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.


Join Free
Join our community to easily find more Lotus project updates.

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.

You'll need to log in to post.

All 1964 Lotus Elan updates

3 weeks ago

Restoration Impossible: Fiberglassing the Bottom

3 weeks ago

We thought we made good progress. Then we flipped the car over.

1 month ago

Restoration Impossible: Starting Fiberglass Work

1 month ago

Learn how to make fiberglass repairs.

1 month ago

Restoration Impossible: Working on the Wire Framework

1 month ago

Our project Lotus Elan needs some structure repair around the doors.

2 months ago

Restoration Impossible: Making a Trunk Mold

2 months ago

Our Lotus Elan's trunk has a 6-inch hole. Here's how to create the replacement piece.

2 months ago

Restoration Impossible: Grafting in a Whole Quarter of the Body

2 months ago

The left rear quarter of our Elan had been hit hard. Here's how you seamlessly graft in a replacement piece.

2 months ago

Restoration Impossible: Getting the Door Hinges to Work

2 months ago

Our project Lotus Elan is still in the beginning stages of a restoration.

3 months ago

Restoration Impossible: Preparing to Cut the Body

3 months ago

Once you cut, you can't go back.

3 months ago

Restoration Impossible: Starting to Rebuild the Missing Back End

3 months ago

We decided to start our Lotus Elan's restoration with the toughest part first.

3 months ago

Restoration Impossible: Starting Work on the Body

3 months ago

We are getting back into our Lotus in earnest.

11 months ago

Our Elan Gets a Decklid

11 months ago

After lots of searching we find a rare Elan decklid suspiciously close to where we bought our project.

11 months ago

Our Elan Gets Blasted

11 months ago

After a trip to Blast Masters, we see if the fiberglass is salvageable.

11 months ago

One Fresh Elan Engine

11 months ago

With another trip to Twin Cam Sportscars, our Elan's engine is completely refreshed.

1 year ago

A Look Inside Our Lotus Elan's Transmission

1 year ago

We refresh our project Elan's gearbox with the help of Twin Cam Sportscars.

1 year ago

Incredible tranformation: Lotus Elan Carburetors

1 year ago

Our Lotus Elan's carburetors get taken from trash to treasure.

1 year ago

Lotus Elan Frame Dilema: Solved

1 year ago

Our Lotus Elan's frame was bent and broken. How did we solve the issue?

1 year ago

Soda Blasting Our Lotus Elan

1 year ago

Our Lotus Elan takes a trip to Blast Masters to get stripped.

1 year ago

Our Lotus Elan Gets Stripped to the Bone

1 year ago

With our Lotus Elan's engine refresh underway, it was time to start disassembly of the rest of the car.

1 year ago

Restoration Impossible: A Look Inside the Elan's Engine

1 year ago

With the help of Twin Cam Sportscars, we tear our Elan's engine apart.

1 year ago

Lotus Parts Pour In

1 year ago

We find lots of parts for our project Elan thanks to our friends.

1 year ago

Finding a Windshield

1 year ago

Our Lotus Elan gets some fresh glass.

1 year ago

The Parts Search Begins

1 year ago

Our Lotus Elan needs a lot of work and parts. Here's the initial list of what we need.

1 year ago

Figuring Out What We Really Have

1 year ago

After lots of cleaning, we organize our project and assess the situation.

1 year ago

Our Lotus Makes it Home

1 year ago

After dragging our new project to Florida, we begin cleaning it out.

1 year ago

Our Lotus Elan's First Concours Award

1 year ago

Still in pieces, our impossible restoration project attends its first show.

1 year ago

How Not to Load a Lotus

1 year ago

We had to get three-quarters of a lotus from Michigan to Florida.

1 year ago

Restoration: Impossible

1 year ago

Meet our new restoration project: a very rough 1964 Lotus Elan.

The Latest

Depreciation Station: 2005-'11 Lotus Elise and Exige

1 hour ago in Articles

When Lotus first unleashed the Elise some 20 years ago, the automaker’s message was clear: We’re back, baby.

Shop Visit: David Bartenhagen

1 day ago in Articles

Another favorite from our Show Us Your Shop Contest.

Classic Motorsports Mitty Presented by Hagerty Celebrates Porsche

1 day ago in News

Gearhead heaven? We think it looks something like this.

This Weekend at the Mitty: The Ultimate Auto Festival

1 week ago in News

Gates open this Friday for the Classic Motorsports Mitty at Road Atlanta.

Classic Motorsports Car Catcher: Alfa Racer

1 week ago in News

Looking for a vintage racer with a touch of extra flair?

Classic Motorsports Car Catcher: DeltaWing #001

2 weeks ago in News

It's the ultimate track day attention-getter.

Classic Motorsports Car Catcher: Ultimate Paddock Truck

2 weeks ago in News

Looking for a real novelty to haul your fuel, tires and tools around the paddock?

Mlassic Motorsports Magazine

Subscribe Today

Also get your instant access to the digital edition of Classic Motorsports Magazine!

Learn More
dloYELmgI1C9pJteL8Yca0QrA04vGKpP