Resurrecting very early 1974 Elite - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-19-2019, 11:07 PM Thread Starter
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Resurrecting very early 1974 Elite

About two months ago I purchased a 1974 Elite from a slightly shady collector car consignment place in North Georgia.
I hauled the car home on a Uhaul trailer from North Georgia to NE Ohio. Since then I have been doing various jobs on the car to get the engine running and operational again. Lucky for me I have been corresponding very regularly with the always helpful and knowledgeable Tim Engel (Esprit2 here on this forum.

When I got the car the interior was VERY wet and the consignment people had managed to loose the keys to the car so the first job was to run the car over to a local highly skilled locksmith to make some new keys for the car. Then I got it into a shop where I could start drying out the interior.

The attached photos are the ones from the initial craigslist ad.

After getting the VIN number to Tim, he has confirmed that this is a very early Elite. He says it is probably the 12th "B" car off the production line where the B cars were the ones destined for the USA sales market.

If anyone here is interested I will continue with additional posts to document what I have done so far and again MUCH thanks for all of the excellent advise I have received from Tim.
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Steven DuChene
1974 Jensen-Healey w/Lotus 2.0L 907 with EFI & crankfired Ignition conversion
1985 Jaguar XJS 4.0L w/Getrag 5spd
1990 Lotus Esprit SE w/AWI monoblock wheels (wrecked)
1988 Lotus Esprit Turbo w/SE bodywork and burnt pistons
1988 Lotus Esprit Anniversary Edition w/Megasquirt EFI (NO CIS!)
1974 Lotus Elite (12th USA car off line)
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 12:03 AM Thread Starter
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Progress and setbacks on the 1974 Elite

So after getting the keys made for the ignition and doors, I got the car to a shop where I could work on it. I first set about inventorying what was and was not with the car. As can be seen from the prior photos the car did not have the US emissions ZS carb setup. Instead at some point someone had installed 40DCOE Webers on a european intake manifold. This was good but some bad news followed. When I tried to open the rear hatch, I discovered that the release mechanism was frozen. Most likely due to the extreme moisture problem of where the car was previously stored. Since I could not open the rear hatch, I could not reach anything in the rear trunk like the fuel tank, fuel pump, battery box or battery cables. After consulting with Tim Engel and Robert Rickner, I decided to carefully use a grinder to slice off the heads of the latch bolts that protrude down through the hatch glass and into the actual latch on the back of the glass. Once I had the hatch open I was able to determine that the main hatch cable that runs from the interior of the car, in the interior panel behind the driver's front seat, was frozen.

After getting the rear hatch open I was able to continue with the drying out process for the interior and rear hatch area. While that continued to dry out, I started investigating the engine to see what would have to be done to get it running. After pulling the plugs and squirting some marvel mystery oil down in the cylinders, I use a 19mm socket on a 1/2 drive ratchet to turn the crank. Fortunately the engine seemed to spin over just fine. With a new battery, I tried the starter and that worked well but the the engine backfired rather than starting cleanly. After some examination, I determined that the cams were out of time. After sharing the photos of the cams with Tim, he suggested that it looked like the crank had jumped time by about three teeth. Since I had no knowledge of the age of the timing belt, I decided to change that while I was resetting the cams. So I disassembled all of the v-belts off of the front of the motor and removed the timing belt covers to access the cams. To get the timing belt off, I had to remove the belt tensioner assembly. Once I had that off, I discovered the tensioner bearing was singing when rotated by hand so it was past it's service life. A new belt was obtained from JAE and the tensioner bearing from RD Enterprises.

Simultaneously with the engine work, I was also draining the old smelly gas from the tank and replacing a non-functioning fuel pump. Luckily I had an identical working fuel pump that I had removed from the modified Jensen Healey when I converted it to electronic fuel injection.
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carbuff, Twaszak! and steelypip like this.

