LOTUS ELAN SE
My second Elan, bought weeks after my basket case Eagle. Strange story on how I came about this car. In my search for the perfect Elan, I came across this car on Ebay. Originally described as a everyday perfect driver, I had just assumed it had cosmetic flaws that the picture did not reveal. And from my exhaustive hunting for this car, I had found that pictures do hide a lot for this type of car especially. Plus it was not the right color, never a fan of baby blue or Wedgewood blue. But I did bring it up in conversation with a fellow Lotus enthusiast, Lee, who immediately told me he knew the car, and that I actually knew the owner. As it turns out, the owner was a mechanic I had years ago who worked on my F2000 race car. Lee had sold him the car 20 years ago and the owner had performed a pain staking restoration and had only finished it 6 years ago. Now knowing the owner, I knew he was capable of phenomenal custom fabrication work, but it would take years. So this fell in line with what I knew. Lee suggested I give him a call and catch up which I did. As it turns out, the buyer reneged on the purchase, and the car was still for sale. I took a trip to Easton Pa., about 1.5 hours away and caught up with my old friend. When I first saw the car, the color was worse than I had thought, and wedgewood blue would have been an improvement. The only way I can describe it was a 1960's Holiday Inn pool color, or a flume ride at Great Adventures. Billy told me that he had originally bought the car for his girl friend, and she wanted Baby Blue of Pink. I guess between the two, blue was better. But they decided on a Studebaker Blue, or should I say, Turquoise. The color gave me so much pause, that I knew I wasn't buying the car. But while I was there, I might as well take her out for a test drive. This is when things got confusing. The car was so tight and drivetrain so perfect, I quickly realized what he meant by "Perfect Driver". The engine reved up wantingly and the gear box clicked into gear as if I was just throwing a toggle switch. No matter what the engine RPM, the car pulled without a hiccup or stutter. The pedals were OEM and my big size 11's could not operate the throttle without hitting the brakes. So I had to cock my foot sideways and operate the pedal with the side of my foot, brushing the brake pedal with the soles of my shoes. But after a few mintues, I completely forgotten that I was even doing that. Billy took me up through the mountain roads of Easton, Pa. The road had so many turns and elevation changes it should be on Road and Tracks best roads in the US. But every turn and crest was blind, meaning you could not see the rest of the road behind it. Given it was my first time and it wasn't my car, I was pussy footing the car. So Billy began giving me instructions, speed up, slow down, hard right, easy left, hard brake and accelerate through the turn, you have enough run out. By no time I was up to 65 mph. I have to say, the road was very tight, a two lane road with one lane in each direction. And at 65 mph, it was scary, especially with the occasional on coming car. My heart was pumping and my hands were sweaty, but found this huge grin on my face. We finally started the decent for this wonderful road, a 30 degree incline that felt like going down the bank curves of Daytona. A stop sign appeared in the distance, figuring I had more than adequate time to stop, I casually lifted and touched the brakes. Nothing. I applied more pressure, and still nothing, and perhaps even speeded up a little. With my back firmly in the seat, I stomped the brakes and the car finally came to a gradual stop. All of a sudden, memories of my Formula Ford days came to mind. Yes this was a street legal Formula Ford lol. Back at the shop, I again looked at the car, more carefully this time. The 6 year old paint job held out well, with only 2, almost unnoticeable small cracks in the gel coat after very close scrutiny. The motor was rebuilt with Hi Comp pistons, Stainless valves and up to date seats, and a custom valve guide with a seal. The engine didn't leak or burn a drop of oil. The suspension was not detailed, and ergo his "daily driver" label, but I have to say, he was understating the car. But the color! With a sigh, I told him I would think about it. Lee started to call me everyday to push me towards the car. Eventually, I caved, and have been smiling ever since. Plus you can see the color when you are driving it lol.
Billy made some modifications to the car, mainly for reliability and function. Some I like, some I didn't. The ones I liked were the radio delete (no radio cut out on the dash) Koni shocks, electric fuel pump, and the valve guide seals. He also added a matching Smiths battery gauge as he was still using the original generator. The ones I didn't like was the boot stay delete which required a stick to keep open, the door checks which makes the door swing closed by itself, and the hood pins which I thought looked a little out of place. While I understand these relieved the "stress" on the fiberglass. I think you can still have something that would do the same thing but be more functional. Eagle had a very soft boot stay, it was well worn, but still functioned, so I replaced it in this car and don't think it will crack the gel coat. Still trying to figure out the bonnet and doors, but same kind of thinking, soften it up by stretching the spring out a bit so it doesn't snap or jar the fiberglass. Well at least now the boot stays open, the rest can wait till later. The paint is so nice on the car, I am having second thoughts on repainting.