1 BODY BEAUTIFUL Look for cracks and accident damage repair on the glassfibre shell, especially in the corners. Most obvious tell-tale sign is mottled or shrunken paint. The nose is very prone to stonechips, and professional refinishing can be expensive. Objects in the boot can move around and damage the nearside exterior wing, meaning more star cracks here.
2 CHASSIS CHECK Chassis weren’t galvanised until May 1980. A rebuilt car may have had this vitally important work done, so check paperwork or question the seller. Felt material between the chassis and the body that absorbs water and causes rust – tap areas with a small hammer. A sharp clang is good, a dull thud much less so. 3 ENGINE EXAM Engines have a (partly justified) reputation for fragility – look for evidence within the history of 6000-mile/ six-month services, plus genuine Lotus anti-drain valve oil filters being fitted. Listen for big end rumbling when the car is started. Oil pressure should be around 35psi at 3500rpm but can go as low as 5psi at idle.
4 STOP & GO Be very wary of any gearbox issues – they’re shared with the Citroën SM, so parts are getting scarce. They should be slick and smooth – worn cables and bushes make them difficult. Whining points to worn bearings. Be sure to test the handbrake – it frequently seizes because it can’t be lubricated, and the lever mountings can break.