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musing upon motorized things english...


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#1 dbw

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 09:18

well this all started with a very complex deal that left me minus one 1967 vw beetle and plus one 1958 mga 1500 coupe.uh..fixed head..

so i tarted it up a bit and have rather enjoying putting around town.now while i know it's no beauty queen it does have a certain english...well...charm..to it.so where does this go?

after a long time sleeping in the garage,[the car,not me] i decided to haul the'59 lotus elite SII out of the darkness to resume the endless scraping and sanding of paint,dirt,oil.furballs adhered to the grp under the carpets..rats nests..you know,the usual.

without really knowing it i happened to sight down the side of the elite from the back of a dark garage to the sunlit door...the elegant shape was breathtaking! the tuck of the section below the doors;a shape more marine than terrestrial; the mere suggestion of convexity of the side window shape;more tumblehome than i'd seen in years...the animal but rather friendly face..and the perky kamm tail...all the disparat shapes and lines converging to form the most delicate,efficient and downright painfully beautiful cars around.


now...the mga.with so much in common with the lotus...4 wheels..motor in front...2 doors,a fixed top assembly a boot,a bonnet.headlamps.....well just how could two oddly similar items be soooo far apart???? i remain stunned at the unbridgable chasm between the two shapes-[performance well aside] how could these widely divergent solutions to a [vaguely] similar problem eminate from a small,damp island in the same time period???

i'm stunned.

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#2 D-Type

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 10:08

Five minute thought during my coffee break.

The MGA was a car in the MG tradition, i.e. build a sports car using components from the Morris pats bin. For example the engine was a BMC 'B' series as fitted to the Morris Oxford (and Austin Cambridge and later to the Riley 1.5, Wolesley 1500 and all the Farina saloons). Essentially a series production road car. Styling would have been limited by the capabilities of Pressed Steel Fisher's body presses. The fixed head coupe was probably an afterthought after the open sports car had been finalised, so it incorporated many styling compromises.

The Lotus was a different type of car. Developed as a GT coupe, the concept was a competition car that you could drive on the road. Chapman knew he was no body stylist so he commissioned specialist assistance. I believe Michelotti styled the car within tight parameters laid down by Chapman. So the elegance reflects the Italian input. Whether the prime driver for the car's shape is the smooth form needed to get the GRP body out of the mould, eye appeal, or aerodynamics, the result was one of the best looking cars ever.

#3 275 GTB-4

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 10:10

:p

Just come back from an Historic Race Meeting in Sydney Aaaustralia,

lots of MGAs and an Elite racing ,,,,,,,,sweet!

Now tell me.............how do you get the oil droppings off your driveway???!!! :cool:

#4 RTH

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 12:39

The Elite is a timeless beautiful shape, size and proportion - the main reason they still command such high values - many people would still want to posess one for its aesthetic qualities alone. - and wasn't it created by two Englishmen Peter Kirwan-Tailor (who drew the shape ) and John Frailing( who single handedly sculped the buck )

The MGA was quite a hansome car in its own right - pity it didn't get the development and up grading , which could have given it greatness.

I remember sitting in one on the MG stand at the 1962 Earls Court Motor Show as a 12 year old schoolboy - at the time this motor car was the pinacle of my motoring ambition ! - I went on never to own one !

#5 Frank S

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 18:11

From a description of a model display cabinet shelf on my Web site:
". . . lovely Lotus Elite with the Jim Clark livery. Did I say "lovely"? Devastatingly beautiful."

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Frank S

#6 WDH74

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 18:52

Its really the difference in design philosophy, more than anything else. Now the MGA, in open form at least, is one of my favorite automotive shapes of all time. So too is the Elite. But the difference in philosophy is obvious. The A was styled to look good in a fifties modern style. Look at other mass produced sports cars of the time- C1 Corvette, Jaguar XK, Big Healey, Lanica Aurelia spider, BMW 507 (okay, not really mass produced, those last two!). All have similar styling cues- exposed headlights on fenders that sweep over the front wheels and are dramatically higher than the hoodline, chromey grilles set low or low-ish between the wings, a close fitting ragtop or coupe roof that sort of reminds me of wearing a baseball cap when they're up, and a fender line kickup over the rear wheels.
The Lotus, however, was not styled to an ideal to fit a market. It was designed more than anything else. Designed to be small, light, efficient, and economical, although not in that order, the Elite's styling evolved to include the original brief to be small, light, etc. In the end, it seems to be a car designed to suit the tastes one person, it's designer Colin Chapman, and the fact that quite a few other people thought it was the rat's pajamas was a bonus (and really good for Lotus as a company). Other than the limitations of its fiberglass construction, very few compromises seem to have been made with the Elite.

-William

#7 scags

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 22:17

off hand, for comparison's sake, does anyone know the original list prices of the lotus and A? and as far as the oil stains go, why would you bother to clean them when you get a new one each day? You can always tell a British car owner by the oil stains on the shirt.

#8 VAR1016

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 22:26

Originally posted by scags
You can always tell a British car owner by the oil stains on the shirt.


