After being disappointed by many other classic cars I acquired a 72 elan sprint along with quite a few Thompson racing parts and a 2l fuel injected twin-cam motor. Fabulous, as it handles superbly without the modern ABS etc interruptions.
July soon came around and the planned preparation didn’t happen, due to blown fuel pumps, so we only had time to reupholster the seats (thanks to Sue Miller) and change the engine oil & filter! Not ideal at all.
Still, we set off and 40 minutes after escaping the ferry whilst we were enjoying the deserted french roads with fresh croissants & tarte aux pommes in hand the sprint coughed, spluttered and ground to a halt................ in the middle of nowhere. It suddenly dawned on me that the one thing I should have packed was the workshop manual as the tool kit needs proper guidance if its to be of any use.
Well at least things couldn't get any worse and after 20 mins of head scratching, my lovely wife suggested that we had just run out of fuel and that I should use the spare fuel can (top tip from forum). The fuel gauge did have its off days. Hmmm, so we were soon back underway and fuelling up at the next garage. I hoped that the garage owner hadn't noticed that my face matched the carnival red paintwork.
On friday, in 30 degree heat, we arrived at the Circuit De La Sarthe, sun burnt and clutching our Club Lotus tickets. The Club parking on the Bugatti circuit was excellent and a great place to view the competitors along with the huge range of cars and clubs attending. Its was also great to meet several other owners over the weekend, especially Christian (Old English White), all of whom had lots of valuable tips and advise. Cooling improvements already underway. Qualifying was great to watch and thankfully the crowds were fairly small.
Saturday morning arrived with heavy rain which made the concept of the laps a little daunting. Around 10.30 we lined up 3 wide on the Bugatti awaiting our chance to head out. Thankfully it had stopped raining as we got underway but the circuit was still very greasy. The exhilaration of crossing the start/finish line was priceless and on the whole everyone was being sensible although I got sideways at the bus stop and was severely cut up by a Lamborghini Countach through the final chicane. Lap 2 however reminded me of the january sales with cars now darting all over the place either cutting you up or spinning out. Total admiration for a Mk 2 jag with 6 (yes, there were what looked like 4 heads in the back) on board pitching and rolling through the turns like an oil tanker in a hurricane.
Unfortunately all good things etc when a french plate porsche, who had been weaving through the field, hit the safety barrier proper style just after the Dunlop curve. More speed than skill i'm afraid and so we were ushered off onto the Bugatti. 55 Minutes of slow moving pain eclipsed with an over heated engine & clutch and so we pulled over to allow everything, including me, to cool. A sudden flash of inspiration led to removal of the bonnet and placing it on the roof to the delight of the french crowd and we drove off slowly to a volley of camera phones. This continued all the way to the parking area and really peeved a guy in a rather handsome Aston Martin Virage Volante who could not understand why a car with its engine on show was getting so much more attention.
Saturday afternoon was spent enjoying the pageantry that is Le Mans and some splendid racing and oh, how I love the Shapecraft. Evening was spent at the Auberge des Hunaudieres on the Mulsanne straight. Excellent food & wine and only feet from the track. The view from the upstairs windows was quite simply breathtaking. The cars may be several decades old but they remain awesome when running, in the dark, at full chat and no silent F1 turbo's here, just full fat decibel heaven.
Sunday was more of the same, which left monday to move on. We left the chateau with flags waving and handshakes from new friends and without the silencer which was removed, along with its supporting bracket, on the metal gate stop. In the words of Homer (Simpson) DOH!!!!!!!!!! An hour repair saw us on our way to Brittany and ultimately the ferry home.
And thus the countdown starts for 2016 and I cant wait, now where's that prep sheet!!
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enjoyed the story, maybe I will think about going!
1970 S4 dhc big valve
1973 Ginetta G15
1967 Ginetta G4 [sadly now sold]
1959 lotus elite type 14
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I will definitely be doing this again and after reading your post I should make sure I socialise with the lotus crew. Hopefully I'll have the funds in place by 2016 to have sourced and sorted my own Elan S3 or S4 and can leave the M100 at home
Thanks for sharing the story, great read
Lotus Elan S4 Coupe - Wedgewood Blue
Lotus Elise S1 - Racing Green
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