone of adult size.

I have owned a B GT and would discribe the difference as the B being boaty in handling when compared to the +2. Very light and responcsive
and it handles like no other.

Hope this might help. Rocket is pretty much on with his comments on costs and repairs.

Mark and Patrick Doubet
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PostPost by: 1964 S1 » Wed Sep 03, 2008 2:17 am

Greetings, I agree with the two opinions posted and would like to add that the +2 IS comfortable and dependable BUT the overall ride is not all that different from a B GT.
Custom seats may be an answer and they're available for both types of cars. Back problems in a human will probably not subside unless corrective action is taken. I don't believe the nuances between the two cars' suspensions (and seats) would be enough to eleviate the pain.
That said, the Lotus is about four times more fun to drive.
Eric
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PostPost by: peterako » Wed Sep 03, 2008 5:40 am

Hi David,

I've had a +2 as my daily driver for over two years now.

It replaced my Peugeot 605 SVti which had a majic carpet ride tied to near sports car handling (don't laugh....it really did handle like a sporty 306 or even a long 205...).

When I got my +2 I didn't have any expectations of a combination of comfort and handling anything like teh Peugeot.

Boy! Was I wrong.

My wife and I have been on 500 mile+ round trips, I regularly could do 160+ miles in a day.

Seats are VERY comfortable,
Front Passengar space is great.
rear seats are fine for young children for about 70 miles...after that, even they get uncomfortable.

Ride is nearly saloon car like, bordering on soft. Nothing at all like a modern 'sports car'.

Handling....out of this world! Really involving, plenty of feedback to let you know what you're at.

The one fatiguing thing on longer journies is exhaust noise. On shorter journies teh exhaust note is a joy :D

Make sure you get a 5 speed one if you're thinking of Nantes on a regular basis or that same Exhaust note will really tire you out at 130km/h!

Another great plus with the car has been the 40+ mpg on long journies....at speed!

Have not regretted my +2. Really has been a revelation.

A friend, who's classic is a '73 Jaguar E-Type compared them by saying:

The Jag is a classic sports car on a 60's chassis.

The Lotus is a sports car....on a modern chassis!

Another poster on this list, Sean Murray, does the EuroClassic each year with his wife in his +2.

He has commented on cabin heat saying that they have been fine with teh windows down, even when stuch in Milan at 30+C.

BUT....yes...ventelation could be better in the Sun.
But then many 'modern' cars are worse!

Best of luck,
Peter
I is an Inginear....please excuse my speeling!
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PostPost by: davidbalkwill » Wed Sep 03, 2008 7:56 am

Many thanks to all of you for these comments.

It would seem that some say the ride is smooth and fairly soft, and others say it's closer to the B. Does anyone have any experience of different dampers, or of the Spyder chassis which I think has modified suspension?

The seats do seem very basic. I have replaced the seats in the MG with more modern seats from an MGF. Lots of fun cutting and welding the frame to keep the runners and back-rest adjustment from the B. They give much more support, but even with additional soft foam for the passenger, they don't get rid of the jarring from the rear suspension. I'm not worried about rear seat space.

You all say the ventilation is poor. Has anyone worked on this?

More comments welcomed.

David
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PostPost by: Expat+2 » Wed Sep 03, 2008 8:40 am

I had an MGB GT and now own a +2. I think the smooth road ride is probably similar in both cars, but on rough surfaces or a bumpy back road the Lotus is far superior, as to going quickly round corners there's really no comparison - it's what Lotus are famous for. Mine has the Spyder chassis with more-or-less standard set-up, but I think more important is that dampers are new and it the ride-height is correct - so many +2s seem to ride too high.

My four-speed has a tall diff and at 80 mph I have 4000 revs, it's quite relaxed at that speed and you can quite comfortably travel long distances. I drove it from Edinburgh down to Switzerland with no problems. It's certainly quieter than an MGB.

The main difference to an MGB is the Twincam. The B starts to wheeze at 4000 rpm, the Lotus will pull strongly right up to the 6500 red-line. It makes a totally different driving experience.

As for prices - I would have thought at least ?5000 for a mechanically good but perhaps tatty car? Parts prices are high and you can quickly spend a lot on a 'cheap' car.
Martin Hirst
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PostPost by: b-havers » Wed Sep 03, 2008 11:42 am

Well, I drive a MGB GT as my daily driver, and an Elan +2S as...eh... my annual driver...
But, the difference is enormous.
Where the MG is heavy, slow, and relative comfertable, the Elan is light, quick and elegant - and it handles one houndred times better.

They are both fantastic cars, but in different ways.
It is impossible to 'kill' a MGB GT, it goes on for years after years.
The Elan, thoug, is a bit more fragile, and needs a lot more TLC.

