Lotus Elan

Looking to buy a +2, what to look for?

PostPost by: Grizzly » Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:56 pm

Personally i'd rather carry a small Trolley jack and a block of wood rather than using the stock tubes..... I can see why people may still use them 'IF' they have changed the sill's in there ownership but that said i've seen some crummy excuses for replacement sills used and just because some one may say they have been replaced in the past doesn't mean they aren't bad again (they are not easily visually inspected).

In my opinion if in any doubt don't use the stock jack, causes too much damage if the tube comes off the sill.
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PostPost by: Grizzly » Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:05 pm

JonB wrote:Flipping heck, this is like dropping down a rabbit hole!

I suppose once I actually see one in the flesh it will become much clearer. Will I be able to determine the condition of the rails? I think not, judging by the many pictures I have seen! In order to change a wheel by the roadside I would need a mallet too, so than I can loosen the "knock on" spinner thingie. I have a rubber mallet, that should suffice.

No you can't really check the sills without removing the end plates and often their bonded on...... I would recommend a Spinner thingy and a long breaker bar (i have a 4ft bar and a 4ft tube that goes over it making it 8ft long), i carry one of these in each of my Elans. business-listings-f3/eared-spinner-removal-tool-t33636.html of course you can use the copper mallet but if you do make sure you slip a piece of thin ply between the wheel and the spinner to reduce the risk knocking lumps out of your wheel :)

No a rubber mallet won't work, you want a decent Copper/lead mallet at least.

Be interested to hear what that Purple +2 is like up close, from the pictures it looks like the paint isn't too hot.
Last edited by Grizzly on Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: JohnP » Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:55 pm

Don't buy the first one you see! Have it properly inspected! You could be parting with £15K and have to spend an easy £15K to end up with a £20K car.

After looking at about 10 around your budget i found a really great one, well maintained with a really honest seller. it went up on the lift and the professional expert I had paid to make final pre sale inspection immediately found a cracked chassis. The seller genuinely did not know about it until that moment.

Jacking it up will only tell you if it is no good. It will not tell you if it is good.
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PostPost by: RichC » Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:11 pm

regarding jacking up the back I've always favoured a small piece of wood at the very back of the chassis section i.e in the middle next to the exhaust with a trolley jack from the rear . there's no weight in the rear of the car, after all ..

Susan Miller driveshafts are very forgiving of full extension of rear suspension ( rotoflexes less so I guess)
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PostPost by: theelanman » Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:17 am

At home I have a 2mm thk spreader plate and a small trolley jack.. .....the plate is about 10"sq.......the car doesn't take much to lift enough to lift the wheel.....i also have new sills so on a couple of occasions have needed to use this with no real problems other than taking the skin off my knuckles off on the tarmac......lol.......using the original scissor jack........im not sure a bottle jack would fit with a flat........
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PostPost by: JonB » Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:44 am

JohnP wrote:Don't buy the first one you see! Have it properly inspected! You could be parting with £15K and have to spend an easy £15K to end up with a £20K car.

After looking at about 10 around your budget i found a really great one, well maintained with a really honest seller. it went up on the lift and the professional expert I had paid to make final pre sale inspection immediately found a cracked chassis. The seller genuinely did not know about it until that moment.

Jacking it up will only tell you if it is no good. It will not tell you if it is good.


Hi John
I get your point but I don't know who to approach to get an Elan inspected. Bear in mind it is not local to me; it's near Dartford. I think the owner would be OK with me doing an inspection but are there any specialists nearby? Hmmm, I suppose I could ask a nearby garage if I can get the car up on their ramp. At least then I can see what's going on underneath.

I would be happy to look at 20 of them if they were closer to me. That's the issue really, the travelling. I'm not interested in traipsing all over the country to look at Elans, I don't have the time for it.

