Lotus Elan

S4, Sprint and identification number

PostPost by: LotusEngineeringBuff » Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:09 am

Hi Everybody,
I am presently considering the purchase of a Baby Elan to go with my Plus2 130. I came across that one:
https://auto.ricardo.ch/de/a/lotus-elan ... -801470095
It's a car that has had quite a bit of work since it started its life as a S4 Coupe, before being reworked by Christophe Neil in 1988 who changed the chassis, fitted it with a DHC shell and supposedly upgraded the engine to Sprint specs. This must be true since it was measured at 118 BHP on a rolling road.

One thing that is disturbing me quite a lot is its registration number: There is a plate riveted to the chassis that says 01159, that same number is on the plate on the fire wall and also on the UK Vehicle Registration Document which is dated 1984, before the change of the chassis. How come an Elan can have such an odd chassis number?

And, oh!, the present engine number is ...2345LBA or LBH while the original one as the the registration doc is L22249.

I am not wealthy and I really do not want to buy at a price I cannot recover in case I need to sell.

Any comment?
Thanks for your help and happy motoring
François
Attachments
s_011.jpg and
s_014.jpg and
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PostPost by: martinbrowning » Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:01 am

Hi Francois,
I'm only guessing but I suggest that the number 01159 refers to the chassis, not the car. A previous owner has mistakenly declared that as the VIN and hence DVLA has changed the document. The car VIN should have remained with the car and should follow the same format as your S130. That said of course, when the body was changed from FHC to DHC then the original VIN would be incorrect (final letter indicates FHC or DHC).
My own S130 has a Lotus replacement chassis, with number beginning LR on the front fork, but the VIN remains unchanged.

As for the engine number, engines or blocks do get changed over the years and owners forget to update DVLA.

Very long shot but I wonder whether Chris Neil still has records? (Remember that they no longer deal with Lotus cars). Also you may be able to establish VIN from the registration number but no guarantee on that.

Maybe of help,

Martin B
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PostPost by: trw99 » Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:28 am

François,

The VIN plate shown in the advert photos is not one made up by the factory, so you can not take it as an accurate reflection of the car you are considering. The engine is certainly an unoriginal one, since the S4 of this period, fitted with the L type engine, was equipped with Stromberg carburettors. This car has Webers and an earlier cam cover. An engine no of 2345 would have first been fitted to a late 1964 S2 Elan.

Given that the car began life as a late S4 Elan FHC, my guess is that the engine number on the registration document of L22249 is accurate and original. It fits in number wise with similarly aged cars.

Given that the number 01159 appears to be spurious, we might suppose that it reflects a typographical error somewhere along the line of it's ownership after leaving the factory. So I would guestimate that the car left the production line in 1970. That was after the new VIN recording system was introduced (1.1.70), so the full VIN would have the year, month and batch numbers before the all important Unit No, followed by a suffix model letter. We know that the car started life as a FHC, so it could only be a Type A (Standard FHC Domestic) or Type E (SE FHC Domestic). Therefore, assuming the L22249 engine number is correct, the car could only have been a Type E. Going back to the possible typo error, it is conceivable that the last figure 9 may be a prior misrepresentation of the letter E. That would give a Unit No of 0115E, which would make much more sense.

However, my records for Unit 0115E lack the original engine number, so I am unable to verify the Unit No. I can say that Unit No 0115E left the production line in June 1970. That the car was not first registered for the road until 8 Oct 71 in Leicester may be accounted for by the fact that the Sprint hit dealers in Mar 71, by which time the S4 had become the unloved older relative.

I suggest that you contact Andy Graham, the Lotus Archivist, to see if he can throw any additional light on the true Unit No for your car.

Tim
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PostPost by: LotusEngineeringBuff » Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:40 am

trw99 wrote:François,

The VIN plate shown in the advert photos is not one made up by the factory, so you can not take it as an accurate reflection of the car you are considering. The engine is certainly an unoriginal one, since the S4 of this period, fitted with the L type engine, was equipped with Stromberg carburettors. This car has Webers and an earlier cam cover. An engine no of 2345 would have first been fitted to a late 1964 S2 Elan.

Given that the car began life as a late S4 Elan FHC, my guess is that the engine number on the registration document of L22249 is accurate and original. It fits in number wise with similarly aged cars.

Given that the number 01159 appears to be spurious, we might suppose that it reflects a typographical error somewhere along the line of it's ownership after leaving the factory. So I would guestimate that the car left the production line in 1970. That was after the new VIN recording system was introduced (1.1.70), so the full VIN would have the year, month and batch numbers before the all important Unit No, followed by a suffix model letter. We know that the car started life as a FHC, so it could only be a Type A (Standard FHC Domestic) or Type E (SE FHC Domestic). Therefore, assuming the L22249 engine number is correct, the car could only have been a Type E. Going back to the possible typo error, it is conceivable that the last figure 9 may be a prior misrepresentation of the letter E. That would give a Unit No of 0115E, which would make much more sense.

However, my records for Unit 0115E lack the original engine number, so I am unable to verify the Unit No. I can say that Unit No 0115E left the production line in June 1970. That the car was not first registered for the road until 8 Oct 71 in Leicester may be accounted for by the fact that the Sprint hit dealers in Mar 71, by which time the S4 had become the unloved older relative.

I suggest that you contact Andy Graham, the Lotus Archivist, to see if he can throw any additional light on the true Unit No for your car.

Tim


What an comprehensive answer! Wow. My respects for such a deep knowledge.
And thank you for your advice concerning Andy Graham. Thanks Martin too, It'll try the Chris Neil /Oakmear route too.

François
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:34 am

Dvla wont deal with you (or anyone not uk based) but if you can get the chap whose name is on the V5 to send in a V888 with £5 to them they will send you back photocopies of the original logbook. That would clear up any confusion with the VIN.
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PostPost by: jimj » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:17 pm

Christopher Neil, weren`t for a while, but are again, official Lotus dealers. From what can be gleaned, and from the pictures, it looks like a car needing some loving care, has been raced, maybe thrashed, and is a bit of a mongrel. That`s all OK if it`s cheap enough and you aren`t planning on "investing" in a restoration but just want to use it. I would guess that in the UK such a car would struggle to sell for much more than £20,000 but that`s just my opinion.
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PostPost by: Grizzly » Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:50 pm

Thing is Chris Neil has almost ceased to be after the passing of Neil Shepherdson in 2014, you might have some joy contacting some one like Don in Parts who has been there for many years for advice etc but from past experience it's just a typical main dealer now.


I don't want to re-spark the 'Numbers matching' argument again but i'd be very sceptical about buying a Classic car that has no numbers matching, Elans aren't quite like other Classics as it seems a plus to have a new chassis fitted but you could well have a cheap entry into Elan 'Sprint' ownership as long as you understand that it wouldn't be an investment car and you might find it more difficult to move on when you come to sell.

Regarding the plate Riveted to the chassis, seemed that was quite common to cut the chassis number out of the old chassis and fix it to the new one during replacement.

By the way love the Burr walnut dash (looks much better than the teak most came with)
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