Lotus Elan

[Almondgreen] Lotus Elan Sprint FHC

PostPost by: Almondgreen » Tue Dec 15, 2015 1:52 pm

Hi,

I'm reading this precious information mine called Lotuselan.net, since several weeks now, and I finally decided to introduce myself.
I'm Alex, 35, from France, more precisely I live near Lyon. This is my second Lotus, the first one is a '04 Lotus Exige.
2 months ago I bought a Lotus Elan Sprint FHC. The ad was unprecise, and the pictures were very poor, but I decided to give it a chance. And in France it's not common to see such a car for sale, especially a FHC (I'm not a DHC man). So I decided to give a call. The seller wasn't the owner, he was the mechanic who works on the car and was selling the car behalf his customer, who was an 75 years old person, owning the car since the last 3 decades.
The ad was saying that the French equivalent of the V5, was showing a car out from Ethel in 1967. At first I thought it was a Sprint Replica, with a big valve engine fitted, that suits me well.

I finally bought it, and I'm actually offering the car a welcome refresh, and the more I dismantle the car, the more I think it could be an original Sprint..
The owner gave me loads of papers with the car, including a '84 french magazine where "my" car is featured. In the article I can read that the owner of the car (a garage near Paris), imported the car several months ago and haven't had the time to change the reg plates, so I assume that GTJ229K is the original reg, which match with all the paperwork of its previous life in UK I have.
A quick look on the DVLA tells that GTJ229K is a car from the 16 August 1971 untaxed since february 84.

But the problem is that I have a chassis plate that doesn't match a Sprint (neither a '71 car).. The VIN is actually 366447, and the engine number doesn't begins with 45.

I've asked the owner, but he's actually facing a illness which affect his memory and doesn't seems to have specifical knowledge in chassis numbers, he just enjoyed the car as is.

If you have any idea of what could have happen ot my car ?

Some pictures to illustrate this long post (sorry..)

The magazine (note the steering, still fitted to the car nowadays):
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First pics in my garage, it seems clean, but it needs some TLC for being a safe toy.
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These mirrors are just horrible, I'll replace them with Raydyot style mirrors on the door
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It seams neat inside, but I'll finally decide to completly remove the dashboard for overhauling the wiring loom
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I removed the leaking fuel tank and find loads of holes and a nice crack on the fiberglass
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The fuel tank needs to be welded, some rust spots created tiny holes in it.
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The car has spent his life between Corsica and Paris, and I guess I have the genuine screen seals..
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The engine colour makes me sick, but it has been completely overhauled 10 years ago, and the owner has done less than 2500 miles since..
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I have several welcome mods that have been done to the car in his life, including big rear driveshafts, large stainless steel exhaust system (from the manifold to the silencer), alternator an uprated starter motor are fitted.


I won't try to make the car as genuine as possible. I want a car ready to be used (and abused) reliable and nice looking with some period mods.
Last edited by Almondgreen on Sun Dec 11, 2016 12:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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PostPost by: JC33supreme » Tue Dec 15, 2015 5:32 pm

Hello and a big welcome to your lovely fixed head coupe.

I'm not an expert but the "K" registration of your car is compatible with it being a genuine Sprint. There is an expert on here who runs a specialist site for Elan Sprints and I am sure he will be delighted to hear of yours and will, from his records, be able to give you a detailed history of your car. It doesn't matter whether or not it is a genuine Sprint, it will still be one of the bet driver's cars ever made.

Best wishes for a successful overhaul.

Regards,

John
John

If something is worth doing well.................................................... it's well worth undoing
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PostPost by: pereirac » Tue Dec 15, 2015 6:02 pm

Hi Alex,

If it has a galvanised chassis then it's been replaced. Might explain why the numbers don't match. The VIN number you quote sounds like a replacement chassis number? The chassis number should be engraved just opposite the exhaust manifold but could well be covered with dried oil :D The "VIN" number should be on the silverLotus build plate under the bonnet at the top right and should start 71 or 72 ....
Interior looks like a Sprint (only Sprints as far as I know had steering locks). Oil pressure gauge, heater knob and steering wheel look non original but the rest looks pretty good..
Tim is you man regarding Sprints, I have no doubt he will contact you and tell you everything about your car...
You could have a look on his website http://www.lotuselansprint.com for more details.

