Looking at an M100 Elan this weekend... - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-01-2015, 03:28 PM Thread Starter
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Looking at an M100 Elan this weekend...

Taking a look at a local M100 Elan for sale this weekend.

89K miles. Aside from the usual review of maintenance records and taking a look at overall condition and basics of the operating systems, what specifically should I be looking for on the car.

It is either a great buy or a money pit. Wait...it's a quasi-vintage Lotus...so it's either a money pit OR a deep money pit.

Owned, loved, enjoyed, and now gone:
1969 Europa S2 Blue
1970 Europa S2 White
1974 Europa Twin Cam Blue
1974 Europa Twin Cam Blue
1984 Turbo Esprit Calypso Red
2005 Elise Starlight Black
2005 Elise Saffron Yellow
2005 Elise Ardent Red
2006 Exige Graphite Grey
2007 Exige Canyon Red

Other:
1970 MGB GT
1970 Datsun 510
1984 Honda CRX Si
1984 Pontiac Fiero
2004 Chrysler Crossfire
2009 Pontiac Solstice Coupe
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-01-2015, 09:38 PM
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I owned an M100 for quite a while - put 70K miles on mine after the previous owner put on 27K. Great car and very reliable.

The window regulators go bad and are impossible to get ahold of - particularly the driver side since its obviously used more often. I think someone noted a way to repair them. See if the windows go up and down smoothly.

Check the soft top operation. They all have minor leaks even if you adjust them. I think mine had the occasional drip on the left knee.

The stock brakes suck on these cars. They are single piston caliper. If the PO didn't upgrade them, you should. There is a 4 piston caliper set up that is worth its weight in gold.

If someone modded the engine, I'd walk away. I know people who add on blow off valves and adjustable boost but now you are starting to look at trouble. The boost is, shall we say, casual. Its there, it gives you a kick in the pants - when it comes on. But you have to wait and wait and wait. Not like a more modern car. For its era, I think it was ok but without boost the engine is just lagging (hence why people wanted to mod it).

Shifter cables - they have to have been replaced by now on this car with that many miles. The circlip design was a problem and almost everybody replaced with a better cable. When it goes bad, you'll be stuck in whatever gear it is you were in. Fortunately in my case I was stuck in 3rd so I could kinda limp home. But with this age and mileage, there is almost no chance that the previous owner(s) didn't replace it already.

Other than that, its a Japanese engine so pretty reliable.

Other than that, you'll just notice the normal wear and tear in the interior, seats, dash, etc. which should be pretty obvious. If it looks great, then the owner took good care of it. Paint on red cars has a habit of deteriorating if left in the sun.

I bought the s2 wheels on mine - which I loved. They only made 800 S2's and they were not sold in the US to my knowledge but you could get the rims. I don't know if they are available now anywhere but in my mind those look the best. They match the Esprit of a similar vintage.

And by the way, just a bit of trivia, the turn signals are the same as those on the McLaren F1.

Good luck in your search. I'm originally from MD and there was a dealer 1/2 block away from my house. Thats where I first saw the car in a showroom. Ended up buying mine used 5 years later.

Interesting choice of cars you've had - the M100 is much easier to get in than the Elise/Exige but definitely not as quick. It is cushier though and still handles pretty good. In fact, you won't really notice it being a front driver.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-01-2015, 09:47 PM
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I believe that this is the best review of the M100 I have ever seen! Very well done!


Quote:
Originally Posted by srwhitman View Post
I owned an M100 for quite a while - put 70K miles on mine after the previous owner put on 27K. Great car and very reliable.

The window regulators go bad and are impossible to get ahold of - particularly the driver side since its obviously used more often. I think someone noted a way to repair them. See if the windows go up and down smoothly.

Check the soft top operation. They all have minor leaks even if you adjust them. I think mine had the occasional drip on the left knee.

The stock brakes suck on these cars. They are single piston caliper. If the PO didn't upgrade them, you should. There is a 4 piston caliper set up that is worth its weight in gold.

If someone modded the engine, I'd walk away. I know people who add on blow off valves and adjustable boost but now you are starting to look at trouble. The boost is, shall we say, casual. Its there, it gives you a kick in the pants - when it comes on. But you have to wait and wait and wait. Not like a more modern car. For its era, I think it was ok but without boost the engine is just lagging (hence why people wanted to mod it).

Shifter cables - they have to have been replaced by now on this car with that many miles. The circlip design was a problem and almost everybody replaced with a better cable. When it goes bad, you'll be stuck in whatever gear it is you were in. Fortunately in my case I was stuck in 3rd so I could kinda limp home. But with this age and mileage, there is almost no chance that the previous owner(s) didn't replace it already.

