Lotus Elan

New car day - picked up my S4 yesterday

PostPost by: tjb0274 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 12:15 am

As mentioned in my introduction thread, a few weeks ago I purchased an S4, sight unseen. A work trip overseas has meant that I wasn't able to pick the car up until yesterday.

I thought I'd post a couple of pics here of the car on the trailer, and after we got it to Richard Mann's workshop for a look over. Richard has been my guide and "enabler" in this transaction :D

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The Elan parked next to my Europa :-)

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I'll likely be starting some specific threads with questions on various aspects of the car, but here's a dump of what I know about it so far. Bear with me, because almost everything I know about Elans I've learned in the last three weeks from Richard and from poring over this forum :D

This car appears to be 45/8651. I say appears, because although it has an importer's compliance plate with that unit number, the Lotus factory chassis plate is missing. The registration papers have the same chassis number, and also list the engine number of the engine currently in the car. I don't know whether that block is original to the car - I know the head isn't, because it's a Big Valve.

At Andy Graham's suggestion we had a look for the body number on the firewall, but it's not visible. The engine bay has been repainted at least once, so it's possible the body number is under a few layers of paint. The same unit number is also etched or stamped onto the chassis right at the front - only readable with the car on a hoist. I gather that the factory didn't put unit numbers on the chassis, so not sure why it's there. The chassis appears to be a factory Lotus chassis, but it's in excellent condition, so may be a replacement. I'm pretty confident that the unit number will be correct, but it would be nice to be able to confirm it.

The story I have is that the car is a 1969 S4 DHC, originally a French delivery car that was later imported here to Australia and converted to RHD. The unit number seems to fit a 1969 car, and the French importer's compliance plate is in the engine bay, with the unit number stamped on it. At some point it was sold and registered to the PO, who was busy with other cars and stashed it in the back of his shed for a couple of years. He recently decided to move it on, and so now it's ended up with me.

As far as Richard and I can see, the car is fairly complete. A lot of work has been done on it at some point, but while most of it has been done well, there are a few things that look a bit bodgy and will need to be investigated.

The paint is pretty rough, but the body seems to be straight and there are no signs of accident damage. Dunno what the original colour was, but someone obviously decided it would look better in Sprint livery.

Mechanically it looks good. It looks like the head is a proper Big Valve (it has the "N" stamp) Weber item, and the engine looks like it hasn't had much use. The Webers are the Spanish-built 151/152s. The PO believes that the engine was rebuilt a couple of years before he bought the car. No documentation unfortunately to suggest what was done or who did it. It does have a nice looking set of headers that again don't look to have been used much.

The gearbox is a T9. The lever is in the correct place, so it's obviously been modified to suit the Elan. I'll post some shots of the box and mountings in the gearbox section to see if anyone can help identify whether it's one of the commercial kits, or whether a PO has modified it themselves. The box is very clean, and there is "new looking" gasket goo visible at the case joins, which makes me think it hasn't done many miles since it was modified and installed in the car. The slave cylinder is missing (only missing part we've found so far), so maybe the car has never been driven with that gearbox.

Suspension all seems to have been serviced fairly recently - in the case of the rear, I don't think it's been driven since the shocks and and bushes were replaced. We couldn't identify the rear shocks, but the fronts are Spaxes. Again, they don't look like they've done many miles. Both front and rear have adjustable spring perches. Springs also look new, or at least repainted.

Front brakes have been replaced with all-new parts, and the same work has been started at the rear. Discs are new, and there's a box with brand new calipers and hoses.

Steering feels good from what I can tell just wheeling it around the garage.

The interior is in very good condition. No tears in the seats, dashboard has been replaced at some point and looks perfect. The speedo has been replaced or modified with electronic internals - we found a hall effect sensor on the prop shaft which is probably connected. The speedo unit is nice. It looks exactly like the original Smiths - I didn't spot it until I tried to read the odometer.

There is a partial cage which looks fairly new - in addition to the rollover bar there are lateral tubes across the floor at the back of the cabin and in the footwell. They disappear into the sills, and it appears there are tubes running through each sill to connect the front and rear lateral tubes. In some ways I quite like it, but it will probably have to come out, because the rollover bar prevents the seat from going back as far as I will need it to.

The rollover bar would also prevent me from using a tonneau. We found two tonneaus in the boot - a half and a full tonneau by the look of it. Soft top is also there, and the soft top frame appears to be intact, although someone seems to have started modifying it with some additional bolts - possibly to do with the hard top.