You car does appear to have an earlier (S3?) radiator but I fitted one in my car as it's more efficient that the later radiators..and the green cylinder and rocker colour is certainly original although I have seen Sprints painted a similar colour on the outside!

Carl

(I plan to be in Caen at the end of June for the Rétrofestival in my Sprint if you want to compare notes...)
Carl

72 Elan Sprint
87 Excel SE
97 Alpina B10

http://www.lotuselan.co.uk
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PostPost by: trw99 » Tue Dec 15, 2015 7:01 pm

Hi Alex

I have no record of that registration (which is from Liverpool) on any Sprint.

Clearly the VIN you quoted is from a FHC of 1966 vintage. The VIN plate in your engine compartment appears not to be of the correct type for a Sprint either.

Can you find the engine number on either the intake side engine mount?

Tim
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PostPost by: Europatc » Tue Dec 15, 2015 8:25 pm

Welcome Alex :D
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Tue Dec 15, 2015 10:37 pm

Hi Alex and welcome.

Three things are clear from your description and the pictures.....

First, your chassis number is for a November 1966 S3 Coupe

Second, the bodywork, trim and under the bonnet look essentially to be an S4 / Sprint, from 1968 through to 1972/3

Third, your original registration number is for a car registered between August 1971 and August 1972. The registration numbers in the UK are date specific.

The confusion is that these three things didn't start out all together!

It is anybody's guess how these three things came together, but it's quite possible that at some time an S3 identity was used to build a 'kit' Sprint, or an original S3 was 'upgraded' to Sprint specification.

Back in the 1980s a Lotus dealer (Christopher Neil) provided the 'CN Sprint Kit'. See below for the brochure. Unfortunately it is low resolution and can't be easily read, but I can't find the high resolution copy right now. When building this kit a donor Elan and identification would be required, and this could of course be a S3 Coupe

I do know of an S3 Coupe that had a Sprint DHC body, complete with dash, wiring etc. This was done in the late 1970s when the owner fancied a convertible car, and a convertible Sprint became available that had a blown engine and rusted chassis, so the body was popped onto the S3 running gear.

In the UK the registration number is issued to the chassis number of the car, and in your case the registration number seems to be 4 or 5 years later than the chassis number. However, if the (1966 S3) car lived in Jersey, or Ireland or another non-mainland UK location, and was brought back to the UK in 1971 / 72, it would have been allocated a 1971 / 72 registration number.

So there are a few possibilities. An HPI check here in the UK may provide you with some history of the registration number....when it was issued to the S3 Elan, and what number it replaced and why.

The engine number is located on the engine block, by the engine mounting, between the carburetors. You'll need a torch to see it. This could provide another clue.
Mark
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PostPost by: The Veg » Wed Dec 16, 2015 3:21 am

Hello from USA! :D

Good looking car, and it sounds like the story might be very interesting- keep us posted!
1969/70 Elan Plus 2 (not S) 50/2036
"It just wouldn't be a complete day if I didn't forget something!" -Me
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PostPost by: Almondgreen » Wed Dec 16, 2015 9:08 am

Whoa ! I wasn't expecting so much answers, with such details ! Thank you guys ! :D

Regarding the engine and chassis numbers, they seems to match :

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Engine number

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And the chassis that have been replaced in 1979 by Daytune (Mr SMYTH seems to be the owner ?)
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Was it common to replace a chassis to a 10 years old car ? At first I thought it could have been involved in an accident, but seeing the bill, I don't think so..



Another page from the magazine :

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And the jobs I've done to the car so far :

WIring loom :

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Boot repaired :
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Engine bay needs tidying
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And what a mechanic (or butcher, your choice) have done to fit the manifold :

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I guess the passenger's feet has never been cold !

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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Wed Dec 16, 2015 9:23 am

Well Alex, it gets more interesting!

Engine number LP4730 was originally in an Elan that was made in December 1965!
The cylinder head is later than that, as the design changed to the one you have in the middle of 1966.

The chassis plate is not the original one that the S3 left the factory with. They had the information very crudely scratched onto the plate. Your plate has been made so that the S3 chassis number matches up with the earlier engine number.

The chassis number looks like LR 1112, which is the right structure for a Lotus Replacement (LR) chassis.

The car definitely seems to be made up from a few others, but you can have just as much fun with it!
Mark
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PostPost by: john.p.clegg » Wed Dec 16, 2015 9:39 am

" Your plate has been made so that the S3 chassis number matches up with the earlier engine number."

or nearly..

