Lotus Elan

Cost of Elan restoration

PostPost by: elaninfuture » Fri Mar 02, 2018 11:14 pm

I know there are a million variables here, but I'm wondering if anyone has put together a general ballpark budget for a commercial (rather than home garage) Lotus Elan restoration.

How far off am I with these guesses?

Body $10,000
Suspension $4,000
Engine $10,000 to the moon, depending on HP. (talking about a running engine here to begin with)
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 4:04 am

Difficult as it will depend on many things if you're going to spend $24000 on restoration on top of what you are paying for a car, in the States you'd pick up a very nice car where most of that work had already been done.

Bear in mind other things would need restoration too.... Brakes, electrics, instruments, trim, transmission etc. Also you're in Montana so there's transport to an expert to consider

In simple terms a full commercial restoration might well come out as much as the car is worth.
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PostPost by: el-saturn » Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:54 am

your estimate is pretty accurate, but interior, gauges etc have to be perfect, otherwise it'll be cheaper to get a very nice (done) car (less expensive in america, but usually many signs of neglect or carelessness! sandy
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PostPost by: elaninfuture » Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:12 pm

It seems clear that I'd be quickly under water if I restore my '66 FHC. I think I'm OK with that as in the end I will hopefully have near exactly the car I'd like to have. Who knows the future, but I also believe that Elans are under-valued, especially here in the US. Perhaps in 15 years my spending so much on a restoration will not look so foolish?

My car is listed for sale at present, but with the snow melting and spring in the air, I'm re-considering.
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PostPost by: JLFonseca » Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:21 pm

First off, it would be wise to set the definition of terms before attempting to engage in conversation.

"Restoration"

Now, to me, "restoration" means bringing (in this case) a car back to it's original state, or as near to it as our contemporary resources will allow. In other words, as close as humanly possible to the car just as it was, when it either A) rolled off the transporter to the dealership, or B) drove off the showroom floor. YYes, like new, as new, eveywhere, in every regard. Anything less than this is not "restoration", anything over and above, is "over restoration' You can have a very nice refurbishment, but that's what it is. Refurbishment. A slap-dash paintjob and a quick degreasing of the engine compartment, isn't restoration.

Now, if we establish that as a standard, I would feel confident is saying that no matter what, the cost of restoration will probably exceed the price of the car, even if you start with a free car. That's been my experience in this hobby. No matter what.

After 50 or so years of doing this, trying to figure how to get a quart out of a pint pot, how to make a dollar out of 50 cents, I've come around to what are for me, Rules of the Road. Some of my rules are:

Buy what you like,

Spend more than you thought you could, and you wont be sorry.

Multiply the money by at least 2, and the time by at least 3. If you do the work yourself, multiply by 5

A few years ago, I bought a S3SE for parts. It had been hit in the rear, hard, very hard. It was obviious that up until the moment of impact, it was in very, very, very nice condition, and recently very thorougly refurbished, top to bottom. the sort of condition where the owner takes the car and a wheelbarrow full of money into the shop and tells the guy to have at it. It is my understanding that the previous owner did not survive the crash, in the glovebox, there was a wood and brass plaque with the inscription "Good Luck in Retirement" My only hope that he wasnt looking in his rearview mirror. And if that's the case, I dont think he regretted it one bit
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PostPost by: Davidb » Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:52 pm

Elaninfuture, I think you have underestimated by at least 50%. I say this with a fair bit of experience in the restoration business. With Elan prices as they are in North America it does not pay to have a professional restoration on an Elan. Your figures leave out braking system, electrics, interior, cooling system ... Buy somebody elses effort at a discount and you will be far ahead!
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PostPost by: toggle45 » Sun Mar 04, 2018 4:04 am

I was quoted $35K for a restoration at a noted shop in Pacific NW. They had not seen the car, just gave me a ballpark number from my verbal description of my 67 S3/SE. It felt about right to me, but this was a few years ago. Their concept of restoration is showroom fresh. I could not reconcile the cost, so still plan to put car together as best I can and then sell it. I am the original owner.
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PostPost by: Certified Lotus » Sun Mar 04, 2018 12:44 pm

Tough to estimate what the cost will be as you haven’t said what “standard” you want your restoration to be (every nut, bolt, bushing replaced. Interior redone, paint stripped down to gelcoat and all cracks repaired, engine rebuild with just new valves, rings and bearings, etc. etc.)

What ever number you come up with add 25%. And if you want to be really safe add 50%. The problem with using a Commerical shop on restoring these cars is that they charge by the hour for everything. So if it takes two hours to remove a rusted and seized bolt.......well that is what you pay for.

I’m in the midst of my third Lotus restoration in my home shop. There are many times when I say to myself, “if a Commerical shop was charging me for this work I would be shocked at each invoice for labor cost”.

If you restoring the car to a high standard to own it for a long time, don’t fret about the cost. Just enjoy the car.
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PostPost by: zog » Sun Mar 04, 2018 1:55 pm

I know you asked for an estimate on a commercial rebuild, but as a point of reference I generally put in about 2,000 hours and $25,000 into my body off restorations in my home garage. I generally start with really bad cars needing everything so a lot of the money is spent on parts. I do most of the work myself paying only for machine shop work, seat upholstery and final paint.

A commercial shop would be faster. You just have to figure out what their shop time would be. The big cost factor is the body coming off or just rebuilding everything?

