Lotus Elan

Safety??

PostPost by: hansaxl » Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:23 pm

Hi,

I attached a, well, quite encouraging photo I found in a small book called "The Lotus Elan Buyers Guide". Admitted, it is not of a Plus 2, but with a frontal impact, the two cars should behave similarly. And the Plus 2 is far better than an Elan when it comes to side impacts due to the sills.

The book makes good reading otherwise as well, by the way..

Cheers, Hans
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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:06 pm

hansaxl wrote:Hi,

I attached a, well, quite encouraging photo I found in a small book called "The Lotus Elan Buyers Guide". Admitted, it is not of a Plus 2, but with a frontal impact, the two cars should behave similarly. And the Plus 2 is far better than an Elan when it comes to side impacts due to the sills.

The book makes good reading otherwise as well, by the way..

Cheers, Hans


More info, the steering column moved 2 1/2 inches half of the maximum allowed forthe test and the speed was 30 mph 44 feet per second.
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PostPost by: ardee_selby » Tue Jan 03, 2012 4:35 pm

More on the subject here:

elan-f14/elan-safety-t18776.html

In particular note the account from "steveww" of his accident!

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PostPost by: alaric » Tue Jan 03, 2012 6:36 pm

Hi all. I had a tour of the lotus factory about three years ago, and had the crumple zone at the front of the Elise explained and shown to me. Brilliant design, with, if I remember correctly, layers of Aluminium and fibreglass that slide over eachother in an impact. That car's very low to the ground so will have the same height issues in an impact as our cars.

Other safety 'issues' with elans include the braking system. If some dirt gets behind the o ring seal on the plunger in the brake master cylinder the pedal will go to the floor as all the fluid will just be pushed back into the reservoir. It's the same design on most cars from that era though, and the key is to keep the system clean and change the fluid so corrosion doesn't set in.

The other worrying issue is the breaking of the steering column on cars with collapsible ones fitted. The outer column fractures as it's a tube with a cut out that's got a right angle in it. Bit scary really.

I think these two are things that can easily be checked though and generally aren't an issue as far as I'm aware - there seem to be a few survivors on the forum at least.

Regards.

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PostPost by: billwill » Tue Jan 03, 2012 6:57 pm

I had a Mini side-swipe my Elan at about 45 degrees on a roundabout. It hit just in front of my driver-side door.

The front left corner of the Mini was a crumpled mess, but the Elan seemed totally unharmed. However some cracks appeared in the paintwork at that point some years later.
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PostPost by: 69S4 » Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:15 am

I've seen the picture that Hans posted of the front impact test before, along with a number of others from different incidents that suggests the Elan does reasonably well (for a small 60's car) in front and rear impacts. Side impacts are a different matter though and while I'm glad to read of others where the result hasn't been too bad, my (in)direct experience has been different. Back in the late 60's a friend of mine had an early Elan and, due to a braking problem, was involved in a relatively slow speed but unfortunately fatal incident where the car slid sideways into a lamp post, hitting it in the middle of the passenger door. He was (mostly) unhurt but the passenger was killed.

I could imagine that had the car slid sideways into a wall or something where the impact energy was spread over a larger area the result might have been different but a small but solid item like a lamp post just went straight through the glass fibre. I've heard it argued that the way glass fibre splinters and breaks in an impact is beneficial as it dissipates energy in doing so but once it is broken that's it, there's just a hole with no further resistance to anything coming through until you get to the central chassis member. As a result, ever since I've had my Elan, I've been a little more sensitive to the consequences of side impacts and while it hasn't stopped me driving the car I am very aware of its vulnerability.
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PostPost by: peterako » Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:39 pm

69S4 wrote:....... As a result, ever since I've had my Elan, I've been a little more sensitive to the consequences of side impacts and while it hasn't stopped me driving the car I am very aware of its vulnerability.


Ditto.

Also, I feel that this is one reason that there are still a lot of avoidable road deaths...in a modern car one is so enveloped in 'air-bag' this and 'ABS' that to the extent that it's easy to forget that the best defense is sensible, courtious and defensive driving.

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PostPost by: alaric » Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:00 pm

Hi. Spyder does a SIPS kit for the elan. http://www.spydercars.com/elan_side_and ... otecti.htm

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PostPost by: Lotus 50 » Sat Jan 07, 2012 2:55 pm

The picture of the 30 mph crashed Elan is quite encouraging. The passenger compartment is completely intact. I suspect a lot of energy would have been transmitted to the occupants. The fiberglass forward of the nose was never engineered to be a crumple zone and might just shatter. That would mean not much deceleration until the front of the chassis hit the barrier, and then very severe deceleration. More G's into the passenger compartment = more force onto the occupant. But for a 60's car, it looks very good.

Someone above mentioned 4 point belts. The thing I don't get about 4 points is how you avoid pulling the lap belt above the hip bone (iliac crest) when you tighten the shoulder belts. High lap belts load the abdomen instead of the hips, which isn't good. I'd prefer a 3 point. 5 points and 6 points work, if you find something to anchor the belts to.

The remaining safety question for me is how strong is the retractor anchorage in a Plus 2. The buckle bolts to the chassis, so it has a chance, assuming there is some local reinforcement. The retractor lap anchor bolts to the sill reinforcement. Is there any steel where the retractor mounts? I'd estimate belt loads in the 30 mph crash above to be well over 2000 lb at the retractor.

I had some old Plus 2 seat belts tensile tested. The retractor was plenty strong, even with the old faded cardboard stiff web. The buckle wasn't nearly strong enough, but it wasn't right.

The Plus 2 was one of the first, if not the first car, to have 3 point belt standard. Pretty safe for it's time, but probably riskier than most cars then or now for side impact.
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PostPost by: gjz30075 » Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:50 pm

Lotus 50 wrote:Someone above mentioned 4 point belts. The thing I don't get about 4 points is how you avoid pulling the lap belt above the hip bone (iliac crest) when you tighten the shoulder belts. High lap belts load the abdomen instead of the hips, which isn't good. I'd prefer a 3 point.


I got rid of my 4 point system for this very reason, and went with the stock 3 point in my elan and hope for the best.

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PostPost by: Lotus 50 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:38 am

would anyone be willing to send a pdf of the crash test articles above to me?

[email protected]

thanks
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PostPost by: Galwaylotus » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:42 pm

NSLotus wrote:Okay I know this sounds a bit silly but how safe is an Elan plus 2? If I happen to get in an accident what are my chances of surviving :P

Drive a Volvo if you are worried about it! :roll: :lol:
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PostPost by: twincamman » Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:10 pm

The fastest Lotus drivers are completely devoid of any engineering knowledge ----C Chapman
dont close your eyes --you will miss the crash
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