Ah yes - the hard top. As can be seen in the first photo, the car has a fibre glass hard top. It's just sitting on the car in that shot, because as far as I can see there's no way to properly fix it to the car. It also has an odd shape that doesn't look right around the window frames. We think that the back window might be an FHC window.

You can see in the photo below that there are brackets at each rear pillar that are probably supposed to bolt down to something on the car, but there's nothing there to bolt them to - just the soft top frame. The front of the hard top has a sort of lip, which seems to slip over the top of the windscreen frame at the front.

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So, interested in any feedback on what the hard top might be. It's pretty light fibreglass and has no headlining. I was guessing it might be aftermarket and maybe intended for a different model, although Richard pointed out that it wouldn't fit on his S2 at all, so dunno :?

I think that pretty much covers it. Oh, one bonus - there was what appears to be an original jack in the boot. I gather they're hard to find, so happy about that!

In summary, the car appears to be what was described to me - an S4 DHC that some years ago was painted to look like a Sprint, and then more recently had money spent on refurbishing (suspension) and modifying (Big Valve head, T9, rollover and intrusion bars), a job that wasn't quite finished. There's quite a bit of work to do, but at this stage I don't see anything particularly scary, unless of course the engine turns out to have a problem.

The plan at this stage is to put everything back together, check and if necessary correct a couple of things I'm not sure about, and then drive it :-)

Grateful for any comments or feedback on the car and my brief analysis of it. Also very interested to hear from anyone who might know any of its history. It was last registered in South Australia in 2015, and I believe that the PO bought it around 2013. No idea when it made it's way to Australia - I'd be very interested to discover if there's any history of its time in France.
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 12:51 am

Looks like it was made in late 1968 my Elan is 36/8555 and was made in August 68. Should not be to much more work to get it back on the road by the look of it. The detachable hard top looks like its been moulded from the roof of an Elan S3 or S4 FHC or perhaps made from one that been cut off a FHC to make it a DHC

I work about 5 minutes from Richards workshop so maybe I will see the car next time I drop around if its still there

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PostPost by: tjb0274 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 1:07 am

rgh0 wrote:Looks like it was made in late 1968 my Elan is 36/8555 and was made in August 68. Should not be to much more work to get it back on the road by the look of it. The detachable hard top looks like its been moulded from the roof of an Elan S3 or S4 FHC or perhaps made from one that been cut off a FHC to make it a DHC

I work about 5 minutes from Richards workshop so maybe I will see the car next time I drop around if its still there


Oh cool - yep, it'll be there :-)

Interesting thoughts on the hard top. I just did some googling, and I see what you mean. What I don't quite get is that it doesn't seem like it could ever have been fixed to this car properly, yet the paint colour and age/wear tear look the same. Maybe there's something below the soft top frame that I can't see.
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PostPost by: Foxie » Sun Jun 03, 2018 1:09 am

tjb0274 wrote:As mentioned in my introduction thread, a few weeks ago I purchased an S4, sight unseen. A work trip overseas has meant that I wasn't able to pick the car up until yesterday.

<Snip>
The gearbox is a T9. The lever is in the correct place, so it's obviously been modified to suit the Elan. I'll post some shots of the box and mountings in the gearbox section to see if anyone can help identify whether it's one of the commercial kits, or whether a PO has modified it themselves. The box is very clean, and there is "new looking" gasket goo visible at the case joins, which makes me think it hasn't done many miles since it was modified and installed in the car. The slave cylinder is missing (only missing part we've found so far), so maybe the car has never been driven with that gearbox.


In my Alan Voigts T9 gearbox in the +2S, the slave cylinder is concentric, you can't see it ! Check where the clutch line goes. :)
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PostPost by: tjb0274 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 1:24 am

Foxie wrote:In my Alan Voigts T9 gearbox in the +2S, the slave cylinder is concentric, you can't see it ! Check where the clutch line goes. :)


Interesting.. I was excited for a moment, and then I remembered that there is the end of a yoke sticking out of the slot in the bell housing next to the slave cylinder mounting ring - I assume that with the concentric solution there would be no need for the yoke?
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PostPost by: tjb0274 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 5:30 am

A couple of pics of the interior...
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PostPost by: 1owner69Elan » Sun Jun 03, 2018 6:45 am

I gather that the factory didn't put unit numbers on the chassis, so not sure why it's there.


The unit number on my original frame 69 S4 SE is on the chassis top flange just ahead if the right side motor mount:

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PostPost by: tjb0274 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:00 am

1owner69Elan wrote:The unit number on my original frame 69 S4 SE is on the chassis top flange just ahead if the right side motor mount:
<snip>


I stand corrected :-)

As I say, I suspect that the chassis is probably not original, but I'm taking the carbs off anyway to replace both m/c's, and will have a look to see if there's anything on that part of the chassis.

