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    Simon Smith and his trophy-winning 1964 Lotus Elan

    Posted in Cars on Sunday, 15 April 2018

    Man and machine. Tiddler that won the Pom. Simon Smith and his trophy-winning Lotus Elan. Words and photography Paul Hardiman.

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    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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    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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    Buyer’s guide Lotus Elan Type 26, Type 36, Type 45 and Type 50

    Posted in Cars on Friday, 11 August 2017

    Buyer’s guide Lotus Elan. Sports-car perfection: Buyer’s guide to the Lotus Elan. The devastatingly effective and fun Elan has taken off in price, so buy now before the summer rush, advises Malcolm McKay. Photography Tony Baker.

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