SOLD for £16,275
“LOTUS +2S 130 has great reserves of performance and safety combined with luxury and head-turning style. LOTUS expertise ensures perfectly balanced handling and superb road holding which, with powerful non-fade braking and vivid performance, give the car primary safety - the ability when in capable hands to avoid accidents caused by other people's mistakes or the driver's own errors of judgment.”, Lotus Cars Ltd Elan +2S 130 Sales Brochure.
So it seems even Lotus owners could be subject to ‘errors of judgement’. That is telling it like it is... As Lotus strove to move their range upmarket and their balance sheet out of the red, the Plus 2 version of the Elan became the backbone of that strategy; it extended the Elan ownership demographic by another perhaps ten years with a hopefully associated increase in their customers’ disposable income. The additional two seats helped but an altogether more luxurious machine was required so +2 became lush, plush, +2’S’ and the DIY build option was finally withdrawn in an attempt to improve build quality – putting your wishbones on upside down is apparently a bad thing. A performance hike was provided with the Big-Valve version of the Twin Cam engine which gave 126bhp hence the “130” suffix. Obviously. Don’t ask us, we didn’t come up with it. Questionable nomenclature aside, the +2S 130 was an appreciable step up in quality with a raft of ‘luxury’ fittings from Quartz Halogen fog lights to a burr walnut facia. The sales brochure of the time boasted, “Standard equipment includes leather-rim wheel, steering lock, cigar (note, not cigarette) lighter, dipping mirror, air horns, electric washers and two-speed wipers.” Mechanically, the Big-Valve engine sported twin Weber 40 DCOE carburettors and was mated to a semi-close ratio version of the impeccably changing Ford sourced four-speed gearbox. A 3.77:1 differential kept engine revolutions within an acceptable range when cruising without the need for five ratios.
We had the pleasure of selling this particular +2S 130 to the vendor back in 2018 as a project ‘to keep me busy in my early-retirement’ (a plan his wife fully endorsed as we recall). A mechanically more than competent chap who has looked after his own classic and competition machines for the last forty plus years, the Elan proved to be an interesting and rewarding project. Details of the Lotus’ history and its ‘before’ condition can be found by viewing Lot 34 on Page 3 in our Results section and it is worth having a read through this to get a feel for both its inherently sound condition back then and also the new parts that have since moved from the boot to their more conventional locations around the car.
A very original car from the Co-Op stamp found when cleaning the interior, to the colour coded hubs to identify their correct sides and the original Lucas fog lights, over the ensuing three years the Elan was treated to a ‘body off’ restoration. The aim was to end up with a mechanically sorted very usable machine and two distinct approaches were taken to this process; the mechanical side of things involved a virtual nut and bolt strip down with the replacement of any part found to be in less than optimum condition while the body and interior were for the most part thoroughly refurbished, cleaned and polished as required. This whole process has been detailed in a photo and video file containing over four hundred items, a small selection of which are shown in the photo gallery.
Once the body had been separated from the chassis utilising the owner’s patented ‘scaffolding box’ method (this isn’t his first rodeo never mind Elan), the chassis was stripped completely and found to be in excellent order, requiring just a good clean and repaint.
The front suspension was treated to a full rebuild with new wheel bearings, track-rod ends, trunnions with inserts and ball joints. The steering rack was overhauled by Kiley-Clinton utilising a quicker ratio rack and pinion with the column receiving a new flexi-coupling and bushes. The nearside vertical link was found to be too worn to re-use so it was replaced with a new Tony Thompson item. Bushes were carefully selected depending on their purpose and influence on both feel and refinement – standard for the wishbone bushes, Powerflex for the shock absorbers, anti-roll bar mounts and their drop links.
Much the same tactic was applied at the rear; new standard specification wishbone bushes and Lotacones with Powerflex versions for the tie rod bushes. New inner and outer hub bearings were fitted and the shock absorbers were tested by Leda on their ‘dyno’ and found to be working perfectly – dyno sheet on file. Naturally, while the suspension was disassembled the wishbones were thoroughly cleaned, prepared and repainted.
With the engine a little bit of an unknown quantity (quite apart from the fact that it had been standing for some time) a precautionary strip down was embarked upon and aside from needing a thorough clean out of the oil and water ways, it was found to be in very good shape though the opportunity to lap the valves in was taken just to ensure it was spot on. Despite the disappointingly small ‘to do’ list obviously new parts aplenty were required such as water pump O-rings, all full set of gaskets, hoses, a fuel pump, thermostat and temperature sender. The carburettors were overhauled with genuine Weber kits and a new fuel line from the tank (in E10 compatible nylon) was installed along with a Malpassi Filter King fuel filter. The ignition system was treated to a new set of points, condenser, distributor cap and plug leads.
The relatively unstressed gearbox and differential were checked for play and found to be in great shape along with the recently fitted clutch which was found to be less than 20% worn. Expenditure in this area was hence limited to a new clutch master cylinder and rebuild kit for the slave cylinder plus a new flexible pipe to connect them. A fresh release bearing was fitted with new clips and D ring while the rear oil seal and that for the speedometer drive were renewed. The front prop-shaft universal joint was felt to be a little notchy so it was replaced (a quick and easy task) while the differential required new output shaft bearings and seals (not so quick and easy). Tony Thompson Racing solid drive-shafts with weatherproof rubber gaiters were also fitted so the new owner will be able to spend less time thinking about a constant supply of donuts than the average caricature American Cop does.
