Story and photos by Vyvyan Black.
Sometime last year I remember seeing an ad on CarSales.com for an Elan Plus 2. It happened to catch my eye because of the fact that the photo of the car’s engine showed a mass of aluminium where the carbs should be, emblazoned with bright red lettering that read: Lotus EFI by Racecraft. Huh?
Out of curiosity I actually enquired with Racecraft about the cost of EFI for my own Elan FHC (not a Plus 2), but the $10k price left me a little shocked to be honest. I’m getting better at judging the cost of decent performance upgrades and now I don’t even consider such extravagances!
At this point I should say that the reason I was looking at CarSales ads is that I was kind of, sort of, vaguely thinking about selling my own Elan. And though the Plus 2 with EFI piqued my interest, I didn’t follow-up because, well, because it was a Plus 2. And I wasn’t in the market for a Plus 2. It was a good price though.
In truth, I was in a bit of a bind … my car needed some money spent on it but I just didn’t want to go there. I would endure sleepless nights wondering how I could possibly fix everything I’d like to without spending any more cash.
Then I went overseas for 3 months.
That period of time away from your everyday surroundings tends to change your perspective somewhat. I made up my mind to sell my car when I got back. After all, it was a toy that I didn’t really, really absolutely have to have and I could put all the stress aside. About a week after I got back I thought I’d test the waters. Most people don’t sell their cars that quickly, there’ll be plenty of time to get used to the whole idea. I decided on a slightly weighted price and put it up on CarSales about 6pm on a Thursday night.
7am in the morning the phone was running hot. I ended up with two guys telling me that they’ll give me cash money at a price I was happy to get – no questions about the state of the car and no need for registration certificates etc. Next thing I know it was around noon on the Saturday that I sat looking at a vacant spot in my garage.
What have I done?! As Greg Bray said, “Hard to find, easy to lose.” I was disconsolate. Not only that, I hadn’t really thought about the things I need a car for. There was only one thing to do – find a replacement. But what?
An Elan like mine in much better condition was just too expensive and too hard to find at a price I could even consider going to. But other options were possible. Months went by as I looked at old Elises, Europas that needed work and Lotus 7 variants. What I really wanted was something that I could use on all kinds of Club events from long day runs through to race days. Most importantly, I’m a classic-not-plastic guy, it has to be a 1960s model or thereabouts. I put the word out and hoped.
At one point I drove the wife’s 2012 Mini Clubman at the Lakeside Timed Laps (DTC). That was fun. But even a mini towers over Lotuses and it looked wildly out of place.
Then, at a Club meeting I was talking to Craig Wilson who suggested a Plus 2.
“They’re a great car you know and much better priced than a normal Elan. Some people even say they are better to drive.”
Not long after our conversation Craig dropped over to pick up some Club flags and mentioned that there was a Plus 2 for sale that he knew was a good car, restored and sold by Tony Galletly some 16 years ago.
“I didn’t see it on CarSales,” I said, “Let’s look online now.”
We found it on Gumtree. I’ve never looked on Gumtree for cars, but there it was. The same one I’d seen with the EFI, but now in Perth. This car was bought from Tony by John Luckie and his partner on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. They had sold it to Mean Machines (a new classic car/restaurant concept) in Perth.
So now it’s mine. And I couldn’t be happier.
The car is wonderful to drive, it’s in great condition, everything works and I cannot enthuse more about it. But best of all it gives me everything I want at a price I can afford!
I’ve since done some more research on the Plus 2. See my story on our website here.