Other than that, its a Japanese engine so pretty reliable.

Other than that, you'll just notice the normal wear and tear in the interior, seats, dash, etc. which should be pretty obvious. If it looks great, then the owner took good care of it. Paint on red cars has a habit of deteriorating if left in the sun.

I bought the s2 wheels on mine - which I loved. They only made 800 S2's and they were not sold in the US to my knowledge but you could get the rims. I don't know if they are available now anywhere but in my mind those look the best. They match the Esprit of a similar vintage.

And by the way, just a bit of trivia, the turn signals are the same as those on the McLaren F1.

Good luck in your search. I'm originally from MD and there was a dealer 1/2 block away from my house. Thats where I first saw the car in a showroom. Ended up buying mine used 5 years later.

Interesting choice of cars you've had - the M100 is much easier to get in than the Elise/Exige but definitely not as quick. It is cushier though and still handles pretty good. In fact, you won't really notice it being a front driver.

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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-02-2015, 03:38 AM
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I drive one every day. Have owned 6 over the past 16 years. I agree with most of what was said here. We have 4 of them in our local group. Brakes are not that great but on the one I have now, they are not took bad. I have been told by the Lotus tech guy that if they appear to be really bad, it is the proportional valves in the back.

Saying that, if someone has a source for a big brake kit, I would like to know. The guy in UK who we used to buy them from for about $600 has disappeared and I have not been able to find another source for a reasonable priced kit.

Tony Vaccaro
2005 Elise Ardent Red, www.lotusowners.com LOONY (Lotus Owners of New York) and the Church of the HolyLotus, Drive Fast Take Chances, 93 Caterham 7, 71 Elan, 70 Elan GTS, 1991 M100, 1999 Sport 190 Elise, 1974 Europa TC, 1973 Europa JPS #15 TwinCam.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-02-2015, 07:56 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input, guys.

Because of the weather likely won't look at it over the weekend, but in speaking with the seller I've found:

1. Has new timing belt, cam sensor, 1 year old clutch, new shifter cables.
2. Has upgraded brakes.
3. He says the 'glass' in the soft top is foggy, but the top is otherwise in good shape.
4. Windows work perfectly.

Down side.

Says the driver's headlight motor is 'winky.' Sometimes decides it doesn't want to work properly.

AC doesn't work. That's not nearly a dealbreaker for me. I never used the AC on any of my Lotus, anyway.

Says he has most service records from the two prior owners and his own.

Definitely worth a look.

Owned, loved, enjoyed, and now gone:
1969 Europa S2 Blue
1970 Europa S2 White
1974 Europa Twin Cam Blue
1974 Europa Twin Cam Blue
1984 Turbo Esprit Calypso Red
2005 Elise Starlight Black
2005 Elise Saffron Yellow
2005 Elise Ardent Red
2006 Exige Graphite Grey
2007 Exige Canyon Red

Other:
1970 MGB GT
1970 Datsun 510
1984 Honda CRX Si
1984 Pontiac Fiero
2004 Chrysler Crossfire
2009 Pontiac Solstice Coupe
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-02-2015, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by 4380r View Post


Says the driver's headlight motor is 'winky.' Sometimes decides it doesn't want to work properly.
Chris,

That is not a big issue. <--- see what I did there?

The GM lift motors probably just need new rollers. You can get them in several places, I got mine HERE: (The same pieces are used on Esprits, Corvettes, Fieros, and Firebirds)

Rodney Dickman's Automotive Accessories

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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-02-2015, 11:40 AM
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Great cars, I have two. I've put 80,000 miles on one and 5,000 on the other. The second was purchased through tvacc.

Brakes are not great. Good pads, braided lines and high quality pads make a big difference. Exhaust work seems to help with turbo lag. A chip gives you a bit more power. Blow off valves save turbos. Look for rust on the rear suspension and play in the rear bearings. Cracks in the fuel tank (a common problem that resulted in a recall) should have been taken care of.

These are now old cars. All are 24 years old, it is time to start treating them as classics.

Good luck
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-02-2015, 12:36 PM
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2. Has upgraded brakes.

Well, there upgraded brakes with new pads. And then there is the big brake kit. See which one you have. If you have the big brake kit you will have multiple piston calipers.

Tony

Tony Vaccaro
2005 Elise Ardent Red, www.lotusowners.com LOONY (Lotus Owners of New York) and the Church of the HolyLotus, Drive Fast Take Chances, 93 Caterham 7, 71 Elan, 70 Elan GTS, 1991 M100, 1999 Sport 190 Elise, 1974 Europa TC, 1973 Europa JPS #15 TwinCam.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-09-2015, 09:24 AM
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Upgrade kit that I put in was Hi-spec - I haven't checked out whether they are still made but here's a review. They are phenomenal compared to what is stock on the car. These are the "big brake kit" (bigger rotors, much much better calipers).

