1963 Lotus Elan GTS
to 26R spec
2018/2019 build project
Cirrus white 1963 Lotus Elan built to 26R GTS specification
and was first out at Dijon in 2019 and then won the class at the 2022 Spa 3 Hour
It needed quite a few jobs done (see below) to complete it and make it competitive in FIA Appendix K
The newest inhabitant at Team Wolfitt Racing the day it
arrived in The summer of 2018
So what started out in Summer 2018 as a purchase of a ready-to-go Lotus Elan
26R has turned into a fairly sizable improvement plan for the car. The car had
clearly been put together quite quickly and had been intended to be used as an
historic rally car but because we are only interested in FIA racing, there was
rather more to do on the car than had originally been expected.
The following work had to be undertaken to convert/revert the car to 2019 FIA
Appendix K historic race spec.
- Removed the exhaust silencer (for some reason a re-packable motorcycle
one had been fitted which would have failed any noise testing immediately)
and replaced with a full size box. We had to remove the ATL fuel tank and
reinstate the glass fibre boot floor hump to fit the FIA specification unit.
Also added additional boot stiffener to support the 60 litre tank which had
been bolted to the thin boot floor; this would not have survived the rigours
of racing let alone rallying.
- Changed the entire flywheel and clutch assembly to an FIA compliant one;
the unit fitted was an AP multi plate clutch with a concentric hydraulic release, none
of which is allowed.
- Refitted the iron gearbox case (the car had been fitted with a
non-FIA compliant magnesium alloy one).
- Fitted the cage properly, some of the bolts were through the fibre glass
and not through into the chassis so would have ripped out. Also several of
the bolts were too short and did not pass through the entirety of the nut.
- Had the cage recertified - very naughty; the Safety Devices homologation
sticker had been removed from another cage and put onto this cage - it
wasn't even for this type of cage! Safety Devices were very helpful and were
able to recertify the cage.
- Removed, shortened and refitted the door bars; they were mounted way too
high in the door apertures and at a strange angle.
- Replaced the entire pedal box; I suspect the car had originally or been
built as left hand drive because it had a left hand drive pedal box fitted
into the right hand side foot well. This has the wrong pedal spacing and
meant no gap between the clutch pedal and the transmission tunnel.
- Removed the passenger side seat frame; the car had been fitted with a
very home-made tubular seat frame despite the fact that the floor is
seat-ready and could have taken a seat bolted directly to it.
- Removed the twin fuel pump set up and fitted a single electronic unit;
twin pumps used to be popular when pumps were mechanically triggered and
used to fail quite regularly.
- Fitted a fuel pressure regulator; really important on any performance
engine running on Weber carbs.
- Fitted shorter road springs; the ones fitted were fouling the tyres!
- Removed the period style bullet mirrors (truly useless in racing) and
fitted larger door mirrors. Not quite the right period but actually useful.
- Removed the seat belts; they were single-seater ones and had been fitted
with incorrect specification bolts and brackets on the crutch and lap
- Removed and remounted the seat - it was set with a huge amount of
recline; I guess that's just driver preference but I like to sit upright
because it's more comfortable and quicker in the pit stop driver changes.
- Re routed the fuel pipe (oddly it actually ran through the car at the
rear of the cabin) at both ends.
- Re-fitted the dual throttle cables; had not been done well enough and
the angles were too tight on both cable runs.
- Removed the mechanical rev counter (which was actually a motorcycle one)
and replaced it with a modern and more accurate electronic one.
- Fitted a new steering wheel; the one that came with the car was blue and
the suede was very worn.
- Remounted the steering column; the crash-collapse mechanism was seized
solid with dirt and corrosion and the column was not properly aligned.
- Moved (and rewired) the rear high intensity rain light.
- Removed high level brake light.
- Replaced the fuse box - it had been fitted with a used, older style euro
fuse box which I really dislike because they can shake out and it also had
its mounting flanges cut away so kept dislodging from the dashboard.
- Fitted an FIA compliant master switch - it only had a basic on/off power
master which does not cut the engine and is not allowed. Also fixed a daft
wiring fault where the voltage meter was allowing the engine to run on after
the ignition was turned off.
- Changed to a correct spec Lucas 23D points distributor - it had a later
type Lucas 45D dizzy which had been retro fitted with electronic ignition.
- Fire bottle needed a service and we had to remount all the extinguisher
nozzles which had no brackets and were mounted and supported on the pipe
only; again not allowed. Discovered later that the system is supposed to
have 6 nozzles not 3 as had been fitted, additional ones fitted in
accordance with fitting instructions.
- Fitted slide latch to the boot lid.
- Fitted 10mm wheel spacers at the rear (as per 26R spec)
- Fitted dash-top crash pad which is mandatory for FIA Elans
- Complete rewire - there were too many weird wiring challenges such as
random headlight operation depending on what else was on when the ignition
was turned on! Nearly all of it went in the bin and the loom has been hugely
- New engine mounts - the ones that were fitted failed at the first test
session necessitating new race spec units being fitted.
- Fitted lightweight oil cooler hoses to replace the fitted steel swaged
- Replaced damaged inboard UJ flange (there was a stress-fracture-inducing
divot in one of them).
- Changed diff / final drive unit to lower ratio one following the
- Fitted diff cooler pipe (at Dijon) made from supermarket water bottles -
since replaced with a properly fitted one.
- Fitted the the ultimate Mintex brake pads!
After the first event
- Replacement steering rack (the one fitted was actually bent and would
not dynamically centre properly during the first race).
- Moved internal fire system trigger button away from the other switches!
- Changed the brake master cylinder pipes to hoses and modified bias bar
position because it was impossible to set enough rear brake.
- Fitted new front hubs - existing ones both had spun their bearings at
some point in the past and damaged the hubs.
- Fitted much larger, foam-filled fuel tank for endurance races.
- Removed sump to repair the sump oil plug area which had a porous weld
and the wrong sump plug.
- Changed to new brake master cylinders after a failure at a Goodwood
- Fitted larger fuel tank.
Racing Lotus Elan specification
A full spec, Series 1 Lotus Elan GTS (that's the FIA spec on the homologation
forms) and is known as 26R spec in Lotus terms. It's an early car but I don't
think much of its 1963 existents still persists in the current car; maybe the
door handles and one window frame element!
Basically it's fully road registered and legal and has:
- 26R spec chassis and suspension - very much like a standard chassis but
with strengthening gussets and fully rose jointed suspension.
- A super lightweight Series 1 26R body shell, roof and closing panels.
The 26R has wheel arch flares.
- A 3/4 wooden dashboard as used in the series 1 26R.
- Removable steering wheel.
- 26R spec AP brake calipers with modern Mintex race pads.
- Knock-off, peg drive, 6J13 Magnesium wheels and magnesium final drive
- Close ratio gearbox (iron main case since the FIA banned magnesium
- Safety Devices cage.
- Tillet race seat with lightweight Schroth harness.
- Lightweight battery.
- Craig Beck built engine at c. 175 BHP with twin 45 DCOE webers.
- Heated windscreen; plastic side and rear screens.
- Alloy radiator and header tank with electric fan.
- Electrically triggered fire extinguisher.
- Long distance, foam filled fuel tank.
- Road legal lighting - headlights, turn indicators etc.
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