Lotus Elan

Considering '70 Plus 2 purchase

PostPost by: The Veg » Mon Nov 16, 2015 3:13 am

Hi everybody, new guy here.

I have a friend who is considering selling a '70 plus 2 and I'm rather obsessed with the idea of buying it. I've owned a Turbo Esprit before, so I'm quite familiar with Lotus in general and have pretty good abilities with the spanners as I did all of the Esprit's repairs and maintenance myself including C-service.

The car I'm considering has its share of issues and has not been on the road in a few years, but is by no means a basket-case. To my knowledge, it has some minor hydraulics problems and most likely needs a major tune-up and probably some refreshing of the fuel and ignition systems to be made runable.

What I'd like to know is:
Are there any serious concerns with these cars that I should deeply ponder before making a decision?
Any particular bugaboos to be aware of?
Any particular problems with NLA parts?
Am I correct to guess that an Elan would be considerably simpler to live with and maintain than a Turbo Esprit?
How robust is the Twin Cam engine and how much do I need to worry about it?
Should I run (not walk) away now before I take on a nightmare?
And of course anything else you think I should know.

Thanks in advance.
1969/70 Elan Plus 2 (not S) 50/2036
"It just wouldn't be a complete day if I didn't forget something!" -Me
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Mon Nov 16, 2015 10:56 am

Main things to be concerned about on a purchase like this are all fixable but at a cost.

Has the chassis been replaced? have the sill beams been replaced? How good is the paint?

Worst case scenario with engine, box and diff would be having to remove for overhaul. Similarly the brakes and suspension. Wiring can be a pain if old and earths are corroded and it's a fair old job to get the dash out and rewrite all those switches and dials.

If you feel up for it then it's down to what you have to pay for the car.
Steve

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PostPost by: collins_dan » Mon Nov 16, 2015 2:44 pm

A Plus 2 is significantly easier than an Esprit to work on. Paint and body work is where you will spend the most money. It's easy to spend $15K on a good paint job. Frame would be my next concern. They cost at least $1,500 plus shipping from the UK, then you have to take the body off, move everything over to the new frame, then reassemble. Not crazy complicated, but time consuming for you or a shop. The main areas to check are the bottom corners of the uprights that the suspension is connected to front and rear. Twin cams have a reputation for being fussy that is undeserved. Take care of them, they are fine. Not sure if the car has webers or strombergs. My S4 has strombergs and again, people prefer webers, but I find the strombergs to be fine. Some other Plus 2 people can give more specifics, as I have an S4, but these are the general things to look for. Good luck. There are a number of people in the Atlanta area with Lotus'.
All the best,
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PostPost by: vincereynard » Mon Nov 16, 2015 6:07 pm

Find someone local that knows Elans. There is nothing particularly tricky about them that is not shared by most old cars. But they do have their own foibles. And, being English, the prince of darkness is ever present.
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PostPost by: The Veg » Mon Nov 16, 2015 6:52 pm

Thanks gents (I assume you're all gents :D ),

Your input seems encouraging. I'm going to try to get a good look at the car if hasn't sold yet. Keep the wisdom coming if you think of anything else, and wish me luck!
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PostPost by: Lotus 50 » Mon Nov 16, 2015 11:52 pm

The Plus 2 is a delight. Fun to drive, comfortable, roomy. Parts are readily available from the usual on line suspects. Chassis, sills, paint as noted.
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PostPost by: Lotus 50 » Mon Nov 16, 2015 11:52 pm

and its the prettiest Lotus of it's era or with the possible exception of the original Elise, any era
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PostPost by: Europatc » Tue Nov 17, 2015 12:33 am

welcome the Veg
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PostPost by: The Veg » Tue Nov 17, 2015 4:37 am

Went and looked at the car tonight. I'd seen it before and sat in it two or three years ago, so I already knew it a little. Tonight I got a wealth more information, and it looks quite encouraging. The big news is that the engine was rebuilt, the owner thinks less than 500 miles ago but it's sat for a few years since then due to other things. It is leaking oil however, visible on the pan and on the front chassis cross-member. The rebuild apparently includes some 'performance' tweaks but I have yet to read the email that details that (I was sent three LONG emails full of various details and expert-input that the owner has had). The car has had a total of three owners and has been garage-kept pretty much its whole life. Mechanically everything seems pretty solid. It needs a clutch-slave cylinder, but that will be installed this weekend. I was invited to help with the job but will have to miss it as I'll be heading out of town for a long Thanksgiving trip. The shift-linkage feels good. The exhaust from the headpipe to the chrome tip looks almost new. The drive-axles have been converted to CVJs, and the charging system upgraded to an alternator. TONS of documentation with the car, including original sale documents from the UK! Turns out it's a federal car but was purchased in UK and driven there for a bit then imported to USA. Still has a 1971 tax-disc on the windscreen!

