Lotus Elan

A trip to see Toad..

PostPost by: JonB » Mon Sep 03, 2018 7:49 am

Morning all

Yesterday I visited our mutual friend Vince Reynard to have a look at Toad, his Plus 2. Although I'm not a potential buyer, I was interested to see what could be achieved given enough time and perseverance. As you probably know, my car is suffering from some annoying foibles that detract greatly from the driving experience: roll steer, rattles, odd wind noise, diff noises, very heavy clutch. Etc, really. So Vince kindly suggested I had a look at Toad when I was in his area, which I was on Sunday as I was driving my daughter to an interview at her new university.

It was a lovely sunny day and Toad looked fantastic sat on the driveway.

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That yellow looks, well, seriously yellow in the sun. The bumper chrome is good and reminded me that I need to get my dull bumper sorted, as it really sets the car off so nicely. I had a good nose round and was very impressed by the engine bay.

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Everything is clean and there's no trace of oil leaks. The carbs look as if they have been sympathetically restored; they have the right patina without looking like they are brand new, and of course work well. There's an aluminium radiator and remote filler (surge tank are they called?) and under bonnet heat insulation. All very neat. But does it go like it should? We'll see in a minute..

Inside the car, it's black basket weave vinyl and again, in very good shape. Unlike mine! The dash looks to have been replaced and the rocker switches look new. There's a nice (modern) stereo and a full set of speakers fitted; Vince says he doesn't use it and listening to the fruity exhaust note I can see why. He's got a very similar S/S back box to my car and it sounds about the same.

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So, off for a spin.

My impressions... the car is proper sorted. Suspension is tight with no rattles or knocks when going over potholes or speed bumps (there are many in Vince's area, the roads are spectacularly bad). The noise you hear when hitting a pothole is the same as in a modern car, just an understated thump. I didn't know this was possible in a 45 year old Lotus, but there it is. After rattling about in my car, Toad was a bit of a revelation to say the least. The engine pulls really cleanly and it sounds spot on. Even though we couldn't go past 4000RPM (it's still being run in) it felt proper quick.

During all this time, Vince was driving as my insurance only covers me for third party damage, so these impressions are so far all from the passenger seat. However, he took me to the local train station car park and very kindly allowed me to drive it round a few times. I thought the clutch was a bit heavy, like mine, although it moved with much less friction and thus had a better feel. Yet it was the gearshift that most impressed. Vince has modified the mounting for the ball joint and the effect is outstanding. Instead of the "stirring sloppy porridge" experience you get in mine, his gearbox was all snick-snick-snick. I know he's posted a video of this but it doesn't do the thing proper justice. It just felt fantastic. And best of all, Vince's mods could be done without taking the 'box out. I expect I'll be writing about these soon, as we later had a chat over the service manual and a cuppa, and he explained it all to me.

What about the steering? Well, Toad is a bit different to my car in that regard as it actually has some castor. So I was surprised to find slightly heavy steering that self centred. My car is the exact opposite and that's why I think it is a little vague at speed in a straight line. Although I couldn't drive Toad on the open road, I doubt very much that it feels anything other than rock steady and planted. I think also that had it been (mis)behaving in the corners like mine does, I'd have been able to feel it from the passenger seat. But no; it corners beautifully.

I can tell that Vince is an exacting sort of fellow, and he's put a lot of work into Toad which really shows. Sure, he has been very honest on forum about the problems he's had to deal with, but they are sorted now, and sorted well from the feel of the thing. It's a good job I already have one of these cars, or I'd be reaching for my cheque book...

Anyway, thanks Vince for an enjoyable visit!
1973 Elan Plus 2S 130/5 - UK - Chassis 50/1115L
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Mon Sep 03, 2018 8:08 am

Sounds like you should flog yours and buy Toad :shock:
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PostPost by: persimmon » Mon Sep 03, 2018 9:35 am

Why is the car named " Toad " ? I would have thought something like " Banana " would be more appropriate ( with it being yellow ). :D
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PostPost by: JonB » Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:27 am

persimmon wrote:Why is the car named " Toad " ? I would have thought something like " Banana " would be more appropriate ( with it being yellow ). :D


I'll let Vince answer that one.. :D
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PostPost by: vincereynard » Mon Sep 03, 2018 12:57 pm

Thanks Jon, I'm glad to enjoyed it.

JonB wrote: The engine pulls really cleanly and it sounds spot on. Even though we couldn't go past 4000RPM (it's still being run in) it felt proper quick.

