Lotus Elan

Federal or not

PostPost by: Lordflashart » Mon Jul 27, 2015 5:27 pm

When I bought my +2 the previous owner told me it was a federal model.
After some discussion in other threads I'm starting to doubt this is true.
What characteristics identify a federal car?

My car has toggle switches on the dash and single line brake hydraulics. It has no control box as its had an alternator fitted at some point.

Cheers
Paul
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Mon Jul 27, 2015 5:32 pm

Certainly one of the major differences on a UK spec 2 seater Elan is that the seats do not have built in headrests. I assume something similar occurred with the Plus 2. I think another give away might be the suffix letter on the end of your chassis no.

Post it up, hopefully Tim or dome other helpful soul will be sling shortly.
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PostPost by: roblotus79 » Mon Jul 27, 2015 5:43 pm

Hi mine is a 1969 brought into Canada from Lotus to be sold by the distributer in Toronto. I think there is a distinction between federal and ROW. Mine his toggles, no headrests on the seats, and single brake circuit with single booster. Perhaps your's is the same? It seems to me that ours are not truly Federal. I seem to remember something about 1970 being the year that things needed to start changing and that Lotus might have made an abundance of 1969 VIN to get cars started before the deadline (I thin k I read that here ). For example, my VIN 502180 is a 1969 but the car was not first registered until 1971

Where in BC are you??
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PostPost by: Lordflashart » Mon Jul 27, 2015 5:53 pm

Hi,

I'm in Salmon Arm, BC.

My car does sound lots like yours. My VIN is 501711 so fairly close to yours also.

So it sounds like it's not a true federal after all.

Paul
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PostPost by: Bud English » Mon Jul 27, 2015 6:35 pm

Paul- I posted this to the other post before I read this one. Like Elanfan1 stated, there should be a letter as the last position in your ID number. If it's an "N" it's a federal car. If it's an "M" it's an otherwise exported car. At least that's the info in the workshop manual. Sometimes what Lotus said they did didn't match what actually happened.
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PostPost by: trw99 » Mon Jul 27, 2015 6:48 pm

Hang on guys, suffix letters were only used after 1.1.70 when the VIN format changed. The only sure way to tell if your car was a Federal +2 is to look at the engine number. The prefix letter on that should be a G or I for that time period.

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PostPost by: mbell » Mon Jul 27, 2015 6:53 pm

The feature of a "Federal" car will vary depending on the year and the regulations enforce at the time. My understanding is that they started ~1970 and got stricter over the years. The certain indicator of Federal car would be a N on the end of the chasis/VIN in the later Chasis/VIN numbering system.

There were a lot of minor difference for the federal cars but it normally easier to spot them by major differences. Some of these include:
- Stromgberg head + exhaust gas pipes from manifold back to carbs
- Side markers
- Hexagon Wheel nuts
- Dual circuit brakes + dual brake boosters
- Seats with head rests
- Charcoal canister on the fuel tank and modified breather and filler
...

Having one or more of these or not having them doesn't mean a car is federal or not. A few of them would be a good indicator a car is a federal model thou.

The parts manual breaks parts down parts by model. So if you have a car you can look at the parts manual (rdent.com) and find a few federal specific parts and check if they are fitted to your car or not. This should give you good confidence if it is or isn't.
'73 +2 130/5 RHD, now on the road and very slowly rolling though a "restoration"
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PostPost by: roblotus79 » Mon Jul 27, 2015 7:17 pm

I'm still thinking ours are a ROW as:

No side indicators

No charcoal canisters

Yes Stromberg head

Yes Hexagonal wheel nuts

No headrests

No Dual circuit brakes.

Maybe this was something specific to Canada?

Stu Gilmour, what did your's have originally as I know it is very close VIN # to mine and is a Canadian car too.

Bud English : I was just in Winnemucca a couple of weeks ago. Nice spot, I wasn't thinking, I should have tried to see you and your car
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PostPost by: Bud English » Mon Jul 27, 2015 8:11 pm

Rob- I think you're on the right track with cars set up for export to Canada. That makes "Lotus" sense. Most of the changes to match the fed specs weren't necessarily positive changes and added cost. No sense adding cost if it wasn't necessary to sell the car.

