Lotus Elan

Independent inspections (and are you thinking of selling?)

PostPost by: yandy » Thu Sep 18, 2008 9:45 am

Hello,

As my search for a good +2 within my budget gathers pace again after the summer (subject to 3 weeks away from this weekend), I'm considering the use of an independent inspector before making any decision on purchasing. In fact, unless a car is very nearby, I'm thinking of not even visiting it myself, but relying entirely on phone conversation with the seller, and an inspection.

The reasons for this are:
    I have very limited time to travel far;
    I've seen many already and know what a +2 looks like;
    My diagnostic technical knowledge is limited;
    I'll only get distracted by the shiny bits.


Has anyone had experience of doing this they'd like to share?
Would anyone like to comment on the wisdom, or lack of, of this plan?
Any recommendations (tyre kicking I can do myself, but if someone really knows their stuff...)

Thanks, Andy

P.S. I'm looking for a +2, mechanical, electrical and structural integrity more important than shiny paint as it will be getting a lot of use. Specific variety or colour unimportant, originality is nice, but sensible reliability mods acceptable. Pre '73, naturally. I have a budget which I'm certain will be a good price for the right one in time, but doesn't allow for well known dealer premiums or unrealistic pricing. Happy to hear from anyone thinking of selling.
Exceedingly yellow '68 +2

Todays top tip: create a spooky lighting effect by forgetting to switch off and remove your torch from the nose area before refitting the grille.
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PostPost by: ElanSeries2 » Thu Sep 18, 2008 2:49 pm

I recently sold a car to a chap who sent a vehicle inspector first, and I took it as a sign that the buyer was serious. I think it worked really well - the guy was business-like, checked all the mechanicals, ran the engine, jacked it up (so you may want someone who has inspected Lotus before) and wanted a drive.

He explained what he was doing, but understandably wanted a bit of space to make his checks. I made him a brew while he made his assessment, and I provided some history and comments for him.

At the end, he said he had found some minor blemishes, but was recommending his client go ahead, which made it much easier for me. There was a wee bit of haggling over the phone, but it was all very painless.

What you don't get as a buyer is a general feeling for how well cared for the car is, and what the owner is like. These things matter to me personally, and they might to a seller who wants the car to go to a "good home".
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PostPost by: miked » Thu Sep 18, 2008 8:55 pm

Andy,

Reading your script I did not glean if you have suitable inspector. I would be more bothered about the experience and credentials of him/her (modern man, me!)

I agree with ElanSeries2, do you not need a person who knows Elans and has worked on them. No disrepect to all the motor trade guys but Elans can be fragile and have things lurking. Same as other Cars can but a bit hidden.

I would be concerned about some of the subtle hard to see bit.

Chassis legs rotting and chassis damage being missed.
Poor glass repairs.
Jacked up and bowed A frames.
Rotted Lotocones.
Rear Wheel bearing worn. Must jack up to check.
Marginal Rotoflex coupling, only really show when veiwed close and car jacked up.

etc etc etc

If I were you I would ask someone like Paul Matties and see what they say. Even if it cost you a "bob or two" it would be worth it. It would frighten off any bull sh*tter selling a bad car if they knew you were sending a Lotus man.

Someone on here may even be prepared. Thinking about it, it is quite a task to go through one from "end to end" in some detail. Would need to be very thorough. I would want it taken into a garage and lifted so the man could see everything. I am a fussy and like my cars right. Unless you are going to pay a very decent amount, you are going to find some "things" wrong. Someones idea of a nice car restored can differ dramatically. I had two plus twos and looked hard at many. Travelled miles to find petrol smelling sheds. The guys thought they were Rolls Royce. This was prior to all the PC and camera stuff. I would ensure that you get some good photos to your choosen man so he can help with whether it worth him travelling. Also the script on what had been done.

New chassis, brake work, drive work, rubber bits, dampers etc etc.

Hope this helps. Sorry, not trying to dampen your search but when you have worked on few and keep finding more things wrong.

Mike
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PostPost by: miked » Thu Sep 18, 2008 8:56 pm

Fatal error thing happened. Sorry
Last edited by miked on Thu Sep 18, 2008 8:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: miked » Thu Sep 18, 2008 8:56 pm

Fatal error thing happened. Sorry

Last edited by miked on 18 Sep 2008 08:58 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPost by: yandy » Mon Nov 24, 2008 12:01 pm

I thought it time to add a postscript to this, and thank everyone who offered advice at the time (I was away for three weeks after posting and couldn't reply then).

Firstly, all going to plan, the second part of the subject line is now redundant. As a result of one of several PMs that it provoked, an agreement has been reached, and I hope to have a very promising +2 around Christmas time - one or two bits are being finished off. More on that then, then.

The advice on independent inspections compared approximately with my own guesses, and it was interesting to hear it from both seller and buyer's viewpoints. In the end, I did use an independent inspection - but not for the car that I eventually bought!

I commissioned an inspection on a car that I did have a chance to see myself. It seemed OK for the price, and I used the Lotus knowledge gleaned (mainly from here) over a year and a half of researching to reach that conclusion. Lacking faith in my ability to really squirrel out the hidden stuff, and as the car had patchy history, I went for the belt-and-braces approach of getting in an inspector.

The experience was very useful. The inspection was thorough and the inspector had done his homework. A full report was available. In the end though, what it did most for me, was to give me more faith in my own judgement, which played a small role in me finally making the decision to buy a completely different car instead.

So, my final conclusion is that nothing beats serious research and planning, but an inspector can give you that final reassurance. A further side-effect, tested, but not completed, is that a big fat report is a good negotiating tool almost certainly likely to pay for itself if you did go ahead with the purchase. I think my original suggestion of using an inspector without having seen the car in person, would have been a bad plan, as I wouldn't have been able to make a good enough assessment of whether it was worth going ahead, without having seen it myself.

I have no connection beyond being a satisfied customer, but should anyone consider this route, they could do worse than to contact Steve Lee of Alternative Vehicle Inspections (http://www.alternative-vehicle-inspecti ... index.html). He's a one man operation, straight talking, and has is own Rover P6 and a GTM. He does classics, and knows about fibreglass. He operates in the South East mainly, but can be persuaded (at a price) to go further. Approximate cost: ?200.

Andy - now with an updated sig-line...
Exceedingly yellow '68 +2

Todays top tip: create a spooky lighting effect by forgetting to switch off and remove your torch from the nose area before refitting the grille.
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PostPost by: Carlos A » Mon Nov 24, 2008 7:43 pm

I paid for 3 inspections, for 3 different cars, $$$. Best money ever spent. I got the best plus 2 I could pay for. I am happy!
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