Lotus Elan

Plus 2 decision time

PostPost by: Iyarno » Sun Aug 22, 2010 7:08 pm

I'm currently doing my homework on +2 Elans with the intention of getting a running project very soon. I've got a general understanding of the 4 versions made, the early one, the S and the S130 and S130/5. As I want this to be a LONG term project I want to get my choice right first time, can anyone spend help my decision by clarifying spec between the models and the pros and cons of each varient etc..

From my little digging around so far..the early version doesn't have fog lights, and a 4 dial dash, the S has better sound proofing, factory built, a electric windows and generally more comfort. Am I also right in thinking this is the only veriosn to have a bulge in the bonnet, if so what's this for? The 4 speed S130 is a better gearbox than the 5 speed version...

I'd very much appreciate anyones time with this. Thanks...
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PostPost by: gerrym » Sun Aug 22, 2010 7:33 pm

Ian, where are you based? UK

The early Plus 2s are pretty rare, at least those useable on the road and with an MOT etc.

Unless you are going for concours and ultra originality, I'd choose the best Plus 2, regardless of model, you can find based on current condition.

All of the 4 speeders are too low geared for current UK road conditions (Motorways and dual carriage-ways). Unless you plan only to use for short journeys and A roads only, then the later S130/5 would be best (if you can find one). Otherwise plan on about ?3k and you could retrofit a type 9 5 speed Ford gearbox.

The S130 has the big valve engine but if you are bugetting for engine work in your LONG term plans, then it is possible to upgrade the earlier heads (porting, cams, valve gear, alves etc). Think about ?2k for this.

Overall, the condition of the fibreglass body is probably the most important thing and potentially the greatest cost for a high quality restoration that will last. Allegedly the earliest cars had the thickest body, hence least likely to crack.
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PostPost by: blueplastic72 » Sun Aug 22, 2010 8:00 pm

Sounds like you have just got hold of a project. Blue, Metalflake roof, new chassis etc?
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PostPost by: Iyarno » Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:57 am

Cheers Gerry, invaluable info. I'm based in London. I would need a 5 speed box eventually, but a 4 speed would do until I could stump up enough cash to visit Spyder. I'm lucky enough to be able to cycle to work so the motoring is a weekend treat. And no it wasn't me would went for the blue metal flake... I was too slow :-(
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PostPost by: gerrym » Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:14 pm

Ian, glad to be of some help. If you are in London, then you should be able to view a few cars. Get yourself up to Bromsgrove if you really want to see what a range of good Plus 2s can be like. Graham Lund's book is a good read as well, but apply a decent multiplier to costs and your budget. Overall remember that the Purchase price is just the down payment (unless you happen to buy a "Daytune" restoration). The 4 speed is quite good fun actually. At motorway legal speeds you are probably cruising at the peak of the torque curve! Overall, buy on condition not model.

By the way, the 5 speed conversion if you must have, doesn't necessarily need to be a Spyder affair. Voight offer some for the Type 9, details on this forum. Plus one member has come up with his own conversion Worzel?

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PostPost by: cdraper » Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:06 pm

To help with the higher speed cruise I found and fitted a 3.55 diff. This makes a very pleasent car withthe four speed box and is cheaper then the five speed Volgt conversion - is this still available by the way?
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PostPost by: CBUEB1771 » Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:17 pm

gerrym wrote:Voight offer some for the Type 9, details on this forum.


If you don't mind waiting 18 months or so.
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PostPost by: Iyarno » Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:18 pm

cbdraper wrote:To help with the higher speed cruise I found and fitted a 3.55 diff. This makes a very pleasent car withthe four speed box and is cheaper then the five speed Volgt conversion - is this still available by the way?