The braking system was a relatively simple challenge; take all the callipers off and send them, with the servo, to renowned specialists Classicar Automotive, fret about the cost and immediately forget about such trifles when everything returns looking better than new. These were then teamed with new discs and pads (including those for the handbrake), Goodridge flexible brake hoses and outboard rigid pipes. The master cylinder was overhauled with new seals and new handbrake linkages were fitted.
Under ‘odds and sods that I forgot to budget for’ were a new stainless steel silencer and main pipe, front seat rubber diaphragms, battery, horn, door mirrors, seat belt mounting plates and a rear light lens. The re-chromed front and rear bumpers that came with the car were fitted and good second hand number plate lights were sourced and fitted. Obviously new oils, fluids and filters were used throughout.
Very much a personal choice area, the tyres are proper period correct Goodyear Grand Prix S’ which not only look fantastic but have plenty of tread left on them. The downside is that they are probably a bit ‘time expired’ for high speed cruising. With the owner not wanting to inflict his own personal choice of tyre on any potential buyer, we did just wonder if a second set of wheels with new tyres for road use might allow those currently fitted to retire to a life as display items.
As previously mentioned, this was a restoration in two parts, the second being the body and its contents. The strategy here was to gently refurbish the paintwork and interior with a target end result of a smart and useable machine that one could actually drive without being too precious about it.
As we said of the car when it had ‘project’ status, the body itself was in remarkably good condition with but one 10p piece sized area of hard to spot crazing on the bonnet - the photo in the gallery looks a bit like a white square - and excellent panel gaps (remembering it’s a Lotus). The paintwork has responded well to some elbow grease (well polish actually) as shown in the photo gallery and it now looks very presentable though there are a few chips and imperfections; for those who like to be numerical, we’d give it a seven out of ten.
With the larger chrome parts (front and rear bumpers) freshly refinished, they really lift the overall impression of the car and even the smaller items such as door handles, boot hinges and light surrounds are acceptable. As is often the case on Plus 2s, the chrome radiator intake surround is missing, though these are readily available.
The lightly tinted windscreen has fogged a little in the corners and the rear rubber screen seal is a bit perished.
Inside, the trim has responded to a good clean just as we had suggested it would three years ago – again, please see the photo gallery for the ‘before n after’. The carpets have also been improved considerably with a couple of previously missing sections such as in the boot replaced with a fairly closely matched alternative. The somewhat stained headlining and nick in the transmission tunnel trim are still evident as is the slight cracking to the dashboard varnish, all shown in the photo gallery.
With the Lotus back in one piece and all systems working well including the electric windows, headlights and even the door lights, the owner had the carburettors and timing finessed at a local specialists Classic Road and Rally (at a cost of some £180) before we road tested it, finding it to be most impressive. People say all Elans drive well but we can confirm there is a difference between a ‘fair’ example and one that has been well restored with appropriate attention to detail; in our opinion “LFL 445L” falls firmly into the latter category. With the engine humming along at just over 3000 RPM we were cruising at 60 MPH with 45 PSI showing on the oil pressure gauge while the suspension soaked up every undulation without allowing excessive body roll or pitch. Though the Elan tracked straight and true it is worth bearing in mind that a final wheel alignment has yet to be carried out. The red needles on all the other instruments were exactly where you want them, pretty much vertical for a quick reassuring glance. Even the ambient temperature gauge was spot on (allowing for a little engine heat) and the clock was keeping good time. The major mechanical components all seemed in tip top shape with the engine free from any unwanted noises and 25 PSI showing at a fully up to temperature 900 RPM idle. It is also good to see there is plenty of adjustment left on the timing chain as shown in the photo gallery. The sweet gear-change and lack of any significant noise from the gearbox or indeed the differential confirm the owners appraisal of these units when inspecting them during the restoration; “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” as they say.
The Elan’s history file includes the current V5C showing a registration date of 1st November 1972 and just five keepers in total, two of which account for all but thirteen of the cars nearly fifty year existence. Various invoices from the pre-restoration period are present including one from QED detailing a full cylinder head rebuild including bronze valve guides for unleaded fuel compatibility and a ‘minimal face skim’ all for £804.88 back in 1997.
Bills from the likes of Tony Thompson Racing, SJ Sportscars and Burton Power relating to the recent work carried out are also present, along with a cost summary and a full list of parts fitted plus the Leda ‘dyno’ printout showing the performance curves for the rear shock absorbers. A memory stick or buyer’s storage device of choice with the multiple images of the restoration will also be included in the sale.
On the button and ready to go this +2S 130 is, we feel, very realistically reserved at not much more than the asking prices of many projects. For us it is perfectly pitched as a cosmetically eminently usable machine, underpinned with very well restored mechanical components and we would just get on and use it, though there is the potential to take it to the next level with a little further attention to the trim and paint.