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  •   Paul Hardiman reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    CAR: #Lotus-Elan+2 / #Lotus-Elan / #Lotus
    Run by Julian Balme
    Total mileage 158,256
    Miles since April 2010
    report 18,104
    Latest costs £1100


    When you use a classic as much as I do the Elan, it’s easy to take it for granted. To call the Lotus my everyday car is a bit strong, particularly given that living in London I more often use public transport, but being the youngest vehicle in the stable it does tend to clock up the miles. As a result, months go by without checking oil levels or tyre pressures – tasks that I carry out as matter of course with the older stuff. So I was horrified to see that I’d not written about the car for seven years.

    The +2 mainly gets used for the longer journeys that take in motorways, which in recent years has involved trips to Cornwall, Devon, the Isle of Wight and three to Norfolk. The vast majority have been trouble-free, though high engine temperatures have let themselves be known on a number of occasions. The most pronounced was last summer, when a nightmare Friday afternoon leaving London for the West Country resulted in a bout of overheating. The remainder of the trip was fine, but I wasn’t entirely sure that all was okay and consequently booked the Elan into Moreland Jones on my return.

    They confirmed my suspicions by announcing that the head gasket had failed. There was no other damage to report, but the steering rack was showing signs of neglect and was subsequently replaced. The duo, who worked out of two arches under the Metropolitan line in Hammersmith, have since called time and retired, leaving the capital without a Lotus specialist.

    Or so I thought. In an ideal world I’d have the +2 serviced once a year during the summer when I’m using the other cars but, as we’ve seen, annual became more Olympian in its regularity. The next one was going to be a biggy. In the past I’ve trekked up to Paul Matty, who is great but is also more than 100 miles away. Casual conversations with London Lotus types led me to Bruce Thompson, who’s based at Crown Point just outside West Norwood and, more importantly, within walking distance of home.

    I had actually visited his premises about eight years ago when the Lotus’ clutch master cylinder failed more or less outside his door. He and his son work on all sorts of classics, from pre-war Rolls-Royces to ’60s British models such as E-types and Bristols. Moreover, he’d owned Elans and looked after a number of early Lotus-owning clients.

    Top of his list was replacing the clutch release bearing, which was making nasty noises and which required the removal of the engine.

    I’d noticed that oil pressure wasn’t great once the Twin Cam was hot, especially while idling in traffic, so I asked whether it would be prudent to drop the sump and have a look while the unit was out. I must have a sixth sense. Bruce phoned two days later to inform me that copper was showing on all the big- and small end bearing shells. The piston rings were also sloppy, allowing blow-by, but most frightening was the middle main cap that split in two once the shell had been removed.

    Given that the bottom end hadn’t been looked at in over 20 years it wasn’t a total surprise, and I can’t complain – I’m just relieved that we caught it before anything catastrophic occurred. I obviously need to pay more attention in future.

    THANKS TO Thompson Garage: 020 8670 1010

    The Lotus pauses outside Foxhill Manor in the Cotswolds in an attempt to replicate the brochure shot. Inset: main bearing cap broke when removed. Crossing a ford on Kingsbridge Estuary. Bearing shells were worn down to copper. Celebrating model’s 50th at Castle Combe. Ferry ride on the River Fowey in Cornwall.
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  •   Julian Balme reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    Name Jim and Carole Jackson
    Occupation Retired
    Ages 65 and 64
    First classic #MG TF
    Dream classic #Frazer-Nash #Le-Mans Replica

    Favourite driving song I wanna be a rock star Nickelback
    Best drive Hanoi to Saigon on 2014 International Jeep Rally

    “No Sarah, we can’t afford to buy you a horse and, no, I don’t believe that all the other girls in your class have one. You can have a horse when I get a #Lotus Elan.” She was about 10 then, now 32 and, luckily, she has forgotten, so shhh! We bought our #1967 S3 S/E in #2004 .

    Why an Elan? Funnily enough, on the #2013 London to Lisbon rally, a bloke with an MGB asked that very question. I fixed him with a steely glare and asked him why he’d bought that shirt. The real answer, setting aside the rationale that it’s the best car for the money by a huge factor, is just human nature. We all have an affection for a marque from our past: maybe a car we’ve owned, or an uncle’s, maybe a neighbour’s, even Emma Peel’s! In my case, after the inevitable Mini as a first car then a #1954 MG TF that was 14 years old, I moved upmarket, or so I thought, with a second-hand #MGB .

    It just seemed lacking in character after the TF so, once I’d studied various classic tomes and, after six months’ frantically saving, I spent even more money on an older car, an S1 Elan. It was in dubious condition and, despite the high regard that early Elans are now held in, it was a bit past its best. But it was still explosive. I could suddenly see what all the fuss was about.

    Two years later, I traded up to an S3 – in an unusual 1960s colour – then a used Sprint in my favourite monotone Lagoon Blue. In #1973 , just before purchase tax was abolished, I bought my first new car, another Sprint in the same lovely colour, in kit form. We didn’t build it in time to go to the pub on Sunday lunchtime, not that Sunday – nor the next – but I was hooked, and still am. And if you aren’t you should be. Gordon Murray, Jay Leno, me... we all have that in common (but nothing else). Then marriage, kids, the need for furniture, food and so on meant that I was Elanless for 30 years. Still horseless, we’re just loving our Elan and are lucky in that we have plenty of good friends nearby who also own old cars so we often go off together on rallies, tours or just outings where one of us has organised an interesting tulip route or whatever. Then there’s Goodwood or the Silverstone Classic. Buying the Elan was one of the best things that we’ve ever done: it’s an interest that you can share with, or escape from, your wife (not me, of course) and you go to places that you wouldn’t otherwise have done.

