Lotus Elan

Assemble an Elan in 3 Hours!

PostPost by: Stevie-Heathie » Sun Jul 21, 2019 9:43 pm

Drove the S3 to the Black Swan In Ockham Surrey for lunch today. Got talking to a lovely retired chap in the carpark who explained he was a mechanic at Bell & Colville (just down the road) in the 70s.

He was one of the mechanics who would come to your house to assemble your Elan for you. The charge was less than the sales tax would have been I suppose.

He said that two mechanics got it down to a fine art and they could do the job in three hours. The hardest part? Installing the beading above the front bumper. He was a proponent of the boiling water technique.

Fascinsting chap. He also mentioned the huge difficulties they had in selling the final consignment of Sprints, once the Esprit and its futuristic wedge shape arrived. Massive discounts apparently £1700 I think he said.

Could have chatted to him for hours but family was waiting to go for a walk . . .

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PostPost by: trw99 » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:11 am

Interesting, thanks Steve.

I suspect his memory was playing tricks, as the Espirit was not introduced until that wonderful summer of 1976. I may have a 1975 registered Sprint on my register (not near my data right now) but know of none as late as 76.

The last Sprint came off the production line in March 1973 and were selling slowly by that summer, VAT having increased their cost and reduced their competitiveness by then.

It would be good to gather more memories from folk like this fellow.

Tim
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:26 am

trw99 wrote:Interesting, thanks Steve.

I suspect his memory was playing tricks, as the Espirit was not introduced until that wonderful summer of 1976. I may have a 1975 registered Sprint on my register (not near my data right now) but know of none as late as 76.

The last Sprint came off the production line in March 1973 and were selling slowly by that summer, VAT having increased their cost and reduced their competitiveness by then.

It would be good to gather more memories from folk like this fellow.

Tim


I suspect confusion was with the second generation wedge shape Elite launch stopping Plus 2S 130/5 sales and the wedge shape Esprit show prototypes affecting Europa Special sales. Like you said the 2 seat Elan was pretty much at the end of its life by then before both these events. In reality neither of these cars replaced the Elan which was an opportunity that Lotus failed to recognise in their desire to move up market to bigger Grand Tourers like the Elite and bigger better mid engined cars like the Esprit. The market for a small compact front engined sport car still existed as demonstrated by the somewhat late attempt by Lotus at the second generation Elan / M100 and the strong success of the Mazda Miata / Mx 5

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Rohan

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PostPost by: jimj » Mon Jul 22, 2019 12:41 pm

His memory must be awry, the chrome bumper strips were already attached, as was all the exterior and interior trim. Only the engine/gearbox, driveshafts and suspension needed attaching.
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PostPost by: elanner » Mon Jul 22, 2019 1:03 pm

And from this picture it was only the front suspension hubs/shocks/anti-roll-bar that needed fitting. It looks like the rear was complete (not surprisingly, having new owners fit the Rotoflexes would not have been popular...).

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elan_s3_partsconstructionkit.jpeg and
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Mon Jul 22, 2019 2:01 pm

elanner wrote:And from this picture it was only the front suspension hubs/shocks/anti-roll-bar that needed fitting. It looks like the rear was complete (not surprisingly, having new owners fit the Rotoflexes would not have been popular...).

Nick
Elan_S3_PartsConstructionKit.jpeg


I would bet the kits came in various states including ones needing the front bumper and chrome strip being fitted

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PostPost by: JimE » Mon Jul 22, 2019 6:42 pm

Certainly some Sprints were delivered leaving the owner to fit the stripes. Unfortunately in my case, the owner didn't locate them properly. I call it patina. :lol:
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PostPost by: saildrive2001 » Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:57 pm

I agree with Jim, body was complete & on the chassis, but all the suspension & drive train had to be installed. Engine & gearbox was supplied as a unit. Two of us built mine in a weekend but I would be really surprised if you could assemble one in three hours. Interesting aside is that my identification plate does not have the engine # inscribed on it, because of course being a kit, they didn't know until they shipped it what engine would be in it.
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PostPost by: trw99 » Wed Jul 24, 2019 9:32 am

Here is an article on building the component car that I wrote for Club Lotus News magazine a while ago.

Tim
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PostPost by: jimj » Wed Jul 24, 2019 1:22 pm

If professional help was enlisted to build the kit then purchase tax became payable so no dealers did this officially. At the time I think some people paid cash to mechanics to work at the weekend, naughty.
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PostPost by: billwill » Wed Jul 24, 2019 1:40 pm

I heard a rumour that when you assembled a kit and took it for inspection the inspecting mechanics used to take it apart and put it back their way, to be sure.
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PostPost by: el-saturn » Wed Jul 24, 2019 3:48 pm

nick - your comment: assembling the rotoflex being "unpopular" makes me smile all over the place -- for me it's so unpopular that i've been planning to put my TTR front and rear race/road suspension back in, as swiss historic MOT status prohibits adjustables and no drilled rotors. they didn't notice the 1" rollbar sandy
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PostPost by: nwbaxter66 » Wed Jul 24, 2019 8:27 pm

RE: the comment from billwill.
In 68, my Dad and a friend built two Plus 2s over a couple of weekends with help from the mechanics from the local dealer ... and always talked about the take it apart and rebuild it process that occurred when it went back to the dealer/factory.
The things people did to avoid purchase tax.
N
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PostPost by: englishmaninwales » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:53 am

Quoting from the CL article above:

“Having taken all this trouble to build a new Elan, the owner was obliged to have the car inspected and road tested by a Lotus dealer, who would then validate the warranty. According to dealers of the time, the most common faults they found on inspecting a home-built car would be to the ride height.....”

Maybe I’m missing something here, but with supplied springs and fixed spring platforms, how was it possible to get the ride height wrong? Metalastic suspension bushes tightened in full droop?

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PostPost by: pharriso » Thu Jul 25, 2019 2:30 pm

englishmaninwales wrote:how was it possible to get the ride height wrong? Metalastic suspension bushes tightened in full droop?

Malcolm


That'll do it!
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