Make me an offer for my Elite, then please offer me an Elite

6

Author: James ElliottPublished:

Last week my Lotus Elite failed its MoT. Again. 

Now, I am the first to admit that i have not been what you would call a good owner of this car, but in my defence, its purchase proved a classic too far.

The addition of the Elite to the Elliott fleet, through little or no fault of its own, simply meant that I had more classics than I could afford to keep on top of (financially or time-wise).

And the one that suffered most because of that was the Elite itself. 

Yet somehow I could never bring myself to let it go.

Perhaps this was recognition of the fact that the Lotus was actually not the one with the biggest issues, but just that like a newborn it never seemed to be quite satisfied so the less needy children with bigger but less frequent problems took priority.

Perhaps it was some other factors such as how much I adore the idea (if not the reality) of that particular car, how much I love Elites when they are on song, how beholden I feel to the people who found it for me given the circumstances, or how conscious I am of the fact that the unfailingly supportive club and specialists (and all the Lotus Elite/Eclat/Excels out there) deserve a far better representative in the media than I had proven to be.

Someone to champion their cause – because they are brilliant driver's cars – rather then tarnish their reputation through his botched ownership.

So, after its first MoT failure the wedge was pushed out of sight and neglected. 

And there, uniquely for one of my cars, it languished for a year. Disgraceful I know, but I suspect that I am far from the only enthusiast to indulge in this sort of unacceptable behaviour prompted by all sorts of financial, time-related and even some psychological reasons. 

Alarmingly, when I finally decided to attack it (the temporary freeing up of the workshop being a huge factor in this), with the invaluable help of James Page and Al Clements, it took us less than a week of lunch-hours to get it in a state that I thought it was worth at least putting it through another MoT.

OK, so it appears to have failed miserably, but the truth is that if I wasn't currently so despondent about the car, it would probably be only the same amount of work again before I could be confident of it passing.

The only decent-sized job is a rear wheel bearing, after all, the same one Port and I fixed after the last failure.

But there is more to it than that. 

You see, even that brief journey to and from the MoT station reminded me of two things: why I so desperately want to have an Elite, but why the one I have is not that Elite.

It's no secret that when I bought my example, I was doing it on a budget. So little of a budget that a friend of a friend finally agreed to sell it for far less than both he and I knew it to be worth solely so I could be an owner. I was that desperate to have one and they were that sympathetic to my bleating.

The fact that – even though it isn't really the case –  I appear to have been spurning this car ever since, therefore, just reeks of ingratitude to both the seller and the ever-helpful 'broker' of the deal.

Sometimes, however,  you have to face reality and the fact is that though I am still desperate to have an Elite, this one isn't the one. The major stumbling block is that it's an auto. In my elation at finding one for my budget I thought I would be able to overcome that, but it turns out I can't.

I have no one to blame for that but myself. I consciously made the compromise because I couldn't afford what I really wanted, but I should have waited and saved up (as if that was ever going to happen!) rather than striking while the iron was hot. 

Sorry gents – you know who you are – please don't think this is any way criticism of you: I knew exactly what I was taking on and precisely what your efforts and generosity were on my behalf. The car was, if anything, better than I had any right expect for that money.

Sorry, too, to Mike Taylor at Lotusbits and the ever-sympathetic Angus at lotusexcel.net,  both friendly and enthusiastic supporters who I genuinely feel I will be letting down. 

So, for all the reasons above, I think the only solution is a clean break and my Elite has to go, because I realise that whatever I do to it, however much time and money I spend on it, it won't ever quite be the car that I need. 

What I would really like is for someone better than me, with more time than me, to take it on and give it the life that it deserves. So make me an offer.

Or, preferably, you are someone who already owns a manual car that you have made tediously reliable, so tediously reliable that you would relish the opportunity to swap it for the (slight) 'challenge' of my car with the huge bonus of its unstressed (thanks to the auto) late 2.2-litre engine and general good condition, but just in need of a little time and TLC.

