Lotus Elan

Could this be The One? Help Needed

PostPost by: Tournesol » Sun Oct 19, 2014 2:01 pm

Good afternoon,

I've seen a car that I quite like the look of and fits my budget but I am in need of expert opinions and someone who could see it for me during a week day to have it on ramp to check the chassis (it's still on its original one). The current owner and I have agreed on a deposit to secure the car for the next couple of weeks. Please realise that I am looking for a car that will drive well and be used regularly not a show car but not a trouble maker either...

History:
- Virtually non existant
- original log book with hand written work carried out but no date, details of garage where work was done nor prices
- only a couple of MOTs available
- was told the car was resprayed some time ago but no invoices to show for it
- was told car had a new gearbox 10k miles ago but no invoice to show for (assumed not done?)
- Current owner showing on V5 with date of purchase 1983
- owner's manual available

Here's what I made of my viewing:

Body work/paint:
- panels alignements are good
- respray was done about 10 years ago but didn't see invoice for that. Not perfect in details around the windscreen etc but overall condition of the paint is good with only one spider mark of about 2cm square by the left wipper.
- bumpers were painted before current owner

Chrome:
- Window frame, roof lines etc are pitted but okish

Mechanically (please note I was only able to drive it on the courtyard of the vendor as I didn't manage to organize insurance on time, the vendor drove it for me for about 20mn on A and B roads):
- Engine sounded fine,pulled ok with 2 misfires under acceleration (car hasn't been run for a little while and done very little mileage for many years.
- Car didn't wabble or vibrate, nor was there any noises that seemed to be out of the ordinary
- When i was behind the wheel and applied the brake they seen to bite well and the car was behaving in a straight line
- suspension/comfort ride was softer than what i expected but that could be how Elan's behave, i don't know. No sign of "boating"
- Engine restarted when hot after 3 turn of the key, bit of smoke at exhaust on restart but disappeared almost straight after the engine fired up again
- Oil pressure read at 40-45 when hot and running, gradually going down when iddle
- Temp was stable at about 90 both while running and iddle
- Owner told me the engine is leaking a little bit of oil (about 1/2l every 6 months)

Interior:
- Headlining is cigarette smoke stained and looking a bit tatty but no rip or holes
- Seats and carpets are fine
- dash has patina, looks "aged" but presentable
- switch at the bottom of steering wheel if for the electric fan
- plastic of interior lights is faded

Chassis:

That's where I have concerns and need someone to see the car for me again. The car is still on its original chassis. I couldn't see the underneath of the car but there's 2 garages on each side of the owner who told me he's happy to put the car on a ramp for inspection. The chassis apparently is waxoil (sticky material).

Comments on pictures attached invited and welcome and I do need to arrange another viewing with someone who knows about Elan+2 and mechanics to provide me with an independant non emotional view on the car.

Please contact me if you are willing to help with this within the next few days.

Thank you for all your advices.

Best regards,

Tournesol
I am posting more pictures as limited to 10 per posts.
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PostPost by: Tournesol » Sun Oct 19, 2014 2:07 pm

The car is in Lincoln UK and sold privately.
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PostPost by: gherlt » Sun Oct 19, 2014 3:06 pm

Hi,
I am not an expert on Plus 2, and you did not mention the price. You need to compare price vs. value.
But the two main financial worst case scenarios are: needs body work and painting or engine revision.
Everything else is not a big problem.

Engine: from your description I would say that revision of ingnition and carburators (by an expert) could do it. Otherwise all the other things you mention, a general clean up changes the vision you might have from the car.
Chassis: if it's straight, waxoiled, it could be an original one. No problem with that. Even if it is not OK, changing the chassis is a lot cheaper than a full paint job.
Things to look at while on a ramp: look for accident/body repairs, you did not mention nothing about body.
Look below carpets !

Good luck !
1964 S1 (engine ready, awainting body paint)
1967 S3 DHC (now adjusted by Brian Buckland, totally calm idle)
1969 S4 FHC (final interior stuff)
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PostPost by: Tournesol » Sun Oct 19, 2014 3:47 pm

While wandering around on the forums here I found this one:
lotus-talk-f50/can-get-daily-driver-elan-for-budget-t30631-30.html

Same car was advertized on Ebay for 10K, same typos, description etc...

I've agreed for 9K with current owner pending on 2nd visit from an "expert". Anyone who can get to Lincoln on a week day over the next couple of weeks please be in touch.