The downside is the cosmetics, which is what I'd choose over mechanics if something has to have a downside. The body is mostly solid but has a few small problems like a deep chip on a wheel arch, a not-terrible crack above the front bumper, and a spot under the rear end where the silencer mount got knocked into the boot floor hard enough to make a crack-loosened semicircle a few inches across. One boot-hinge has been loose and has dug into the 'glass a bit. The paint is faded and has some spider-cracks here and there but nothing too scary. The windscreen, rear window, and side windows are all beautiful but the rubber seals around the windscreen and rear window look a bit perished and cracked. The interiour is a mixed bag. The dashboard wood is in excellent condition, but the finish has the usual wrinkles and cracks and some of the legends are worn-off.The carpets and headliner all need renewed, but the vinyl is in good shape and none of the seat-foam seems collapsed. Chrome is good everywhere inside and out, and the gauges look as good as new. The bumpers are straight. I'm told that the electrics are sorted, but no biggie if there are a few niggles as I'm pretty comfy with electrical work.

We didn't try to start it (battery may be suspect, and the engine probably needs a little tuning), but that should be taken care of by the time I take the car home, should I choose to do so. Best of all, the price seems good for how much is right with the car (but I won't tell you how much). The seller is a good friend too, considers me family, and would rather it stay in the 'family' than go to some of the guys who've expressed an interest. It's a reluctant sale necessitated by life's needs. It would be my honour to give this car a good home.

So now I've got to read the emails, read more forum-posts, talk to the bank and the insurance company, and see what happens. Keep fingers crossed; I'll let you guys know how it turns out.

PS- one thing I love about this car is how much room it has for my big strapping self! I'm 6'4"/250 lbs., and my former Esprit was rather cramped. I wound up taking the adjustment-rails out and screwing the seat straight to the floor which helped with the headroom, but my legs were still cramped. But I can stretch out nicely in the Plus 2! :D
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"It just wouldn't be a complete day if I didn't forget something!" -Me
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PostPost by: alan.barker » Tue Nov 17, 2015 10:33 am

well done, go for it you will not regret the decision. For me 1970 is the best year for a +2s
Alan
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PostPost by: collins_dan » Tue Nov 17, 2015 4:33 pm

Sounds like one that you could be driving in no time and go the route of a rolling restoration, which IMHO is the best way to go. It's essentially a barn find, so the battered body adds value. :lol: I hope it works out. If it does, post pictures, everyone loves pictures! Dan
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PostPost by: The Veg » Tue Nov 17, 2015 5:47 pm

Here's a pic. The garage wasn't big enough to get a wide-enough shot for the whole thing, but you'll get the general idea. I too like the 'rolling restoration' idea, as I can enjoy driving it while doing fixes as time and money allow.
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1969/70 Elan Plus 2 (not S) 50/2036
"It just wouldn't be a complete day if I didn't forget something!" -Me
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PostPost by: collins_dan » Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:16 pm

Looks great! Should give you lots of joy both behind the wheel and from the satisfaction of jobs completed. I found it very easy to work at a pace that was comfortable for me. One big project a year over the winter months. Minor jobs during driving season. Good luck. Dan
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:20 pm

Welcome aboard Veg. Looks like a wonderful car! The provenance sounds perfect as well.

To check the steel sill members folks have mentioned, you just remove the steel covers located in the wheel wells and shine a flashlight in the cavity. As the originals were not galvanized, these are often in very poor shape. Do not use the jacking holes without ensuring the sill beams are intact, as you could severely damage things. The members are reasonably easy for the home mechanic to replace, so I would not consider this a purchasing issue, just something to get taken care of right away.

Ray has replacement rubber for the front and rear screens, and they can be serviced for you by any competent mobile glass tech. As the glass has to be removed to change the headliner, so make sure you have everything to hand when you do the job. Headliners in fully correct pre-sewn panels are available from the UK; a bit of detail required to get the correct version. Same for carpet kits. Note the cars came with extensive sound proofing felts as well that are often in poor shape. Is the console piece in good shape? They come in early cars as a large plastic piece that is unobtainable, so even if cracked be very careful with what you have.

For reference, you can used the on-line parts catalog at Ray's site. Picture is work a thousand words. You can get a good idea of items you may be missing.

http://www.rdent.com

I moved the Plus 2 seat rails rearward an inch or two. Agree the room is absolutely incredible. My Esprit V8 requires us to be very careful with the luggage; the Plus 2 is terrific in that regard. The Plus 2 pedal box is also wider than the Elan. I am a similar size and love my Plus 2.

To be clear, you absolutely NEED this car! It really looks like a great candidate.

Stu
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PostPost by: CBUEB1771 » Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:48 pm

Looks great, Lotus Yellow (LO7 paint code), same as mine. From the one photo it looks to be quite original. It still has the cross-over tubes for preheating the inlet mixture. The windscreen moulding looks just a bit out of place. I am not sure of when the bonded windscreen with chrome moulding was introduced but I wonder if that is what you should have. The changeover seems to be at No. 7001020001N which should be close to your vehicle number. The rubber moulding should not fit a body shell made for the bonded windscreen and yours does not seem to be seated neatly. I may be off-base here.
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