The Lotus Elan road-test

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Sir,

I have just read your road-test of the Lotus Elan and having owned and driven one for just under a year and 11,000 miles, I would like to say that it is the most accurate and complete road-test I have yet read. There are, however, one or two points I would like to comment on.

I have never had Dunlop SP41 tyres on mine as it arrived with Goodyear All Weather nylon tyres; these wore out after 6,000 miles and I immediately fitted Pirelli Cinturatos all round, which were, and still are after another 5,000 miles, a great improvement. Unlike your SP41s on the road-test car they do not squeal and provide exemplary road-holding and braking both in dry and wet conditions, and are still showing no signs of wear.

I agree entirely with your comments on the rubber “doughnut” couplings in the drive shafts, and having heard gruesome tales of breakages I had fitted the much less flexible racing type, which have all but eliminated the wind-up your tester commented on.

Larger acquaintance with the car would, I feel sure, have brought two more failings to your notice.

Firstly the inadequacy of the water-sealing round the leading edges of the doors. I think I have at last succeeded in curing this by drilling holes in the trim to let the water out and Glasticon windscreen putty and adhesive tape to stop it getting in. This after being advised to “carry a sponge” by the works, and regularly extracting and drying quantities of soaking wet, evil-smelling underfelt.

The second fault is far more serious and involves the inability of the differential to keep any oil in. After dumping two pints of oil along the road to Mallory Park on Boxing Day, I had all three oil seals replaced with an Italian type by Len Street Engineering in London. These new ones seem to be leak-proof but I still have a very loud whine left as a reminder. The possibility of a complete differential seizure is made even more undesirable by the fact that 3.9 : 1 differentials are practically unobtainable.

All other faults in my car were of a minor nature—warped bonnet, two new headlamp relays, paint finish “starring” and hub caps falling off, all of which were remedied under guarantee by the works.

To comment on other parts of your road-test. I agree wholeheartedly about the position of the hand-brake. I only use it for parking myself, but it is extremely powerful and I have never succeeded in even moving off with it still on.

Although the head lamps do take a second to raise for flashing, I find most of the flashing needed is for removing “mimsers” from fast lanes on dual carriageways, where the second’s wait is unimportant.

The luggage-carrying capacity I have always found adequate, a week-end’s camping equipment and luggage for two for Le Mans was swallowed up quite easily, despite the fact that being 6 ft. 6 in. I have to have my non-standard Microcell Contour 6 seat right back. It is an excellent seat and gives me a perfect driving position. I found the standard seat a little hard, with little lumbar support.

To sum up my 11,000 miles’ motoring, apart from the leaks and the differential I have never enjoyed my motoring more. The enormous reserves of power, braking and road-holding make the Elan extremely safe and relaxing to drive. My local garage, a Ford agent, seems quite able to carry out routine servicing, and Len Street in London is both extremely knowledgeable and efficient in matters more technical. The works in Cheshunt were polite and efficient but after the guarantee ran out after six months slightly inaccessible for other maintenance. I agree the noise level is very high; perhaps Interior Silent Travel might cure the engine noise, although I have got used to it now.

Finally, I think your staff member’s desire for a car with Elan road-holding and E-type high-speed cruising might be satisfied by the T.V.R. Griffith V8, I await a road-test with interest.

W.S.S. Carnaby – Newmarket.