Thank you.
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PostPost by: Europatc » Sun Oct 19, 2014 10:54 pm

Good evening Tournesol,
if you get no response from this site you could try forums closer to Lincoln. Its worth a try. You could try the Lotus drivers club Lincolnshire branch or NYLOC. Someone may know of someone with expert knowledge but there may be a charge. Viewing during the week can be difficult if you have work commitments.
Just a thought.
Good luck
Stuart
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PostPost by: jimj » Mon Oct 20, 2014 8:19 am

Kelvedon are classic Lotus specialists in Lincolnshire but an hour from Lincoln. Say you had to pay even ?250 for them to inspect the car and everything was as it appears, I`m sure they`d find something, probably many things, that need attention and you could use this information to discount the price by, at least, the ?250.
Jim
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Mon Oct 20, 2014 12:30 pm

Tournesol wrote: Please realise that I am looking for a car that will drive well and be used regularly not a show car but not a trouble maker either....


I hate to be the voice of doom on this, but I really doubt that this car is for you, given that you want a reliable regular driver. In the current market, you are buying a rolling restoration car for ?9k, and the absence of any substantial invoices (or any invoices!) or history doesn't bode well for the car. Under the bonnet looks tired, and certainly hasn't been restored or even renovated in many years. The chrome strip around the windscreen is so easy and cheap to replace, yet the current owner can't be bothered to even try and lift the car a little by doing so.

As a rolling restoration it looks to be a great project, with substantially all the original bits and pieces present. It's been in storage for 15 years, and even though it has a new MOT, it will still need all the hydraulics overhauling, the rotoflex couplings replacing, all the rubber components checking and probably replacing (including the tyres) and many other fettling jobs will be required for sure.I wouldn't be at all surprised if the engine needed some attention due to oil seals having dried out, and the water pump glands likewise.

If you want to get a 45 year old Lotus that has a reasonable chance of being reliable and trouble-free, then you will have to buy one that has been substantially restored, with bills and photos to prove. It will also need to have done a reasonable mileage every year since restoration to demonstrate that it has at least the potential to be reliable!

I'm sure that the chassis would be the least of your problems with this car.

Mark
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PostPost by: GHill » Tue Oct 21, 2014 7:57 pm

Hi Tournesol

I like the two tone roof - it's such a hard decision as to which car to buy - considering that the 'perfect' cars are in the +20k range then anything at 50% of that value will carry risk. Sounds like you are doing all the right things and asking all the right questions - good luck and let us all know how you get on!

Cheers
Gareth
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PostPost by: collins_dan » Tue Oct 21, 2014 8:57 pm

From the pictures and the description, it could be a good car for you. I think paying someone for a thorough inspection would be a good idea. Mark's description of a good rolling restoration project is a good one. I bought my S4 10 years ago and have used it regularly over the whole time. Regularly being a weekend driver, not a daily driver. While my skills have improved, thanks to this forum, I have also spent a good amount of money on replacement parts and projects that were too much for me. My point is, just understand what you are getting into. These are not modern cars. That is both their curse and their blessing. If it is an extra car that you can drive and improve, drive and improve...but not have to count on, then you will enjoy it. If you expect too much of it, you will be frustrated and disappointed. Good Luck. Dan
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PostPost by: Sea Ranch » Wed Oct 22, 2014 12:21 am

Agree with the last three opinions.

You don't want "a trouble-maker". So then consider: this is, as stated, a 45 year old Lotus with very little work over the last 10 years, and very little driving, AND it has never had a full restoration.

This car will be, in my opinion, "a trouble-maker". Of course, how do we define that expression? It will break, and need repairs, over the next year of driving. Do you want that? Or do you want a turn-key, get-in-and-enjoy car?

Such turn-key cars are available, without being a "show car". But usually, when all the mechanicals/operational bits are up to snuff, the rest looks pretty good, too. This one does not appear to be that.

Having said all this, your candidate could be an excellent buy. It just depends on whether you're ready to conduct a multi-year rolling restoration, or a complete frame-off restoration, or live with an unrestored 45 year old Lotus.

For myself, I'm embroiled in a 3-4 year full nut-and-bolt restoration, and very happy, because that's what I wanted in the long run: a fully rebuilt car, and the opportunity to do the work and make the choices myself. But I drove and enjoyed it for a year first.

Again, though, if you want a nice car and can't or don't want to do the rebuilding, then the standard advice applies: buy the absolute best car you can afford. And take the purchase price/money for a car like this one and add to it all the funds you think you'll have to spend maintaining it for the next two years and pile that all into the buying price, too. You'll be much happier at the end of the first two years, having bought the better car.

Just my thoughts. Your mileage may vary, etc. . . . :mrgreen:

Randy

ps. the Plus 2 is the most awesome car!!
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PostPost by: Tournesol » Wed Oct 22, 2014 6:58 pm

Good evening everyone!

Well I received some more picture from the owner of the car who managed to put it on a ramp. Quality of the pictures is not good but hope you guys can make something out of it. Any comments welcome about the state of what's showing on the photos.

