Car Preparation for the Trip

Now the work begins!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

After having decided the route and checking the weather comes the time for prepping of the car for its herculean trip. The Elan is in pretty good mechanical condition (which is why I feel comfortable even doing this trip) and has been cross country at least twice already. But for this MEGA trip, I will address all the usual suspects: belts, hoses, battery, connectors, and nuts and bolts. In addition I will replace the oil, and filter, change the other gear oil and refresh the coolant. She will get new tires, get an alignment and make sure all the component parts I need, like the top, the jack and spare tire are present. One of the guys in our Little British Car group is a professional mechanic by trade and a helper of those of us with LBC’s. He will be doing a complete check over of the car and assessing anything it might need. Then, all those things will be done! So, when I start out the Elan should be in its absolutely best condition.

Let me leave the preparation discussion for a moment and address the “weather equipment” on the car. The roadster top is much like a US Army shelter half. Those who have been in the army are familiar with this diabolical device which, as its name implies, is incomplete by itself. In fact, each GI carries part of the package so that when it is combined with another like package it provides shelter for two GI’s. The operative word here is “shelter.” Notice it is not “Comfort” nor “Dry” nor “Snug.”

In like fashion, the top for the Elan is made up of five parts: The vinyl top itself which is about 4 feet square with clear windows sewn in which fits over two steel bows that cross the car and fit into two “cant rails” made of fiberglass that fit longitudinally over the side windows and provide an edge for the vinyl top. To assemble this contraption takes about the same time as erecting the two shelter halves into a whole, or, said another way, enough time to get fully soaked if it is raining. Hence the decision matrix as to whether to go top up or down needs to be considered well before the weather event. If it looks like rain, the top still might not be worth it because it leaks much as a toddler who is not yet potty trained. If it is a brief light shower, I am often better to just let most of it blow over my head since the interior of the car is all vinyl and rubber and fiberglass cannot rust! Actually, with the top up the heater keeps thing quite comfy well into the teens so I think I will be fine as long as I don’t encounter heavy snow and for the eastern loop that is pretty unlikely, hence the route choice to go east and south first.

Despite the careful preparation, the thorough planning and the quality car care, something could still fail or break or wear couldn’t it? Of course not! The sky will be blue, the roads will have light and courteous traffic, the gas stations/convenience stores will be right where they are needed and my little, old, British Lotus will run faultlessly. I guess I should think a bit more about this in my next post!

About Me

Hi, I’m Ross and I’m a tripoholic. I love driving especially in my old cars and then writing about the adventure that always follows. I’m old enough to know better but that doesn’t stop me. If you like stories of the road, every word true no matter how far fetched it may seem, then grab a beer or a cup of coffee and join me!

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February 2021

4 thoughts on “Car Preparation for the Trip

  1. Ross, I’m in for .01/mile… and maybe some “breakdown” support if required. We’ll need to talk about that. My trailer stands ready in case of major issues. I should be sufficiently recovered from my ankle replacement by then.


  2. Looking forward to following along, Ross, and count me in for .01/mile, too. As well as any support you need as you pass through the Carolinas.


    1. Hi Henry,
      Thanks for your support for both my adventure and the kids! I know you commented on the original post on and I have been following your spectacular restoration of the Seven so it is nice to turn the tables. I will let you know as I get closer to SENC to see if there is any way we can connect. Cheers


  3. Excellent, Ross, look forward to following along. Count me in for .01/mile, too – as well as for any support you need passing through the Carolinas.


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