Restoration Impossible: Fiberglassing the Bottom

Apr 4, 2017 update to the Lotus Elan project car

Here is what the underside of our Lotus Elan looked like when we started. Lots to do here!
We cut and laid out pieces of mat where we would need to use them.
Just one of the many holes that needed to be filled. This one was cut into the body to adjust the Koni shocks that came on the car.

Thinking we were making good progress on our project Lotus Elan, we turned the car over to take a look at the underside of the body. While we knew we had to clean up where we had seamed the quarter panels in, we were in for a bit of surprise for how much more fiberglass work needed to be done.

The accident combined with years of sitting had caused a lot of the fiberglass to come apart where the molds had originally been joined.

We carefully and patiently cut all of the fiberglass back from these areas and re-bonded the mold halves back together.

There were also dozens of smaller areas where the underside of the car had been damaged, either in that original accident, or in subsequent minor shunts.


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Reader comments:

wannacruise
wannacruise New Reader
March 28, 2017 8:14 p.m.

'ell it'll just be 3 times stronger than the original car, albeit maybe defeating Chapman's original concept of an ultra light car. :) :) Ya Know looking at that upside down rear light panel, it kind of looks like a Corvair. On a more serious note, what was the original intent of the central tunnel frame structure? Dave.

RoddyMac17
RoddyMac17 New Reader
March 29, 2017 9:25 a.m.

The original intent for the backbone chassis was to test the mechanical bits (under a Falcon shell) while the body/chassis unit was being developed. The backbone ended up as the chassis rather than the body being an open top fiberglass monocoque as it proved to be quite cheap.

wspohn
wspohn HalfDork
March 31, 2017 10:42 a.m.

The only thing that I always wondered about with the backbone style frame was whether the trade off of steel for fibreglass was a good one i.e. holding your butt off the ground, was a good idea. My TVR race car had a tubing perimeter attached to a similar but wider central backbone, so the glass floors and outer panels attached to the outer frame members (which were made of tubing lighter than today's exhaust pipe) could be quite light.

wannacruise
wannacruise New Reader
March 31, 2017 11:30 a.m.

I do believe that having a mostly fibreglass monocoque is lighter than a steel one, and that is surely what Chapman's intent was. And he did have a wee bit of strengthening wire in there. Not having any experience with a Lotus I wouldn't give you two ounces that any of the car would hold together for even one race. But they did. Maybe Chapman new something I don't. :):)

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
April 3, 2017 9:25 a.m.

We will try to keep it as light as possible, but will give up a few pounds, to have no cracks in the fiberglass.

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