Restoration Impossible: Strengthening the Frame

Jul 13, 2017 update to the Lotus Elan project car

The rear portion of our frame had a mild bend that we were able to take out with a hammer and dolly. We checked the rest of the frame for straightness, too.
We designed and cut out these plates to brace the engine mounts.

To strengthen our Lotus Elan’s frame or not? That was the question. So we talked to longtime Lotus expert Dave Bean.

While he agrees that Elans were rather under-built, he adds that this is part of their charm. And since we were trying to build a concours-correct, essentially bone-stock Elan, the fewer frame mods we made, the better. Dave added that preparing an Elan for competition is a different animal.

We followed his advice and carefully inspected our newly finished frame. In the end, we ended up only reinforcing a couple of welds.

We did make one exception: the motor mount area. These are notoriously weak, plus ours were already damaged. Dave added that the motor mount supports get damaged by poorly tuned engines that jerk and shake about. Since our frame already had problems in this area, we decided to go ahead and strengthen it while making the repair. We cut out some subtle reinforcing plates that fit inside the engine mount area and welded them in place.

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