Is this a Lotus diff, is so where from and how much? Did you fit it yourself, is so how long did it take?
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PostPost by: terryp » Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:23 pm

I had a 130/5 but had to sell it. When I was able to buy the car I have now I went for a 4 speed as its a much better box and a more "Lotus" like drive.
I don't beleive the car is meant for motorways, so I don't drive it on motorways very often. If I do, it can cruise at 70mph quite happily albeit a little noisy
If I were you , go for the 4 speed , drive and enjoy the car and then decide if you need the 5 speed later..... a lot later .....like never!

Terry
PS My Caterham has a 4 speed as well!
PPS My wife does moan a bit when I don't change up to 5th in our Jeep....
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:34 pm

Ian, welcome aboard. Just finishing up a two year restoration on a Federal model here. The Plus 2 would make a fantastic weekend car, and is a lot of fun to restore. It is probably the most under appreciated early Lotus. Agree with Gerry to consider the fibreglass condition as the most important issue when selecting one, but also consider your own preferences and be selective in your choice as well. Having just completed a five speed conversion in a new Spyder chassis, I would certainly go for a Plus 2S/5 if available; we really never got them in Canada so this wasn't an option for me.

What ends up the least desirable is a "bitsa" car with all kinds of mix and match parts sourced from several different models so that it is hard to describe what is being offered. However, many have been upgraded over time with various aftermarket mods, big valve heads, new wiring, etc. to improve reliability, which strikes me as a good thing, although concours folks would have a different view.

The hood bulge you asked about was put on to accommodate the Stromberg carbs, which are higher in profile than the Weber's or Delorto's. At this point cars could have had the head/carb set-up changed, but that was the original purpose.

Here is a link that has good descriptions of the various model changes over time. We had lost this site from the 'net, but was recently revived by a member of the list, which is great :)

http://lotuselan-plus2.be/trevorsparrow ... npages.htm

In addition, we had a few threads in the last couple of years describing various small Plus 2 model differences, more focused on what parts properly belong on the various cars. The site can be searched in the upper right. Try searching on "differences" within the "Plus 2" section and you will see a few threads to check out.

To search the site with Google add the following command into the end of a Google search:

site:lotuselan.net

Edit to the other questions/posts:

Keep in mind I have never driven the Lotus five speed, so my preference for a overdrive gear of some kind remains, but I definitely do not have the experience Terry does with the Lotus box. Note they are relatively rare to find used at this point.

The 3.54 diff was a Lotus provided option when the cars were new, but apparently relatively rare in the Plus 2. Even with the MT75 five speed I have installed I would still like to convert to a 3.54 from my 3.77. Note the gearing change appears to be on the order of 6%, and would make first gear taller, which may make the car a bit harder to drive in creeping traffic, particularly with the Rotoflexes installed. Solid drive shafts are absolutely the way to go and solve drivability problems, really transforms the car. Taller first is not an issue with most of the after-market five speed conversions as they tend to have unusually low first gears based on their original sedan use. Taller gearing is perhaps more of an issue in NA; I have to travel 120 km at freeway speeds of ~75 mph just to get to my first corner in the Rocky Mountains :( , so tall gearing to keep up with the Honda's is a real help :)

Changing the diff is very much a PITA job in the stock Lotus chassis due to clearance issues; much easier on a Spyder chassis as they added space in this area. Can be done by a home mechanic, but just a frustrating job even with the body off.

Ian, if you are test driving various cars and wondering what ratio is installed, there is an easy to use spreadsheet on a Westfield site that allows you to plug in various data and get the RPM's at various road speeds, so you can determine the diff ratio. David on this site has posted an excellent spreadsheet that provides all of these numbers as well.

Question for the list; are the ring and pinion for the 3.54 ratio readily available new so I can get the conversion done locally by a specialist? It is very difficult to get a complete used 3.54 on this side of the pond and I would like to convert prior to getting my speedo modified. Most of the one's that come up on eBay UK will not ship to NA due to the weight, and they appear to be in good demand in the UK.