I think I also need to better explain what I am looking for/expecting. I hope to find a car (hopefully this one but that yet is to be decided) that I will be able to drive around (mainly at week ends- I live in London so use the public transport for work) straight away without having to do immediate, urgent and huge repairs (nothing is ever guaranteed I know...). I also realise that for my budget (around 10K) I will not find a car that is a turn key with no issues and therefore appreciate that in the long term I will need to invest quite a bit of money on the car (or worth case scenario pass it on if I don't have the funds available or getting too annoyed with it). I fully understand that it is a classic and owning my dad's Citroen Traction (she's in France) know by experience that there's often something to do on those type of cars (especially if they don't run so often and were made by Lotus originally).

The first ever car I had when I was 18 and passed my driving test was a Simca Aronde from 1955 which I bought from a dealer who took it as a minimum part exchange guaranteed price promotion they were doing at the time and was passing the car for that price "as seen, untouched, unprepared etc...". First week I had to review the brakes, change the engine about a year later and bits and pieces done over the couple of years I owned it.

What I am trying to establish is:

1) Does this car represent a fair market price for its condition?
2) Will I be able to enjoy driving the car (as a Lotus should) as it is now, in relative reliability and safety (both physically and financially)?
3) What work will need doing to improve its reliability? And what sort of budget does that imply?
4) Am I deluded when I imagine that if things go extremely bad and want to pass the car on I still would be able to get back close to my initial investment (9K) back? I DON'T mean dismantling the car for parts (would HATE to have to do that).

My intentions are to keep the car, hopefully drive it as it is regularly (5k a year or there about?) and do it up slowly as my modest funds allow, knowing I will never recoup all of the costs involved in doing so.

I hope to have given a better understanding of what am looking for, want to achieve and look forward to your extremely valued comments.

Thank you!
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PostPost by: Tournesol » Wed Oct 22, 2014 7:14 pm

here are the pictures I received.
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under5.JPG and
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under2.JPG and
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PostPost by: Sea Ranch » Wed Oct 22, 2014 8:00 pm

You need to look at more cars.

How many Lotus Elan Plus 2s have you seen in person? I believe if you look at some other cars, including some good examples, you'll be better able to form your own conclusions about this car. It appears you are wondering about this car because you haven't had much experience with the model, and not seen too many (if any?) other examples.

Obviously I'm just trying to be a bit of a detective here. You know the answers to those questions.

But it seems that if you had seen other good cars, you would know more about what you're looking at here.

That funky yellowish gunk on the chassis is reason enough for me to not want the car for the purposes you have in mind, because I couldn't live with the car looking like that, at the least. That would mean perhaps a body-off cleaning of chassis, or . . . . ?

I can't quite tell, but looks like the rear brake rotor is still thoroughly rusted, so hasn't had much running at all. Seems there is a section of the rotor swept clean by the pads, but looks too narrow. Improper pad contact? Could indicate that the brake system should not be counted on to be reliable.

Overall, it confirms my initial impression of both car and buyer: this is a largely neglected car and you should look at other examples if you want a reliable driver. You continue to use that word (reliable) so I'm using it, too.

But, perhaps your idea of reliable, and your measure of how much repairing is acceptable, still applies to/includes this car.

My conclusion: find some other cars in the price range with which to compare. If this is the best example, okay. But again, I suspect that if you took the 9K and added to it the repairing costs for just the first year of ownership of this car, you could surely find another example which is more promising.

(As to absolute value of this car, I couldn't say as I'm not in your market. I'm just looking at it from the perspective of relative value.)

Hoping that helps, realizing it may not satisfy; you seem to be fixing your heart on this car. :?:

Regards,

Randy
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PostPost by: GHill » Sun Oct 26, 2014 7:35 pm

So did you buy it...?
To get something you've never had, you need to do something you've never done!
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PostPost by: Tournesol » Wed Nov 05, 2014 7:44 pm

Good evening everyone and apologies for not posting back earlier but work is manic at the moment.

Thanks to Tony who owns a +2 and baby Elan who went to see the car, took pictures again of all the car including the underneath (car was put on ramp again) who confirmed it was unusually looking better in the flesh than on photos. I've decided to go ahead and purchase it! I know I am an idiot.... unfortunately I was born that way and eventhough Science can find the Higgs bosom they cant find a cure to my disease.

I realise I am getting into ownership of a car that will need some work (sooner than later!) but hope I'll be able to enjoy driving it and "refresh" it at the same time over the years.

Hopefully should take delivery in a couple of weeks.

GHill if you are willing to, would love to meet with the cars at some point.

Thank you to everyone for your comments and help, especially to Tony and Steve, pretty sure am going to need plenty more!!
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