Lotus Elan

Just Acquired a '67 Lotus Elan Coupe

PostPost by: MrBonus » Thu Jun 07, 2018 12:59 pm

Hello all,

I'll be up front - Other than a lot of searching on this forum, I have no clue what I'm doing with this car mechanically but I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. I met the prior owner at a car show last year who after 12 years of ownership, was ready to move on. He committed to replacing the water pump prior to sale and I took delivery from him this week.

The entire car had previously been restored in the late '90s but has a handful of issues, mostly electrical (big surprise!) and I'm somewhat at a loss as to where to start as I would like to get it through inspection and get it properly titled.

The car was converted from positive to negative ground when the alternator conversion was done, however the tach goes a bit wild and I'm not sure if it's a tach-issue or a grounding issue.

I also discovered that none of my lights (brake, turn, front) are operational. The wiring looks like a bit of a mess and the repair is above my abilities so I was wondering if anyone can refer me to a shop in the Wilmington, Delaware area that would be willing to tackle this for me.

Otherwise, the car pulls and brakes hard and handles better than anything else I can remember driving. I look forward to this interesting journey of ownership!

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1967 Lotus Elan Coupe - Super Safety
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PostPost by: tedtaylor » Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:53 am

Mr. Bonus, welcome to the Lotus Elan world. I'm up in Haddon Heights, NJ so close enough to visit some day. You should join our Philly area Lotus group called PALS (Philadelphia Area Lotus Society), we have a website here:
www.LotusPALS.ning.com Membership is free and there are plenty of resources, members, events, shows, etc. to be involved with. Check it out.

As for your issues, i would venture to say you have a bad ground situation as to the lights. Just find the main grounding cable/wire to the chassis. These have always been Negative ground, so your Speedo may have other issues and that is a common complaint. Even my speedo needle jumps around. More likely to be the actual unit itself.

They are simple cars to work on and RD Enterprises in Quakertown, PA has plenty of the parts you might need. Check out my hobby website below for contact information and some odds & ends parts, and my Lotus car collection. See you soon!
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PostPost by: groucho » Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:02 am

Interesting color combination there - you don't see many black Elans. Looks good!

You should get in touch with the PALS club - http://lotuspals.ning.com/ - that'll be your closest source for nearby owners.

It does look like the car's had its fair share of fiddling over the years, which is pretty common - I'm noting right off the bat the upside-down build tag! :) I see some crimped wiring there right by the back carb; no doubt there's a real rat's nest under the dash - I see a little hanging down in the interior photo. Mine was similar; I recently ripped it all out and am in the process of rewiring from scratch.

If you get it done in time, you should bring it to this year's LOG, it's not too far from you this year, in Cleveland. http://log38.com/ If I get mine together in time, too, we could compare flares! :mrgreen: Mine's in a bunch of pieces but I am hoping to get it ready to go by then. If not, well, that's why I have the Elise! Even if you don't have your Elan together, it's definitely worth the visit; it's helpful and inspiring to see other Elans first-hand.
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PostPost by: SENC » Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:59 am

Agree with the recommendations you have, but for quick, local advice look for a local British car club and join and ask them for reputable shops in the area that are familiar with vintage british cars, if not Lotus in particular. Google found this http://www.bccdelaware.com

Also agree with checking grounds, particularly the main one in the boot/trunk. Pull the carpet and the spare out and follow the negative cable from the battery (start by disconnecting the battery) and you'll find the other end terms a few short feet away in the bottom of the boot where it is screwed to the floor - or more accurately to a connection through the floor to the metal subframe. Inspect both ends of the cable for fraying or rust or weakness and clean/tighten as necessary. Inspect the connection in the bottom of the boot - is it tight and clean? Take a wire brush to the nut, washers, bolt threads if need be. Get the back of the car on ramps and inspect the other side of that same connection (will be a bolt head) and check that it is tight to the metal subframe. It may be none of the above, but these are common culprits of electrical problems so checking them and doing some basics first might get you up and running more quickly than you think.

Good looking car - have fun
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PostPost by: Elan45 » Fri Jun 08, 2018 3:50 am

I am assuming from your signature that this is your Super Safety. I too have a Super Safety, at my home in Florida. Originally it was Positive earth and I have converted it to Negative earth, so that it was easier to change to an alternator. I have the small oriental alternator, but I have yet to fabricate the new brackets, so it is still on a DC generator.

