Lotus Elan

Matching Numbers?

PostPost by: jono » Mon Nov 23, 2020 8:46 pm

I'm pretty sure my newly acquired restoration project Plus 2 is all original in terms of having the chassis, body and engine it left the factory with. According to the V5 it was registered 02/07/1968 and the VIN is 50/0837 (which appears on the chassis plate under the bonnet). Car shows around 33k miles on the odometer.

I've removed the engine and was very pleased to find the number matches exactly with the V5 - LP12635LBA. Interestingly however no 'L' casting under the engine mount - was this a later development?

The chassis is definately original and the good news is I am 95% certain it will go again - there are no signs of rot or perforation anywhere, notably the front turrets, only surface rust where the wax coating is missing. I will tell for sure when I lift the body off but I am very hopeful.

The body impression on the front bulkead seems to read 0863 but it's quite indistinct - I may need do do a bit more scraping off of the paint here but that's tantalisingly close to 0837. Question is would the bodyshell number correspond to the VIN number anyway, and would the chassis also?

I can see two areas of numbering on the chassis on the exhaust side top rail - one area with the number '63' and right next to it a circle with the characters E J G and 2 impressed within.

Unfortunately where the exhaust manifold is someone has relieved the chassis top flange to ease fitment of a tubular manifold and in so doing removed part of the number - I can see 50/0.....and then the rest is gone.

So could someone explain the numbering arrangements for a 'matching numbers' car please in terms of what appears where?

I was never bothered about such details but have become quite excited about what appears to be a very original car.

..can't wait to open up the engine as what condition she's in :)
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PostPost by: jono » Mon Nov 23, 2020 8:52 pm

some pics
Attachments
IMG_3046 (Copy).jpg and
IMG_3045 (Copy).jpg and
IMG_3043 (Copy).jpg and
IMG_3042 (Copy).jpg and
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PostPost by: ncm » Mon Nov 23, 2020 9:21 pm

According to the list that used to be on the net that is the original engine for your car.
Does the block have the original casting number ground off? I gather that this was common on cars of that era.
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PostPost by: Chrispy » Mon Nov 23, 2020 10:28 pm

My understanding is the body number rarely - if ever - matched the chassis number.

Mine is 50/0245 and has the original engine and has the big cast 'L' under the engine mount.

As far as I can tell the only 2 numbers you can match are the engine block and chassis. My head is stamped with the engine number, though that is more likely from a shop doing work on it sometime in the last 53 years.
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PostPost by: wotsisname » Mon Nov 23, 2020 11:38 pm

if you remove the door trim & get a mirror up behind the glovebox you might find some other nuggets.
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PostPost by: trw99 » Tue Nov 24, 2020 10:40 am

I fear there is a little confusion concerning the term 'matching numbers'.

There are no known Elans or +2s where the Unit No, Engine No, Body No and Chassis No are all the same. I am aware of only two Elans where the Unit No just coincidentally matches the Engine No. Matching numbers refers to the fact that the car in your garage has all the numbers allocated to it at the time it left the production line and recorded in the factory records.

I wrote an article on VIN systems for Club Lotus News magazine a couple of years ago and attach it below.

Tim
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2018 Jan Lotus Elan VIN Systems.pdf
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PostPost by: jono » Tue Nov 24, 2020 12:05 pm

Many thanks Tim - I will download and read that with interest!

Yes, I'm sure the term is something of a common misnomer. I'm just interested in whether my car is 'original' - my 'nose' tells me that it is, I am just seeking some further evidence on the 'numbers' 8)

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PostPost by: trw99 » Tue Nov 24, 2020 3:19 pm

Your car, fitted with that Engine No, was invoiced by Hethel on 27 Jun 68, so yes, it appears original in those respects.

Greta that you are able to retain the original chassis. So few cars do these days.

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PostPost by: Craven » Tue Nov 24, 2020 4:09 pm

Matching Numbers is mainly a Classic Motorcycle term, where Frame No, Engine No, Gearbox No, and even Head stock ( front forks ) No are matching..
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PostPost by: denicholls2 » Tue Nov 24, 2020 8:27 pm

Tim's post well covers it, the chassis is considered a subframe and not expected to be VIN-traceable. So we both have matching numbers cars (mine's a Europa) that appear also to have original chassis. Lotus does seem to have clearly identified replacement chassis as such based on someone on BAT wrongly using that as the VIN for a Europa.

All I really have to add is that, although times can change, matching numbers have not seemed to matter much if at all to Lotus buyers. And oddly, that Europa that I considered junk except for its non-matching Gordini engine, and with clear lineage issues, sold for more than I bet my matching numbers driver-quality car would bring.

Let's face it, folks. Collectors just don't think these are as rare as '65 Mustangs. Or GT6+s. Or VW buses. Or...
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PostPost by: pharriso » Tue Nov 24, 2020 9:22 pm

Craven wrote:Matching Numbers is mainly a Classic Motorcycle term, where Frame No, Engine No, Gearbox No, and even Head stock ( front forks ) No are matching..

It's a huge thing here with cars in the States. :roll:
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