Cracks and craz­ing

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying Guide -

Not hav­ing to worry about rot­ten pan­els is un­usual for a British clas­sic, but that GRP body re­quires care­ful check­ing. Ma­jor craz­ing and cracks are the big­gest con­cern as it’ll need spe­cial­ist skills to re­pair, so pay at­ten­tion to the ar­eas around locks and hinges which are of­ten first to go. And don’t ig­nore the state of the paint­work; a re­spray needs do­ing prop­erly to avoid prob­lems be­neath re-ap­pear­ing, and the cost can ex­ceed £5000. Bodged restora­tions will strain your funds and pa­tience, so steer well clear.

Bod­ily func­tions

Poor door fit isn’t un­com­mon, so don’t worry too much, but check the op­er­a­tion of the vac­uum-op­er­ated lamp pods as re­place­ment vac­uum units can be hard to source. Other points to look for are cor­roded bumpers on the Plus 2, dam­aged trim around the bonded wind­screen on later cars, and ev­i­dence of wa­ter leaks from a poorly fit­ted re­place­ment.

Twists and turns

Most im­por­tant, though, is thor­ough in­spec­tion of the chas­sis. Ac­ci­dent dam­age could have left it twisted, and it suf­fers from cracks and cor­ro­sion, es­pe­cially around en­gine and sus­pen­sion mount­ings. And there are side mem­bers unique to the Plus 2 that are tricky and ex­pen­sive to re­pair, so be ex­tra cau­tious. Don’t be sur­prised to find a re­place­ment, ei­ther the gen­uine Lo­tus de­sign or the space­frame type sold by Spy­der which works well but af­fects orig­i­nal­ity and val­ues.

Me­chan­i­cal health

Twin Cam en­gines last well with care­ful main­te­nance but a healthy cool­ing sys­tem is cru­cial. In­cor­rect coolant strength risks cor­ro­sion of the al­loy cylin­der head, with re­sul­tant silt and block­ages, while bear­ing play or leaks from the wa­ter pump put pres­sure on an al­ready mar­ginal set-up. A re­cent over­haul or new ra­di­a­tor is a good sign. A smoky ex­haust or low oil pres­sure (40psi warm is fine) are bad news, but while a re­build isn’t es­pe­cially cheap it’ll last for years if done prop­erly.

Smooth op­er­a­tions

It’s also worth check­ing the unit for oil leaks – of­ten from the cam cover – and for a rat­tling tim­ing chain. Other­wise, just make sure it runs cleanly as the car­bu­ret­tors, usu­ally Stromberg or We­ber items, may need a re-build; it’s a DIY task but get­ting a spe­cial­ist to set them up will pay div­i­dends. The Plus 2’s big valve ‘Sprint’ en­gine (the 130/5 model) isn’t prob­lem­atic but could have been used harder, so spend ex­tra time on the health checks.

Clunks and whines

Most Elans got the four-speed Ford Cor­sair gear­box with the 130/5 get­ting a five-speeder with Austin Maxi in­ter­nals – slightly more trou­ble­some but an op­tion for all mod­els from 1972. Both can suf­fer from whines and an ob­struc­tive shift, which point to an im­mi­nent – and pricey – re­build. You’ll also want to en­sure there are no clunks or whines from the dif­fer­en­tial, and check it for oil leak­age, and ex­am­ine the rub­ber ‘Rotoflex’ drive­shaft cou­plings for cracks/ per­ish­ing. They last bet­ter than some ob­servers have you be­lieve, but the al­ter­na­tive is af­ter­mar­ket solid drive shafts which work well. Worn rear wheel bear­ings are a fur­ther is­sue.

Wan­der and wheels

Cracks around mount­ings aside, the sus­pen­sion will need check­ing for worn bushes or bent wish­bones, and ex­pect to find af­ter­mar­ket springs and dampers as orig­i­nals aren’t avail­able. Wan­der­ing on the road or un­even tyre wear points to the ge­om­e­try be­ing amiss, and it’s im­por­tant to in­ves­ti­gate why; it could be noth­ing or a chas­sis on its last legs. The all-round disc brakes are trou­ble-free, apart from stick­ing rear calipers, al­though a weak hand­brake is com­mon and more of a nui­sance than any­thing. New al­loy wheels aren’t avail­able so re-con­di­tion­ing will be needed.

Cabin fever

It’s easy to spot ne­glect in the cabin of an early model as they are sim­ple af­fairs, but later cars were plusher so check ev­ery­thing works. Elec­tric win­dows can play up, and in any case it’s worth check­ing the state of the wiring for age-re­lated is­sues or bodgery. En­sure the wood dash isn’t cracked or peel­ing, and check the road­ster for a damp in­te­rior or a grotty hood.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.