When I converted to neg earth, it required the tach have a minor rewire to make it compatible. I should also mention that the window switches operate upside down. I have yet to pull the dash back for access so I can reverse the wires. Most of my Elan labors have been concentrated on getting my pre-airflow coupe ready for paint. Hopefully this December!

My summer has been and continues to be hectic. My son and I are restoring the Falcon bodied A-H Sprite for the 60th anniversary Sprite celebrations. This is the special Sprite which won its class at 1960 Sebring 12hr and .LeMans 24hr. Hope to have it running at Put-in-Bay and ELVR in Sept.

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PostPost by: pharriso » Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:30 am

Welcome!, Looks like a nice car, love the big arches & panasports...

Get involved with the owners club LOG, highly recommended

p.s. Federal Sprints had their Vin plates upside down so they can be read from the nearest side over the fender, so check before you "correct" it.
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PostPost by: MrBonus » Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:04 pm

Thank you all for your advice! I will definitely join the local groups.

The rear ground looks to be in good shape.

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I have a QuickJack. I've read numerous discussions here about lifting these cars; I know the front crossmember is the best place to jack it but I'd like to use my QuickJack on the sills by the wheel wells but I'm obviously scared.

Any thoughts?
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PostPost by: denicholls2 » Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:57 pm

RD Enterprises has the correct bullet connector kits to restore wiring to as-built. Perhaps not the best as-built quality from the Prince of Darkness, but people who like original will appreciate your efforts when you go to sell. All connections should be cleaned and lubricated with dielectric grease, which makes a world of difference.

Tachometer issues (not speedometer, that is mechanical if original) can arise when using aftermarket ignition modules. Usually there are straightforward solutions which you can find on this site, or search Nisonger for a supplier happy to modify your tach if your pockets are deep. There are others as well.

The speedometer uses a rotating magnet to induce the needle, which is sprung and mounted on a concentric wheel, to move against the spring. Mechanical interference caused by dead bugs and cobwebs can cause the two wheels to come into contact and make the needle jump or pin itself at max. You'll need to disassemble the unit (Carefully!) to clean this up.
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PostPost by: MrBonus » Fri Jun 08, 2018 3:01 pm

denicholls2 wrote:RD Enterprises has the correct bullet connector kits to restore wiring to as-built. Perhaps not the best as-built quality from the Prince of Darkness, but people who like original will appreciate your efforts when you go to sell. All connections should be cleaned and lubricated with dielectric grease, which makes a world of difference.

Tachometer issues (not speedometer, that is mechanical if original) can arise when using aftermarket ignition modules. Usually there are straightforward solutions which you can find on this site, or search Nisonger for a supplier happy to modify your tach if your pockets are deep. There are others as well.

The speedometer uses a rotating magnet to induce the needle, which is sprung and mounted on a concentric wheel, to move against the spring. Mechanical interference caused by dead bugs and cobwebs can cause the two wheels to come into contact and make the needle jump or pin itself at max. You'll need to disassemble the unit (Carefully!) to clean this up.


Interesting and great info! I may contact Nisonger then.

Also, I'm getting the "ignition" light at idle and my idle is very, very low, bad enough that it will occasionally stall. I got my turn signals and windshield wipers working BUT they barely/sometimes don't work when the car is at that near-stall idle.

You guys have all been fantastic. I really really love this information!
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PostPost by: SENC » Fri Jun 08, 2018 3:55 pm

If you don't have a workshop manual, they are still available for order from Lotus (reprints) and are invaluable. I've posted a picture of the page on electrical grounding for your reference, if you want to find and check the main grounds up front, too.

screenshot_2018-06-08-11-44-12.png and


Also consider getting a copy of Brian Buckland's book - it is a tremendous help having his pictures and first hand knowledge working on these cars as a companion to the manual. Fortunately these are easier and cheaper to find now that the 1st edition had been reprinted (RD Enterprises has them), but be advised an updated 2nd edition is exoected to be released in the coming months.