Sorry I missed you. The coffee is always hot, the beer cold and the garage open.
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PostPost by: aes » Mon Jul 27, 2015 8:31 pm

To add to the thread, I have a +2, SN 50/2185......only a few cars off of Stu's.....with non-Federal features such as toggle switches, no headrests, single brake circuit, no side indicators and originally supplied with Strombergs.....Webers are currently installed. The car left the production line Oct 22nd, 1969 and sold to distributor Lotus Canada Nov 6th, 1969 and was one of few cars sold on the same invoice. My understanding of the registration history is that it was originally sold in BC. I purchased the car last year from a fellow in Washington State and I am currently having the engine rebuilt. I hope this adds some detail to the conversation.

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PostPost by: CBUEB1771 » Mon Jul 27, 2015 10:08 pm

Lordflashart wrote:My car has toggle switches on the dash and single line brake hydraulics. It has no control box as its had an alternator fitted at some point.


Safety and emissions standard issued by the US federal government began in earnest in 1968. Toggle switches were one of the first things to go and therefore it seems unlikely that your +2 is a federal version. The Service Parts List supports this as a discriminator.
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PostPost by: Lordflashart » Mon Jul 27, 2015 10:55 pm

Cheers chaps.

It looks like my car is not a federal car then.
Like Rob's it seems like it it just a ROW +2.

Thanks

Paul
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Mon Jul 27, 2015 10:57 pm

Rob, I had forgotten we are only one number apart; mine is 50/2181. It is so interesting that our cars are so different and still delivered to the Great White North. :)

Yes mine is Federal for sure, originally with headrest seats, Strombergs c/w the crossover pipes to the cast exhaust manifold, flat switches, Nader Nuts, reflective side markers, dual brake boosters, etc. The charcoal filter fuel vapour deal was later than my car.

Here is the email I got from Andy Graham at Lotus:
Dear Stuart Gilmour,

Thank you for your enquiry regarding your Elan +2. Unfortunately the build records are no longer with us, so I cannot provide any specification or colour data, or engine number. I can confirm that unit number 2181 was indeed Federal specification as it was sold from Lotus to Lotus Canada on the 6th November 1969, so as you suspected it was built prior to 1971, I expect during 1969.

I am sorry I could not answer all your questions, but hope the fact it is a genuine Canadian model helps you in your investigations & history records.

Regards,



Andy Graham
Technical Publications and Archives
LOTUS CARS LIMITED


Paul, consider adding your car to the registry here:

http://www.elanregistry.org/

Stu
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PostPost by: roblotus79 » Tue Jul 28, 2015 12:28 am

The plot thickens..... perhaps mine was the last ever before true federal +2's roamed the earth :) I'm going to run with that until proven otherwise
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1990 Esprit Turbo SE
1986 Carrera 3.2
1982 Turbo Esprit - SOLD
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PostPost by: trw99 » Tue Jul 28, 2015 7:40 am

Rob, nothing at Lotus at that time could be taken as such gospel! There was so much carry over of parts and changes, items fitted to one car and not the next, that true uniformity of a particular version often did not kick in until well after the generally accepted date per parts or workshop manuals.

If you look at the S4 Elans imported into Canada around this time they too demonstrated different features to the Federal versions. One of the most notable, for example, was the relocation of the petrol tank from the usual floor of the boot/trunk, to between the rear struts, similar to the +2. That didn't last long as by the time the Sprint was introduced to Canada the full Federal spec per the USA was the norm. I therefore suspect that the Federal +2s were being gradually phased in during 1969, perhaps to both the USA and Canada, with some of the older style being sold more freely in Canada as Ralph Nader's shrill rules began to bite more in the USA.

Rob, Stu, Allan: my VIN records show your car's invoice dates as 2180-2.12.69; 2181-6.11.69; 2185-6.11.69. In fact, another 14 +2s were also invoiced on 6 Nov 69, a batch of 16, between VINs 1612 and 2185, perhaps all going to Canada. None of these has the engine number annotated against them, unfortunately. Rob, looking at your date there were 19 cars invoiced; 4 have no engine number, 12 have the F engine prefix (SE Weber Domestic & Export) and 2 have the I prefix (Stromberg Federal).

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