Lotus Elan

Dash Refinishing

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Many, many years ago, I decided to replace the original dashboard on my 1969 S4 Elan. The dash had the usual cracks and crazing. A friend who owned a furniture shop cut the dash for me, using the old dash as a template, and then sprayed the front with a plastic-like finish. Polyurethane, I recall. He was using the finish to put a flat, clear, durable finish on tables with ornate. deeply carved tops. The plastic would fill the voids, some carved more than two inches deep into the wood, and then dry, leaving a perfectly flat top.

This left a not too shiny finish with orange peel on my dash, which I then sanded with an orbital sander and then buffed with rubbing compound. This left a very smooth, flat, and glossy finish, actually very close to the original finish in appearance. Then I simply used Letraset of the correct font and size for the letters. I had a very steady hand and eye then, so the letters came out straight, evenly spaced, and correctly positioned.

I was worried that the Letraset letters would rub off in time, but that dashboard was finished and installed in 1981, and it did not crack and the letters stayed on. Of course, I was careful never to wipe the dash hard over the letters. If not for the race accident last March 1998, which cracked a corner, this dash would still be on my car.