Lotus Elan

Lotus Excel. Any good? Your opinions?

PostPost by: Orsom Weels » Wed Dec 28, 2016 2:32 pm

For many years, I have had a bit of a soft spot for the Excel, but to date, haven't really had anything to do with them. The nearest I have got was a mates Eclat, which was NOT a car that made me think "I must have one of those !" Quite the opposite in fact :?, but now I find myself looking Excels & thinking it may be time to dip a toe into the water & experience one for myself, so I'm looking for unbiased opinions as to what they are like to live with, how practical are they, & what to look for in a potential purchase. If I were to go for one, it would have to make a viable daily driver all year round, & as such I wouldn't necessarily be adverse to some mods/updating, so any recommendations in that area would be good, I'm thinking maybe fuel injection, for a start ? My annual mileage is not high high & we would still have Mrs O's modern, but when I need a car, I need one I can rely on to get me where I need to go in reasonable comfort.
So, what can you tell me ? has anyone on here got one, had one, or just knows anything about them that may help in my quest ?

Cheers, Tim
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PostPost by: KevJ+2 » Wed Dec 28, 2016 4:29 pm

Tim,
In all honesty, the Excel SE I had was the best car I have ever owned. I had it together with my Sprint and sold them both to buy an almost new Esprit :roll:
The handling was fantastic on the Excel and literally felt like it was on rails. The interior was half cloth / leather and although now it would seem a little dated, it was well laid out and very well crafted.
I loved every minute I spent driving that car and it was a great example of where the Plus Two Elan was going to go.
They seem like a great value car these days and I'm sure there must be some very well looked after ones still around.
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Previously - Elan Sprint '71, Excel SE '87 Esprit S4 '90
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PostPost by: Orsom Weels » Wed Dec 28, 2016 6:11 pm

Thanks for your reply Kev, good to know you were happy with yours. I actually really like the interior layout & design, although must confess I have seen some fairly garish colour schemes typical of the era on some :?

Cheers, Tim
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PostPost by: Matt Elan » Wed Dec 28, 2016 6:44 pm

Hi Tim

My 2d worth:

I've owned an Elite and also when I wrote my book on the Elite, Éclat and Excel (Lotus elite Éclat and Excel - An enthusiasts guide, Matthew Vale, published by Crowood Press) I spoke with and documented the experiences a fair number of owners, as well as Mike Kimberley who oversaw the engineering side. The Excel was essentially what the Elite/Éclat should have been, with the Toyota parts bin being raided to solve most if not all of weaknesses of the Elite/Éclat; namely the gearbox, rear suspension, rear brakes and final drive. The Excel's galvanised chassis was also a massive improvement on the original, removing most rust issues. The Excel's interior and general quality were a lot better than the somewhat 70s look of the Elite (they lost the Formica dash and flocked dash top) and the seats etc are actually really nice. Lotus Bits are brilliant as regards advice and spares as well. All the owners I spoke to really like them, a possibly unique mix of the Lotus engine and Toyota running gear made them reliable and still fun to drive.
HTHs
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PostPost by: LaikaTheDog » Wed Dec 28, 2016 8:45 pm

there is a guy over on the lotusforums called jayemm, he also posts on youtube.
he is posting about living with an evora and recently started posting about his new excel se....
he almost tempted me into buying one !
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PostPost by: richardcox_lotus » Wed Dec 28, 2016 11:06 pm

I'll say now that I've never owned one but have considered one as a daily driver. I spoke to Miles about them a few years ago & he advised that they were great cars but still needed engine rebuilds at 80k - I guess all vehicles produced are up to that mark by now. Parts for engines are also more expensive than twinks. Also look for:

Headlinings tend to sag
Paint lacquer can lift - especially noticeable on red cars
Door bars can corrode

Hope this helps
Richard
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PostPost by: Orsom Weels » Thu Dec 29, 2016 10:34 am

Thanks for the input chaps, it does seem the Excel gets positive comments from owners past & present.
Richard, That's just the sort of info I'm looking for, I had heard about headlining issues, but must confess I thought it was more restricted to the Elite/Eclat, something I will look more closely at if viewing a potential car. When you refer to "door bars", are they like side impact protection inside the door, or have I got that completely wrong ?