Providing you remember to switch the fuel pump on! :)

elanfan1 wrote:Sounds like you should flog yours and buy Toad :shock:

Jon did offer to swap, but I did not want to deprive him of all the fun he is going to have.

persimmon wrote:Why is the car named " Toad " ? I would have thought something like " Banana " would be more appropriate ( with it being yellow ). :D

It came about when we were in a dark place and the full extent of the mess the "restorers" had made became obvious. Lurking, squat and yellow, stinking out the garage and conservatory with fuel smell. (The "new" tank connection and "new" fuel pump both leaked.) TOAD seemed appropriate.

Now it's being good perhaps I should consider a change.
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PostPost by: persimmon » Mon Sep 03, 2018 3:15 pm

It would be interesting to know who the restorers were ( if it was a company or trader ) . If your car has a silver roof and the previous owner lived in North Yorks then I can probably guess.
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PostPost by: vincereynard » Mon Sep 03, 2018 3:43 pm

persimmon wrote:It would be interesting to know who the restorers were ( if it was a company or trader ) . If your car has a silver roof and the previous owner lived in North Yorks then I can probably guess.


Correct on both counts. Do you know the P.O?
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PostPost by: JimE » Mon Sep 03, 2018 7:31 pm

Towards the end of production Lotus had really improved the + 2 and it was a shame it had to be replaced by the new Elite. If you have one that's original and set up right, it's a beautifully balanced car and a very nice drive if you like a bit of luxury and space too. It might be a second slower off the line than it's Lotus peers but how important is that nowadays? The clutch on my 5 speed feel's normal but heavy compared to the Sprint which is ultra light. But then the Sprint is a much livelier proposition all round. You can understand why the + 2 was so much more expensive than the Sprint and Europa Special at the time and I am not surprised to see values creeping up for this underrated Elan. Jim
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PostPost by: gibbon » Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:40 am

Is this car advertised somewhere?

Thanks
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PostPost by: persimmon » Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:55 am

vincereynard wrote:
persimmon wrote:It would be interesting to know who the restorers were ( if it was a company or trader ) . If your car has a silver roof and the previous owner lived in North Yorks then I can probably guess.


Correct on both counts. Do you know the P.O?

Not personally.I was interested in the car so the PO sent me details including several pages of invoices for the restoration by a well known specialist not far from where I live.It all looked good so I arranged to go and have a look but had to cancel due to other commitments.If I remember he was emigrating to China and couldn`t take it with him so had to sell.I think he bought the car from new.
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PostPost by: vincereynard » Tue Sep 04, 2018 11:08 am

persimmon wrote:Not personally.I was interested in the car so the PO sent me details including several pages of invoices for the restoration by a well known specialist not far from where I live.It all looked good so I arranged to go and have a look but had to cancel due to other commitments.If I remember he was emigrating to China and couldn`t take it with him so had to sell.I think he bought the car from new.



Bodged by the careless, sold by a liar, bought by an idiot. The term dodged a bullet springs to mind! :)

Still it's a cracker now.
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PostPost by: vincereynard » Tue Sep 04, 2018 11:14 am

gibbon wrote:Is this car advertised somewhere?

Thanks


I've sent you a PM.
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PostPost by: mbell » Tue Sep 04, 2018 6:15 pm

The car looks absolutely outstanding to me!

JonB wrote:Yet it was the gearshift that most impressed. Vince has modified the mounting for the ball joint and the effect is outstanding. Instead of the "stirring sloppy porridge" experience you get in mine, his gearbox was all snick-snick-snick.


I planning a similar mod to my gear stick that was completely shot as lower ball had the consistently of cheese. To enable me to do this at my very leisurely leisure pace I bought a decent condition used gear stick. It has made a massive difference and made the box very much "snick snick".

I suspect Vince's mods will only improve the shift but I'd strongly recommend getting a decent gear stick for any one with 5 speed box who doesn't like the shift and with out time/tools/skills to mod their current gear stick.
'73 +2 130/5 RHD, now on the road and very slowly rolling though a "restoration"
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PostPost by: vincereynard » Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:26 pm

Mr Bell is spot on. Virtually all the slop is caused by either the ball breaking up and/or the bellows having split or lost its circlip. If you can rattle the lever up and down without much resistant its probably the bellows. Forward and backwards as well - the balls buggered.

My lever mods simply make it possible to change the ball and much easier to fit the lever into the box.

The other mods just line the selectors up so they engage with minimum resistance.

Getting a good lever and ball could be your greatest problem.

Could be a good opportunity to have some made for a group buy! (From modern material.)
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