Hmm, much as I love them above anything (well except perhaps the Alfa-Romeo T33 Stradale) try keeping a Lancia Fulvia Coupe continent; it is not too easy....! :)

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#9 scags

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 22:37

The oil changes are much easier- you pour new oil in the top, and it leaks out the bottom, or smokes out the exhust. By the way, my garage floor looks like a tanker ran aground.

#10 D-Type

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 22:46

My garage floor has two bits of old carpet to catch the oil. One for when I drive the car in forwards and one for when the wife reverses it in. :)

#11 Roger Clark

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Posted 24 March 2004 - 00:02

Originally posted by scags
off hand, for comparison's sake, does anyone know the original list prices of the lotus and A? and as far as the oil stains go, why would you bother to clean them when you get a new one each day? You can always tell a British car owner by the oil stains on the shirt.

The MG was just under £1000, the Lotus just under £2000.

#12 scags

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Posted 24 March 2004 - 02:22

Thanks, Rodger. If I remember correctly, they lost money on each Elite, but it was at least twice the car an MGA was(until you got the bill for the C-C engine rebuild)

#13 Don Capps

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Posted 24 March 2004 - 03:13

Originally posted by scags
...and as far as the oil stains go, why would you bother to clean them when you get a new one each day? You can always tell a British car owner by the oil stains on the shirt.

The oil changes are much easier- you pour new oil in the top, and it leaks out the bottom, or smokes out the exhust. By the way, my garage floor looks like a tanker ran aground.


I owned an MGA briefly and never worried too much about oil changes for the above reason. In the morning I simply put the oil that dripped in the pan under the block back in and either burned it as smoke out the exhaust or recyled it the next day.....

A used to buy, fix 'em up, and palm, er, sell AH 3000's for some reason that completely escapes me. I replaced the Lucas electrics and did some other mods and the beasts were quite pleasant machines. I genuinely liked them since you could chuck them around and Pirelli radials really transformed their handling into something pretty darn good. Nothing quite like my Speedster, but then again a Big 'Un didn't didn't sucker you like the Bathtub would at odd times such as in the middle of a corner....

There was a Lotus dealer in Florence, SC of all places and we used to ride over and drool at the Elites and Elans they had in stock. It was also a Porsche dealer, so it was quite interesting to note that they did do a fairly respectable amount of business in what would seem a not too logical location.

#14 David Birchall

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Posted 24 March 2004 - 03:16

Originally posted by D-Type
Five minute thought during my coffee break.
Chapman knew he was no body stylist so he commissioned specialist assistance. I believe Michelotti styled the car within tight parameters laid down by Chapman. So the elegance reflects the Italian input. Whether the prime driver for the car's shape is the smooth form needed to get the GRP body out of the mould, eye appeal, or aerodynamics, the result was one of the best looking cars ever.


Never, ever heard the opinion that the Italian styling houses had anything to do with the Elite. Peter Kirwin-Taylor is always credited as the stylist.

The MGA was typical British fifties sports car:- Italian influence in the style, British pragmatism in the execution.

I owned and raced both at various times and both have their strong points. I think more people have rolled Elites than MGAs though. :stoned:

#15 275 GTB-4

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Posted 24 March 2004 - 09:52

Originally posted by David Birchall
I owned and raced both at various times and both have their strong points. I think more people have rolled Elites than MGAs though. :stoned:


Weeeelllll, I refrained from commenting on this aspect but now that you mention the Elites are a very pretty car but seem to handle corners like a AA dragster. The nose dives down and makes the rear end look like it dosen't have too much purchase. MGA and B on the other hand appear to be fairly neutral to safe oversteerers :up:

#16 VAR1016

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Posted 24 March 2004 - 10:53

Originally posted by 275 GTB-4


MGA and B on the other hand appear to be fairly neutral to safe oversteerers :up:


My Austin-Healey 3000 had no grip at all to speak of - even on the Cinturatos!

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#17 scags

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Posted 24 March 2004 - 11:46

I own a 100/6, and have my friend's MGA in the garage next to it, so I get a chance to drive one after the other. The steering and gear change in the A are MUCH better, but I'll take the power and noise of the Healey. Unfortunatly, I haven't driven the Lotus.

#18 David Birchall

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Posted 24 March 2004 - 16:49

Originally posted by scags
I own a 100/6, and have my friend's MGA in the garage next to it, so I get a chance to drive one after the other. The steering and gear change in the A are MUCH better, but I'll take the power and noise of the Healey. Unfortunatly, I haven't driven the Lotus.


Yes, I agree, the handling, steering and gearchange on the "A" are superior to a Healey, which I also raced. The Healey, the 3000. is more like a dragster-lots of power, poor road holding. Generally. Although having said that the guys in England seem to have got them sorted out pretty well... I recall being in a race at Laguna Seca in 1987, I think, in my Lotus 26R, with 4 other 26Rs in the grid-we should have taken the first five places but were all beaten by a Healey 3000! It was no ordinary 3000 but an ex works Sebring car driven by Phil Coombes who is a very capable driver. Still, to beat five 26Rs on a tight track like Laguna speaks well of the Healey if developed.

