Trip Observations – The Elan

I hope that all of you continue to take both joy and solace in the simple act of driving. There is nothing quite like firing up your own car and traveling on your own terms. We will miss it when it is gone. Let’s hope that day never comes.” ~ Jack Baruth – Avoidable Contact

This is a compilation of comments I have made in the thirty eight Blog Posts during and after  the trip. The number in word form that begins each comment is the post from which it was taken if you wish to get context for the comment. My hope is that the comments taken together here will form a picture of the impressions I had from the Places, Roads, Weather, People and the Elan itself on this once in a lifetime trip. Enjoy.

The Elan:

Once again while rereading these perceptions I had during the six weeks I was driving across the USA, I believe the Elan was well able to keep up dynamically with modern cars anywhere I went except the high speed freeways in LA. It was only in the comfort and convenience areas that the modern cars have the decisive edge. This Elan is one tough customer, eager to run and happy to hit the twisties.

Three. The car has not missed a beat and continues to zip along at 65-70 very smoothly, if not quietly.

Five. If it sounds as if [red light after red light] has become a pet peeve it is because I am in a small, hot car with a tall first gear, behind a logging truck which takes a mile or more to reach cruise speed. Over and over and over.

Ten. The inevitable happened today…something broke.

Eleven. It seems that a shock absorber in the right rear corner virtually exploded rendering the car helpless in the turns and over bumps.

Twelve. Finally we had a new assembly that included the hub, strut tube, axle and brake disc.

Thirteen. We made a strategic decision last night over beer and food, that the rational thing to do is to replace the left side strut insert, Lotocone and bump stop before it fails and we have to do major surgery as we did to the right side. We finished at 6:15 and I took a joyous little drive down the street. She’s baacck!

Fourteen. This seeming catastrophe may have been a blessing in disguise…the Elan feels better than it ever has and inspires confidence in any situation or corner. So this is how it is when it’s right!

Sixteen. The Elan is many things…weathertight is not one of them.

Eighteen. Just as we finished lunch it started raining and I headed out with water pouring into the car from both doors.

Nineteen. Each door of my little Lotus has a very efficient water routing system that enables a lovely waterfall to emerge from the leading edge and fill the footwell.

Twenty one. I know it seems as though I have an obsession with how windy it is or is not though it is not just a fixation on something irritating. The wind plays havoc with the car, tossing it about like a leaf in a hurricane. And when the wind is from the left quadrant as it was throughout the middle part of the day, each time a big rig comes by in the other lane it is though a giant hand has pushed the car sideways and the air blast is prodigious. The Elan is running great and she never missed a beat, though she is filthy and needs a little TLC.

Halftime. I have scheduled a rotation and rebalance of the tires, a visit to the muffler shop to see if the exhaust can be made quieter as it became much louder in the last few thousand miles, and finally an oil and filter change and lube point check. I cleaned the car and finished the weatherstrip installation so now there is hardly any water on the floor after hosing it down. I should be dry and quiet now.

West One. The car was just purring since the new (old) muffler is much quieter than the raspy stainless one and the car seemed really happy. I can now hear the Weber induction noise, which is cool, whereas before all I could hear was exhaust.

West Four. After pumping the clutch pedal again, I got going but when I tried to shift to second, the clutch pedal went to the floor and stayed there. It offered no resistance and no release. Since I was rolling already, I just shifted without the clutch until I was in fourth gear and rolled on. Out in the middle of Death Valley, now renamed Clutch Death Valley, it was not a big problem since I had many miles to drive without shifting or stopping. But I worried that when I got to civilization with stop signs and stop lights and traffic jams, I would be in trouble. I bought some brake fluid to fill the dry clutch master cylinder but it did no good as there was now air in the line and I had no way to bleed it.

West Six. Tom mentioned that he thought I didn’t have brake lights from following me, we checked and that was true. So Barry Spencer installed a new switch without the need to bleed the system using a special trick he knew.

West Nine. And since the Elan does not have an intermittent [windshield wiper] setting, I turned them on and off with a rotary switch just like grandpa used to do.

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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May 2021


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