I have restoration number 10 and 11 lined up.....
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PostPost by: Elan45 » Sun Mar 04, 2018 3:10 pm

I'm glad to hear you still have the coupe. I think, if you have the space to do it, based on your previous restoration, that you would do fine. If you do it yourself, you'll have a car that you know inside-out and done exactly to your standards. Plus, you have this whole group of Elan enthusiasts to help you.

I've been watching an S1 restoration here in my neighborhood having lots of money thrown at it's restoration. Good shops doing the work but lots of mistakes. I'm probably going to have the same paint shop do my Coupe, but I've been hands on with my Elans since 1974 and I don't want my car to be over-restored, which they'd love to do.

Just take lots of before photos, bag or jar everything you remove and make lots of sketches. The car will be apart much longer than you think.

Roger
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PostPost by: prezoom » Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:03 pm

Just be grateful we are working with Elans. On Friday, a friend and I toured a restoration business a little north of me. I say business, because it occupied a total of 6 buildings, two off site. Not your usual restoration shop. There were approximately 80 cars currently under restoration, and they only work on one make. Being all metal, many of the older cars suffered serious rust issues. Similar to some of the projects that can be found on the turbosport forum. At least there seemed to be replacement panels available for most of the ones required. Those not available, were made in house. In talking to one of the technicians, one speedster he was working on currently had over 900 hours invested in the metal work alone, and he was not finished. He estimated that at a bare minimum, there was another 300 hours left. Average cost for just the metal work alone on these cars ran from $120 to $150k. Nearly all complete restorations exceeded $200k. That said, their work was simply outstanding. The paint was exceptional in itself. Nearly all work was done in house, including plating, the exceptions being upholstery and the rebuilding of the transaxles. Speciality work was also done to customers needs. An interesting project was a 6 cylinder engine that had the center two cylinders removed, the case cut, and each end moved together to make a 4 cylinder engine. The now modified case was used as a pattern to cast the new 4 cylinder case. A new billet crank was constructed, along with now shortened cam shafts. In all, it was quite a humbling experience for a couple of home shop guys.
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PostPost by: Spyder fan » Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:14 pm

JLFonseca wrote:First off, it would be wise to set the definition of terms before attempting to engage in conversation.

"Restoration"

Now, to me, "restoration" means bringing (in this case) a car back to it's original state, or as near to it as our contemporary resources will allow. In other words, as close as humanly possible to the car just as it was, when it either A) rolled off the transporter to the dealership, or B) drove off the showroom floor. YYes, like new, as new, eveywhere, in every regard. Anything less than this is not "restoration", anything over and above, is "over restoration' You can have a very nice refurbishment, but that's what it is. Refurbishment. A slap-dash paintjob and a quick degreasing of the engine compartment, isn't restoration.

Now, if we establish that as a standard, I would feel confident is saying that no matter what, the cost of restoration will probably exceed the price of the car, even if you start with a free car. That's been my experience in this hobby. No matter what.

After 50 or so years of doing this, trying to figure how to get a quart out of a pint pot, how to make a dollar out of 50 cents, I've come around to what are for me, Rules of the Road. Some of my rules are:

Buy what you like,

Spend more than you thought you could, and you wont be sorry.

Multiply the money by at least 2, and the time by at least 3. If you do the work yourself, multiply by 5

A few years ago, I bought a S3SE for parts. It had been hit in the rear, hard, very hard. It was obviious that up until the moment of impact, it was in very, very, very nice condition, and recently very thorougly refurbished, top to bottom. the sort of condition where the owner takes the car and a wheelbarrow full of money into the shop and tells the guy to have at it. It is my understanding that the previous owner did not survive the crash, in the glovebox, there was a wood and brass plaque with the inscription "Good Luck in Retirement" My only hope that he wasnt looking in his rearview mirror. And if that's the case, I dont think he regretted it one bit


Good reply!

Recent telephone conversations with the usual UK suspects reveals £40,0000 to £70,0000 restoration costs for putting a car back to its original as delivered state, some quote an hourly rate of around £100, others £60, some in the middle.

If you don’t have the time and resources to do most of the work yourself, then to have a really good useable car this is the type of money you need to stump up for, I would hazard a guess that even paying £40,000 for a car that has been restored is taking a chance.
Kindest regards

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PostPost by: elaninfuture » Mon Mar 05, 2018 3:30 am

Thanks for all the comments. I appreciate it. I'd like to make a decision on how to proceed by spring. My original plan was to do most of the work myself, as I have done before, but with work and a 5-year-old son, I don't have as much time as I once did. Maybe I should just wait until he is old enough to help.
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PostPost by: StressCraxx » Mon Mar 05, 2018 6:29 am

Do it now. Allow your son to help with simple tasks, learning basic skills, even if its cleaning and sorting fasteners he will feel useful and important. Build on those tasks as he grows.

Years ago, our sons ages 9 and 5 helped me pull the engine in my Elan to do a basic engine refresh and water pump replacement. Our 9 year old son's hands were the perfect size to get the motor mount bolts started on the exhaust side after the headers were installed. He started saving his money to build and race slot cars.
He is now a mechanical engineer who designs medical devices for simplicity and ease of use for doctors and patients.

The younger one is equally mechanically inclined and helps developmentally disabled adults become productive and live on their own.

Regards,
Dan
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PostPost by: el-saturn » Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:01 pm

......seeing as how the prices for e-types are developing, WE here know that our punks should also fetch 100Grand US!! the exclusivity (history and pedigree) alone should push the value where it outta be!! with a bit of pessemistical arithmatic: 30 the car, 20 engine, 10 suspension, 20 body, interior, gauges, electrics and unforseen another 20 ----- or a coupe e-type in fair condition!!!! sandy
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