Lotus Elan

Early V Late (Older V Newer)

PostPost by: vlc584g » Sun Jul 27, 2014 3:26 pm

Good afternoon!
New visitor to the forum (introduced in newcomer section)
Having only had prior experience of two series four 'baby' elans and now actively seeking a plus two I would value opinions on the subject of Old(er) versus New(er) plus twos.from owners.
Any pros/cons re engines/gearboxes/electrics or are they all as bad? :D
Also,are the solid driveshaft conversions a good idea?
Thanks for reading,
Regards
Andrew
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PostPost by: Europatc » Sun Jul 27, 2014 5:35 pm

Good afternoon Andrew, I can't comment on the +2 as I've only had the baby and Europas. As for the drive shaft conversion I personally would recommend it.
happy motoring
Stuart
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Sun Jul 27, 2014 6:04 pm

The earlier version looks and feels more like the 2 seat Elan in that it has similar seats and wheels, and the later cars have a bit more comfort with the reclining seats.

After 40 / 45 years, the electrics are as good or bad as they have been re-built to be! No difference between the two as far as I know. Many of the older cars have been upgraded to 130 bhp specification, and if not, then it's a simple upgrade.

I think that I prefer the older one, but really, it's pretty hard to choose.

Mark
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PostPost by: KevJ+2 » Sun Jul 27, 2014 6:08 pm

Andrew,
I suppose new or old is very much personal choice. I personally chose an early plus 2 as I prefer the simpler styling but I can equally appreciate the later car's add ons such as alloy wheels and more powerful engines (but not the 5 Speed box) I like the 2000e box, but again, many will disagree.
In terms of desirability, who's to say! Would you want an Elan S1 or a Sprint?
Old or new is a very interesting question but we all love Lotus regardless and we all love whatever we have and make them our own.
Another question is originality, again some take it to extremes and others like myself keep an open mind, it's all subjective, but whatever you decide, to own any Lotus is special.
Regards,
Kev.
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PostPost by: Plus 2 » Sun Jul 27, 2014 10:04 pm

Hi Andrew,

I am new to the forum but owned Lotus? for over 45 years and had 17 various ones from the original Climax Elite, several baby Elans, both Renault and TC Europas, a few Plus 2?s and the later Turbo Esprit and Esprit Turbo................

I was forced to sell my favourite car of them all a +2s/130 registration FPE 85J when I went into business and the bank manager wanted me to show commitment to my cash flow forecast predicting I would be driving a Rolls Royce within a year................. :mrgreen:

I had to just have another +2 it was like someone cut my right arm off..........despite by then owning the Rolls Royce and many other classics the +2 has always had a special place in my collection........
As for which is the best older or later I am going to be biased and say the S is much more luxurious interior and the 130 big valve a much better performance. There is no doubt that 5th gear is a well needed addition like the O/D?s on the other British cars of a similar period, however personally I do not rate the 5 speed box so I finish at the +2S or +2S130.

In saying all this you really have to look at value for money...........like do you want to restore a car or have one ready to drive and enjoy.

The later cars were better/(safer) electrics with additional fuses and relays but generally many problems I have experienced working on classic cars are attributed to owners lack of maintenance or changing/adding features.
I would certainly pay more for a car with a galvanised chassis, mine was changed nearly 25 years ago and still looks like new underneath.

Interior trim is very simple to renew and spruce up, but gelcoat crazing or osmosis bubbles in the paintwork will require major bodywork and paint which is expensive. To be fair though from my pics I have added some extra detail even to the S trim.

To me the mechanics are really simple and apart from keeping oil leaks to a minimum, if you have experience of the baby Elans then you know what you are taking on.

Now as for the driveshafts I bought my Mick Miller ones over 10 years ago and only joined the forum to ask how they have been performing on NVH and general ride quality. I had never fitted mine until this week but they looked as good coming out of storage after 10 years as the day I bought them and I do believe the general quality of parts and ?rubber? was better back then probably anyway.

I do hope your question stays in the general discussions though as for some reason the goderator put mine into repairs and maintenance section then sent me a snotty email asking me to make sure I post in the right section.............like I was not repairing them or maintaining them but wanted to know how people have found they perform on ride quality. Anyway rant over on that subject as not even had he courtesy of a response.
Personally on the test drive I found the new driveshafts a little harsher and probably a little more vibration felt through to the body. In saying that I changed the bearings and overhauled the brakes so probably not really a fair back to back test anyway. Having driven the car for 25 years with donuts I really could not honestly say there was any WOW factor or Bang for the Buck but my car did not have failsafe shafts so I feel more comfortable. What I can?t explain is I have always had a slight diff whine on 3rd/4th over run that appears to have disappeared but again I think I need to drive the car a bit more before finally deciding.

On full droop it was slightly difficult to turn the wheels by hand and the shafts were definitely reaching a point of travel limits with some resistance but honestly I never expect to ever drive the car on 3 wheels and everyone helpfully that replied to my post said they were not a problem in service hence I went ahead and fitted them.
The biggest worry to me replacing today new donuts would be the rubber quality having experienced continual early failure on virtually every rubber part I have bought lately for the MGB I also have. I just hope the Lotus vendor?s parts quality does not end up the same.

Anyway back to your future purchase only you know your own skills and your previous historic knowledge of Lotus Elans.............having owned baby Elans also before I can?t think of anything that is anymore problematic between either baby or +2 or early or later +2s (130/5 that is excluded) just got no personal knowledge of the 5 speed which IIRC was a Maxi gearbox?

For sure though buy early as I have noticed in UK quite an increase in classic car prices in the past year. Still not as high though as when they peaked in the mid eighties but for sure they are going up.