Steven DuChene
1974 Jensen-Healey w/Lotus 2.0L 907 with EFI & crankfired Ignition conversion
1985 Jaguar XJS 4.0L w/Getrag 5spd
1990 Lotus Esprit SE w/AWI monoblock wheels (wrecked)
1988 Lotus Esprit Turbo w/SE bodywork and burnt pistons
1988 Lotus Esprit Anniversary Edition w/Megasquirt EFI (NO CIS!)
1974 Lotus Elite (12th USA car off line)
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 06:36 AM
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What's the last few digits of the VIN? I just purchased 0005B.

Roy

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Previous Lotus: 73 Europa, 77 Esprit S1, 80 Esprit S2, 85 Turbo Esprit, 95 S4S, 00 Elise Sport 190, 00 Exige S1, 08 Exige S240
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 08:33 AM Thread Starter
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Early Elite cars list

This car is 0020B

Here is the list of cars I got from Tim

Of the B-Suffix USA Serial Numbers allocated...
Serial . Eng No. . . . Color . . . . Pass to Sales Date
0001B - No USA car . . ? . . . . . . ?
0002B - No USA car . . ? . . . . . . ?
0003B - No USA car . . ? . . . . . . ?
0004B - No USA car . . ? . . . . . . ?
0005B I74046742. . . Lagoon Blue . 10/07/74 1st USA Car.
0006B - No USA car . . ? . . . . . . ?
0007B I74046740. . . White . . . . 06/28/74
0008B I74046744. . . Regency Red . 06/28/74
0009B - No USA car . . ? . . . . . . ?
0010B I74077976. . . Regency Red . 08/15/74
0011B I74077977. . . Lagoon Blue . 08/15/74
0012B I74077951. . . Sable . . . . 08/15/74
0013B I74077958. . . Yellow. . . . 12/08/74
0014B I74077964. . . Lagoon Blue . 08/15/74
0015B - No USA Car . . ? . . . . . . ?
0016B - No USA car . . ? . . . . . . ?
0017B I74047181. . . Regency Red . 06/28/74
0018B I74046741. . . Sable . . . . 06/28/74
0019B I74047178. . . Lagoon Blue . 06/28/74

0020B I74057169. . . Regency Red . 06/28/74 <<<<
. . . . . . . . . . . .Paint Code L11

0021B I74057170. . . Sable . . . . 06/28/74
0022B I74057573. . . Regency Red . 07/17/74
0023B I74057571. . . Yellow. . . . 07/15/74
0024B I74057572. . . White . . . . 07/15/74
B0025 I74047179. . . Purple. . . . 06/28/74

Tim also said:

The VIN indicates the Build Date, which is when the paper work was pulled to START the build process, but no car existed then. 0020B's Pass To Sales date (when manufacturing turned it over to the Sales Dept) was 06/28/74.

0005B - 1st USA Elite
Not all allocated serial numbers got used.
And each number could be used three times, once with each of the three alpha suffixes, A, B & C.

I presume the four earlier cars were unsold/ unregistered prototypes that were tested to destruction (ie, Federal crash test). Or, the first four numbers might have just been passed-over in order to catch up with the UK-ROW cars that started first. ??? All through the production run, numbers got skipped. You can't look at the last VIN serial number and presume that's how many got built.

By my count (below), 0020B is the 12th USA in numerical order. My record also shows it was the 37th one of all Elites in total. Well, the 37th in 'numerical/ alphabetical' order. Things would happen during production, and the order of actual completion always got a little scattered. This Elite was probably the 20th in total to actually 'Pass To Sales'.