The reason Elites have overturned a few times, when racing, is that their roadholding is so good that the driver gets sucked into over reaching his and the cars potential:-the MGA will slide first.
Regards, David B

#19 Mallory Dan

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 10:49

Following the Northern TNF meeting last night, David Beard mentioned that he had been told only one Lotus Elan +2 ever raced in Britain. Can't remember who David said was the driver. I thought I recalled Max (Ceekar) Payne in one in Modsports. I've just checked this, and it is so. Payne was out in one in June 1970 at Mallory. Anyone else recall the car, or any others racing then or since ?

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#20 Gary Davies

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 13:02

Originally posted by D-Type
My garage floor has two bits of old carpet to catch the oil. One for when I drive the car in forwards and one for when the wife reverses it in. :)


My shed is home to an MGB and an oil-free concrete floor. But the B is an Australian built model. :cool: :cool: :cool:

#21 D-Type

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 13:14

Originally posted by Mallory Dan
Following the Northern TNF meeting last night, David Beard mentioned that he had been told only one Lotus Elan +2 ever raced in Britain. Can't remember who David said was the driver. I thought I recalled Max (Ceekar) Payne in one in Modsports. I've just checked this, and it is so. Payne was out in one in June 1970 at Mallory. Anyone else recall the car, or any others racing then or since ?

I remember a +2 competing at Ingliston in what must have been 1968.

#22 RTH

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 14:55

I certainly saw an Elan +2 race at Silverstone - unsurprisingly it was not a great success.

#23 RTH

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 15:03

Originally posted by Vanwall


My shed is home to an MGB and an oil-free concrete floor. But the B is an Australian built model. :cool: :cool: :cool:


There is no need for these engines to leak oil, - new crankshaft lip oil seals front & rear and timing, sump , & valve chest covers with new gaskets & Hylomar sealer - and you could park it over a white Indian rug !

#24 David Birchall

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 16:52

According to Chris Harvey's book on the Elans Gerry Ashmore raced a Plus 2 with a lightweight body and modified 26R running gear-not successful though.
I always thought the Plus 2 Elan one of the best cars ever styled in England-and it derived from a Healey record breaker apparently!
David B

#25 RTH

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 18:14

Originally posted by David Birchall
According to Chris Harvey's book on the Elans Gerry Ashmore raced a Plus 2 with a lightweight body and modified 26R running gear-not successful though.
I always thought the Plus 2 Elan one of the best cars ever styled in England-and it derived from a Healey record breaker apparently!
David B


I always thought there were close styling simularities with the second of the two Le Mans Rover-BRM Gas Turbine cars of 1965 - maybe someone cleverer than I could put both pictures up.

#26 David Beard

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 19:33

Originally posted by Mallory Dan
Following the Northern TNF meeting last night, David Beard mentioned that he had been told only one Lotus Elan +2 ever raced in Britain. Can't remember who David said was the driver. I thought I recalled Max (Ceekar) Payne in one in Modsports. I've just checked this, and it is so. Payne was out in one in June 1970 at Mallory. Anyone else recall the car, or any others racing then or since ?


Mmm.... I said Gerry Ashmore...cos I had been told that he drove one quite recently (by the man himself, after an excellent TNFer told me where to find him). However I now remember the name Max Payne was the one I had seen in some Elan book or other, racing a +2. So there were at least 2. :

#27 bobbo

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 22:28

English Cars!!!!

Lots of years ago, in the mid-60s, I had a TR2 which I drove for bout 6 months without any leaking, but it DID smoke a bit! After starting to replace the head gasket, I discovered that it had a crack in the #2 piston which apparently had been there for a long long time. I was panicking and trying to find another engine (didn't have the nerve to try & redo that wet sleeve engine - coward that I am!) but a friend of mine rolled his TR4 without serious injury to himself or the young lady with him, so I got the wreck real cheap! Frame was bent & broken, so it became a parts car. I dropped the engine and trans into the TR2, promptly broke the rear axle (replaced it with one from another totalled TR, this time a TR3A). I drove it for another 1 1/2 years, finally selling it to yet another TR fanatic/friend.

What I remember was how it seemed to go around corners so flat, going from understeer to tail out with a quick blip of the throttle. The heater (WHAT heat??) was actually warmer with the top down! Almost as dry in the rain with the top down, too! Brakes? Well, let's remember that the TR3s had drum brakes all around, not disc/drum like the TR3s. Fade was a regular problem if I tried to do the "racerman" thing. And let's not forget the delights of Lucas electronics. Anything more than a light to medium dew was asking for trouble . . . And fragile transmission (First & reverse broke pretty regularly)! I could do a roadside trans change in less than an hour, eventually.

God, I loved that car!

Amazing what we remember (or forget for that matter) about cars.

Can't believe that I bought another TR3A a few years later!!

Bobbo