Lotus Elan

Considering/sort of looking......

PostPost by: 4regt4 » Tue Oct 20, 2020 7:50 pm

I'm sort of (and very nervously) looking for a Plus 2. I've copied a reply from "mbell" in Austin TX that was in a question I posted about Plus 2 width that slowly moved off topic and wish to follow up here.


One factor to considering the US is availability. Elan are simply more common and easily available here. So normally have better availability with wider range of cars. Meaning its easier to find a suitable car.

I think something like 500 total +2 in the US, who know how many still exist. There normally only a very small number available for sale. So your very limited in your options and kind of have to buy what is available. But a decent +2 will cost you about half of an Elan.

The good thing about both are they are very easy to work on and nothing too complicate for anyone who prepared to pick the tools up and have a go. I'd suspect providing you get a decent running/looking car everything will be in your skill set to sort out.



My "skill set" is that I did much of the work on my departed 308GT4, including rebuilding the carbs, distributors, various electrical bits like cooling fans, fusebox, oil sender, etc. My garage is very small and I would have no way of attempting to separate body and frame, nor pull the engine. No fiberglass experience. Even working on brakes could be a challenge, as the width of the garage is very narrow - just enough for me to crack the door open and squeeze in. So any car I'd buy would have to be a solid driver.

There are a several Plus 2 's (how do you do plural? Plus 2s could be a bit ambiguous....) that are duplicated across several websites, like Hemming's etc. A maroon one, one in red, and yellow. Any comments about these cars would be appreciated, in particular someone here may be familiar with one or more of them.

What scares me away from all of them is the style/wording of the ads from these dealers. They seem sort of hard sell, and oriented perhaps more to someone who has no idea what an Elan is. A little too "slick", if you know what I mean. Long on magazine article quotes, short on actual details - especially service and repair history. Basically the exact opposite of how someone on this forum would likely present their car.

The yellow one is a bit rough, but I'd still might consider it if it was mechanically fit. I suspect if I were to try to correct the body I might be falling into an expensive rabbit hole. But the dealer representing this one seems to be attempting to describe it well, warts and all:
https://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/de ... 93556.html

The red one seems priced too good to be true. There is a scary bit in the ad: "Some of our vehicles located in California have been rented out to movies, commercials, photoshoots and parties." Yikes! Certain aspects of the car are suspicious - looks like a headlight and trunk (err.. boot) lid don't fit well. And some of the underhood wiring looks a bit messy.
https://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/de ... 31584.html

But I have to admit, the dark red/maroon one is kind of calling me. Again, I'm more than a little suspicious, for example: "Badging and emblems have been removed enhancing appreciation of the car's styling." Is that code for "we painted it and can't find the various bits..."? It looks like there are U-jts in the rear axles (i.e. not rotoflex nor CV). Aluminum (sorry.. "aluminium") radiator with expansion tank. Underneath photos look decent, frame as near as I can tell looks good. No photos of the sill area.
https://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/de ... 37355.html

Sorry for being so long winded. I'm new to British cars, but am on my 3rd Italian car. So I'm used to a bit "quirky". I would deeply appreciate any comments.

Another issue is location. I'm on the west coast (US), these cars are located in Ohio and 2 in Michigan. (the actual location of the "California" car is Michigan). All are a bit far just for a casual "look-see".

Hans. (aka "Nervous Newbie")
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PostPost by: 4regt4 » Tue Oct 20, 2020 8:25 pm

Just noticed that the maroon car can not be a 1971 as advertised. Thanks to the wonderful "Lotus Elan +2 Originality Chart" by Peter Hunter, it appears to be a first series non-Federal car. Hmm. I wonder if it's registered as a '71....

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PostPost by: Bud English » Wed Oct 21, 2020 12:43 am

There are a few things that flag it as an earlier car or one built up from parts. The non-bonded windshield, the ignition switch in the dash, not on the column, early center console, etc. Worth a call to ask the question, if you're interested. For that money everything should be correct, especially the registration and title. :)


...and, by the way, welcome!
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PostPost by: 4regt4 » Wed Oct 21, 2020 1:02 am

Thanks. From what I've managed to learn here, doing a respray is a good way to hide fiberglass defects. Until they resurface at a later date. That car looks like brand new paint. However, the overall panel /door fit seems tolerably OK. Even if new paint is hiding something, I'd probably be OK with that. I'm not looking for a concourse car. I actually want to drive it.

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PostPost by: mbell » Wed Oct 21, 2020 2:00 am

Yellow: is probably a driving project. It's hard a cheap repaint, rear bumper (hard to get get) is wrapped or something, chassis needs a good cleaning/piant, number of none original stuff like radiator, missing the carb cross over.

Red: still probably a rolling project but better than yellow in terms of a originality.

Maroon: has been restored with number of none original things, like body color engine bay, exhaust, radiator, none black underside etc. Probably best bet for a car that won't need much work but could be paying a premium and find the piant to have issue in a few years. Need to know who did the piant, when and how much it cost.

For all of them you want information on what work had been done recently, how much have they been used, how do they run and drive etc.

If car hasn't been used regularly you need to expect to go through a lot of stuff like bushes, brake hoses and rebuilds, cooling system hoses, carbs etc.
'73 +2 130/5 RHD, now on the road and very slowly rolling though a "restoration"
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PostPost by: 4regt4 » Wed Oct 21, 2020 2:16 am

Wow. Thanks.

I suspect that getting any sort of history from a used car dealer will be somewhere between difficult and impossible. I'm thinking I would end up buying "as-is, where-is" and living with the consequences. But you never know until you ask.....