Brake upgrades | Elan M100.com

Get the stainless lines too - but..., I found the lines I got were too long and the wheel rim rubbed so be careful on that.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-19-2015, 08:45 AM
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Brakes upgrade kits are still available. Would highly recommend them.

HiSpec Motorsport - The home of Big Brake Kits

Lotus Elan M100 Brakes | PNM Engineering

Had the same problem with the braded hoses. Although I thought that this problem had since been fixed. Best to check length against your old hoses prior to fitting.

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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-19-2015, 09:21 AM
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I am putting together a big brake group buy. 500 pounds for discs and calipers. Shipping should be very reasonable as we are up to 4 kits so far. Pads are 20-80 pounds depending on what you want. If interested email me at tvacc*at*lotusowners*dot* you know where.

Tony Vaccaro
2005 Elise Ardent Red, www.lotusowners.com LOONY (Lotus Owners of New York) and the Church of the HolyLotus, Drive Fast Take Chances, 93 Caterham 7, 71 Elan, 70 Elan GTS, 1991 M100, 1999 Sport 190 Elise, 1974 Europa TC, 1973 Europa JPS #15 TwinCam.
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-20-2015, 08:47 AM
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I would add

Look at the rubber seal/trim..........pain in the butt to get and replace.......

I bought my first one in July.....spent as much as I bought it for.......worth every penny.........in my book it is the journey that makes it worth while!

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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-20-2015, 10:50 AM
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my "fix" for the M100 boost was to feather off the throttle ~70%, start left foot braking and then feather back on the throttle while braking, so that then by the time your off the brakes the power is there. otherwise like srwhitman said... your wait, 1.. 2... 3.. before you go. if you lift off the throttle - it just dies. that said - timing this trick, the car was a rocket out of the corners!

look at electrics, a lot of monkeying in many cars with stereos and security systems... make sure all the electrics work

if the car feels "unbelievable fast" it has a sticking BOV (and they do stick, and you'll want to fix that)

if the car feels slower than a prius. no boost... watch the gauge too.

hubs (used to be) very hard to source, listen/ check for wheel bearing play or squeaking.that could be expensive... unless there is now a source?

the interior is a miss mash of GM and bespoke parts.

i always felt the steering was way to over boosted, don't know if anyone has found a way to take that down a few notches.

taillights used to be expensive to source, and they don't wear terrible well.

paint was never great. if its repainted to a good standard, that could be a positive.

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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-20-2015, 07:37 PM
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M100 owners, can you please point me to any parts store in the US. I am looking for replacement parts: like driver side outer wipe seal. Your help is very much appreciated.

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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-21-2015, 04:22 AM
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Dave Bean took all the parts from Lotus so that would be the place to start
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post #16 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-21-2015, 06:29 AM
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Dave Bean took all the parts from Lotus so that would be the place to start
I heard that JAE bought a lot of stuff when LCU (Lotus Cars USA) moved, also.

And, don't forget Ray at RD Enterprises in PA, another faithful USA Lotus parts supplier.

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post #17 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-21-2015, 09:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elise8206 View Post
M100 owners, can you please point me to any parts store in the US. I am looking for replacement parts: like driver side outer wipe seal. Your help is very much appreciated.
Outer wiper seal has been obsolete at Lotus for many years.

PNM Engineering in the UK, have had replacements made and will ship to the US.

Lotus Bodywork | PNM Engineering

Also don't forget John in NC
Other Parts

He has a very large stock of new and used parts for the M100.
Most not listed on his site. But drop him an email and I'm sure he will be able to help you out.

Wayne

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post #18 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-21-2015, 09:12 PM
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Thank you all for the info..
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post #19 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-24-2015, 07:37 PM
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Looking at M100

I believe I spoke to the same guy. Lives In bel-Air Maryland. I planned to go look at the Elan on Wednesday.Obviously you will get there first. If you purchase the vehicle Congratulations in advance if not please share your thoughts and feedback.
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post #20 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-27-2015, 01:59 PM
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I have three Lotuses, and my M100 is easily the most comfortable and relaxing to drive. It's true that if the window motor is shot it will be hard to find that part (and if/when you do, it's a bear to take the door apart compared to, say, the Esprit); also true the original brakes don't give you the stopping power you'd expect (I haven't got around to figuring out which upgrade is best). But the power plant is very reliable, the handling is great, and it's just a really, really pleasant and fun car to drive, especially on a nice day with the top down.
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