As to jacking, you are right to be wary but it is doable in a number of ways - the key is to spread the load as much as possible. A simple set of low plastic or wood ramps to back onto would be all you need to check the ground bolt and inspect anything else back there. For lifting I use a custom made block that goes across the car just in front of the wheel wells and has a gap for the exhaust - most of the lifting pressure is at the subframe.

Google "lift site:lotuselan.net" and you'll find a number of threads and pictures that will give ideas.
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PostPost by: SENC » Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:01 pm

Here is a picture of the wooden blocking I mentioned. As you can see I'm lifting centrally with a floor jack.

20180415_134933.jpg and
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PostPost by: MrBonus » Fri Jun 08, 2018 6:13 pm

SENC wrote:If you don't have a workshop manual, they are still available for order from Lotus (reprints) and are invaluable. I've posted a picture of the page on electrical grounding for your reference, if you want to find and check the main grounds up front, too.

Screenshot_2018-06-08-11-44-12.png


Also consider getting a copy of Brian Buckland's book - it is a tremendous help having his pictures and first hand knowledge working on these cars as a companion to the manual. Fortunately these are easier and cheaper to find now that the 1st edition had been reprinted (RD Enterprises has them), but be advised an updated 2nd edition is exoected to be released in the coming months.

As to jacking, you are right to be wary but it is doable in a number of ways - the key is to spread the load as much as possible. A simple set of low plastic or wood ramps to back onto would be all you need to check the ground bolt and inspect anything else back there. For lifting I use a custom made block that goes across the car just in front of the wheel wells and has a gap for the exhaust - most of the lifting pressure is at the subframe.

Google "lift site:lotuselan.net" and you'll find a number of threads and pictures that will give ideas.


I have the Owners Workshop Manual. Is that the same thing? I want the Buckland book but haven't been able to find it. I will wait for the 2nd edition.

I'm thinking I will cut a custom piece of wood to spread the load across the sill. I really like using my QuickJack (can get it higher than jack stands).

Thanks again!
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PostPost by: tvacc » Fri Jun 08, 2018 6:52 pm

Please consider joining Lotus Ltd. www.lotusltd.com And come to LOG in Cleveland.

Congrats on a great car. Nothing is like an Elan. Nothing!

You can life the front using the crossmember but I always cut a 2x4 and taper the edges so that it goes beyond the edges long ways and sticks between the lower a arms.

As for raising the car by the sills, that is fine as long as you spread the load with a 2x4 drilling a hole in the wood for the outer most rear seat bolt.

As far as the wiring is concerned it really is very simple. You just have to stare at the wiring diagram and understand it fully. I was once told by Ray at RD when I was having a wiring issue on a road trip from Seattle to Buffalo. "Tony, you are just going to have to come to grips with the fact that you are going to have to understand the wiring completely, till you know it in your sleep, then you will "GET" it"

He was right.
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PostPost by: MrBonus » Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:22 pm

tvacc wrote:Please consider joining Lotus Ltd. http://www.lotusltd.com And come to LOG in Cleveland.

Congrats on a great car. Nothing is like an Elan. Nothing!

You can life the front using the crossmember but I always cut a 2x4 and taper the edges so that it goes beyond the edges long ways and sticks between the lower a arms.

As for raising the car by the sills, that is fine as long as you spread the load with a 2x4 drilling a hole in the wood for the outer most rear seat bolt.

As far as the wiring is concerned it really is very simple. You just have to stare at the wiring diagram and understand it fully. I was once told by Ray at RD when I was having a wiring issue on a road trip from Seattle to Buffalo. "Tony, you are just going to have to come to grips with the fact that you are going to have to understand the wiring completely, till you know it in your sleep, then you will "GET" it"

He was right.


Hah! The one thing I've never taken the time to properly understand is wiring, and I feel this is the wrong car to not know wiring as an owner. I guess it's never too late to learn, right?

I likely won't be taking the car anywhere soon as I first have to get these niggling issues resolved so I can register the car and my wife is going to be giving birth to our first next month.
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PostPost by: Chrispy » Sat Jun 09, 2018 12:47 am

My jumping tacho ended up being a loose potentiometer inside the tacho. Mine was also reading way off so I replaced the majority of the electronic components. Working really well now.

http://www.lotuselan.net/forums/lotus-electrical-f38/tacho-repair-t41110.html
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