Cheers, Tim
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PostPost by: Maulden7 » Thu Dec 29, 2016 11:25 am

I have run two Excel SE's as daily drivers over a period of many years, & covered circa 150k miles in the two cars. The fact that I bought a second after the first was written off in an accident will tell you something.

Super, practical cars, & with a wealth of Toyota parts used they need not be expensive to run or maintain either (plus this all improves reliability as well)

The door (side impact) bars can rust as mentioned, but I sprayed both with copious quantities of silicon spray a couple of times a year (does not damage the trim etc & also lubricates the window mechanism) & this seemed to protect them just fine.

The door hinge pins wear very easily if not given any attention (& the doors drop) but it is easy to fit two grease nipples to each of the brackets, & that solves that problem.

The radiator is very exposed at the front, & I had to replace this in both cars (but I suppose that a stainless unit would stop this)

The cars handle neutrally & very nicely, & when I took one on a track day I have to admit that I was impressed.

Both my cars were all leather interior, & this needs regular attention to keep nice, but with those wide doors, & some thick sheeting to protect the trim, you can get all sorts in the car with no problem (the boot's very usable as well)

All in all, imo these are very underrated cars, & good value for money at the moment if you find the right one (a full service history is vital)
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Thu Dec 29, 2016 12:01 pm

richardcox_lotus wrote:I'll say now that I've never owned one but have considered one as a daily driver. I spoke to Miles about them a few years ago & he advised that they were great cars but still needed engine rebuilds at 80k - I guess all vehicles produced are up to that mark by now. Parts for engines are also more expensive than twinks. Also look for:

Headlinings tend to sag
Paint lacquer can lift - especially noticeable on red cars
Door bars can corrode

Hope this helps
Richard


I think that engine life estimate is low. My S1 Esprit has that and is still in perfect condition and has never had a rebuild since new. Modern oils and regular maintenance means much longer engine life. Engine maintenance or rebuild costs are less than a twink for major work as second hand blocks and heads are much cheaper ( I have got a couple here for building a big engine when I have time).While other components are similar in cost. You do have sixteen valves versus 8 in a twink but that is the only major cost increase difference.

cheers
Rohan
Last edited by rgh0 on Thu Dec 29, 2016 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: Matt Elan » Thu Dec 29, 2016 1:31 pm

Re the door bars - the Excel (and Elite/Eclat) had what Lotus referred to as a 'ring of steel' around the passenger compartment comprising the door bars, a roll bar incorporated into the 'B' pillor and some scuttle reinforcement. The door bars connected the scuttle steel (at the hinge) to the roll bar (at the lock latch; they are quite large steel box sections that run the length of the door and carry all the door mechanicals - locks and windows. the door skin is really just cladding over them and mainly serve to keep the weather out of the cabin! It's important that they are in good condition as they can rust and are a big (in terms of fiddly and time consuming) job to replace
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PostPost by: Orsom Weels » Fri Dec 30, 2016 10:43 am

Thanks again chaps. I think I've decided to take this a bit further, so will be looking around in the new year. In the mean time I'll be gathering as much knowledge on the cars as I can, & to that end, Matt, I've just ordered a copy of your book :D, & I've found the JayEmm guy on youtube, he's not half bad. When I saw the name James Martin, I thought of the chef who likes his exotic cars, but this guy seems like just a regular bloke running real cars in the real world. will be watching some more of him. Any other recommendations for sources of information ?
I've had a little look on line for cars for sale, there are a few, the majority of which are red :? A shame, as I think it's my least favourite colour on an Excel, although that wouldn't necessarily be a deal breaker if it was the right car. There's a quite nice white non SE one, but it's in Northern Ireland, so not easy to pop along to view, & I think I would prefer an SE with the leather & wood effect interior trim, but again, open to what comes along.

Regards, Tim
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PostPost by: pharriso » Fri Dec 30, 2016 11:15 pm

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PostPost by: The Veg » Sat Dec 31, 2016 12:15 am

Another advantage- the 9xx engines are quite sturdy, with a bottom-end that looks like something from a diesel truck. And in this car, SO much easier to get at than in the Esprit!
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PostPost by: Orsom Weels » Sat Dec 31, 2016 9:58 am



And that's one of the highest priced examples I've seen advertised recently :shock:

Just one of the reasons they are beginning to really appeal to me :lol:
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