Lotus Elan

Getting a 71 S4 Sprint back on the road

PostPost by: MikeB » Sat Jun 02, 2018 4:01 pm

As promised in my Intro thread, I'll start this thread on the re-commissioning of an Elan I've just bought.

This is my first Lotus and though I've had one on my radar for quite a while, the purchase of this car came in a bit of a rush. The car appeared on a Classic 911 site that I frequent, firstly it was a Sprint, so it was the spec I wanted and secondly it was only 15 miles from home, and being as that I live in Northern Ireland, where these are exceedingly rare, this made it a must to view.

The seller is actually someone I know quite well, but I'd forgotten that he had an Elan, as the car has been off the road for 20 years. The ad was very comprehensive, listing what had been done to the car and what was known of its history, but it was accompanied by a set of pics that showed it covered in a thick layer of "barn find" dust and the engine was removed from the car, so to most it probably looked a basket case. However, I knew that the owner is a pretty good car engineer and also a straight talker, so having his phone nr to hand I had an advantage over other interested (GB sited) parties viewing his internet only ad. So I booked a viewing for the next day and needless to say the purchase was made.

So what have I got? Fortunately, contact had previously been made with Tim Wilkes, so I had in my hand an email to the owner confirming that the car was a S4 Sprint, it also mentioned that the car had been supplied to Bell & Colvill, being one of 3 delivered in February 1971, this provided the confidence in what the advert had claimed. I have since been in contact with Tim and provided more details of the car, all of which verify the above. Tim suggested I email Bell & Colvill to see if they had any further details, and to my surprise yesterday I received a phone call from Martin Colvill himself ! He confirmed that the car had been delivered in Component form, registered in Guilford on Reg Nr EPH 567J and had formed part of their Demonstrator fleet. All fantastic news.

Here's the blurb from the advert, which I'm sure you'll find to be of interest.......





"What have I got ?? (should know as I've owned it for 28 years !!)
Not sure where to start with this one ! It was owned by a friend of ours from somewhere around 1980 / maybe late 70’s . He got married , went off in his honeymoon in it , came home .... and guess what ? .... it just sat there for many years.
I stumbled across it in conversation with him in the mid 1980’s trying to buy it for many years – getting interrupted by me buying my first 911 in 1985 (the 2.4 E that I sold here just over a year ago).
Anyway ... I eventually got it in June / July 1990 , and within a few weeks had it back on the road ! (after clearing out ... among other things ... confetti !)
I see my first MOT here with 87,107 miles on it in August 1990 (previous owners last MOT was in Oct 1983 with 86818 miles ... hmm , 289 miles in 7 years) I used it a lot at first. Started doing sprints in it / Circuit of Ireland retrospective rallies ... and lots of road use.

Over the next few years , it got a full mechanical overhaul which among other things included the following :
Full engine rebuild ... the works , to standard spec
Full Gearbox rebuild – bearings / syncros as necessary
Rear diff rebuild - including fitting a new LSD
New suspension all round – dampers and springs . Koni dampers from memory , and modified springs (rears made for me – fronts from Tony Thompson) to lower car a bit , and make it slightly stiffer
Brakes all overhauled – hydraulic hand brake fitted (my design) - original mechanical handbrake kept as well ... MOT !!
Spyder driveshaft conversion fitted (one CV joint , one rubber per side job)
New brake servo fitted
New uprated radiator fitted
And lots of other things ... have lots of receipts.
Essentially NO bodywork done – a replacement chassis had been fitted by previous owner and all looked / looks grand still. Little or no work done to joints / bushes / wheel bearings / discs. It got a new front bumper after a tyre wall whoopsie at Nutts Corner , and that was about it ... new fuel pump springs to mind along with some new joints in propshaft.
I put it back on the road briefly in 1997 , when it had covered 93948 miles at MOT in June 1997 , and it’s now showing 94402 , so 454 miles in the last 21 years !!

The engine however has done a few hundred more ... and here is the story why ... and why it’s not in the car !!
Circuit of Ireland historic rally ... about two years back (or was it 3 ?? ... no idea). I had borrowed a Mk1 Cortina, to use in the event (Lotus engine)... and having passed scrutiny for the event , was 13 hrs from the rally starting, when we discovered blown head gasket. No replacement , and even if I could have got one ... no point, as this was 2nd failure in 3 weeks ... clearly something amiss !!
What to do ?? Answer was obvious ... take the engine (which had not run for approx 20 years) out of my Elan. 4 of us started at about 9pm , and by 5am , having worked all night it was up and running, and ready to rally. We completed the 2 day event without a hitch , after 2 hours sleep ... mad , but very satisfying. Engine was taken back out a few days later , but has not got reunited with Elan ................ yet !!"





