“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an altogether more luxurious machine was required so +2 became lush, plush, +2’S’ and the DIY build option was finally withdrawn in an attempt to improve build quality – putting your wishbones on upside down is apparently a bad thing. At the beginning of 1971 a performance hike was provided with the ‘Big-Valve’ version of the Twin Cam engine giving 125bhp 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 burr walnut facia and electric windows. 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.” In October 1972 the long called for five speed gearbox finally arrived to make cruising somewhat less frantic and the snappily named Lotus Elan +2S 130/5 (the badges were not exactly adding lightness) became the ultimate iteration of the fabulous Elan range.
According to details provided by the Lotus Archive Department in August 2001 to the recent long term owner, this lovely +2 (surprisingly by then the factory had dropped the Elan part of the name) was sold on Invoice Number 08798 and it left the Factory on 2nd November 1973. Bound for a P P May via Lotus dealers Torquay Motors, it was registered on 20th March 1974. Originally finished in ‘solid white’ (indicating the metal-flake roof available on the S 130 was not specified, a job saved for which the Factory more than likely charged a premium!) the Lotus’ single colour change to a striking bright red was recorded in December 2001.
At around this time the Elan suffered some light front end damage and though repairable (Category D), the “insurer decided not to repair”. In 2003 the bodywork was repaired by Lotus Specialists Christopher Neil for a not insubstantial £2,000. This involved letting in a new front section from mid-way along the wheel arches and the fitting of a new bonnet but did not include any paintwork. This marked the start of a protracted rebuild carried out by the aforementioned long term owner who just happened to be a Rolls Royce engineer and involved the fitting of a plethora of new parts. However, progress was frequently interrupted as both time and finances were diverted into a period house renovation.
Today the quality of the body repair has stood the test of time being completely invisible some sixteen years later. Overall the shell is still in excellent condition, displaying good panel fit throughout and no crazing. Ripple free and super-straight it is encouraging to see that the more angular areas such as the front wing tops are still sharp and well defined. The paintwork is similarly very good, looking to have been expertly applied though there is one small area of slight shrinkage on the nose which we have tried to illustrate, rather unsuccessfully, in the photo gallery.
The Lotus’ chrome-work is in fairly good order with just some slight pitting to the front, and to a lesser degree, rear lights, a little bit ‘nature of the beast’ with the base metal used. While the ‘rarer than a hen’s dentist’ rear bumper is very presentable, the front is slightly less so with some pitting and distortion though a good re-chroming establishment could doubtless repair this. The window frames have been re-chromed and the door handles and boot hinges are in fairly good order. No radio aerial is currently fitted, just a rather practical cork – we know Elans are classic cars but weren’t aware they are vintage…
The refurbished gloss black and polished alloy wheels are in good condition with correct sized 165X13 Firestone tyres fitted, though we were not able to ascertain when this was carried out. A Triplex zone tinted windscreen has been installed though this is showing small signs of delamination in one corner. The original Lucas front fog lights mentioned above are also nice to see.
Inside the Lotus is in lovely, highly original condition with most items appearing to be those it left the factory with which have that wonderful ‘lived in’ feel to them. This is certainly true of the black carpets and matching seats, the latter having no rips or tears and just a few light scuffs on the driver’s seat as can be seen in the photo gallery. The headlining fits well with just a few ‘factory standard’ glue stains present. The dash markings show some wear and the varnish is lifting slightly in places, though the underlying walnut seems to be in good condition. The extensive range of orange needle dials are all present and correct, including the apparently functioning ambient temperature gauge. This is all crowned by a period Philips ‘Turnlock’ radio and the correct wooden gear knob with that all important additional ratio identified as ‘O/D’ rather than 5th. With the original +2 matt black finished, delicate rimmed steering wheel to grasp it really is a lovely, well finished, civilised place to be.
The boot is accessed by the later cars’ pull release in the driver’s door-jam though inside it appears to have missed the restoration process being somewhat scruffy. It really needs a boot board, carpets and the slam panel refinishing. The alloy spare wheel currently has no tyre fitted and the battery needs to be fitted more securely.
Under the bonnet things are a little dusty but if anything, this helps show the engine itself is fairly leak free. The engine bay has not been repainted post the repair work carried out to the front of the car so the application of some satin black would greatly improve the slightly unfinished look. The seminal Lotus Twin Cam engine is correctly fitted with the later (and thought to be stronger) ‘read from the back’ cam cover and the twin ‘40s’ breath through the standard air box fitted with a Pipercross air filter. On test, even after a few weeks sitting, the engine fired as soon as fuel had reached the carbs via the mechanical pump and it settled to a smooth idle with no significant smoke or nasty noises.
Clambering underneath the Lotus, lots of new parts are evident – bushes, nuts, bolts, washers and so on – while the suspension components and front brake calipers look to be either new or refurbished. The Tony Thompson Racing supplied adjustable front spring/damper units (£258.50 in 2004) still look brand new and the chassis looks to be in very good order. Aeroquip brake lines and a stainless steel exhaust have also been fitted. There is a fair amount of overspray present though removal of this would definitely be a virtually cost free quick win.
The Elan’s History File contains the documentation from Lotus, its V5, HPI report and a number of invoices detailing work carried out such as re-chroming, wheel refurbishment and parts purchased over the years from the likes of Christopher Neil and Tony Thompson.
The smart money knows just what it costs to bring cars up to this sort of standard and we feel this Elan +2S 130/5 represents a great opportunity to acquire a machine for a fraction of that. Well ‘refurbished’, the Lotus just needs some final detailing which seems likely to involve more expenditure of time than money.