Your car, 0005B must have been used for some other purpose since the later cars were released to sales on 6/28/1974 but yours did not make it to sales until 10/07/1974
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Steven DuChene
1974 Jensen-Healey w/Lotus 2.0L 907 with EFI & crankfired Ignition conversion
1985 Jaguar XJS 4.0L w/Getrag 5spd
1990 Lotus Esprit SE w/AWI monoblock wheels (wrecked)
1988 Lotus Esprit Turbo w/SE bodywork and burnt pistons
1988 Lotus Esprit Anniversary Edition w/Megasquirt EFI (NO CIS!)
1974 Lotus Elite (12th USA car off line)
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 10:26 AM
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Interesting. I was going to sell it; I purchased it and an Esprit S1 in an all or nothing deal (I just wanted the Esprit). The car is now black but was clearly repainted. Maybe I will keep it as a restoration project. It's not running but all the pieces appear to be there.

Roy
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18 GT3 Touring
17 911 C4S Cab
17 Lexus GX460
15 Macan S
85 Turbo Esprit
06 BMW K1200S
Previous Lotus: 73 Europa, 77 Esprit S1, 80 Esprit S2, 85 Turbo Esprit, 95 S4S, 00 Elise Sport 190, 00 Exige S1, 08 Exige S240
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 06:18 PM
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Steve & Roy, you're both gluttons for punishment, but I've got to give you credit for attempting restoration of your Elites. Personally I think they are funky 1970's cool design, but unfortunately, they have mostly all met their early deaths and demise by uncaring owners over the years. very few exist in nice condition. I wish you the best of luck with your restoration and look forward to watching your progress with plenty of pictures!
For incentive, there's a beautiful white one listed for sale in the high $20K's on Hemmings Motor News.
have fun!

TED
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 09:23 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tpup View Post
Interesting. I was going to sell it; I purchased it and an Esprit S1 in an all or nothing deal (I just wanted the Esprit). The car is now black but was clearly repainted. Maybe I will keep it as a restoration project. It's not running but all the pieces appear to be there.

Roy
Roy:
I think your car might have the somewhat rare european front bumper.
Can you post a photo of the rear of the car? Also an engine compartment photo please.
I like your blue cloth interior much better than my sh*t brown vinyl interior.
I think the cloth would be much more comfortable.

Steven DuChene
1974 Jensen-Healey w/Lotus 2.0L 907 with EFI & crankfired Ignition conversion
1985 Jaguar XJS 4.0L w/Getrag 5spd
1990 Lotus Esprit SE w/AWI monoblock wheels (wrecked)
1988 Lotus Esprit Turbo w/SE bodywork and burnt pistons
1988 Lotus Esprit Anniversary Edition w/Megasquirt EFI (NO CIS!)
1974 Lotus Elite (12th USA car off line)
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 05:51 AM
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Sh*t brown vinyl is so...70s.

It appears that ALL Elites come with vegetation debris at no extra charge?

I helped a local NJ owner clean up a 'fully restored' Elite about 10 years ago. The buyer had the timing belt replaced by a non-Lotus specialist and the cams were set out of proper time, so we needed to remove the belt and set the timing belt & aux pulley correctly.

Atwell Haines
'88 Esprit
Succasunna, NJ USA


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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 08:16 AM
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Steve & Roy,
Congratulations on your recent buys.

Roy, I understand you didn't want the Elite, it just came with the Esprit purchase. But I hope you'll give it a chance and fix it up. The Elite & Eclat are very nice 'driver's cars, when they're in good mechanical condition. Unfortunately, many of the North American cars were just used up and set aside to languish. If you take the time to get the engine, drivetrain, suspension & brakes all in good working condition, I think you'll find that it actually handles better than the Esprit. 'Tis true. I love the turn-in and steering feel.

As good as the handling is, it can be better. The Federal car's front ride height is jacked up to meet gov't standards for bumper and headlight heights. Lower the front back down to the Euro ride height, and the handling gets even better.

It is a little tail-happy, but I like that in a car. Take a fast sweeper hard (ie, autocross), and the tail will step-out and hold that stance all the way around the curve. It's not about to spin. The tail just steps out, takes a set, and you have full control all the way around. Then you can practice steering with the throttle. If you drive the car such that the tail stays inline, then you're not getting the most out of it. Enjoy the ride.

Good luck with your projects.

Regards,
Tim Engel
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