Whilst I give the MG one hour TLC a mont, the ELan needs a lot - but the drivingpleasure returning from the Elan can not be compared to the one given from the GT.
Bjorn-Anders, Norway
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ex Esprit Turbo
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PostPost by: elansprint71 » Wed Sep 03, 2008 12:14 pm

David,
There are two types of +2 seats; the early ones are the same basic item found in the +0 Elans; I have a bad back and use a thing called a "Backfriend" to alleviate the pain. The later +2 has a much more comfortable interior with far better seats. I'm no expert on +2s so can't tell you when they changed over.

Cheers,
Pete.
72 Sprint.
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PostPost by: memini55 » Wed Sep 03, 2008 1:12 pm

David

A couple more thoughts which I should have included in first post. When I was talking about ride and suspenion we have installed Spax adjustable shocks and struts. This allows us to dial in the ride and stiffness we desire. My son being 20 like the stiffer ride and he also is doing some autocross with car. He runs the car with about ten click toward stiff.

As Pete sated the seats are different. Our car is a later one and a non-frederal which came to states thru Canada. Seats are not high back and with out headrest, they seem to be comfortable for shorter travel. Early cars had a thinner seat on the back.

Peter had mentioned the exhaust note or noise on long hauls, would completely agree as my son will either use his iPod playing loud music or ear plugs. His exhaust is using a sport muffler and it might be able to tame this with a different muffler but it sure sounds good.

His car has the four speed and he runs on interstate at 4k for about 70 mph. The five speed would be a nice add.

Good Luck
Mark
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PostPost by: gordonlund » Wed Sep 03, 2008 5:54 pm

Hi,
Must agree with all comments made so far.

My +2 is a 68 pre S model but I have replaced the old sparton interior with that out of an S model ( I still have the old stuff up in the loft-not for sale) The S seats are much more comfortable as a direct comparison in the same car!! S models were introduced in 1969 and some overlap occurred with basic +2 being sold alongside S models. (moving old stock I presume)

Lavish use of sound proofing under the carpets and under the bonnet is also a big reducer in vehicle noise both road and engine and makes for a much improved stress free drive. This adds a little extra weight to the car but after a 250 - 300 mile run you can get out of the car in a much more relaxed mood.

Myself and Johanna did 2,400 miles in Spain and France in May of this year with no problems in the +2. My Peugeot 407 SW diesel feels like a tank in comparison be it a comfortable tank.

Gordon
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Wed Sep 03, 2008 9:43 pm

Hey, less of the old sparten interior...it's called originality, and some us us happily suffer for the art :D

Just a thought, but if the old back is really playing up, getting in and out of an Elan isn't too easy...it's very low.

Mark
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PostPost by: gordonlund » Thu Sep 04, 2008 8:01 pm

Originality is for when & if I ever sell it. In the meantime I'll go for comfort and suffer the slings & arrows of the rivet counters, as they say in the modellers world. Not as if they are bright purple Recarroes. The +2 they came out of was one year younger than mine.

Gordon
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PostPost by: CBUEB1771 » Fri Sep 05, 2008 3:48 am

davidbalkwill wrote:Hello,
I have an MG BGT. Don't laugh too loud

No laughing matter. I bought an MG BGT new from the local dealer (Hoover Motors in Milton, Massachusetts, USA) in 1970 and put just over 100,000 miles on her until 1977. At that point I bought a Honda Civic and my Elan +2S. The Civic has long since turned into iron oxide but I still have the +2 with an additional 120,000 miles in my use. The BGT is really a wonderful car but no match in any measure for the +2. The +2 is much more pleasant to drive and is very comfortable over long distances. The +2 is much less sporting (a boulevard cruiser to quote Don Tingle) than an Elan, but much less nervous. I bought, and started to restore, a pre-airflow Elan FHC but abandoned the effort after finding that closing the door interfered with my shoulder and pushed me toward the center of the car. No such problem with the +2. The +2 is down for a new chassis now (not bad after 37 years and 160,000 miles) and a few other items, not to mention my lack of time to work the wrenches. Get a +2, you won't go wrong.
Russ Newton
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PostPost by: andyelan » Fri Sep 05, 2008 12:34 pm

Hi everyone

It's good for once to see a discussion which takes a look at the merits of the Plus 2 in it's own right. All to often comparisons seem to be made with the 2 seater Elan when in fact they are two very different cars built to cater for different needs. One is a 2 seat Sports Car and the other a 2+2 GT. Accecpt this and the oft quoted "faults" of the Plus 2, large size, extra weight etc, all make perfect sense.

One recommendation I would make to any prospective owner however is do keep things fairly standard, particularly regarding suspension. Much of the Plus 2s superb ride comes, in my opinion, from soft springs, lots of rubber and (especially) the narrow high profile tyres. Change too many things here and the car could end up the worst of both worlds.

One final point. Is the popularity of the Plus 2 increasing because we classic Lotus enthusiasts are all getting old (young lads all seem to have/want Elises)? Years ago I used to think the Plus 2 was a bit of an old man's car, now I am that old man and I think it's the bees knees. Cofortable is good :wink:

Andy
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