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Farmer Bob

Gold '78 Elite 503

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I thought I would write this blog 3 months after starting the restoration. I am running into a few bits and pieces that are making me scratch my head and might need a bit of help!

I bought the car last November, never owned anything fiberglass before but had fond memories of one when I was a child. The car was for sale locally on Ebay, unused for 20yrs and stored under cover. It also looked complete and with a beige leather interior (not sure about the beige / gold colour scheme).

On getting the car home I could only get the car running by squirting petrol into the carbs, but it did run. However all the brakes were seized up and things looked a bit grotty underneath so I decided to take the body off and start a complete restoration. I just needed to build a shed to put it in and I would start, how long can it take to restore a fiberglass car!

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Can I be the first to say welcome... I to brought mine in November... 2013 and I reckon I have another couple of years on it! To be honest they are fairly easy to work on since getting the body off makes life fairly easy ( my engine came out and body off in two days). Some of the parts are getting harder to find if you want to stay original but they are few and far between. That your starting with a complete car makes it easier. Take loads of photos - camera phones and the cloud makes it ridiculously easy to post photos on here and you'll find the documentation key in reassembling.

I love the gold on these cars - very seventies...

Have you got a heritage certificate yet... Might be worth trying to piece the history together.

Best of luck with it and there is a wealth of knowledge on these pages so come back often

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the forum help here is so good I am regretting selling my Esprit, and buying a VW Splitscreen, the forums for that are quite poor.

I miss driving the Esprit as well, I will buy another light project when I find one.

 

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Welcome to TLF. Great colour, that'll look amazing :D

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Welcome Bob to TLF. Nice, clean looking Elite.

Depending on what you do, the work could take a life time. lol.

I have spend many years working on mine '74 Elite  and still find enjoyment after early 34 years of ownership. Not to discourage your project even a little bit as the forte of these cars isn't looks but how they drive as it is one of the most fun cars to go out for some fast motoring, if you like fast driving and great handling sports cars then you will probably love this car too. This was one of the last cars Colin Chapman had his hand in and it shows with really unbelievable, fantastic road manners with oh so finely tuned suspension. Puts a smile on everyone's face whether driving, riding or just looking.

Taking off the body will be a much faster way of restoring your car so you are on the right foot starting out. That way you know what you have.

Can be a really fun car but takes a good deal of work to make it that way IMHO.  

 

keep us posted here on your progress as there are many expert and very experienced gear-heads, on this forum, for the Elite.

 

atb

 

Richard

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Bob, I'm in Norfolk and if this is the car I think it is, it came up just after I bought mine in October last year. Huntingdon/Cambs area if memory serves? Was gutted at the time as I was still awaiting delivery of mine and I loved the colour of yours.

Any advice, just ask, as there's loads of useful guys on here. Luckily, I'm not taking the body off mine, as I'm lucky that the previous owner of 37yrs put in a galv chassis, but I've taken the fuel tank out and will be replacing the fuel system and sorting the carbs and I have some electrical issues to sort.

GL

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Welcome to TLF Robert. :welcome:

That'll look great finished. I really like the look of them as I don't think there is anything else that looks like them. Not in Australia anyway.

You should duck over to the Introductions area and say hi in there as well.

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Welcome to the forums Robert, the car looks really nice in the pictures and has done pretty well by the looks of it for been stored so long. :)

I also think the gold looks stunning on these cars, i think a nice black leather interior would finish this car of well but thats that would be my own choice and it is not my car, just my two pence. As you probably have already noticed plenty of folks on here restoring cars of your Lotus model and are friendly,know the cars inside out and always happy to help. :)

Look forward to seeing this car come back to life and looking forward to the updates, :)

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Loving that colour combo, I wouldn't change that at all. Look forward to seeing your progress. 

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seconded - the gold and the beigie will look amazing - very "in period" and suits the car well.

Welcome to the forum.

 

The car looks reasonably tidy. Would look better with the correct black badge on the nose however - but these are cheap and readily available.

Dunc

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Ha Ha, thanks for all the replies, Mike yes I am interested in a heritage certificate how would I find one, Ant the car was the one from Huntingdon and did not have a galvanized chassis, Shane splittys are all expensive, slow and  mainly rotten now (with long panels that warp easily!), I did not realize it has the wrong nose badge put needs replacing anyway.

To continue, my garage/shed was completed by Christmas (had a roof), so I felt it was time to get started.

Quite difficult to find all the nuts and bolts holding the body in place but I eventually found them all. I was not too sure whether to remove the body first, or engine/gearbox but as I could not seem to undo the exhaust manifold to down-pipe bolts I opted for the former. After reading more on the forum I did it the wrong way round but it seemed to work, just having to remove the lower cam cover to clear the body.

On removing the body what had looked like a good chassis turned out to be fairy poor, it had a repair to the offside front where I presume it had had a knock at some point and the rear cross member was not beyond repair but pretty poor. The diff was leaking, brakes all shot and corroded, front and rear suspension arms rotten, power steering leaking etc!