    We’ve made firm friends with likeminded people from ordinary blokes to Lords and Ladies. I was gratified a couple of years ago as I looked around an eclectic, and somewhat expensive, entry on an event and realised that there wasn’t another car that I’d rather own.

    We’ve done a little over 60,000 miles in the 10 years that we’ve had the Lotus – from Ireland to the Czech Republic, and Sweden to Italy, on various tours. We’ve taken part in 18 competitive rallies where the car has been a huge success, unlike the crew – which hasn’t.

    Our most notable result was the team prize on the Three Castles a few years ago. We formed a team with a rally-prepped DB5 and a DB4 GT (the people you meet, eh?) on condition that I could name the team ‘Two Astons and a Fast Car.’

    The S/E has been no less or more reliable than any other vehicle from the ’60s. Last year, on the London to Lisbon, plus a week in Portugal, we did 4100 miles door to door with no issues whatsoever.

    Hang on, what’s this on eBay: a 1973 Lotus Elan Sprint in monotone Lagoon Blue? The registration? CRA 536L? It’s our bloomin’ car. Well, it is now… again. It had been off the road for 34 years and has covered just 51,000 miles. In the ’90s, the chassis was replaced, the running gear rebuilt and the bodywork restored by Mick Miller. Now the overhaul has been completed and the car recommissioned by Neil and Ken Myers. It’s just stunning, almost too good to use, but that would be silly.

    We’re keeping the S3 for longer events or rallies – we’re just back from the Classic Europe (with classiccarjourneys. co. uk) – and cherishing the Sprint for special occasions. The trouble is, every journey in an Elan is special.
    Spectacular Alpine backdrop near Interlaken, Switzerland en route to Lauterbrunnen on the Classic Europe tour.
    #Elan excels at Knockhill on Scottish Malts Much-used S3 at start of Silvretta Classic.

    On way to team prize, Three Castles 2011.
    The Jacksons with newly reacquired Sprint.

    ‘We’ve done 60,000 miles in the 10 years we’ve had it – from Ireland to the Czech Republic, Sweden to Italy’.
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  •   Julian Balme reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    #1966 #Lotus #Elan
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  •   Julian Balme reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    CAR #Lotus-Elan+2 / #Lotus-Elan / #Lotus /

    Run by James Elliott
    Owned since March 2012
    Total mileage 22,710
    Miles since July report 214
    Latest costs nil


    Unusually, since the last running report pretty much everything has gone to plan. The Jensen is getting its well-earned rest – a rather too leisurely one, actually – while the Elan and the disinterred Beast take up the driving duties, the recent fine weather favouring the Elan.

    The +2 caused a stir when it put in an appearance at my youngest, Lucie’s nursery school sports day, with plenty of other dads having to fend off pleading from their kids for a similar car when the Elliott family piled into the Lotus and zipped off.

    It grabbed a lot of attention at Drive-My’s car park party, too, though rather less than last year’s when Nico McKay sat in the driver’s seat and, admittedly encouraged by me to rev it, maxed the twin-cam. No big trips, regrettably, largely because one rather significant thing hasn’t gone to plan, and that is my intention to keep the Elan.

    Horrible to think that not very long ago I had two Lotuses and the prospect now looms of having none (for the first time in 15years), but needs must. You may remember that this car came to me a year or so ago as a desperate attempt to cling to Elan ownership when I knew that I couldn’t really afford it.

    My S2 two-seater was traded in against this +2 and enough cash to bridge the ever-widening-earning spending gap for a year, by when I had hoped that gulf would narrow.

    As for so many people, it hasn’t, so I have to face facts and sell the Lotus. Why the Lotus? Because the Triumph wouldn’t raise enough dosh and the Jensen is not really saleable while it is up on stands with no front suspension. That’s what I am telling myself anyway.

    So there you have it, a nice honest Lotus Elan +2 with professionally fitted rear harnesses, four-speed ’box and Strombergs.

    It’s not concours, but it is a smart usable example, well-restored by a previous owner and which has been a good reliable runner in my nearly 18 months of ownership. It is, of course, tax exempt in the UK and has MoT until May 2014.

    I’m not going to be greedy, but am doing this with a heavy heart so I will only entertain a sensible offer. Please call me on 07768 556286 or e-mail

    Elliott loves driving the +2, but sadly it has to go. It comes with a full photo record of the previous engineer owner’s rebuild and sits on fresh rubber.
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  •   Julian Balme reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    Lotus Elan Sprints running clear of siblings / #Lotus-Elan / #Lotus / #Lotus-Elan-Sprint

    One of the all-time great drivers’ cars, the Elan Sprint is always finding new fans but owners tend to hang on to them. In turn, that’s once again driving up values, which are now way above those for regular non-Sprint examples of the lightweight icon.

    As if to prove the point, UK Sports Cars is currently offering a nicely presented yellow drophead that the last owner kept for 31 years. With no imminent needs, it carries an asking price of £48,995, and that’s pretty much where the market is for good ones now.

    If it seems a lot for a small, glassfibre Lotus, don’t worry. Not only will one drive down a country road make you instantly forget any logical financial reasoning – buy well now and you will also never struggle to find the next buyer when the time to part does come.
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