All the best and hope you find something

Regards
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PostPost by: draenog » Sun Jul 27, 2014 11:26 pm

Hi Andrew,

An interesting question, not least because there were continual changes throughout production. I'll be interested to know what people consider to be the cut-off between early and late +2. For example, is it the introduction of the +2S with the spot/fog lights, and "luxury" interior? The early +2S had the same 118 bhp engine, non-bonded windscreen and non-fail-safe lights as the +2. This would make the cut-off as early as March 1969. Or would it be the introduction of the +2S 130 with the big valve engine, and the metal flake roof?

Anyway, a production timeline is given here: http://lotuselan-plus2.be/trevorsparrow/elanplus2/technical1.htm though I don't know how accurate it is. It is split into two sections, the split being between the old and new numbering systems.

My own +2 I would guess would be classed as an early +2S, just creeping into the new numbering system (7001010019L). I didn't particularly choose an early +2S, it came up locally at the right price. I found out about the differences after I began to compare it to others (online - I've only seen one other +2 in the flesh so to speak).

Now I have a rough idea of the differences I would echo what others have said and say for me it would be the difference between the simplicity of the +2 and the extra performance of the +2S 130. However, as Elanintheforest said many +2/+2S have been upgraded in performance, and many +2 have had spot/fog lights retro-fitted so removing some of their simplicity!

One last point. Although my own +2S would seem to have neither the simplicity or the performance (that I know of) I don't think I would swap it for any I've seen come up for sale recently. That's because for me, maybe more important than anything else, is originality. The garage sold it relatively cheap because it was scruffy. But that means almost everthing is original, even down to the radio and seat belts. I also have an MGB, which I bought fully restored. I thought this was great until I discovered every switch on the dash had been replaced with cheap low-quality reproductions. I spent about 6 months on ebay buying up NOS switches and replacing them. So now I prefer scruffy but unmolested.

Rob.
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PostPost by: draenog » Sun Jul 27, 2014 11:56 pm

To quantify my opinion...

+2
No spot/fog lights - good (but most have had front replaced and recesses without lights is bad)
Non-bonded windscreen - good
Non-fail-safe headlights - bad
Dynamo - bad

Early +2S
Spot/fog lights - bad
Fat seats - bad
Airplane dash - good, looks impressive when showing it to friends :D
Non-bonded windscreen - good
Non-fail-safe headlights - bad (useful having spot light as emergency?)
Dynamo - bad

+2S 130/4
Big valve engine - good
Metal flake roof - bad
Alternator - good

+2S 130/5
Maxi gearbox - bad :D
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Mon Jul 28, 2014 12:15 am

The key differences are really the trim level and the 5 speed versus 4 speed box.The other differences can mostly be changed if wanted at relatively little cost ( and many have in a lot of cars)

Trim level is certainly a personal preference some like the more upmarket look of the dash and seats in the later cars some like the more hard core sporting look of the earlier cars.

The 5 speed box has many detractors but this is mainly due to worn out boxes or to poor quality rebuilds. The change in a well built 5 speed box is light and quick but will always be a little vague compared to the rifle bolt precision of the 4 speed box. For a Plus 2 as a touring GT car the 5 speed is perfect especially on todays motorways and the 4 speed more suited to traditional sporting driving around the back roads at lower speeds. So again it is really a matter of personal preference and how you will use the car.

cheers
Rohan
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Mon Jul 28, 2014 1:22 am

Pretty much in agreement with Rohan. For modern use I would try for a five speed car; I changed to a Ford MT75 and taller diff and love it on the highway.

I prefer the 'Early' interior, but we didn't get many later cars here so that is what I remember. For a purchase decision, condition is everything. Note early console is NLA, so examine closely. I shaved the ugly side reflectors when my Federal was painted, so kind of looks like the first run of cars.

Best of luck with the search.

Stu
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PostPost by: vlc584g » Mon Jul 28, 2014 10:06 am

Thank you - all
A big thanks to all who have read and commented on this subject .It has made very interesting reading and is very informative. I still have all my old Lotus books and as much reference material as I can lay my hands on and have read it all over and over - BUT- there is no substitute for real owners of real cars who really enjoy their cars!!!!
Regards
Andrew.
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PostPost by: vlc584g » Sat Aug 02, 2014 12:07 pm

Quick update!
500 mile round trip yesterday to view two cars - 69 plus two Versus 73 plus two 130/5.
And the winner was............... the early plus two in bahama yellow with plenty of history from very early in its life.
More info/pics when pick up is arranged next week!
Thanks again for the help/opinions so far,
Appreciated,
Andrew
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PostPost by: vlc584g » Sat Aug 23, 2014 6:29 pm

double trouble.JPG and
double trouble
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new arrival
lulu car.JPG and
supervising
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PostPost by: JJDraper » Mon Aug 25, 2014 9:34 am

On a deeper note, I suspect the earlier car bodies are thicker/heavier than the later ones. I have no documentary evidence for this, but speaking to a few specialists, there seems to be some truth to this. Having manhandled the bare body of mine, with 3 others, it certainly seems heavy! Mine has some reinforcement, but all the same..

Thinner bodies = less weight = faster cars at less material/costs! The Lotus ethos..

Jeremy
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PostPost by: Sea Ranch » Tue Aug 26, 2014 5:26 am

Andrew, great job. Glad you found one. Hope you enjoy it!

I love mine; the Plus 2 is the right Lotus for me. My preference is my February 1970 +2S, with bonded windscreen, 8 gauges, driving/fog lights set in the black add-on buckets (just a weird aesthetic thing for me; I like that look), the narrow seats with "headrests". I don't like the Stromberg bump on the bonnet, but my car has a non-original Weber head to make up for it.

And, oh my . . . Bahama Yellow, too :wink: :mrgreen:

Below is my car, just before I started peeling the paint off her this August . . .

IMG_0005.JPG and
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