Lotus Elan

Cam cover point of interest

PostPost by: Hawksfield » Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:16 am

Hi all
My cam cover (black) has the big valve script that reads from the front of the car
Anyone know how many were like this and why? +2S130 1971
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John

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PostPost by: lotusfan » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:43 pm

Hi John

This has been covered before but I can't find the link.

My recollection is that it is an early big valve cam cover (first 50 engines?) and they were made that way so that Joe Public could read it from the front when the cars were displayed with the bonnet off at car shows.
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PostPost by: nmauduit » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:11 pm

Europa big valve had covers with the script toward the outside of the engine, so borrowed to fit on an Elan it would result in the script to be read from the front. Then there may have been other variations, as often with Lotus parts chain of supply...
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PostPost by: 69S4 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:46 pm

lotusfan wrote:Hi John

This has been covered before but I can't find the link.

My recollection is that it is an early big valve cam cover (first 50 engines?) and they were made that way so that Joe Public could read it from the front when the cars were displayed with the bonnet off at car shows.



Were back then Lotus really that bothered about a few diehards showing off their cars long after economics would suggest they ought to be rusting in peace. If they were maybe they should have put a bit more effort into rustproofing the chassis. I’d have thought they were more concerned about moving them off the dealers floor.
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PostPost by: RogerFrench » Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:28 pm

nmauduit wrote:Europa big valve had covers with the script toward the outside of the engine, so borrowed to fit on an Elan it would result in the script to be read from the front. Then there may have been other variations, as often with Lotus parts chain of supply...

Well maybe, as long as you fill up the cutout for the extension at the back of the inlet cam on the Europa cover.
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PostPost by: nmauduit » Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:38 pm

RogerFrench wrote:Well maybe, as long as you fill up the cutout for the extension at the back of the inlet cam on the Europa cover.

I have not done it myself, would it take more than an extra half moon?
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PostPost by: Gray » Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:47 pm

I bought a 'Sprint' once that had a Europa Special cam cover, it had a specially made full circle rubber piece to fill the gap. I don't think it was original on the car, it had been converted from Strombergs and had an odd chassis number. Registered as a 73 Sprint though and it was only 2-3 years old at the time.
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PostPost by: types26/36 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:43 pm

nmauduit wrote:
RogerFrench wrote:Well maybe, as long as you fill up the cutout for the extension at the back of the inlet wcam on the Europa cover.

I have not done it myself, would it take more than an extra half moon?


I used to have a BV Europa as well as the Sprint, for some reason I fitted the Europa's cam cover to the Sprint (think I was painting the Sprints cover but wanted to use the car) the normal half moon is to small and from memory I used one from a Mazda or could have been an Audi .......it was a long time ago!
Re the front/rear facing script, my recollection is that both the Europa and Sprint faced the same way .....both to rear of engine.
I believe as mentioned earlier the first batch of S4/Sprints faced forward and some of these were also fitted to some plus two's.
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PostPost by: gjz30075 » Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:48 am

My '72 Federal Sprint has the script on the cam cover which can be read looking at it from the rear of the
engine, like pictured above. I bought a Europa cam cover and it reads the same..
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PostPost by: trw99 » Thu Feb 14, 2019 9:25 am

From my Sprint web site:

"A stiffened, redesigned Big Valve cam cover replaced the earlier engines cover. The Big Valve cam covers, up until August 1972, were always black for UK spec cars. European and Federal cam covers were red. However, some red covers, perhaps on those engines with European specification carbs, were also used on domestic cars, though there seems to be no formula as to whether a UK Sprint had red or black covers after this date. Additionally, the fins on the cam covers and the “LOTUS Big Valve” legend became more sharply defined, with the Lotus font changed, the legend also being read from the cabin end of the car, having initially been read from in front of the car, at some time in mid 1971. Presumably new castings were made, either by a new manufacturer if they were outsourced, or by a change in casting at the factory. Apparently only 50 cam covers were made to be read from the front, perhaps so that it was easier to read when viewing the car at motor shows!"

Take the bit about being able to be read easily at shows with a pinch of salt. I seriously doubt anyone at Lotus would have thought of that. Very much more likely that the first batch of covers came like that and were subsequently changed. Maybe for good reason, maybe not.

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PostPost by: john.p.clegg » Thu Feb 14, 2019 11:38 am

" Maybe for good reason, maybe not. "
Maybe because the bonnet hinges at the front , so is viewed from the side/rear ? , but it took 50 views for them to realise?

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PostPost by: rgh0 » Thu Feb 14, 2019 11:55 am

The Lotus script from 1968 when first introduced on the front top of the cam cover to up to the first big valve engines on the front of the cam cover was designed to be read from the rear as all Lotus had front hinged bonnets including the Europa

The first few big valve covers reversed this and were designed to be read from the front and then they reverted for them to be read from the rear.

Two possible explanations for this aberration which is classic Lotus in all senses

1. Typical Lotus stuff up :roll:
2. A deliberate change so the cover could be read more easily at a car show with the bonnet off on an Elan or Plus 2 when they first launched the Big valve engine.

My rule of thumb when you have choice of "stuff up" versus an alternative is always choose "stuff up" as it is the most likely explanation.

However since the Big Valve engine was really a marketing driven initiative I can understand how the marketeers could have had the castings done the wrong way around for the first batch to aid the marketing launch at car shows. I guess we will never know which :D

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PostPost by: Grizzly » Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:38 pm

Out of interest, has anyone seen one fitted to a production line car? i've only ever seen them on retrofitted S4-Sprints.

I compared my Forward facing cam cover (2 seater) to my rear facing early 71 +2 and apart from the script there wasn't any obvious difference in the casting (the 2 seater had a satin flat black finish and the +2 had a crackle black finish)..... One thing i have noticed though the forward facing cam cover seems to warp very easy, it was warped when i got it so i had it refaced and after less than 1000 miles it's warped again. Don't remember the +2 being that bad for cam cover oil leaks.
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PostPost by: The Veg » Thu Feb 14, 2019 5:01 pm

So the ones that are read from the front are somewhat rare, then? I've got one.
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PostPost by: pharriso » Thu Feb 14, 2019 5:25 pm

The Veg wrote:So the ones that are read from the front are somewhat rare, then? I've got one.


We're talking "Big Valve" covers...
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