HTH
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PostPost by: paddy » Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:02 pm

stugilmour wrote:Question for the list; are the ring and pinion for the 3.54 ratio readily available new so I can get the conversion done locally by a specialist? It is very difficult to get a complete used 3.54 on this side of the pond and I would like to convert prior to getting my speedo modified. Most of the one's that come up on eBay UK will not ship to NA due to the weight, and they appear to be in good demand in the UK.


Kelvedon advertise them: http://www.kelsport.net/parts/product_d ... ctionID=45

However, the site says "enquire" and not "add to basket" so my guess is that they don't really exist, but they can get one made for you.

The racers seem to go for the higher ratios (ie 4.1 and above) so I don't know if there is really sufficient demand to justify investment in manufacture.

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Last edited by paddy on Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: JJDraper » Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:15 pm

The 3.54 diff was a Lotus part, but the 3.55 diff is more readily available. The 3.55 was fitted to Ford Escort RS2000 amongst others and a search on ebay will bring up a few - search for 'English Diff'. I found a good used diff for 90GBP two years ago, and then spent 100GBP getting it rebuilt with new seals and bearings ready to mate up with the Lotus alloy back housing. I find the first gear a bit tall, but once the car is moving, its fine. With the right speedo drive gear, speed indication accuracy is good.

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PostPost by: stugilmour » Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:59 pm

Thanks Paddy & Jeremy for excellent info; will email Kelvedon. Jeremy, is this an example of the item you mention that can be converted to Elan use? Does one have to change over the input flange? Does one just bolt the Lotus back plate with the correct mounting ears on to this assembly, or is a mod to the main bolt face/gasketing required? Note my minor issue as the seller will only ship in GB :( I would not be competent to do the work on the diff internals myself, but could perhaps find a local specialist to take it on if I source all the required parts for him. I see several eBay stores selling the bearing & re-build kits, so if straight bolt-up to the Lotus back plate it all looks doable at my end.

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/mk1-mk2-Escort-RS ... arParts_SM

Ian, sorry for the minor side track of your thread, but perhaps on topic as you wondered about price & availability of the 3.54/3.55 variant. If you take a look in about the third page of "For Sale" on lotuselan.net you can see where Leslie was selling some 3.54's ready to go for ~300 GBP; he sold out very quickly to satisfied customers here!
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PostPost by: david.g.chapman » Mon Aug 23, 2010 6:12 pm

I have had a plus 2 with a 4 speed box and a 3.77 diff for some years now, and have just come back from a trip to the Alps from the UK along the high speed autoroutes in France - and my wife and I still have our hearing!

The car is not noisy at speed (4700 rpm) as I have installed an additional exhaust bomb upsteam of the main exhaust box, and a baffle in the tail pipe. Performance does not seem to be affected.

Something you could consider if a 5 speed is not readily available... you can always upgrade later.

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PostPost by: alexblack13 » Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:01 pm

Stu.. Do you not have any workshop manuals? The switch over of the diff is not a difficult job at all.. I am sure some one here can buy a diff for you and ship it on to you. I am more than willing to help if need be...

To help answer your questions.

These answers allow for the diff' you are fitting being in good condition (After its rebuild?), everything spotless clean and the Lotus case is fitted with new oil seals and gasket.

The diff' input flange may be different but you can swap over your existing. Yes there is the crush tube/torque loading issue but if you are carefull and re tighten the flange nut to where it was you will easily get away with this.

The change over is straight forward. We can help and 'talk' you through it but basically...

Remove the large circlips from the diff' casing to allow removal of the driveshafts with their bearings. Then pull out the drive shafts. You can then remove the bolts holding the diff' to the Lotus case.

New gasket on? ..Then fit your new diff' into the case and bolt it up evenly. Refit the drive shafts(With new bearings without fail) and (new!)circlips. Then refit your diff' into the car.

Go feel the difference!!

As I say we can all help..Easy peasy.

Alex B.... 8)
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