Lotus Elite questions - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-16-2017, 12:29 PM Thread Starter
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Lotus Elite questions

I have recently come across a 1974 Lotus Elite that will be for sale. THe car has been sitting in a garage for over 6 years. Allegedly has a bad fuel pump and some electrical gremlins in the gauges but before the fuel pump issue, was supposedly running fine and everything worked. These are a bit rare and in my opinion, a bit odd looking as well. I cannot find any listed for sale in the USA and am curious as to whether the car is worth buying and if there is indeed a market for it if I ever wanted to sell it.
Any ideas of what might be a good price to offer would be appreciated. It looks to need the electrical issues fixed, new upholstery and the bumpers repaired and reglued to the body. The paint is pretty good although it is brown(not my favorite color).
Is there a good source for parts for this car? My internet searches have turned up little.
Just trying to decide if I want to get involved In this car and also if I will take a beating if I try to sell it one day. FYI, As an ex-British Leyland mechanic for a dealership and later with my own shop, I can do the work myself. That is not an issue. Part of me wants to bring it back to life and part of me says run away quickly.
All advice and help is appreciated.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-17-2017, 04:05 AM
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Elite and Eclat come up, look on ebay and BaT closed auctions

DOn't go for a lot of money

1974 Lotus Elise Elite type 75 503 | eBay

pretty decent one running less than 9k

so don't overpay
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-19-2017, 06:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the comment. I guess that begs the question of what is a lot of money for these cars. I have found a couple non-running ones in the $3500 range asking price. Does that sound high?
I have heard that these have issues with chassis rust due to felt mountings between the body and the chassis. Since I do not know the condition of the chassis, that scares me a bit as welding repairs for that could be costly. I am told that it has electrical problems, bad fuel pump and that the synchros are gone on some gears in the tranny. Seats definitely need to be redone. Paint is good. Front bumper is coming unglued and the rear bumper has one half of it broken off. The rest is a big unknown.
I have thought about offering around $2500. Too low? Too high? I value you guys opinions as I haven't messed with these cars since the 80s and so you have more experience with values and issues.
The owner won't name a price and is asking me to make an offer.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-28-2017, 08:42 PM
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The Elite, Eclat and Esprit S1-S2 all used the same basic 907 engine, and are in the same weight ball park with just one person aboard. So with the same power, acceleration and top speed are similar. But when in good nick, the Elite & Eclat will out-handle the Esprit. Yup, 'tiz true. On a freeway, they're all pretty even. Driven to their limits in the twisty bits, the Elite and Eclat will pull away from an Esprit.

So, are they worth having? I think so. I have two Eclats & one Esprit S2, and have street driven and autocrossed them all. However, in North America, Lotus customers all wanted the boy-racer Esprit, and the Elite-Eclat were never very popular. When it came out, an American mom's grocery getter had a 5.7 liter V8, and Lotus was offering a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder 4-seater... it was a hard sell in a market that didn't understand the car. Very few were imported, and many have been allowed to languish. The risk is in buying the result of someone else's neglect. That can be an expensive problem with any car, not just a Lotus.

If the seller is unwilling to get the car running (not restored, just running), and is putting the monkey on your back to name a price, then it's unfair of him to expect a strong price from you. And without hearing the engine run, rowing through the gears, or driving the car, you can only expect the worst. I'd shoot him $1000-1500 as is. He may shut down immediately, or it may shock him into action. Either way, you're not at too much risk.

For $3500, you should be able to drive away in a car that has needs. Plan on investing time and money in it to make it a reliable driver, but it works. A good driver is probably around $5000 on the low end, to $7000 on the high end. At the top of the range, or for an older restoration, maybe somewhere in the $10-11,000 range... but for that it needs to be pretty 'right'. Not restored, but needing very little to be driven and shown at the local Cars & Coffee.

The 907 is an interference engine (pistons hit valves), and the timing belt is to be replaced every 24k miles or 24 months... and time is as important as miles. Don't cheat/ don't neglect it !! Don't try to start the engine until the timing belt has been replaced. Plan on having to dismantle & clean the carbs if the car has been sitting. The fuel pump is just an SU, it can be rebuilt, or new replacements are available. The actual remove and replace is pretty easy. Or it can be replaced with a generic electric pump. A bad pump is a lame excuse for the car being out of service. The owner is ignoring the car, so expect the worst.

The Ford 4-speed is pretty bullet proof, but the lack of an overdrive 5th makes the car pretty buzzy at freeway speeds. The Lotus 5-spd shifts well and has great ratios for the 907, but it's fragile. It was okay behind the 1558cc Twin Cam in the Elan and Elan Plus 2, but it's not up to the task behind the 907. Be very critical of the 5-spd. If it's bad, parts may be an issue (?), and finding anyone on this side of the pond that knows it will be a challenge.

The Lotus electrical system is only worse than any other Britcar/ Lucas system by virtue of the fiberglass body. Since the body can't be used for ground, all circuits must contain a ground wire. That's just more connections to corrode and have continuity problems... as all Britcars seem to have. Plan on disconnecting, cleaning, and re-connecting every connection in the car. Other than that, there are no uniquely bad aspects to the Lotus electrical system.

Good luck,
Tim Engel
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Last edited by Esprit2; 07-28-2017 at 08:54 PM.
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