Thanks for the info, @1owner69Elan!
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PostPost by: StressCraxx » Sun Jun 03, 2018 11:37 pm

1owner69Elan wrote:
I gather that the factory didn't put unit numbers on the chassis, so not sure why it's there.


The unit number on my original frame 69 S4 SE is on the chassis top flange just ahead if the right side motor mount:

7654AEEF-0DCB-4E74-ABBA-48A42E8365BA.jpeg


TJ,

Have a look at the chassis near the motor mount on the exhaust side. If it is an original chassis, the unit number is there. If it's a Lotus replacement chassis, there may be an "R" after the unit number.

Beautiful car! Congratulations!
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PostPost by: tjb0274 » Mon Jun 04, 2018 12:21 am

1owner69Elan wrote:

The unit number on my original frame 69 S4 SE is on the chassis top flange just ahead if the right side motor mount:


StressCraxx wrote:

Have a look at the chassis near the motor mount on the exhaust side. If it is an original chassis, the unit number is there. If it's a Lotus replacement chassis, there may be an "R" after the unit number.


Ok, so we've got one vote for right hand (carb) side, and one for left hand (exhaust) side :-)

Is this one of those things that Lotus were a bit haphazard about?
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PostPost by: tjb0274 » Mon Jun 04, 2018 12:48 am

Here's a pic of the number we found on the bottom of the chassis. Doesn't look anything like the stamped numbers others have posted, so I assume it has nothing to do with the factory and was added by a PO or workshop - maybe if/when they replaced the chassis.

The numbers are made up of stippled dots - I had to stare at it for a few secs before I could read it, but it's pretty clearly the same unit number as is on the compliance plate & the reg docs.

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I've sent it to Andy Graham just in case it means something, but he's away for the week, so interested if anyone has seen something similar before.

Hopefully I'll have time next weekend to have another look at the chassis, and maybe go chasing the body number on the firewall again - maybe rub the paint back and see if the body number appears.
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PostPost by: CBUEB1771 » Mon Jun 04, 2018 12:52 am

Foxie wrote:In my Alan Voigts T9 gearbox in the +2S, the slave cylinder is concentric, you can't see it ! Check where the clutch line goes.


My Voight conversion does not have an aperture in the bell housing for the normal clutch actuation lever nor the mounting boss for the normal, external slave cylinder. However there are other T9-to-Kent block bell housings that do support use of the normal, external slave cylinder, Kelsport for example. There is nothing to say that the PO could not have swapped the bell housing on a Voight conversion in order to use external clutch actuation. The concentric slave cylinders have great advantages such as reduced actuating force (pun intended). However servicing means taking the engine out. My Voight conversion has plenty of "goo" extruded from the join between the main case and the fifth gear housing, also from the join between the fifth gear housing and the tail housing. I suspect Voight did not make gaskets for these joins but just used a sealant. It appears that Voight makes his own fifth gear housing with a non-standard bolting pattern.
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:31 am

tjb0274 wrote:
1owner69Elan wrote:

The unit number on my original frame 69 S4 SE is on the chassis top flange just ahead if the right side motor mount:


StressCraxx wrote:

Have a look at the chassis near the motor mount on the exhaust side. If it is an original chassis, the unit number is there. If it's a Lotus replacement chassis, there may be an "R" after the unit number.


Ok, so we've got one vote for right hand (carb) side, and one for left hand (exhaust) side :-)

Is this one of those things that Lotus were a bit haphazard about?


They were also haphazard about the number on the chassis at all. Neither my Elan or plus 2 had a chassis number on the original chassis and my original Lotus replacement chassis for the Elan in 1979 did not have one either

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PostPost by: rgh0 » Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:38 am

tjb0274 wrote:.....

Hopefully I'll have time next weekend to have another look at the chassis, and maybe go chasing the body number on the firewall again - maybe rub the paint back and see if the body number appears.



The body number should appear in dymo tape that was stuck into the mould. it was located near the starter solenoid However finding it does not do much good as Lotus did not keep details of body number versus unit numbers.

Looking inside the doors, on the back of the glove box or the roof under the headlining you can often find the unit number in crayon.

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PostPost by: tjb0274 » Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:54 am

Thanks Rohan!

My guess is that there won't be a unit number on the top rails of the chassis - otherwise why add one on the chassis underside?

Good to have other places to look for the body number. I've seen what the dynotape looks like on Richard's paint-stripped S1 Europa. Hopefully it's there somewhere on my Elan.
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