I had a chat with the owner. Here's a bit more info about this particular car:

  • Restored at some point during the '90s
  • Has a Spyder chassis.
  • Resprayed during the last three years with a 2-pack / lacquer finish in period correct Roman Purple / silver roof. Original colour was Carnival Red. Properly registered with DVLA as "Purple". I don't think the pictures do it justice as they're not very high resolution. It'll be easy to judge it in the flesh. I'm not sure if all the badges are there (for example, cannot see an "S" badge on the sides of the car at the back. What would be expected of a '73 S130/5?
  • Has Rotoflex driveshafts, comes with a spare set of doughnuts.
  • Exhaust silencer has a riveted-on patch, doesn't leak but there is a stainless system waiting to be fitted (not sure if that includes the manifold).
  • Dashboard lacquer has a lot of cracks in it, will need restoring. There's a spare so it could be done upfront without dismantling the car's dashboard.
  • No knocks, bangs, smoke, other mechanical nasties.
  • Has some history including all MOTs bar one, but some receipts missing.
  • Has only just gone round the clock (if MOTs and odometer are anything to go by).
  • Tax exempt. MOT exempt next year?
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PostPost by: Orsom Weels » Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:26 am

Grizzly wrote:Personally i'd rather carry a small Trolley jack and a block of wood rather than using the stock tubes..... I can see why people may still use them 'IF' they have changed the sill's in there ownership but that said i've seen some crummy excuses for replacement sills used and just because some one may say they have been replaced in the past doesn't mean they aren't bad again (they are not easily visually inspected).

In my opinion if in any doubt don't use the stock jack, causes too much damage if the tube comes off the sill.


The trouble I find is that most small trolley jacks seem to have a disproportionately high jacking platform that won't fit under a +2 with a puncture. As I said, I wouldn't advocate using the jacking points if you are unsure of the sill rail condition, but if they are known to be sound, in my opinion they are perfectly ok for jacking in an emergency with a suitable scissor or similar jack designed or modified to do the job, & it saves having to cart a trolley jack & lump of wood around all the time.


JonB wrote:Now to viewing, as I said I think I will look at the purple one on Saturday (note to self: Arrange it!) and I will take a torch and small screwdriver for poking at any rusty bits I see (to check for perforation). I did order a borehole camera (kind of miniature camera on a flexible cable that connects to a phone) although I doubt it'll get here by Saturday. I was thinking I could use it to look at those hard to reach places (like the suspension turrets and underside as it's got 6" clearance).

I'm beginning to think that if this car is any good I will take it despite being the first one I am viewing as I do not really think it is going to depreciate. I can always sell it on if it turns out to be too much work (or not buy at all - a heap is obvious to see even for a Plus 2 newbie like me).


Yes, take a good torch & something to prod around with, also a mirror on a stick can be handy, along with the borescope if you have it in time. As has been said, be very careful about buying the first car you see. I'm not saying "don't do it", but at least look at some others as well before you make your decision. As the saying goes, Caveat Emptor ! Act in haste, repent at leisure :D

A few things to check out/ask about regarding the purple car;

How old is the paintwork ? If it's very recent, be aware it could be hiding a multitude of sins which could present them selves at a later date. A good paint job on a +2 could cost getting on for the asking price.

Was the other work mentioned done by the current owner? If not, how long ago was it done & by whom? Sometimes in a history folder, receipts for work mentioned in a 'sales pitch' can turn out to be twenty or thirty years old.

What "Head work"?

Why has he only done 2000 miles in three years?

If, after "wanting another one for a long time", & having finally found one, & had it painted in the colour he obviously wanted, why has he now "Had a change of heart" & "needs it gone" after only 3 years?

And finally, Why is it advertised for only £11,000? Things are usually cheap for a reason. £11k doesn't usually get you much of a +2.

There may well be genuine answers/reasons, but there may not :? Could be exactly the same thoughts were going through his mind three years ago as are going through yours now, but with the benefit of hindsight.... :D

If you're unsure about it, get someone else to look over the car for you, there are plenty of classic car specialists, if not specifically Lotus experts around that will do this for you.

Regards, Tim
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PostPost by: alan.barker » Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:28 am

The easy way is to get the car MOT tested and you choose a tester that the owner doesn't know :) .
If you pay for the test it isn't a lot of money lost when the tester says the chassis is shot :shock:
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PostPost by: Rich135 » Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:15 am

Jon,

A specialist will come out and look at the car for you (for a fee, obviously) but only do that once you have had a good look over it and decided if you think it's worth spending that money. PM if you want to know someone that might be available to do it, but I have no idea on fees.