Then, with the Elite that I always promised myself, I could finally and publicly set the record straight and erase this recent, unhappy little history.

I'm listening...

Comments

Dadio

Hello James

Has it found a new home yet?

I'm a life-long admirer of all things Lotus and a regular contributer to Club Lotus News (I keep members up to date about diecast model releases) but i don't currently own an example. The spectre of two years in a love/hate relationship with an S2 Esprit 25 years ago haunts my past. I'm no spanner wielder and never will be. I've always admired The Wedge and an auto would not be off putting, if anything it would be quite appropriate having an increasingly aching dodgy left knee and ankle, the legacy of being a White Van Man for most of my working life. I would love to give your car a good home where, if willing, it would enjoy regular gentle exercise. I'd happily keep you updated on its state of health and outings enjoyed. The biggest question in my mind is how much would you want for it?

John Harper

Dadio

Dadio

Hello James

Has it found a new home yet?

I'm a life-long admirer of all things Lotus and a regular contributer to Club Lotus News (I keep members up to date about diecast model releases) but i don't currently own an example. The spectre of two years in a love/hate relationship with an S2 Esprit 25 years ago haunts my past. I'm no spanner wielder and never will be. I've always admired The Wedge and an auto would not be off putting, if anything it would be quite appropriate having an increasingly aching dodgy left knee and ankle, the legacy of being a White Van Man for most of my working life. I would love to give your car a good home where, if willing, it would enjoy regular gentle exercise. I'd happily keep you updated on its state of health and outings enjoyed. The biggest question in my mind is how much would you want for it?

John Harper

Dadio

Chris Martin

Is the Elite not more of a GT than a sports car? In which case the Elliott garage already houses a Jensen which better fits that role. If part of the fun of Lotus ownership is revving it's little nuts off and swapping cogs in some Jim Clark fantasy drive, then the Elan +2 should fit the bill almost as well as the previous Elan. That leaves the Elite a bit stuck in the middle without a real job to do so James' is probably right to move it on. Having said that, I am sure there are many who would embrace the compromise of what is both a 'real' Lotus (from the Chapman days) and a practical four-seater with the ease of use of an auto' particularly for urban use.
I too have a duff knee, legacy of pedalling an old heavy Raleigh bicycle with two-speed Sturmey-Archer gears on a newspaper delivery round in Barnet in my teens. The two sacks of papaers were heavy, the hills steep and cartiledge damage done in the teens will only deteriorate over the years. Gear-changing in a car with laid back seats where the clutch pedal is a straight stretch forward is a bit painful these days. Yep, this sounds like the ideal car for a Lotus fan who prefers an automatic 'box!
Chris M.

 

simpatico

Completely gutted to see this go. Not only was there a chance of some running reports and nice piccies, but also as I was desperately trying to find out who owned it just prior to James sealing the deal to buy it myself. A few pictures had been posted of it at Castle Combe and it looked stunning (to me, it's not everyone's cuppa obviously). Shortly after finding it gone I bought another Elite, in even more dire need of refurbishment, so the garage is full (although not the back yard......). Would love to take it but fear an instant backlash from a long suffering family.

simpatico

PS the rear parking brake fail will most likely be a diff out scenario to strip and replace the inboard wheel cylinders. A nasty little job that to do right will eat 18 hours of any DIY-ers time and result in a lot of expensive seized rear suspension components needing to be replaced at the same time. I'm on with one as we speak!

simpatico

PPS James, just noticed that your car is one chassis number ahead of my current "project" Elite (one of the reasons I would struggle to justify purchase). It's a small Lotus world.

Seriously, persevere with this one; you have the best model (an S2), in the best colour and wheels. Get a manual box conversion, and you might as well fix the few faults listed above, because in my experience (3 of them) they all suffer the same set of problems. If you swap you will end up with an S1 with built in chassis rot and an interior that would make Rod Stewart in his mid 70s "Faces" era run a mile through lack of taste.

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