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'74 Elite 502

'74 Elite 502
Elite 4.9
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Elite 4.9
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Years of passionate work and slight modifications of areas where needed. Bought my 1974 Elite from the second owner with only 28,000 miles on it. It had a handful of rubber filings around and  below the cam belt which was so tight, I think it was starting to wear out the aluminum cam belt sprockets. All the valves were toast after hitting the tops of the pistons when the belt finely slipped a tooth or two or more.  

I made quite a few improvements to the original Elite, which mine is the 110th one built. The body was simply horrible as far as being straight. Spend 400 hours hand block sanding the entire body after filling all the sections before primer was added making it one of the straightest Elite bodies in existence. The body molds were anything but good enough to pull body parts off when mine was made. I guess it was rushed early on as I see later versions of the Elite with straighter body panels. 

From all I have read about this version of their 4-seater sports GT with the final version called the Excel Lotus made a number of improvements making it probably the best version for a daily driver.

Many of these improvements seemed necessary for a good reliable car and a few added so these cars could use all of the F1 technology built into the fabulous handling Elite.

Funny thing is that 5 major  improvements, that I made, were adopted by Lotus after I did them to my car. True story! Unfortunately the later version of the Elite didn't get all of them but their top two seater, the Esprit did. Electric headlight pods, V8 engine, real wood elm burl dash, larger 16 inch wheels, and believe it or not, the exact same red paint taken from a Ford truck color. I added a heavy duty Tremec 5 pd .68 overdrive transmission and clutch which Lotus would never have used as it was too expensive. Plus a limited slip rear end with disc brakes.

The clothe interior was also already shot with only 28 k miles on it. Looked horrible! All stretched out and so dirty and stained it wouldn't clean up. Lotus must have got a bargain on the interior materials. Very cheap indeed. Changed over to Connolly leather hides. Now the car looks like it was intended from the beginning as an up scale model GT.


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    • Mount Hotham. Victoria . Australia
    • What is really quite difficult to believe is that before production started, Lotus built two early Elite versions with the English version of the Buick 215, the Rover V8 at 4 L. Everyone liked it but Colin wanted an all English car and he said that the 4 liter didn't produce any more hp than the two liter. Twice the cubic inches and no more power or that it didn't make that much difference. Right ! 
      Mine, with a 4.9 liter Buick (298 cid) , is very fun to drive.  Much of the time, having so much torque in this engine, there is no need to down shift for a good boost in speed, just a little more stab on the gas petal is all that is needed. And it is way different than the original two liter Lotus twincam, by a long ways.! Still it can deliver over 30 mpg US.
    • Also updated was the brake master cylinder. Lotus's original part was something over $500 US dollars to replace so I found an AC Delco one for $47 with basically the same cylinder with right hand ports and the same piston diameter, but then I had to replace all of the brake lines which was necessary as the union to the rear brakes was blocked from a stuck valve down line. Even 160 psi wasn't enough to get any brake fluid through to bleed the rear brakes. I didn't find any mention of this part in the workshop manual which was very annoying. Really didn't matter because the rear end had leaked rear end fluid saturating the rear brake shoes at only 28,000 miles making them essentially worthless. Seals failed! The forklift rear end is really problematic and was not designed for a car traveling at much higher speeds and distances IMHO.     
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