So I decided the only way forward was to visit Lotus Bits, purchase a galv. chassis and start again. I had in mind a 6K budget when I started the car, 1 for running gear, 1 for engine, 1 for interior, 1 for paint, 1.5 to buy the car and a bit left for other stuff. How wrong you can be! I came back from Rugby with a newer chassis, galv suspension parts, boxes full of brake parts, bearings, uj's and a complete review of my required spend!

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Damage and repair to front suspension

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New chassis in place,ready for rebuild.

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Forward to today, how do I get the rear lights out of the bumper, there are some odd nuts behind the fittings at the back of the bumper or do the lenses pop out of the plastic fronts to expose the screw heads?

Robert

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That gold looks fantastic. It's going to be a superb car when finished.

Chris

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Fantastic effort,  yes i think everybody knows the feeling about going into to Mike at lotusbits you always come out with more stuff than you intended to purchase. :P  The galvanised chassis looks great and an excellent platform to build up from. I have a feeling this will will be a seriously nice elite when finished.

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Robert, top effort Sir, although any workshop with a fore end loader has a major advantage!

Looking great, keep it up and keep us posted. Getting quite a few Elites in the Eastern Counties now so should bode well for future events

Cheers
Ant

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Well the teleporter (JCB) did come in handy, but I have not had time to fit electricity or ramp yet as I have no spare time!

So I had all the suspension parts cleaned and I resprayed them with a 2 part epoxy paint from rustbusters (local company) which seemed to cover really well. All bushes replaced, new bearings on rear and front, new brake pipes, power steering rack etc. The front calipers were not good so I sent them to Devon to be refurbished. They took 3 months to come back but they returned last week, which as I have been in no hurry was no problem, they look great and seem to have done a great job.

I put the wheels back on tonight, dropped the chassis to the floor and it reminded me of a go-cart!

 

 

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I have spent 8 weeks or so rubbing down old paint by hand now and am a bit bored, but when I get down to the original paint (after rubbing off the two previous resprays), there is a white layer, two layers of grey and then a layer of red before the fibreglass matting. How low do I need to go, so to speak, before repainting?

Robert

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Good effort Robert the chassis looks spot on even if it does look like a go cart.! Its super clean and everything works  :) 

Regarding your paintwork and take this with a pinch of salt as i am no paint expert, but you have sanded down enough when you reach a good surface that will hold the primer coat stable.   Think you have to be carefull  not to go to deep and stay away from seeing fiberglass to be honest as you do not want to go through the gel coat.   As long as the paints not cracked and is a good surface i would primer from there.

I remember one of the forum members also saying about water finding its way into fiberglass in damp condtions, I have always known primer is pourous but never new fiberglass was.  So you will need to keep this in mind, I cant remember the who the forum member was but they said about drying out the car before painting.   I think it all stemmed from where micro blisters on fiberglass cars came from, well thats how the thread started anyway.

I am pretty sure other members with a good knowledgeof painting fiberglass cars will chip in, quite a few on the forums have done home restorations including the respray in the back yard.:)

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Great looking car and loving the colour. Would love to have mine back to its original gold at some point.

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Top car, nicely done - your workmanship looks superb and great facilities! The gold and cream is an iconic look for the Elite, I wouldn't change it and it's odds on to be the original finish as most people painted over 70s shades when they became unfashionable in the 80s/90s.

 

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You can get a heritage cert from lotus which tells you how the car left the factory, where it was sold and what stuff it had done under warranty. It can make an interesting read. 

Great work so far. I'm really envious ofyour workshop...

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Thanks Mike, I will do that, I did ring Lotus  couple of weeks ago about colour codes and they were very helpful. I am really enjoying the project, probably a bit too much but hey-ho. I was a bit dubious about gold to start with but I am now set on originality and when I found the original shade of gold underneath it looks much better than the shade in the original photos posted ( a bit darker). The workshop is great, I shall fit a ramp when the Elite goes to the paint shop as it is obviously not possible to crawl underneath a Lotus!

Now I seem to have overspent on photo sizes and have no space left, will I have to start another thread to post any more photos?

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With photo I compress mine for web publishing g which takes the size from a couple of Mb to KB if that... Difficult to do on an android device though so I generally post from my laptop...

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Robert, you look pretty sussed with what you are doing but seeing as you mention a ramp, just thought it might be worth raising the issue of jacking points and the fragility of fibreglass. You might just need to think about what ramp design you choose. This has been raised on another thread. Check out jukka's project thread for a start. Hope that helps

Best wishes

Ant

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Looking nice!

I can't see the fuel line in the pic.  Don't forget to fit that in before you put the propshaft/gearbox in. It' a pig to fit otherwise :-(

 

Have fun!

Herc

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Thanks for that, I bought the ramp before the car so I suppose I will have to make some blocks to lift the car, Herc yes I have fitted a new fuel line, took some finding to get the right diameter.

I put the body back on the chassis today, I will post photos if I can shrink them enough!

Are the prop shaft UJs fairly reliable or should I replace, there does not seem to be a grease nipple in them.

 

Robert

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