So mechanically the car is in good shape, the BV engine having the script that is read from the front, so it ties in with an early build/upgrade. It has a hump bonnet, the ignition switch on the dash and the correct side badges. The chassis was changed to an early Spyder version in 1980. The paintwork needs attention, it's currently solid red without any side stripes, so will see if I can find what the delivered paint schemes was when I do some sanding.

Here's a pic from the ad in it's "as is state" plus what it looked like when the hose was turned on it. Sorry no other pics at present, but will keep the thread updated as the rebuild develops


dusty.jpeg and
Attachments
wash.jpeg and
Last edited by MikeB on Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Cheers

Mike
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PostPost by: Bombay Racing Green » Sat Jun 02, 2018 5:00 pm

Hi Mike,

Welcome. I’m down the road in Wicklow. I’ve been meaning to take a drive up North in my ‘70 S4 to visit a friend (and perhaps view an Excel but don’t tell the wife!). I sourced both of my +2s from the North. The latest one’s first owner was a Mrs Agnew. I think the Agnew family had the Lotus dealership at the time. If you need a hand or a shoulder to cry on, give me a shout.

Regards,
Pete
1970 S4 DHC
1971 S2 Europa
1968 +2
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PostPost by: RichardWilson » Sat Jun 02, 2018 8:52 pm

Hello Mike

I am sure I have got your sister car. It is an S4 Sprint drophead like yours and registered EPH 564J in Feb 1971 at Guildford. I am only the second owner (after a father/son ownership) and it is Lotus yellow over white. It originally had a humped bonnet and silver wheels but I 'corrected' this during the restoration. It has column lock ignition. Tim Wilkes is well aware of my car which I fully restored in the early nineties after it was 'written off' following an under bonnet fire with the first owners. It features prominently in the Lotus Elan book by Duncan Wherrit and also in 'Classic Cars' magazine March 2010. It currently wears the registration 3 EWD but will revert to EPH 564J when I eventually remove the cherished reg.

Lotus provided me with a printed microfiche copy of the works order for my car back in March 1989 so I think they could probably do the same for you now if you ask nicely. My cars Works Order No was 15452 and it was signed off in August 1970 for 'Stock' and obviously was one of the carpark full of unsold S4's that prompted the 'Sprint' model upgrade that autumn. The Works Order will show colour, full spec and extras fitted. My unit/chassis number is 0221G which should be close to yours I suspect.

Regards
Richard
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PostPost by: The Veg » Sun Jun 03, 2018 4:06 am

Welcome Mike!

Cool car, and that's a rather fetching R1200RT peeking into the first picture. :mrgreen:
1969/70 Elan Plus 2 (not S) 50/2036
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PostPost by: Mazzini » Sun Jun 03, 2018 5:31 am

RichardWilson wrote:Hello Mike

I am sure I have got your sister car. It is an S4 Sprint drophead like yours and registered EPH 564J in Feb 1971 at Guildford. I am only the second owner (after a father/son ownership) and it is Lotus yellow over white. It originally had a humped bonnet and silver wheels but I 'corrected' this during the restoration. It has column lock ignition. Tim Wilkes is well aware of my car which I fully restored in the early nineties after it was 'written off' following an under bonnet fire with the first owners. It features prominently in the Lotus Elan book by Duncan Wherrit and also in 'Classic Cars' magazine March 2010. It currently wears the registration 3 EWD but will revert to EPH 564J when I eventually remove the cherished reg.

Lotus provided me with a printed microfiche copy of the works order for my car back in March 1989 so I think they could probably do the same for you now if you ask nicely. My cars Works Order No was 15452 and it was signed off in August 1970 for 'Stock' and obviously was one of the carpark full of unsold S4's that prompted the 'Sprint' model upgrade that autumn. The Works Order will show colour, full spec and extras fitted. My unit/chassis number is 0221G which should be close to yours I suspect.

Regards
Richard


About time you joined the forum :D
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PostPost by: MikeB » Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:00 am

Pete
Nice to know you are not too far away, will certainly get in touch, I'm a member of Porsche Club Ireland, so am down you way a couple of times a year in my RS Rep. The dealer up North was Malcolm Templeton in Ballymena in the 60s & 70s, but I wouldn't rule out your car not being belonged by the Agnew family, as David Agnew was well into sporty cars in the early 70s, so maybe his wife ?

