Lotus Elan +2S 130/5 Restoration

We're undertaking a full restoration on a Lotus Elan +2S 130/5 that's been off the road since 1992.  The owner had planned to restore the car but never quite got round to it and 26 years later decided to sell...

We bought the car as a project in November '18.  It appears to be very original and benefits from a galvanised chassis in good condition.  However, a complete restoration is required and this page on our website will document the project as it proceeds.

Click on the headings below to learn more about the stages of the project - more will be added as the restoration progresses.

Strip down

This Lotus Elan +2S was partially stripped when we acquired it and our first job was to complete the strip out so the car could be properly assessed. As the car had been kept in dry storage over the last 26 years, everything came apart fairly easy with not too many problems with seized or corroded parts and fasteners.

The interior trim, dashboard and wiring were all removed. Then in preparation for removing the body from the chassis, the doors, bonnet and boot were removed to reduce weight.

With the body removed from the chassis - a fairly easy lift with one person on each corner - we were then able to carry out a full assessment of the car and compile the initial list of work required and parts needed.

Assessment of work needed

A new galvanised chassis was fitted a short while before the car was taken off the road and as a result it is still in good condition. But the rest of the items that turn the chassis into a 'rolling chassis' need attention.  So required will be new wheel bearings, new wishbone bushes, overhauled brake calipers, new discs, new dampers and springs, rubber donuts to be replaced with solid drive shafts.

The engine will be fully stripped down and the cylinder head checked/reconditioned as necessary, bores and pistons checked, crankshaft checked and all bearings replaced.  The carburettors will be reconditioned.

The gearbox will be checked and overhauled as necessary.  We're not aware of any problems with it, but it's far easier to carry out this work now rather than find there are problems at a later date when the car is back on the road.  Differential to be checked.

Although the interior of the car was in remarkably good condition, we will utilise the expertise of our Trimshop to carry out a full interior retrim. In the process we'll take patterns of all the interior retrim which will allow us to offer Elan +2 trim kits in the future.

The paintwork has plenty of microblister and some of it has been stripped back to gel coat by the last owner. We will take the whole car back to gel coat, attending to any imperfections and getting rid of the microblister.  The preparation prior to painting is what will take the time and effort - the actual repainting will be the easy part!

All the electrics and wiring will need checking and overhauling and tidying up as needed.  Plenty to do as Lotus wiring is never that great at the best of times.

The radiator will be fully overhauled or replaced and all coolant hoses replaced.

Rolling Chassis

After a break in proceedings, the gearbox and differential have returned from their inspection and overhaul (work that we farmed out to a well regarded Lotus transmission specialist), and we're now back at work on our Elan and building up the rolling chassis.

The chassis, wishbone arms, anti-roll bars and rear suspension/bearing housings have been cleaned up and repainted.

New wheel bearings have been fitted, and the suspension built up with new trunnions, wishbone bushes and adjustable Spax dampers.  Solid drive shafts with CV joints - a definite improvement over the rubber donut system used as standard - have been fitted.

Copper brakes lines have been installed along with new flexible brakes, overhauled brake calipers and new brake discs.

The steering rack has been cleaned up and painted, checked, adjusted and new gaiters fitted.

Engine Rebuild

The engine has been fully stripped down and inspected.

Bores and pistons were very good (+40 oversize) and all that was needed was a rehone and then new piston rings fitted as a matter of course.

Crankshaft checked and all as it should be, bottom end of the engine reassembled with new main and big end bearings - nothing wrong with the old ones, but false economy to reuse.

Cylinder head has been sent away for checking and rebuild as necessary including conversion to unleaded.


Prior to going to the paintshop some remedial work was required to the sills as the steel strengthening strips in each sill were badly rotted. These were cut out and replaced with new items.

In the paintshop, it's a long, slow process preparing the bodyshell. The paint has all been stripped off and the gelcoat is being attended to and repaired as required. Many hours of work are required to get the bodyshell to a stage where it will be ready for primer and then top coats.

As always with paintwork, particularly on a fibreglass car, preparation is everything and any shortcuts will mean a compromised final finish. We won't be taking any shortcuts!


Project write-up last updated 12th May 2021