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Having been a lotus fan all my life but never actually owned one. I want to sell my caterham 7 and buy an elite eclat or excel . But where do you start . I love the look of them all. The elite is so 70s but will it be trouble and the excel I guess will be more of a drives car and more reliable? But seems less of a classic Can anybody piont me in the right direction

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There are some jobs on the Elite & Eclat that are an absolute pain but quite easy on the Excel, such as rear brakes. The Excel has more components from donor cars that are reliable, such as Toyota gearbox, balljoints instead of trunnions. That said, the Elite & Eclat were not terrible, they did give rise to warranty claims at the time, and much frustration by home mechanics now, that said, if you get a sorted one (with galvanised chassis) and look after it, you shouldn't need to work on it too frequently so as to not get enjoyment.

 

I'd suggest reaching out to local owners of all three models, ones not for sale, go and look at them, ride in them, get an honest opinion form a group of people who have nothing to gain by you purchasing any car, let alone their car then make up your own mind. For me, given I've had many Excels, I like the idea of an Elite exterior styling, with an Excel underneath, some are converted to that but people who pay/ invest a lot of time doing it are probably looking to keep the car long-term so don't expect those to be readily available.

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An Excel every time - if you want a great Lotus and reliability.

 

That's not to say that some people don't have reliable Elites and Eclats, but most of the specialist companies will point you away from the earlier 4 seaters and towards the Excel.

 

I certainly prefer the looks of the Elite, and there are a few Elite that have been grafted onto Excel mechanics. This is expensive to do yourself, or get some else to do it for you, and since it is non-standard I'd assume maintenance could be an issue. However, the few I've seen looked great! And very expensive when they come up for sale.

 

I think of the Excel, esp the later ones, as an Elite/Eclat with all the problems fixed (chassis rust, rear brakes, 5 speed gearbox, low speed torque, electrics, headlights, rear suspension). I've had mine for 12 years now and, with regular maintenance, it has been fine.

 

Just buy the best you can find/afford, as the cost of fixing problems can be significant.

I think I will now keep me head down - as I'm sure many on the forum will disagree with my view :-)

Edited by TonyPoll
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I have had/got both Excel and Elite.  The Excel is a far more "modern" car and a realistic daily driver.  Great fun too.  But, to my mind, it is nowhere near as cool as the Elite.  Still cool, but not as cool !

 

As said, buy there best you can afford and service it regularly and you should be ok

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I believe my excel is the same in headroom as the rear of my eclat which I sat in yesterday i.e. a bit crap. It is nowhere near as good as an elite, which having an extra inch or so of headroom makes it a genuine 4 seater car for adults, albeit one that is difficult for rear passengers to get in an out of.

 

Rear seats in Eclats and Excels are really for kids. I am 5ft 11, and the rear of the cars don't have enough headroom for me to be comfortable on any journey longer than 20 mins. One plus for the excel is the provision for 3 point seatbelts, whereas the elite and eclat are 2 point lap belts in the rear, unless you do something clever to put in a top mount plate into an earlier car.

 

Personally, I don't really subscribe to this "excel is much better than elites and eclats line" as I have found its something usually offered by owners with a vested interest. Owners that own or have owned both that did their own spannering don't seem to be as vocal. They are different, but none of them are particularly horrific for a home mechanic. I have Series 1, Series 2 and an eclat excel (although admittedly, the eclat excel is a recent purchase thats not yet in use) so I have no real axe to grind in favouring one of my own cars as I have one of each.

 

What I would offer is that a galvanised chassis is a big plus. They were standard in series 2 elite and eclats and fitted to every excel, but a great many series 1 cars that are still on the road have had a galv chassis retro fitted.

 

Judge each car on its own merits. A crap example of a supposedly better car will still be worse than a good example of another car.

 

My personal view is that series 2 elites and eclats have a number of worthwhile mechanical improvements, but the purity of line of the earlier car is nicer. There isn't much between a series 2 eclat/elite and an excel, in fact, you could make a case for each model having different advantages (series 2 better gearbox/lighter car/less unsprung rear weight/lumenition ignition vs excel having better brakes and more long lived rear driveshafts, hydraulic clutch operation, later excels had other electrical improvements).