I would be very worried about you buying the first car you see, especially one priced at £11k. As others have said, you could easily spend another £15k++ to bring it up to the standard of a £17k car.

I am in all day today if you want to come by here. No around so much tomorrow. You do need to see at least one more car to get a comparison otherwise you might just say that the wear and tear you see is normal for a 44 year old car. It can be normal, but it doesn't have to be!

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PostPost by: JonB » Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:16 am

These questions I could ask but I have no way of knowing if the replies are honest.

Best thing to do is inspect it. I think I can spot damage to a chassis, if I can get it on a ramp.

As to jacking points and the sill strengthener; would it be reasonable to attempt jacking with a scissor under a small block at the sill end, watching for any deformation of the jacking point that would indicate a rusted out strengthener? Also, one of the pictures posted showed this (wooden block / stand) and it looks like there is some sort of rust staining visible under the wheel arch at the sill end. Would this be an indicator of problems?
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PostPost by: Orsom Weels » Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:58 am

Jon, have a look through these links
lotus-chassis-f36/jacking-holes-t18627.html
lotus-chassis-f36/plus-sill-replacement-t22031.html
http://www.haverstad.net/lotus/elan/sil ... cement.htm
They deal with the inspection & replacement of the sill rails & show the jacking points & construction etc. It should give you an idea of what you are looking for. As you will see, you can only really inspect the tiny bit you can see/access through the hole in the fibreglass sill without removing the panels under the wheel arches, but if the steel tube is distorted, not there at all, or substantially rusted, it's a good indication that the steelwork is suspect. Also check along the bottom lip where they are bolted, you have a fibreglass/steel/fibreglass sandwich, & any rusting steel will distort the fibreglass, it's usually quite obvious in extreme cases.

Regards, Tim
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PostPost by: JonB » Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:02 pm

Hi Tim

Sill replacement seems very straightforward. The Spyder sill kits are not too expensive, so I won't lose too much sleep if I find the job needs to be done. I like that you can remove a single cover to inspect them. What is the cover made of (I've seen Spyder ones that are powder coated) and how easy would they be to remove? It looks lik e they're secured with grub screws going into the fibreglass, is that correct? If they are fixed with bolts and (not captive) nuts then the rear seats have to come out.

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PostPost by: Matt Elan » Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:48 pm

Hi Jon

You are welcome to visit me in Fleet, Hants to see my two plus 2s - One is a Plus 2S one a Plus2. The 'S' is undergoing restoration, and is currently a rolling chassis and separate body shell, the Plus 2 is almost in one piece but is displaying all the problems that a Plus 2 can suffer from....
Also you could do worse than to buy my book, Lotus Elan The complete story, by Matthew Vale, ISBN 978 1 84797 510 2; Published in 2013, it covers the Plus 2 in some detail.
HTHs
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PostPost by: Foxie » Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:55 am

JonB wrote:Hi Tim

Sill replacement seems very straightforward. The Spyder sill kits are not too expensive, so I won't lose too much sleep if I find the job needs to be done. I like that you can remove a single cover to inspect them. What is the cover made of (I've seen Spyder ones that are powder coated) and how easy would they be to remove? It looks lik e they're secured with grub screws going into the fibreglass, is that correct? If they are fixed with bolts and (not captive) nuts then the rear seats have to come out.


I fitted Spyder replacement sill bars a long time ago, I highly recommend them. The jacking tubes are mighty !

The closing plates are fitted with self-tappers. :)
68 Elan +2, 70 Elan +2s
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PostPost by: pauljones » Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:12 am

Jon.

The yellow one in Fareham is near me, except ive never seen another plus 2 flying round here. Only mine, yellow too, and a red 2 seater.

Your more than welcome to pop round and see both of mine if your local. Running restorations i should call them really. At least you can have a cuppa tea free from the pressures of a hard sell.

Id love to know where it is too so i can get mine sprayed. It looks a good job to my untrained eyes.
Kick the tyres and light them fires...!!!!!!!
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