Restoration Impossible: Fiberglassing the Bottom
Apr 4, 2017 update to the Lotus Elan project 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.
'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.
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.
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.
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. :):)
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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All 1964 Lotus Elan updates
Restoration Impossible: Fiberglassing the Bottom
We thought we made good progress. Then we flipped the car over.
Restoration Impossible: Starting Fiberglass Work
Learn how to make fiberglass repairs.
Restoration Impossible: Working on the Wire Framework
Our project Lotus Elan needs some structure repair around the doors.
Restoration Impossible: Making a Trunk Mold
Our Lotus Elan's trunk has a 6-inch hole. Here's how to create the replacement piece.
Restoration Impossible: Grafting in a Whole Quarter of the Body
The left rear quarter of our Elan had been hit hard. Here's how you seamlessly graft in a replacement piece.
Restoration Impossible: Getting the Door Hinges to Work
Our project Lotus Elan is still in the beginning stages of a restoration.
Restoration Impossible: Preparing to Cut the Body
Once you cut, you can't go back.
Restoration Impossible: Starting to Rebuild the Missing Back End
We decided to start our Lotus Elan's restoration with the toughest part first.
Restoration Impossible: Starting Work on the Body
We are getting back into our Lotus in earnest.
Our Elan Gets a Decklid
After lots of searching we find a rare Elan decklid suspiciously close to where we bought our project.
Our Elan Gets Blasted
After a trip to Blast Masters, we see if the fiberglass is salvageable.
One Fresh Elan Engine
With another trip to Twin Cam Sportscars, our Elan's engine is completely refreshed.
A Look Inside Our Lotus Elan's Transmission
We refresh our project Elan's gearbox with the help of Twin Cam Sportscars.
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Our Lotus Elan's carburetors get taken from trash to treasure.
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Our Lotus Elan's frame was bent and broken. How did we solve the issue?
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Our Lotus Elan takes a trip to Blast Masters to get stripped.
Our Lotus Elan Gets Stripped to the Bone
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Restoration Impossible: A Look Inside the Elan's Engine
With the help of Twin Cam Sportscars, we tear our Elan's engine apart.
Lotus Parts Pour In
We find lots of parts for our project Elan thanks to our friends.
Finding a Windshield
Our Lotus Elan gets some fresh glass.
The Parts Search Begins
Our Lotus Elan needs a lot of work and parts. Here's the initial list of what we need.
Figuring Out What We Really Have
After lots of cleaning, we organize our project and assess the situation.
Our Lotus Makes it Home
After dragging our new project to Florida, we begin cleaning it out.
Our Lotus Elan's First Concours Award
Still in pieces, our impossible restoration project attends its first show.
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We had to get three-quarters of a lotus from Michigan to Florida.
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