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1978 Elite 503 - Recommission / Restoration


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Following on from my introduction to this forum on the general chat page I have created this thread to track the progress (or lack of) of my recommission / restoration of my recently acquired S1 503.

The plan is very simple but is certain to encounter obstacles on the way but high level here goes

Step 1 - Get the engine to run.

The car was taken off the road due to failed water pump which has been removed, also all the ancillary belts were removed at the same time. Rather than get this job finished the previous owner decided to get the carbs rebuilt, being Italian he took them home and had them fully rebuilt and they are now ready for refitting. So first job order fuel pump, all belts including timing belt and tensioner and get them all refitted, refit the carbs, replace any worn fuel lines and probably fit a new fuel pump. Hopefully once complete we can get the engine running. The car is currently with a local mechanic here who I am going to ask to carry out this work.

Step 2 - Refit all the parts to the car

Whilst he car was awaiting the above mechanical work the interior was stripped out and seats and all seats / door cards etc. were sent to Italy to be retrimmed. The rear bumper was removed as was some to the trim and other bits, so there is a box of parts to be refitted. I plan to refit all these parts to see what is missing but also to hopefully be able to check everything that does or doesn't work so I can add to my to do list.

Step 3 - Mechanical Recommission / Restore

From the To Do list identified in Step 2 strip recommission or restore all the mechanical / safety bits required to pass an NCT (Irish MOT). The big question here is the recommission / restore, there will be parts that will need to be taken apart some of which will need to be replaced because they are broken or worn but do I replace anything that is likely to wear in the future as they are apart. I am thinking things like bushes, bearings, seals which may be fine now but as they are all nearly 45 years old are likely to be near end of life and will probably fail sometime in the future. Logically it makes sense if they're out to replace but this will impact budget which will in turn impact timeline.

Step 4 - Road legal & Drive

As per other recommissions I have done in the past, and reading other threads here, the only time you know everything works is when you use it. So once Step 3 has been completed to the point of getting aforementioned NCT the plan is to use it, It won't be pretty but driving it will show up other issues. It will also be a natural break of spending time in the garage learning swear words I didn't know I knew. Anything that come up during this stage will need to be rectified

Step 5 - Cosmetics

The fun bit, getting it looking like I want it too. It will certainly need a paint and a full cosmetic refurb. The interior I have but carpets, head linings trim parts will all need to be checked, cleaned and replaced and also those personal touches. No it won't be getting air-ride or a V8 but there are always bits that make it your own.

Seems simple 5 steps, a fair bit of hard work, an equal amount of spare cash a few tantrums along the way - what could possibly go wrong 😉


Edited by zagatoes30
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Ok so some of the parts started to arrive today, interior, bonnet, rear bumper and internal bits the were stripped by the previous owner. The new refurbished interior including seats, door cards & carpets - I will take some photos over the weekend but they look and feel stunning.

Also arrived all the paperwork including a list of jobs already done along with parts used and costed and importantly the registration papers including the chassis details. I assume that like other manufacturers Lotus have a contact that you can provide chassis details and they can provide any build specification details, does anyone know who that contact would be please?

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4 minutes ago, zagatoes30 said:

have a contact that you can provide chassis details and they can provide any build specification details, does anyone know who that contact would be please?


Bit expensive though.

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11 minutes ago, exeterjeep said:

Ouch, doesn't seem to cover the older models

Our Italian friends use to charge about a tenth of that but it could take 6-20 weeks to come through

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It used to be around £60, but then the marketing department got hold of it 😠, packaged it up posh and pumped the price.

 I have a 74 Elite which I got the details for, but the records for the early cars are quite basic. It might be worth dropping an email to the lotus archive to enquire if they can do something more representative.


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So finally got the financial part of the transaction complete and the Elite is now legally mine. Along with the paperwork some of the parts removed by the previous owner arrived so I will opens this weekend going through and cataloging what I have and its state, replace, repair, refit. I also need to move some of the other toys around to give me space for both storage and the up and coming work plan

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  • 3 weeks later...

So whilst waiting to get the engine parts I decided to work through the parts that I have already got to see what I have and what condition its in so started with the interior. The previous owner had  seats and carpets all redone and they are pretty good. One big job off the list 









IMG_0784 (1).jpeg

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