How Not to Load a Lotus

Nov 3, 2015 update to the Lotus Elan project car

As the Elan drew close to the trailer, our challenge became clear.
Using boards, we lifted the front of the car. And after some shoving, were able to close the trailer's gate.
And bingo, a perfectly loaded Elan.

The next dose of reality on our Lotus Elan saga would be loading three-quarters of a Lotus Elan—that does not roll—onto a trailer for the drive home.

Most shipping companies will not deal with a crippled car that they cannot at least roll onto a trailer. We also did not want to spend thousands to get a cheap car home. We were going to waste enough money on this poor car without starting in the shipping phase.

U-Haul to the rescue! We decided to make a call to U-haul since we already were in Traverse City, Michigan, with a truck and a hitch. U-haul told us that renting a car trailer one way from Michigan to Florida would be nearly $1000. But for some strange reason a 5x9-foot utility trailer was only $59.95—most likely because of where they needed their inventory.

And so our problem was solved… Sort of. You see, even a badly damaged Elan is 6 inches longer than a 9-foot utility trailer.

Not to be denied, we bought a couple of 2x6x12’ boards at a nearby Lowe’s and used them as ramps to raise the nose of the Elan over the front of the trailer. Our geometry skills were rusty, but by creating this triangle, we hoped to bring the rear of the Elan far enough forward to close the trailer’s tailgate.

It nearly worked as we were within just an inch or so of being able to close the gate. Letting the air out of the tires and shoving the car forward allowed us to shut the trailer’s gate. Scratching this hunk of a car was not something we were going to stay up nights worrying about.

With the drivetrain under the front of the car to give us tongue weight and keep the center of gravity a bit lower, we headed to Florida with our treasure and made it without incident.

The story on this car will start shortly in Classic Motorsports magazine. Subscribe now and you won’t miss a single installment of what should be our most interesting project car series yet.


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Reader comments:

Mezzanine
Mezzanine HalfDork
Nov. 3, 2015 6:20 p.m.

I...suddenly feel much better about my own trailering shenanigans in the past. Well done.

Jerry From LA
Nov. 4, 2015 9:35 a.m.

Seems to be a lot of CMS last-minute improvisation lately. Fine use of local resources. You'd make a good backpacker.

Winston
Winston HalfDork
Nov. 4, 2015 12:07 p.m.

Creative loading! I can't wait for the article series.

ggarrard
ggarrard Reader
Nov. 4, 2015 4:36 p.m.

Bring a Trailer currently has a parts car listed in Fort Lauderdale...

http://bringatrailer.com/2015/11/04/hardtop-project-1968-lotus-elan/

Just in case :-)

gjz30075
gjz30075 HalfDork
Nov. 5, 2015 5:41 a.m.

The Ft. Lauderdale car is an S4; very different from Tim's and not many parts will cross over.

erohslc
erohslc Dork
Nov. 5, 2015 1:39 p.m.

I've found that these little guys are very handy for such things:

http://www.harborfreight.com/material-handling/dollies/18-in-x-12-14-in-1000-lb-capacity-hardwood-dolly-61899.html

They also can conveniently be placed under each wheel to move cars around the shop.

greggearhead
greggearhead New Reader
Nov. 22, 2015 2:01 p.m.

Ha! A buddy bought an early, rusty 911 several years ago, and a 914. He lived in Kansas City, and the cars were in Chicago, and they were cheap (way underpriced, so time was of the essence). He found a flatbed tow truck owner that said he would drive there and back over the weekend for $500 or something, and they were off. When they got there, the 914 was loaded on the bed, because it was a 914-6, and while rough, was more valuable. The 911 had a rusty front tub, so the suspension mounts were less than secure.

A trip to home depot for 2x4s and lots of wood screws, and they built a through-the-trunk-floor front suspension reinforcement and towed the 911 (rear wheels in the air - stuck in gear or something I can't remember) with the front wheels on the ground all the way home to KC. WISH I had pics.

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