Richard

Thank you for posting the info on your car, as one of the three that B&C got as their initial batch it's interesting that it is in yellow, I saw EPH 566J a FHC was for sale some while back ( good old Google search) and it was in red/white, so I'm wondering what colours I'll find in mine when I start the paint refurb, it's 0231G by the way ! My car currently has black wheels, but again not sure if that is original. Certainly my intention is to present it as an S4 Sprint.

Having just joined the forum, I have gone through various threads and have seen the comments regarding S4 Sprints v 'real' Sprints. Coming from a classic Porsche background, I find this an interesting debate. Porsche release their Next Year model in late August every year, so a 1971 Model 911 is built from Aug 1970 to July 1971, etc, etc. In the years where there were significant changes to the 911, particularly in the 1960s and 70s when Porsche like Lotus was a still a handmade car, parts from the previous model often appeared on the initial batch of new cars, as factory stock got used up. In Porsche circles, these cars are still considered to be part of the new Model and their "differences" are often seen as an interesting feature. Just a comment as to how such things are considered elsewhere.


Veg

Yes, bike is the PO's collection, and him washing the car down when we got it into daylight. He's done some interesting travels on that.
Cheers

Mike
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PostPost by: rcraven » Sat Jun 16, 2018 11:05 pm

I owned EPH 566J from 1985 until last year when reluctantly I had to sell it. It is a FHC S4/Sprint, and like the others already mentioned in this thread was apparently supplied by the factory to Bell & Colvill in early 1971 and sold by them and first registered in February 1971. I was informed by Andy Graham that it was probably built in about the third quarter of 1970.
Robert
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PostPost by: trw99 » Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:37 pm

June 1970, in fact, Robert, as an S4, then it sat around, unsold, until probably Jan 71 before it got updated to Sprint spec at Hethel.

Tim
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PostPost by: MikeB » Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:17 pm

Robert

Sorry for the late reply, but ended up out of circulation for a week. Yes, I saw a recent ad for your old car, I see it had some sporty bits about it, did you do any competitions in it?

Anyway, progress is continuing slowly

Having done some paint rubbing, it appears that in Sprint guise it was red over white as well.

Have stripped the front brakes, but even a week in a bucket of paraffin hasn't loosened the pistons, so looks like I will get a set of refurbed ones. What's the going rate and who does the best job?

Currently removing the trim and carpets, the seats have cleaned up well. Also clearing out the engine bay before repainting it. Satin or Matt Black?
Cheers

Mike
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PostPost by: pharriso » Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:21 pm

satin.
Phil Harrison
1972 Elan Sprint 0260K
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PostPost by: rcraven » Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:01 am

MikeB wrote:Robert

Sorry for the late reply, but ended up out of circulation for a week. Yes, I saw a recent ad for your old car, I see it had some sporty bits about it, did you do any competitions in it?


Mike,
I used to do hillclimbs and sprints in another car but after a bad crash in that car I decided to have a roll bar and side bars installed in the Lotus for safety's sake. In the Lotus itself I did a sprint at MIRA and a hillclimb at Harewood and lots of practice sessions at Prescott.
I sold the car to P Matty, but have you seen a more recent advert? I don't know what's happened to it now. I hope I kept it mechanically OK, but repainting it properly always seemed too much of a cosmetic extravagance, so I didn't do it. I think a previous owner must have had it repainted sometime before I got it in 1985.
Robert
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PostPost by: rcraven » Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:11 am

trw99 wrote:June 1970, in fact, Robert, as an S4, then it sat around, unsold, until probably Jan 71 before it got updated to Sprint spec at Hethel.

Tim

Thanks. I think you've told me that previously. So does that mean you've got some specific record as opposed to Andy Graham's guess? And does that mean it was built by the factory, i.e. not a kit?
Before EPH 566J I had an S3, which apparently had been a kit.
Robert
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PostPost by: MikeB » Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:43 am

Robert

Know Harewood, competed there in the BHC more than a few years ago. As to your car, the ad was reasonably recent I think, also when I spoke with Martin Colvill, he mention that the three cars arrived in "kit form" and it took a good mechanic and a helper about 4hrs to assemble each.

Nice to have owners ( current & recent) of all three on this thread.
Cheers

Mike
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