P4730-13-A
P4730 LB A

Welcome to the wonderful world of Lotus.

John :wink:
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PostPost by: trw99 » Wed Dec 16, 2015 10:08 am

Alex

I think what you have is a Lotus Elan Bitsa. (A Bit of this and a Bit of that)

As such it is likely to be very difficult to identify the origins of your car. You could start by contacting the DVLA here in England as Mark suggested, to find out any history of the existing registration number. If that unveils additional info then you may be able to pin down the VIN, after which you can write to Andy Graham, the Lotus archivist for any additional info he may have.

Usually Bitsa's drive just like real Elans so you'll be able to enjoy the experience as much as any Elan owner!

Tim
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Wed Dec 16, 2015 12:09 pm

There is a clear distinction between a Late S4 / Sprint style FHC body and the earlier S3 / early S4 FHC body and that is the side vents on the B Pillar.

The later cars used the same grill as was used on the heater intake for the Plus 2 and had a lip moulded into the body while the earlier cars had no lip and a slightly different shape and style of grill. Hard to tell from the photos which grill you have but it looks to me like the later grill.

That and things like the steering column lock suggest your car is some amalgam of a later body and trim with earlier mechanicals, maybe done around the time the chassis was replaced ?

What ever it is, its a nice car and like all Lotus drive it and enjoy it.

cheers
Rohan
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PostPost by: Almondgreen » Wed Dec 16, 2015 7:32 pm

trw99 wrote:Alex

I think what you have is a Lotus Elan Bitsa. (A Bit of this and a Bit of that)


Yes TIm, that was my first thought, but I was suspicious after seeing the reg number on the magazine and I found the "replica" well made, so I was a little bit confused.

Anyway, REAL Sprint or not, I have a big valve engine, and I'm going to use it as it should be ! 8)

I'll post pics of the "rebuild" in the appropriate section later.

Thanks for all your comments guys !
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PostPost by: nigelrbfurness » Thu Dec 17, 2015 2:40 pm

I'm sure there are others on this forum who have seen at least as many Elans over the years I have, but having handled all models at one time or another I can add the following observations.

The body shape, flat bonnet, interior trim, dashboard (note bonnet release position), steering column, door cards, door furniture (including interior handles), exterior door handles and locks, badging and wing repeaters are all 100% consistent with a 1971 Sprint. To adapt a S3 body to look like this would be a long and pointless exercise.

Therefore, this car is not a series 3 car. The mystery, then, is how it came to have the VIN number that it currently displays.

My guess is that the original VIN plate "disappeared" at some point and has been replaced with the current one. Others have correctly observed that pre-69 cars did not have stamped VIN plates. Certainly from at least as early as Jan 1970 they did.

It also seems likely that the engine block is not the original, though the head and cam cover could well be.

I think others have suggested that the VIN number may have been "acquired" as a result of an attempt to match the engine number - maybe in innocence. It should be possible to locate the correct VIN number from the registration, assuming that it is also correct, and from the hidden numbers written inside the doors in crayon during assembly at Lotus

I don't think I'd describe it as a "bitsa" because pretty much all the visible parts look consistent, only the engine number is inconsistent. If it has had a replacement galvanised chassis, the chassis (frame) ID number is a red herring in the car's identity.

"stands back with fire extinguisher ready and tin hat on now..."

Nigel F.
1970 S4SE/1760cc big valve/SA-AX block, L2s, 45DCOEs, 1978 Jensen GT, 1962 AH Sprite, Alfa-Romeo 159, 1966 Bristol Bus, 1947 AEC Regal bus.
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PostPost by: trw99 » Thu Dec 17, 2015 5:51 pm

Nigel, I feel it is too early to so definitively state 'Therefore, this car is not a series 3 car.' It seems clear that further investigation needs to be carried out and via a number of avenues. As Mark has already pointed out, it is too easy to acquire various Elan parts and put them together to give the appearance of a particular series of Elan.

However, you do make a good point about looking for the crayon marks. Should they all marry up (bonnet, boot lid, headlight buckets, glove box, door inners, inside roof) then that would be helpful, though merely to confirm the body came from a S4 or Sprint. I note the absence of the lip on the rear valance, which I would like to see for a Sprint from Jul/Aug 71 onwards; mind you that is not definitive either!

Tim
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