Step 4B – Evaluation – Restoration Minuses

Part of every project is acknowledging the negatives, what are the issues with rebuilding or restoring a particular car.  This car had quite a list, and here they are:

  • The car was dirty. The engine compartment filthy.  Plastic carburetor connectors were cracked or broken.
  • The paint, as expected on a fiberglass car, has a good number of stress cracks. While not really noticeable from 10-20 feet away, they were more obvious when you got close.
  • The interior was worn. Carpet was frayed and dirty. Seats, although they look good, are old and need to be redone.
  • Most of the rubber on the car was dried out. For instance, while the tires look new, they were very hard.  Same for all rubber bushings, seals, rubber O-rings.
  • The windshield was pitted and has a crack.
  • The dash crash pad has a crack in the center. The side mirrors are no longer attached.

None of the known design defects from the factory have ever been addressed:
A. Colin Chapman never anticipated Arizona heat. The radiator was too small.  The factory mounted radiator fan was ineffective, even if it had sufficient current from the low output generator.
B. The rotoflex couplers while an ingenious solution in the 1960’s, don’t last (especially in Arizona or California air) and are grossly inferior to modern CV joints for safety and reliability.
C. The generator weighs 19 lbs. and puts out just 20 amps.  A modern alternator weighs around 4 lbs and can put out over 60 amps.
D. Modern electronic fuel pumps out-perform the existing mechanical one.
E. The stock 115 horsepower is adequate for the cars low weight. Making modest and conservative steps to improve performance and longevity would make a lot of sense.
F. The Elan chassis, while a marvel in weight and efficiency, has known weak spots and can be improved by strengthening key areas, reinforcing others and replacing things like the cross brace with something stronger – and removable.
G. The Elan head can be improved with larger valves and better flow.
H. The stock ignition technology was 40 years old, existing distributor and points situation could be dramatically improved.
I. The grounding point for the chassis is in the bottom of the trunk, a perfect spot for corrosion to develop. This ground point can be moved.
J. Like all Elans, the doors stick out on the bottom from the body and visually appear not to fit – especially on the driver’s side. Factory molds were not very good nor were they precise, leading to odd fitting doors.  In addition, numerous opportunities exist to strengthen and reinforce the fiberglass in key areas to ensure longer life and no cracks.

Next: Step 5: The Process Overview

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