Project or Parts? 1970 Lotus Elan

I have to admit, this Lotus Elan looked pretty promising from afar – and I’m still not quite sure why the seller thinks it’s potentially a parts car. Sure, there are some fairly important pieces missing like most of the glass and the drivetrain, but with a fairly straight shell to work with, I think this example deserves restoration. Check it out here on eBay where it’s listed with an opening bid of $1,900 and no reserve and let us know in the comments if it should be brought back from the dead.

You might notice the Elan is sitting on its rear haunches, and that’s because the rear suspension is in the trunk. It does come with four wheels, but you’ll need to re-assemble the Lotus’ rear end to get it to roll. The driver’s side door glass is the one piece that’s included; all other glazing is missing. The body and floors are said to be in decent shape, with spiderwebbing throughout and some small holes in the floor where the seats attach.

You might also be wondering why the steering column has been removed, but that question isn’t answered, either – also note this is a RHD car, which could temper your enthusiasm for the project. The good news is all the gauges are there, and the dash looks at least good enough to use as a template. The carpets and shifter are long gone, and it seems to be this Lotus has already been used for parts.

Still, it’s complete enough to justify at least considering whether the effort to bring it back is worth it. The seats are still present and in decent condition. Various chrome trim like the door handles and bumpers are still present. Headlight doors and lenses remain attached. And while the lack of upright suspension in back is a bummer, at least the parts come with the car. With numerous Ford engines having been swapped into Lotus vehicles, a cheap engine swap isn’t out of the question, either. How would you restore this broken Elan?


  1. Too Late

    Sad , just sad. I’m guessing they have “GROWN” tired of mowing around in the backyard .

    Like 3
  2. hugh crawford

    Firstly : all the bits to restore this are readily available, including a replacement frame , google spyder lotus chassis. If you were doing a first class restoration/ update you would be replacing everything that is missing and the presumably missing engine and transmission.

    Secondly : RHD, have you seen what those crazy Brits consider to be restorable? If not, switching it over is probably not a big deal but I really have no knowledge.

    Thirdly: It has quote a “fairly straight shell to work with”. What with it being fiberglass, which breaks but does not bend ( or rust ) I think it may be a very good deal for someone who wants to build an Elan just the way they want it.

    Like 3
  3. Victor Anderson

    This is an interesting one for sure. The real issue with ‘what to do with it’ is that this isn’t a convertible, is a coupe, and they are not worth as much money. Sooo…restore the car? Seems like a bad idea — it would be cheaper just to buy one that is already put together (or at least came with all the parts). How about doing a resto-mod? That sounds like a better idea – put a Ford Zetec or heck maybe even Mazda Miata runnin gear in it…that would be kinda fun. Or last option would be to turn it into a race car. ehhh…I would probably go the resto-mod route. As much as a hate to see a Lotus car not put back on the street and just become a parts car — that might be what ends up happening to this one. At least it’s being kept from the junkyard.

  4. Bruce

    Given that these were designed to be switched from left or right hand drive the parts to do so are not that difficult to find. I think the biggest thing you need would be a steering rack which I believe is off of some version of Triumph Spitfire. Given the state that this is in a newer motor would seem to be the answer. I have seen a Mazda rotary in one and that might be a good answer. Low weight and transmission really available. Glass and window winders would be my biggest problem all the rest is from various MG, Austin, Triumph or other parts bins from England.

    I agree that the coupe is not the most popular but if combined with a more powerful engine and modern air-conditioning I am not certain that in some of the hotter climates this might not be a popular choice. What I do know is that there is a very good reason Mazda chose to model the MX-5 Miata after the Lotus Elan. They came very close given the limitations they had but try driving both in one day and you will see why the Elan is better in some ways. And most of the ways it is worse can be fixed. This car can and should be saved if only because the world needs more smiles per miles.

    Like 4
  5. Marty Reardon

    There maybe many on here that have a solution, but there isn’t any sort of a title. He doesn’t even give a VIN number. In this case that is a big deal for me. In California now it needs to be a reasonably complete car to get a lost title, because the first step is the VIN verification and that is what requires the completeness and the VIN. If it had a title combine two parts cars together or find the parts. I had a wrecked weber version before. The two would have been a dream match.

  6. malsal

    This is an Elan plus 2 which was never produced as a convertible.
    They do not command the high prices that the regular Elan’s do and as such would not be worth the time and effort even if you got the car for free.

    Like 1
  7. JagManBill

    think about what Tim Stoddard restored for his mag Classic Motorsports – cut in half and sitting in a field for decades. With love and money it could be brought back. My thought is just two words…
    vintage racer….

    Like 1
  8. Lugnut

    I have to agree with part of what malsal said – this is an Elan +2 and was never produced as a convertible. I know it can handle 3 people, since my wife and I were picked up in Norwich, England, and taken to the factory in one in 1968 to pick up my new Europa. But it is worthy of restoration IF the body is good. Put a Spyder chassis under it and a Zetec engine in it, plus a/c and a good stereo system, and you have a great highway tourer – much more comfortable than the standard Elan. That said, this one does appear a bit rough.

    Like 2
  9. bobhess bobhess Member

    A second to JagManBill. Vintage race car. Save the car, put it out for folks to see, and have fun with it.

  10. DeeAnn Hopings

    Judging by the condition of what we can see, I would be worried about the sheetmetal backbone chassis. It’s one of the worst conditions for a car to sit above dirt, grass and weeds…

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