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PostPost by: alan.barker » Wed Oct 21, 2020 4:22 am

I think the maroon car is a 1969 +2 model not a 71.
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PostPost by: 4regt4 » Wed Oct 21, 2020 4:43 pm

alan.barker wrote:I think the maroon car is a 1969 +2 model not a 71.
Alan


I've come to that conclusion also. I wonder if it somehow got registered as a 71, and if so what kind of can of worms could this cause if I try to get a title here in Oregon. I doubt our local DMV would know the difference. And if so, it might be better to continue the charade.

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PostPost by: Bud English » Wed Oct 21, 2020 6:05 pm

Couldn't help myself. I emailed Garage Kept Motors, the company selling the car listed on the Hemmings site. I got this quick reply from the owner:

"Hey Bud,

Thank you for reaching out. I just confirmed the VIN from the 1983 title matches the numbers on the car so there shouldn't be any issue registering it. I googled other 1971 Lotus Elan's and they look the same as our car. (my bolding, not his) The car also comes from an extremely nice collection of cars and the previous owner would not have purchased it if it were not original.

Let me know if you have any other questions I can help answer."

So... It's been a registered 1971 car since 1983, for what that's worth. :lol:
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PostPost by: 4regt4 » Wed Oct 21, 2020 6:28 pm

Info from Lotus Elan +2 Originality Chart suggests this is not a Federal (US) car. I wonder where it came from? Canada seems likely, I guess. Maybe the model year got messed up when it entered the country. But all we can do is speculate on these details.

I was getting ready to contact them. Hopefully Bud English's inquiry along with mine doesn't make them think they suddenly have a hot item and any negotiating leverage goes out the window!!
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PostPost by: Bud English » Wed Oct 21, 2020 6:36 pm

You might mention the conversation on the forum and my email and pose the same question. It's a very nice earlier car and asking for the VIN should clear any potential problems up before they start. If the VIN doesn't end in "N", it's not a fed spec car and that may explain the differences in the car and the reg.

Hope I haven't caused you any problems with your negotiating.
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PostPost by: SGO 2F » Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:19 pm

It's interesting to see 3 +2s up for sale at the same time and since I've seen these cars before I thought I'd some information that I've found. Incidentally, this week marks 30 years since I purchased 050/0164, my 1st +2.

YELLOW: is a 1971 +2S (050/0140N; Twin Cam I24171; Built 04/71; Invoiced 6.21.71)
This car has been with this dealer several times in the past couple years, I don't know if it sold and came back or if it stayed in the dealer's inventory. As was noted above and by the dealer the paint is in poor condition. Other than the steering wheel, the car appears to be complete. Yes, there are some nits to pick, but not now. I don't recall the asking price(s) from earlier adverts.

RED: is a 1970 +2 (050/1974). My copy of the Lotus log does not show any entries for the engine nor the invoice date. This car appears to be complete and was sold on 8.22.20 on eBay for $9,400. The mileage in that ad was 123,800. It does have some potential.

DARK RED: is a 1969 +2 (050/1233; Twin Cam I18520; Invoiced 6.19.69) Again this car appears to be complete and it has had lot of work done beyond the paint job. The rear end appears to me to be a bit high and suggests that new springs were fitted which haven't settled yet, per a resent discussion over at BaT.

I hope this information helps.

Cheers...
Richard Shetler
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PostPost by: SGO 2F » Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:39 pm

On 1.1.70, when the new VINs were started, there were a lot of 1969 built cars with the old VINs still in inventory. To avoid them being sold as last year's, they were marketed, sold and registered as 1970 units. If a unit didn't sell/invoice before 12.31.70, it became a 1971.

Cheers...
Richard Shetler
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PostPost by: 4regt4 » Wed Oct 21, 2020 8:15 pm

Thanks much. That's some impressive research.

I didn't see the dark red one on BaT, nor in the past sales. I'll have to keep looking.

I appreciate all of your efforts very much.

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PostPost by: denicholls2 » Wed Oct 21, 2020 9:41 pm

Federal Plus 2's had Stromberg carbs like all of these due to emissions requirements. Depending on who you ask, a few Dellorto-carbed units got through near the end of production.

Unlikely anyone would take a non-Federal car and put a Stromberg head on it if it didn't start life that way, most prefer the Weber heads although it is a preference based on a number of factors and I don't want to start a fight. Canada guess is good if non-Federal VIN. Most of the balance tubes have been removed sometime in the last 50 years on Stromberg heads so no big deal there. The European manifolds were better for Stromberg heads then U.S. emissions ones.

New paint is, as noted, high risk on a fiberglass car. You're better off with a paint job that is old enough to show its quality, a few years minimum. I too like the Burgundy car, but that is a high price for a Plus 2 on this side of the pond. I remember just a few years back when people couldn't get $10k for one and parted many out. Sigh. That kind of jump certainly hasn't happened to Europas.

All three cars are being sold by dealers, hence the hyperbole, and note that used Lotus dealers in the U.S. tend to have spotty reputations, at least true in Florida and Connecticut, for example. I'm not saying these aren't fine machines, but dealers are about making money, and paying 50% more for a dealer car doesn't, at least here, mean you're getting a 50% better car. Too often it means the opposite, though as with these the paint is pretty at least at sale time.

Something's up with the left headlight on the red one. Probably not a big deal to address, but you do note you don't have great workspace.

Best of luck in your venture. Personally, I would sit back and look for a personal sale on a site like Bring a Trailer. It won't take long and the volume of viewers means a practical price will be set unless a bidding war starts between misinformed buyers. I haven't seen much of that in Lotus auctions. I would expect a good-quality driver to go for around $20k and no, like these three that will not get you a perfect car, just one you can enjoy. In your neck of the woods there are plenty of Loti -- get involved with the local club and you will find what you're looking for.
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