Lotus Elan

Taking The Plunge

PostPost by: sawman » Sat Feb 07, 2004 9:09 pm

I need a second car for use 2-3 times a week(although if I end up with something nice it wil probably be a daily driver - you know, the 40 mile drive for a sunday paper etc'), I have a hankering for a plus 2, one of my earliest motoring memories is sitting in my uncles plus 2 in 1972. The wheel fell off this car a while later!!

I would appreciate any pointers in terms of what to look for/ stumbling blocks, rough guide prices, Also ball park annual expenses.

Thanks in advance for any advice

simon
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PostPost by: elansprint71 » Sun Feb 08, 2004 12:06 am

First thing to do in your case is make sure the wheels are tight.
I had my first Elan in '76 as my only car, I was also broke. This was a mistake.
I bought my current Elan about 3.5 years ago; I am still broke but at least I have another car to do the essential mundane things like getting to work.
The Elan gets used every day that I am at home for going to the shops, etc. and for longer trips at the week-end.
Just buy it; some days it will not make sense to get into the +2 but on the days you use it you use it you will be king of the road.

Cheers,

Pete
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PostPost by: JACKJABBA » Sun Feb 08, 2004 9:13 am

Look for the usual problems. Worn water pump, rusted or cracked chassis. When were the donuts last changed. I would take a compression gauge with you and check the engine out. Has it had an unleaded conversion? Check the oil pressure when the engine has warmed up. It should be between 30-40when on the move, but could be as low as 20 at idle. Do all the electrics work and have they been bodged together. The plus two has a rats nest of old wiring behind the dash waiting to go wrong. Drive the car and make use of all the gears, the 4 speed box is the strongest but can jump out of gear when worn, the five speed box should be tested for a weak synchromesh. Check for oil leaks. The twin cam engine should not leak oil. If its coming from the rocker gasket or the retaining bolts then thats ok, anywhere else means you have some work to do.

Most important in my point of view is the bodywork. If you want the car to look its best then you are looking at about ?3000 for a full body off, back to gelcoat, repair, low temp bake and respray. So look for repairs in the body work, crazing. Does it look like it has just been resprayed, if so it may only last 6 months before the microblisters come back, if the work was not done correctly.

Buy the Miles Wilkins Lotus twin cam engine book and the Mike Taylor Lotus Elan The Complete Story.

Its usual to take a look at an Elan and think , yeah its over 30 years old so its going to have the odd leak and rattle, but be warned these small leaks and rattles will soon amount to a large outlay of money and time in no time at all. Take your time and find a good one. Maybe join your local Lotus group and ask an experienced member to help with checking cars out as he will know the ease and cost of any repairs.

Good luck and welcome to the world of Elan ownership.
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PostPost by: cdraper » Tue Feb 10, 2004 6:21 pm

The most expensive way is probably the cheapest!! By the best one you can find, do not be mislead into thinking you can fix things cheaply - you can't!! Have two +2 one bought as a basket case - cost into five figures by the time it was finished - new chassis plus everything else - you can buy virtually all the parts and a second car - a CN convertable that somebody else had spent the money restoring for half the price!! Good choice for a second car!!
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PostPost by: sawman » Tue Feb 10, 2004 10:27 pm

thanks for the guidance so far chaps. I have seen a couple of ads for cars in the 5k bracket, and also some around the 10k mark but not much in the middle. I havent as yet been out kicking tyres. Does it follow that if I grab a 5k motor I'll be parting company with the other 5k in dribs & drabs fixing things plus being incovenienced by waiting for the tow truck.

As this will be a 2nd car rather than sunday runner it does mean that when i need to use it, it has to work.

regards

simon
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PostPost by: 1964 S1 » Wed Feb 11, 2004 2:52 am

Thoughts from USA. BUY ONE! I'm a little confused on 5K etc; not sure what currency. I bought a 1969 +2 a few years ago for $4000, and can jump in and drive it today after maybe another $300 invested. I feel like it's worth at least twice that... I've got three Elans, they all leak oil from more places than the cam cover, and they all start up and seem to be "everyday" drivers...maybe I'm missing something? the worst one gets less than a half quart added between oil changes. Make sure there's no frame rot or smell of hot wires while test driving and go for it...
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PostPost by: type36lotus » Wed Feb 11, 2004 2:55 am

I second the motion. Spend a little more to buy a well running/maintained/restored car. These are very simple cars, but still have more than enough parts to fail often enough. As one of my books stated, "If a part could fail one of two ways on a Lotus it would fail both ways!' When they are reliable, they are unmitigated fun, when not, a second job.

Mike Geiger
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PostPost by: cdraper » Wed Feb 11, 2004 5:35 pm

+2s may be advertised for ?10,000 but I suspect very, very few change hands at that price, if you are not in a hurry look around, even make a few stupid offers - they maybe accepted. To my mind the +2 is the most under priced car in the classic car market. If you do not have a lot of experience join the RAC and get them to inspect the car of your choice, surely they will find "something" which will enable you to reduce the price by at least their fee!!
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PostPost by: JACKJABBA » Wed Feb 11, 2004 8:36 pm

I looked at a +2 last summer that had just had an engine rebuild by a reputable garage, the motor had to come back out again because the rear crank seal failed, and the head was weaping oil at the head gasket. Both diff output seals were leaking and all the discs were shot as well as two of the calipers, new donuts were also needed. There was some crazing in the paint behind the doors and it had aftermarket wheels on. It had a 4 speed box and was difficult to engage the gears. The asking price was ?7750. The guy would not even consider dropping the price.

I then did a 600 mile round trip to see another +2 that was not ment to have any oil leaks and had just had a body off restoration and was running perfect, or so the owner told me. That was ?7500. Front valance had a big chunk out of it , broken front fog lamp. More oil on the engine than in it, new webers fitted but the car ran like a dog. The interior was very worn and the owner thrashed the nuts off of it on the test drive. The gearbox was leaking the diff was leaking and the restoration had been done by its previous owner about 10 years ago. Thanks mate for the dive out.

Be carefull out there with your money.
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PostPost by: williamselby » Wed Feb 11, 2004 10:53 pm

I was in the position of trying to buy an Elan +2 about 2 years ago and some of the maintenance stories I'd heard worried me. After a year and a half of ownership and 4000 miles, I've found the Elan to be reliable and a joy to own and drive. I felt at the time that I was prepared to pay about ?7000 for a good car with a good level of originality. It took a long while to buy such a car and I'm still pleased with my decision. Interestingly, mine is the green car that appeared on the Ferrero Rocher TV advert (UK) just over a year ago.

It really does pay to buy the best car you can find and then make sure you maintain it well. It's curious that the classic car market doesn't value the +2 for the motoring gem that it is. Buy well and you'll have no regrets.
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PostPost by: sawman » Tue Feb 17, 2004 8:10 pm

Thanks for the encouragement fellas, I suspect that this will be a 6 month or so project, I am patient and can wait for the right +2 to come along.

s
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PostPost by: RonR » Sun Feb 22, 2004 11:43 am

Don't forget to check the sill members, they're often forgotten as they're not visible from either in or outside the car, although they are accessible from closing plates in the wheel arches or the jacking point holes. They make a big contribution to the strength of the shell, they act as side impact protection (for low hits anyway), they have jacking points at each end, and they act as seat belt anchor points.

Needless to say, the sill members that were on my Plus2 when I bought it came out as small piles of rust.

Ask your prospective vendor to jack the car up using the original jack (if it's there), If you hear a crunching sound, budget around ?200 for replacements. There are both galvanised and stainless steel replacements available.

Happy Lotusing,

Ron R
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