 

Be aware however that all models require care and fiddling, particularly with electrics.

 

Personally, I would urge you to decide which one you think looks best and buy that. If you buy another, you will always be haunted by the model you liked the most, but didn't buy.

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Personally, I would urge you to decide which one you think looks best and buy that. If you buy another, you will always be haunted by the model you liked the most, but didn't buy.

 

Thats good advice... anything can be fixed. These cars are cheap to find secondhand parts at the moment but this won't last as the part supply dries up. if you can't decide then do what Dunc does and buy them all! 

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For me, one big issue is whether you are happy to work on the car yourself or not.  Things get expensive quite quickly if you get a garage to work on these cars - at least that's my experience of the early cars.  However, they are not very complicated and if you do the work yourself, it is a totally different proposition.

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i have a black excel SE for sale, with some work, but a cheap buy, i dont know if you work on cars? or that you just want to buy a good elite/excel/eclat

 

Great advise Dunc. in a few lines a newby know's the difference about a excel and a elite,

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Ok thanks for all the advise, but I think find what I love the look of. So I need to find a nice elite then. So if anyone knows of one please

 

Welcome to TLF Peter. :welcome:

 

Duck over to the Introductions section and say hi in there as well.

All we know is that when they stop making this, we will be properly, properly sad.Jeremy Clarkson on the Esprit.

Opinions are like armpits. Everyone has them, some just stink more than others.

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"The elite is so 70s but will it be trouble..."  Yes. 

 

I ended up with a 76 Elite because it was rust free, inexpensive, and looks like a movie prop from Logan's Run. Good times.

 

As far as reliability, it is as reliable as anything of this period, but here would be my recommendations based on a definition of reliability centered on getting going and getting home.    Usually it is spark and fuel that cause you to either not get running or not get back.  In no particular order, here was my list when doing my car up for reliability.

 

0. Understand how the ignition circuit is wired, it will be what fails when you find yourself at the side of the road. It is simply repaired if you know what you are looking at.  No spark = walking home.

 

1. Replace the electronic ignition with a modern quality two wire unit, your old unit is susceptible to parts vibrating off the circuit board.  (open it up to see if you don't think so)  Or at least secure the components in potting compound. 

 

2. Replace the coil, ballast resistor, and condenser.  30 year coil often equals walking.

 

3. Check the clutch cable and all related parts.  No clutch won't leave you stranded, but having to start the car in first and drive home clutchless could cause a number of bad situations that end up with you walking.

 

4. Remove the fuel shut off valve and OEM fuel pump and replace with a Facet unit for a small single point of failure rather than two big ones.  50% chance less of walking.

 

5.  Replace the nylon fuel line from the back with a steel one.  This reduces your chances of running away from a toxic fiberglass inferno, then walking home.

 

All he other stuff that can break, no signals, no headlights, broken spring, no gauges, no engine fans, no brakes, etc, etc, are just good stories for you and your buddies to laugh about over a pint.

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1. Replace the electronic ignition with a modern quality two wire unit, your old unit is susceptible to parts vibrating off the circuit board.  (open it up to see if you don't think so)  Or at least secure the components in potting compound.

Which system would you recommend exactly or which are you driving by now?

Concerning the topic... I have a late Éclat S2 and a late Excel from 91. Both have their charme, both have their reason to be collected :) Believe it or not, they are completely different driving experiences. So, as a Lotus is a Drivers Car, drive them and decide then. I never would have thought myself, that the difference is such great. For the reliability... Don't worry too much... They are very equal in having a similar sum of serious and minor weak points. Some fairy tails are included in having a proper Lotus racing machine ;)

Good luck!

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Yes im happy to do most jobs and I had seen the white one in devon and want to go and see it. Its a bit of a journey for me as im in oxford .

 

But think of the journey home!!!

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Peter, me and my 1980 Elite S2.2 live only 3 miles from where you live, so I will be happy to show you it and talk to you about Elite ownership.  In fact if you are free this Sunday morning (27 April) I can take you for a 50 mile round trip as it is 'Drive It Day' and our local council (SODC) has organised a charity car run from Crowmarsh to Thame and back.  I'm signed up to do the run so call me on 01491 613005, or get down to Crowmarsh SODC car park for the 10am start.

 

Leigh

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