Lotus Elan

Lotus Elan 1967 S3 SE DHC - Restoration Project

PostPost by: bethanknights » Wed Oct 16, 2019 12:40 pm

Hi,

I am a new member, and very new to the lotus crew. I am at the start of a big project to restore my dads Lotus Elan. My dad bought the car second hand in the early 1970's, drove it for many years, until it came off the road around 40 years ago. It has remained off road since. He started a complete restoration job on it around 15 years ago. He took the whole car apart, and started to rebuild with a new chassis, but never completed it, so its in bits... literally, other than a rolling chassis, with suspension etc fitted. He recently passed away and I am determined to get his much loved car back on the road. I have never known the car on the road, but he spoke so fondly of it.

I would like to get a few restoration specialists to have a look at it and give me an idea of whether they could take it on, where to start, costs etc.

Can anyone on here recommend some people specialised in lotus restoration I could talk to? I am Hampshire based, so close to home would be handy but I am happy for it to go further afield if I feel like its the right person.

The other thing is, my dad sent it off somewhere to have some work done awhile ago and then really struggled to get it back from the place it went, which is a bit scary. He had hire a trailer himself and go and get it or he may never have seen it again. Is there something you can put in place, a contract or something that would prevent this from happening?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give.

Bethan
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PostPost by: s28ven » Wed Oct 16, 2019 7:04 pm

For it’s worth here is my two pence.

Our car is the same car and we were in a slightly similar situation. My dad is still present although neither he nor I have the time to complete. We had put the car back together with a new chassis, rebuilt engine and it was rolling although still needed a fair bit of work. Earlier this year we decided that we were going to get someone to get it to a useable state in the hope that driving it round the village gives us the enthusiasm to make time to complete.

So far we have spent £8K to have a rewire, solid driveshafts, carbs re-furbished and a number of smaller jobs complete.

If the car has a sentimental value to you (which I’m sure it does) and you have very deep pockets then go ahead although if neither of the above apply. Sell the car to someone who has the knowledge and capabilities to complete and buy one on the road as it will no doubt be hugely cheaper.
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PostPost by: Thornts » Wed Oct 16, 2019 7:29 pm

Hi and welcome. My 2p worth (you now have 4p, not much more needed!):

https://www.pjslotus.co.uk/about-us

No affiliation, they live and breath Lotus.

PM me if you would like to discuss. Good luck!

Rob
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Thu Oct 17, 2019 1:21 pm

Bethan, before you commit to having anybody restore your Dad's car you need to have a hard think about the cost. There are a couple of good restoration companies that will undertake the restoration, and the one Rob mentioned above is one of them. But as a ball park figure, you are looking at £40,000 to £70,000 depending on the specification you want for a professional turnkey service.

Any car that has been standing for 40 years will need everything doing to it to make it reliable. With an Elan, you can do the work in three or four phases to spread the pain of the restoration and of course the cost.

The first phase for your car could be to get the rolling chassis completed, and get that back on the car so that it's all in one piece! Given that you have a new chassis, the cost for overhauling the suspension, steering, back axle, drive shafts, wheels / tyres and brakes, putting them all on the chassis, and mounting the chassis on the body, wouldn't be huge.

The second phase would be to get the engine. ancillaries and gearbox overhauled, and getting those back in the car and getting the car running.

The third phase is the cosmetics, getting the paint and trim sorted out. This is probably the most expensive part of the restoration, depending on how much work the bodyshell requires to be fixed.

The fourth phase would be to get all the little bits sorted out, such as the headlamp vacuum pods, the dash and instruments / switches, the heater and wiper motor, the electric windows, headlamps, re-chroming etc. There are lots of bits and they all take time. Some of these will have to be removed to complete the third phase anyway, such as door handles, lights etc.

There is also some more complexity about doing the second phase (engine and gearbox overhaul) before the third phase (bodywork and trim). If you want a perfect car at the end of the restoration, the engine / gearbox need to be out of the car to be able to paint out the engine bay.

There is a lot more to it than I can write up in 5 minutes, but the main thing is that you have to decide what you want to end up with, and are you happy to spend around £50,000 to get a well known and reliable professional to complete the work.

What model of car is it? I am currently getting a car shell restored in Liphook, Hampshire (not an Elan!) so I'm over that way quite a lot. Happy to drop by and have a natter about what's needed.

Mark Kempson
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PostPost by: Matt Elan » Thu Oct 17, 2019 2:16 pm

Welcome Bethan to what is probably the friendliest forum on the interweb!
Marks advice is excellent and it breaks down what is a daunting task into achievable steps. Doing it a restoration like this step by step means you are in control and will not loosing sight work needed and the budget.

Where are you based? I ask because its always good to have more than one head looking at a problem and I'd be happy to assist. I live in the north of Hampshire and am currently restoring a Plus 2 and have a reasonable set of contacts in the Hampshire/Berks/Surrey area who can help.
Regards
Matt
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PostPost by: Mick6186 » Thu Oct 17, 2019 3:01 pm

Hi Bethan,
Don't be put off by the huge sums of money talked of. I have recently finished recommissioning a +2 130/5 that had been off the road for at least 25 years. These cars are not super complicated and all jobs can be completed by a competent person in a reasonable size garage. You don't need to pay a garage 80/100 pound an hour to do simple tasks. I changed the chassis, rebuilt all of the suspension, brakes etc, sprayed the car in cellulose all in a 24 by 12 foot garage (on my own). If you are not confident with engine & gearbox work this may have to be farmed out to a competent specialist, but again it,'s not rocket science ( ford cortina with a pretty basic cylinder head attached).
Treat it as a hobby with no specific target time and always be ready to ask for advice, for which this forum is brilliant,
Good luck,
Mick.
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PostPost by: bethanknights » Thu Oct 17, 2019 3:54 pm

Hi everyone,

Thanks for your responses, I have to say the £40-70k costs shocked me a little, after speaking to a couple of people (one who has previously had an elan restored) I was thinking more about the £20-25k mark.

The phasing is really helpful though, as it helps me understand the steps involved. I think my dad may have got most of the way through phase 1 already.

Not sure you quite understand how much of a complete novice I am. I will readily admit I have no clue what I am doing when it comes to mechanics ( I changed a car battery once), so rebuilding it myself just seems impossible.I am happy to manage the process if it needs to go to various different places to get different bits done. Id like to get involved where I can though as I am not sure it will feel the same if I just send it off and it comes back shiny and new, I don't think I am that type of person. I also really don't want a show quality car, I want a car than I can maintain and happily drive without worrying about damaging the paintwork for instance.

I am still going to get a couple of places to have a look and give me an idea of cost for them to do it, and then I can make a more informed decision. The reality is that its got too much sentimental value to sell, and I hate the idea that it continues to rot away in a barn (that's probably worse than selling it) so Ive got to do something and I definitely can't afford £40k. Not sure where that leaves me.....

I am based in Southampton, but the car is at my parents house just outside Romsey. Happy for anyone to come and say hello and give me any advice they can.

Thanks,
Bethan
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PostPost by: Matt Elan » Thu Oct 17, 2019 4:56 pm

Hi Bethan
I've PM'ed you
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