Lotus Elan

Excel excell-ence?

PostPost by: 69S4 » Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:06 am

I'm not sure if this is a genetic thing but my son has recently expressed a desire to buy an older Lotus. It's not going to be an Elan as (I'm sure) he sees mine coming to him in the natural course of events. I keep telling him that at his age (late 20's) he ought to be looking at Elises but somehow he seems to be more interested in the 80's stuff - in particular Excels.

I know nothing about them as that whole generation seems to have passed me by. Anybody here have any thoughts, opinions, or even knowledge of them: good / bad buy? under / over priced at present? Living up to the "Lots Of Trouble" etc reputation/ sorted out via the Toyota parts bin? A joy to own / buy a Porche?

All wisdom and opinions passed on.
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PostPost by: LaikaTheDog » Fri Aug 30, 2019 1:30 pm

excel SE, as late as you can, or very early elite...

excel SE because it has the latest of all the developments and the elite because the styling is so unusual you have to love it

personally i love the SE and at the moment they are priced OK, you can get a really nice one for not much money.. however as with all Lotus, they need to be a used car to be trouble free, so dont be put off by high mileage as long as they have been properly cared for. some even have aircon !

very cool retro grey one with red side stripes and red velour interior on car and classic at the moment
Definitely needs a shiny suit with the arms rolled up and aviator raybans to drive it...
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PostPost by: MarkDa » Fri Aug 30, 2019 3:15 pm

I think that part of the attraction for the younger generation is the relatively low performance.
My son has a 330bhp Impreza with sticky tyres and the outright grip is amazing.
So to get anywhere near the limit you have to be really looning it - whereas in my Elan he enjoys stringing together corners at sensible sub limit speeds.

Their daily drivers have top speeds and mid range grunt (turbo diesels and auto boxes) that match our cars.
But they just don't have the tactility and engagement of ours which come alive when you start pushing on a bit.
Very much 'less is more'
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PostPost by: vincereynard » Fri Aug 30, 2019 5:23 pm

These are the chaps for Lotus Excel stuff.

http://www.lotusbits.com/
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PostPost by: Esprit2 » Sat Aug 31, 2019 6:57 pm

Subscribe to LotusExcel.net forums (also Elite & Eclat).

http://www.lotusexcel.net/phpbb/

I've not had an Excel, but I've had two Eclats. I loved 'em... they're great cars. A few maintenance weaknesses, like the rear U-joints. But when well maintained, they're great to drive. Their steering feedback & feel are exceptional. It's said that Colin Chapman liked to be seen in the Esprit, but he preferred to drive an Elite/ Eclat/ Excel.

The Elite/ Eclat/ Excel 4-seaters all had the reputation for out-handling the contemporary Esprits of the day, even lapping the Hethel track close enough to the lap times of Turbo Esprits that Lotus took steps to slow them down.

I used to actively autocross both an '79 Eclat and an '80 Esprit S2. I hotrodded the Esprit's engine, so it was faster just based on power. But I ran 225/50x14 DOT Road Race tires all around on both the Eclat and the Esprit, so the handling differences were more 'car' than tires. I can attest to the fact that, IMHO, the Eclat did handle better than the Esprit... and the Esprit was no slouch. The Eclat's only 'negative' was that it's longer wheelbase wasn't as 'at home' on a really tight parking lot auto-X course. But on a more open course, it's handling was great.

Oh, well, there was a second 'negative'. Both of my Eclats had power steering, and it was much lighter than it needed to be, and far slower than I liked (I never tried the Excel's). There were some really tight, 'busy' autocross courses on which the limiter was that I simply couldn't flail my arms about fast enough to keep up. The car was doing fine... I couldn't 'frenzy' fast enough. I toyed with the idea of converting to the quicker manual steering, but never did. If I were to shop for another one, I'd definitely look for one with manual steering. It's a light car... power steering really isn't necessary unless the driver has a physical limitation.

Having said all of that, I must add that my daily driver for decades has been a series of Lotus Europas, and nothing 'excels' at the "Add Lightness' sort of handling like a small vintage Lotus. Elans & Europas are like water bugs scooting around on a pond, while Excels & Esprits are 'cars' with exceptional handling. In a gaggle of 'cars', they stand out above all others... but they're no Elans/ Europas. Disappointment is a function of expectations, and if you gauge life from the seat of an Elan, the Excel may just be too large and slow to react. In a race around the living room, a Chihuahua will beat a Thoroughbred every time. But in a herd of Throughbreds, the Excel runs circles around the rest.

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PostPost by: The Veg » Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:23 pm

No personal experience with these cars, but I did have an Esprit for a while and can say that the 9xx engines are great. They can be a bit demanding to maintain, but they are sturdy: the bottom-end resembles something from a diesel truck! Delightful engine when all is right with it.
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PostPost by: 69S4 » Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:33 pm

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who offered an opinion - including those by pm that I've not been able to reply to personally. I was just passing on your comments to my son a few minutes ago and next time he's back in the UK (he lives in Sweden) we're going to see if there's any we can look at.
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