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Lotus Elan S3 S / E: Chapman's Elan - for the joy of driving

Lotus Elan S3 S /E in the driving report
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' That is not logical, 'says Uwe Markovac, looking thoughtfully at the album with the restoration photos of his Lotus Elan Series 3. Because when he bought this car in Switzerland about nine years ago, he already had a vigor from the same series.

His second Elan should be perfect

His first Lotus Elan worked, but it wasn't perfect - actually an optimal basis for restoration. So why buy an additional restoration item? Markovac can't explain it to himself, but he knows all the better what fascinates him about Lotus: 'When building a racing or sports car, Colin Chapman always got everything to the point.' And he says about the Lotus Elan: 'The car is light and agile, and I think it's sensational how Lotus has combined its own parts and parts from different sources into a coherent whole.'

Of course he is aware that the name Lotus does not stand for reliability and durability, 'but if the Lotus Elan had been designed with German thoroughness, it would not weigh 700, but 900 kilos,' he says with a wink. Because this German thoroughness is no stranger to the retired Porsche engineer. A certain amount of it is still in his blood, which explains his high standards during the restoration.

Ideal restoration start: engine overhauled by the specialist, free delivery

But back to 2001. Back then, his friend Urban Fässler in Switzerland bought him a Lotus Elan offered, which he actually wanted to prepare for himself. The racing car specialist had already extensively overhauled the Lotus Elan's engine and transmission, but now he didn't have the time to finish his Lotus Elan project. 'I was just attracted to this offer,' admits Markovac. 'An engine that had been overhauled and optimized by someone I could trust, a revised transmission - so I could concentrate fully on reconditioning the plastic body of the Lotus Elan.' A wise decision.

His new acquisition was even delivered to his house. Since he does not see himself as an originality fanatic, he took it calmly that it was a Lotus Elan without matching numbers. The hoods, the doors, the removable body and the frame probably came from different vehicles.

Markovac first got an overview of which parts of hissecond Lotus Elan was missing, because he had to finally procure or manufacture. He put everything that was there together to see how it would fit. He absolutely wanted to avoid major adjustments to the painted Lotus Elan body.

Tricky: The restoration of the plastic body

But there was still a long way to go before his Lotus Elan was painted. He examined the body with the greatest care. He had already had a little bit of experience repairing plastic with his Ginetta racing car. But all he had to do was remove the traces of minor jostling during his races. For the upcoming major Lotus Elan project, he obtained extensive information from the relevant literature. He also found a competent advisor in the Lange + Ritter company in Gerlingen near Stuttgart.

'You really have to completely grind out all cracks, which can often only be seen as small stars, and then repair them with fiberglass and synthetic resin ', says Markovac, who incidentally did not work with polyester, but with epoxy resin. Anyone who just putties over the cracks will start all over again after a short time. And since the body of his Lotus Elan had at least 100 such cracks, the reconditioning turned out to be correspondingly tedious.

Where he considered it necessary, Markovac laminated reinforcements in the form of aluminum sheets. For example in the area of ​​the trunk lock, the lid hinges and where the Lotus Elan doors are attached. There were also a lot of cracks to be removed from the doors and hoods. Each individual part required numerous man hours. 'An expert would certainly only have needed a fraction of the time, but I wanted to do as much as possible myself,' says the Lotus Elan restorer.

Plastic body now has a Porsche color

Only for the sanding work did he occasionally use the support of the Spreng paint shop in Remseck, where he temporarily relocated the restoration work. He made use of professional help, especially where the Lotus Elan had to have clean edges - such as on the front fender.

Another problem that had to be solved was the fit problems on the Lotus Elan. For example, there was an unsightly large gap between the luggage compartment lid and the rear fender in the area of ​​the hinges. Markovac didn't want to work with a spatula here, so he decided on synthetic resin reinforced with glass fiber flakes to bring his Lotus Elan into perfect shape.

After countless hours, the Lotus Elan body was finally primed and finished for painting. After careful consideration, the man from Ludwigsburg chose a light gray from the Porsche color catalog - a color he has always liked. Light colors also offer an advantage. Plastic bodies tend to tend over timeslight wave formation, which is not as clearly noticeable with such coatings as with dark ones. However, the light gray has one disadvantage. 'People always ask me when the Lotus Elan will finally be painted because they think it's the primer,' laughs Markovac.

Modifications ensure safety and reliability

Although the body of the Lotus Elan took up most of the time, there was still a lot more to do. This was the case with the electrics, for example. Markovac had bought a new wiring harness for his Lotus Elan, but then it contradicted his German thoroughness to protect the entire electrical system with just two fuses, and he pulled in a modified strand. It should not remain the only deviation from the original, whereby it was important to him not to 'change the character of the Lotus Elan'.

The fact that he had special coil springs made was because he assembled them as much too hard and the series version felt too soft. And he countered the thermal problems of the engine known to Lotus Elan fans by using a water /oil cooler, which he placed further forward, where it is more effectively flowed by the airstream. To round off this measure, he also installed a manually switchable electric fan.

Incidentally, the exhaust system on his Lotus Elan, which is matched to the modified engine with L1 sports camshafts, does not correspond to the series either. Fässler had supplied manifold pipes with an enlarged diameter. According to this size, Markovac had a completely new system made of stainless steel.

Some parts, such as the seats, were taken over from his old Lotus Elan, which is now partially dismantled in the garage. Markovac has started to restore it. Logical, isn't it?


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