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Caterham - Birkin - Westfield owners I have an Elan I am looking to trade - its a long story

David Hansen

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I have been lurking for a bit and I thought I might try this approach as nothing has really come together to date.


I live in the pacific northwest and I have been searching to find more of a project type seven as idle hands and all that...


A little over a year ago I came into possession of the very first Elan M100 (the new Elan) that was delivered in the US in 1991 to the then president of the eastern US Lotus club.  I want to be transparent here that this car was a covid victim with the 2nd owner having parked it at their home in Palm Springs and basically letting it rest there for a number of years due to circumstances beyond all our control.


When the covid clouds parted the PO (not thinking straight) dropped a new battery in the car and tried to crank it over with some 4+ year old bad California gas in the tank (see pic).  Results as one would expect and then a "buddy" came over and they thought they would take the plugged injectors (2) out for cleaning and refurbishment.  This person disappeared to the wind and another couple of years went by and the car sat missing 2 injectors.


While scouring the interwebs for a seven project I came across the Elan on what looked likely to be a scam Craigslist ad and finally after bugging the owner for a few weeks I thought - one last try and re-forwarded my email again (maybe the 4th time) and got a response.  I always drooled over the Elan as a kid reading the holy trinity of car magazines - Autoweek, Road & Track and Car and Driver and it piqued my interest.


Seems the local crowd had no idea what they were looking at and no idea how to get it back on the road.  Lots of time wasters and tire kickers and he refused to sell it to the wrong person.   


The owner and I connected and I decided to burn some Alaska miles and escape my mother in law who was visiting our home for the holidays.  I flew to Palm Springs for the day for $26 and the owner was kind enough to  pick me up at the airport in his Maserati.  It is December 21st.


To my surprise the Elan presented WAY better in person than I had expected from the terrible Craigslist pictures and came with a fat stack of receipts including work the current owner had done upon delivery to him including timing belt, water pump, seals - all the PM stuff you want covered when you get a new to you car.  The second owner drove the about 1200 miles or so during his stewardship of the car.


The big issue was that it was parked at his mother in laws house and needed it gone asap like yesterday.  I could buy the car but I absolutely had to get it out of that garage no later than January 5th when some major renovations the MIL's house were to start.  


We went to the bank and extracted the funds and after some serious searching I managed to find an enclosed carrier for about $1k and I had it in my shop a week or so later.  


Unbeknownst to me there is a HUGE following for the M100 out there with folks supporting each other with an amazing amount of resources and in the interim while I awaited delivery I was able to assemble everything I needed to get it back on the road.  Check https://www.lotuselancentral.com/index.htm for an amazing amount of data on the cars.


I replaced the injectors with NOS factory parts (ebay $156 delivered - yeah GM) and fuel filter and I was able to siphon out the brown gas and clear the lines.  A new battery and 10 gallons of ethanol free and she was purring like a kitten.  All fluids were changed and the intermittently charging alternator replaced.  AC was recharged by a proper AC machine and surprising to me and my mechanic it held pressure and blows cold - go figure.


In the UK there are a number of suppliers supporting the M100 and PNM makes a fantastic 4 pot brake caliper / rotor upgrade which I did and it transformed the brakes from meh to  amazing.  I installed a Mountain chip which safely raises the output to about 200-210 hp and this car is zippy.  I replaced the tires with 200 treadwear Falken Zeix sticky tires (recommended by my endurance racer friend).  The Elan at only 2,200 lbs is svelte - not seven svelte, but you get doors HVAC and a top.


It is a 1990's style turbo that comes on quickly and makes these awesome turbo sounds.  It is a delightful car and it is fun to drive and does not at any time feel like a front wheel drive car. It has roomy doors, comfortable seats and a real trunk!


I am almost complete with the final remaining task to get this car up to 100% is to remove / replace the window rubber seals and door speaker.  I have them in hand but in true Lotus fashion it is about 3 hours a side to refurbish them.  This would take less than 30 min total in a Honda but its a Lotus right?  


Interior is about perfect and the paint is needing some correction but it is by no means unpresentable and has a nice patina .  It always gets attention when I would drop by our local cars and coffee because with only 550 total being imported to the USA its a rare beast to see in the wild.  The designer was Peter Stevens (of McLaren F1 fame) and the design and is really aging well.  I love how the convertible top completely disappears under the deck lid when not in use.


It is a special car and fun to drive but I have an Elise as my track day toy and they do basically similar things.  The Elan is more comfortable and easy to enter / exit as the doors are long and the interior feels quite spacious for a small car.  If you are a bigger guy this car might be for you.


I have always wanted a Seven so I am looking to see if someone has a Caterham / Birkin / Westfield that might want to slip into something a little different (and perhaps more comfortable).  The car shows about 45k on the odo and I have no reason to doubt that being correct.  The M100 is known to be reliable in an un-Lotus like manner and I have sorted out all the bits except for the window seals which I will get around to or the next owner can take on as a project.


Just throwing this out there if anyone is interested - shoot me a PM and we can have a chat and perhaps come to some sort of arrangement.




These pictures are from PO's garage and the day it was delivered to me (not even washed).  Nice gas - one of two buckets nearly full.




Edited by David Hansen
bad grammar
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Good looking car but I don't think that "door speaker" is going to fit, even after 3 hours.

Edited by vipergeek
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1 hour ago, vipergeek said:

Good looking car but I don't think that "door speaker" is going to fit, even after 3 hours.

Ha- gotta have tunes in the workspace.


All about the bass there....

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