Yet another of my father’s much prized restorations, a 1972 Lotus Elan +2 S130.
He acquired the car in 1982, which at which time was a non runner sporting a rather sad looking dark brown paintwork with a gold roof.
It was purchased in Ballymena by dad after I noticed her sitting looking rather neglected and informed him about her whereabouts. Dad being dad said nothing and the next thing I knew, I spotted him going through Ballymena with the Lotus on the back of his trusty Range Rover.
After work I rushed out to see her – she was remarkably original inside, and although the paintwork wasn’t in bad condition the tell tale signs of fibreglass stressing was evident.
She was a non-runner, as I’ve said, but was complete nontheless. So dad starting to strip her down in preparation for her full restoration to her present glorious condition. He took great care in ensuring that as many original parts were retained as possible.
Before stripping commenced though, dad decided to get her running and assess the condition of the engine, gearbox, axles, etc.
He managed to get the engine running but it was running roughly and on closer inspection it emerged that it was showing markedly lower compression readings on two of the cylinders. My big brother Joe had built an engine to fit into a brand new Mk2 Mexico shell he had bought and intended building into a road going rally car. However, due to plans to build a new house it had been shelved so he gave the engine to dad for his Elan.
The engine Joe had built was a 1760cc Twin Cam, but it hadn’t the big valve head. Even though it had been built by a ‘so called’ racing engine specialist, dad stripped it down again to check its condition. It was a good job he did as the big end bearings were badly scored as grit had been left on the bearings and had ruined them; plus the engine had only been turned over by hand.
Dad fitted Joe’s 1760cc bottom end and fitted it with the Lotus’s own Big Valve head complete with twin Dellorto’s, etc. Imagine how surprised he was to find that it was still showing light of compression on the same two cylinders! The reason for this was that the linkage between the two Dellortos had slipped and she was able to draw in more air into two of the cylinders than the others with the closed carb butterflies… he wasn’t impressed!
After satisfying himself with the mechanical requirements of the car Dad set about the restoration process, removing the body from the chassis and systematically dissembling the components for refurbishment and reassembly.
The chassis, which was in remarkably original condition, was shot blasted and resprayed; all bushings, mountings and bearings were replaced, every seal replaced, and all the components were afforded the same meticulous attention to restore them to better than new condition. My dad spent an unbelievable amount of hours every day restoring this wee car… working sometimes from 5.30 am until 2.00 am the next day; such was his interest and dedication.
The engine, gearbox, back end, suspension arms, etc. were all refurbished and refitted to the repainted chassis… it looked perfect (haven’t found the pix yet).
Wolfrace spin on rims were polished up and fitted with 205/60 x 13’s on the rear, and 185/60 x13’s on the front, to clear the arches.
Having completed the rolling chassis, dad then started into the shell…
He stripped the old paint off it with a Stanley blade and paint strippers, doing a very small section at a time. Such was his patience and skill that he was able to remove the existing paint to reveal the original ‘metal flake’ paintwork on the car’s roof.
After stripping the paint off down to the original bodywork, (a painstaking labour of love), dad set about reinforcing the areas on the cars shell which were prone to stress fractures i.e. around the headlamps, rear boot hinges etc.
This was done by using fibreglass matting and resin, a skill dad had taught himself from completing a 18ft Norman offshore cruiser which he bought as a bare shell and fitted out to completion on his own (the only time he was beat he wasn’t there).
Having contented himself that all the required strengthening was completed, he set about repainting the car, leaving the original roof and painting the rest of the car in ’Opel Ochre’; the colour of the new Mk1 Manta which he bought new in 1973 from Culcrow Service Station, Aghadowey. I personally think it’s the best looking Elan I’ve ever seen.
He rebuilt the car and fabricated his own exhaust system, which entailed two separate pipes emerging from the manifold and continuing down the length of the car to two separate silencers (made by himself), emerging from the centre of the car at the rear.
He decided that the chrome strip, which usually was fitted at the top of the sill area, would be better utilised in covering the screwheads along the lower sill area, so he placed it there (a good decision).
On completion, the +2 looked and was immaculate – a real testimony to dad’s skill, dedication and abilities.
Himself and my sister Jenifer attended loads of Lotus shows and charity events around the UK, lifting many awards for the car, although dad did it for his own pleasure not notoriety.
I, however, wish to have him applauded for his interest and contribution to the classic car fans of the future generations… if it weren’t for his like, the past would be simply a memory.
I intend to ensure that the Lotus remains in immaculate condition, is shown as often and as widely as possible and in our families hands until I’m no longer here.
God bless you Brian Mullan (Daddy), you were one in a million…
Love you Dad…xxx