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GrandThriftAuto’s blue 1976 Elite 503 - Projects & Restorations - The Lotus Forums #ForTheOwners Jump to content


GrandThriftAuto’s blue 1976 Elite 503


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I’m at something of a crossroads with this car now. It runs fine for the most part but has a pretty significant coolant leak. The radiator is well past its best, but it also seems to be leaking quite profusely from the join between the block and the main bearing panel, which is interesting. (Video on that coming up, probably next week.)

It also needs repainting. Aside from being an unappealing colour, the paint finish is atrocious: it not only flakes off, it washes off.  

B3DF434F-52C3-44C8-BB1B-4C3F6C461D9B.thumb.jpeg.15e53d21be9be797ab43458f5986022c.jpeg

I really want to put it back to the original Lagoon Blue metallic, which is just lovely:

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(Photo shamelessly stolen from the internet — if it’s yours then I apologise unreservedly, and btw your car is stunning.)

The interior is mostly not bad. It seems pretty original apart from some slightly eccentric modifications in the form of odd switches and a randomly relocated (and broken) choke knob. It was specced in vinyl throughout, which has a rather horrid texture, especially on the seats. I’m more of a velour man myself when it comes to seats, and the driver’s one needs re-stuffing.

91F275F2-3236-4ACA-A731-C74DF2989A40.thumb.jpeg.374e4d6afda17ceb26e24b4efdb38300.jpeg

So what to do next? Dave at Lotusbits wisely said that before doing any serious restoration I should drive it around and make sure I like it: I have and I do.

I have some money (not unlimited) and potentially some time; I can make indoor working space; I have an engine crane, a tilter and assorted tools. I don’t have a paint booth. I also have a queue of other cars needing my attention.

I think my options are:

1. Send it off to Lotusbits (when they have a slot), say ‘send me the bill when it’s all done’, then bite on a towel;

2. Take the engine out and take it somewhere to have the bottom end sorted out (assuming it doesn’t just need the bolts torqued up a bit), and while I’m about it strip the car down for painting and rewiring;

3. As 1 or 2 but without the strip down, and live with the shonky look. It’s not as if it’s going to get rusty (the chassis is a good galvanised one, by the way).

I’m open-minded and mulling it over.

Any opinions welcome.

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40 minutes ago, EXCEL V8 said:

Is there coolant in the oil?

Pete

Nope, oil is nice and clean, thankfully.

It’s just about possible that the coolant is escaping from a hose somewhere and just dripping on to that part of the engine - needs further investigation to be 100% sure of the source of the leak.

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Great car. I've got a 74 Lagoon Blue car that's been off road for far too long. 

If LB have done some of the chassis work already, I'd be tempted to get the engine / cooling issues sorted then enjoy the car for a while. 

Interior looks tidy and let's face it, you can't see the paint when your driving 😜

Once it's mechanically reliable, there are a few options to tidy the paint / body work as a rolling improvement without spending the earth on a professional respray. 

I'd just warn about doing a home based "engine out / rewire" unless your very disciplined with your time management. Many have started this sort of work, but just keep finding "one more job " and a month becomes 6 months, then a year and - we'll you can guess the rest. Ask me how I know. - then the good work you've already invested in goes backwards 😩😭,. 

These cars just need to be used with some regularity. 

Tony 

 

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Thanks Tony, that’s extremely wise advice.

10 hours ago, Tony D said:

 

I'd just warn about doing a home based "engine out / rewire" unless your very disciplined with your time management. Many have started this sort of work, but just keep finding "one more job " and a month becomes 6 months, then a year and - we'll you can guess the rest. Ask me how I know. - then the good work you've already invested in goes backwards 😩😭

I am very badly disciplined indeed with my time management, it’s almost certainly my greatest weakness.

In fact, have we met? Were we married once?

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  • Gold FFM

A very enjoyable TLF thread.

I would definitely be looking at getting the car running well before spending dosh on paint. The interior looks very tidy all things considered.

I made an early mistake in the 1980's of doing the bodywork and trim on a XK120 FHC. The car looked a million dollars but drove poorly. 

LotusBits are a great outfit and would do a wonderful job. The bill however would be quite large at the end of play - it will be fair but, as Charlie Crocker said, B I G. You cannot restore a car properly without getting in to 5 figure sums. Grand thrift it would not be.

I always now spend the money on the mechanicals. I don't even bother with PPF or ceramic coatings on my more modern stuff. Cars are not sculptures, they are for driving and that means the paint will get wear and tear. If you start to obsess about stone chips, it leads to a reluctance to use the vehicle.  I refuse to repaint my '73 XJ6 - I know it would add a level of 'stress' when using the car and I would end up using it less. Pointless.

Justin

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have driven this car and it is very fine!

Sadly my Eclat has been in a barn as an untouched project for three years now, and each time it gets to the top of the queue I buy another old Italian or BL car and the poor Eclat has to wait again, but I will get there eventually.

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10 hours ago, GerardJPC said:

I have driven this car and it is very fine!

Sadly my Eclat has been in a barn as an untouched project for three years now, and each time it gets to the top of the queue I buy another old Italian or BL car and the poor Eclat has to wait again, but I will get there eventually.

Well, at least the bodywork isn’t rusting 😊

Your Eclat is a very fine thing. One day we’ll get the two together, both shiny and working. One day.

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By way of an update on this, I’m still trying to work out whether it’s really leaking coolant or if I just forced some out using the pressure tester.

The hose from the pressure cap on the header tank isn’t connected to anything - it just drains out somewhere around the front of the engine.

On a normal - sorry, lesser - car, it would drain to an expansion tank and then drain back when the system pressure drops again. But my Elite doesn’t have an expansion tank - is this normal? ‘Added lightness’ at work?

I’ll do some more driving over the next few days and throw up another video soon. So far all the footage is of me scratching my head, which makes for rubbish telly.

Here’s a photo in the meantime.

EC65E2C4-B1A8-40EF-8AE5-743EFD20DE33.thumb.png.938b093fceaa32075eda9987e6d8de79.png

 

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Loving those peeping headlights 😀

Need to take photos very quickly (or keep the engine running). 

Later Excels have an expansion tank build into the main tank (2 connected compartments). Early cars managed without. 

Tony 

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  • 2 weeks later...

From the video, when you start the car in the marsh area (at around 7:40), I hear what I *think* is a faulty brake booster check valve. A bad check valve makes a ticking sound that appears to come from behind the binnacle. Personally, I found that sound to be incredibly annoying, so it was a high priority, for me, to find and fix. 

It's a very inexpensive and quick fix - the old one pulls out and the new one pushes in. A little silicone grease helps matters. 

check valve: https://www.sjsportscars.com/parts-and-accessories/A075J6081F.htm

grommet for the check valve (incorrect picture on this page, but the part is correct): https://www.sjsportscars.com/parts-and-accessories/SJ050J0007.htm

 

Side note: Excellent drone work. I'm always surprised by how many drone videos have jerky turns & poor framing.  Yours look great.

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Thanks very much @BrianK - I’ll look into that.

There certainly is a ticking from the binnacle, which I’d put down to a snapped speedo cable (the car eats speedo cables for breakfast and really needs a new speedo) - but it could easily be the brake booster check valve.

Or both, of course 😊

Also - you know how I said the coolant leak was fixed?

It had another little accident today.

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Sigh. Maybe I need to let it out last thing at night. That works with Keith the dog.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...
  • Gold FFM

That's showbiz. 

Imagine how all those folk at the Lotus factory have felt over the years, as their hard work and innovation has been trashed by clowns who have never even owned one.

Justin

 

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Another thumbs up for your videos from me :thumbup:

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