Simple solution leads to reliable motoring
Simple solution leads to reliable motoring

Buried in the back pages of West Wheels a few weeks ago was a tiny classified advertisement which eventually led enthusiast Andrew Plunkett to the Lotus Elan he had been coveting for decades.

For several months Mr Plunkett had been scouring the internet, car club advertisements and specialist magazines from around the country for the ideal Elan.

In the end, he found his car in Perth and it was even more special than he had bargained for - it was the rare 1972 Sprint model.

This meant 126hp thanks to the desirable big-valve cylinder head and a pair of twin-choke, 40mm Weber carburettors sitting atop the 1558cc engine.

Mr Plunkett said the Lotus design philosophy around lightness and efficiency was instilled in him in his formative years, a time when Lotus ruled the Formula One circuits of the world.

"It's the whole Formula One thing, and this link with what happens when you're younger," he said. "It's the only reason I can think of to explain why Lotus has this mystique, and why I've spent three decades wanting one."

Phone calls were made, an inspection was arranged and soon a deal was struck. Before long, it was time to pick up the little banana-coloured sports car and take it home.

"I went to pick it up and it was on a hoist," Mr Plunkett said.

"I started it up and it ran beautifully. I spent an hour-and- a-half making sure I knew every switch and the owner showed me all the work he'd done.

"We lowered the hoist, rolled it back into the garage and I turned the key and there was nothing," he said. "The owner got his work ute and we jump-started it."

He drove away, and in the darkness of a Wednesday evening, headed from Canning Vale to home in Inglewood in a car he'd owned for just minutes.

"I was worried the car would be arriving home on the back of an RAC truck, but as I got closer to home I started to relax," Mr Plunkett said.

"But while going up a little hill towards some traffic lights, suddenly there was nothing again - the engine stopped and there were no electrics except interior lights."

He called his family and all were easily able to push the 660kg Elan on to a verge. Then a good Samaritan stopped. As it turned out, he was a kindred spirit in more ways than one.

"He said 'I've got an Elan +2, let me help'. Really, what are the odds," Mr Plunkett said. "He produced some jumper leads and the engine fired instantly.

"I thanked him and introduced myself, and a look of recognition took over his face.

"It was my back-fence neighbour from when I was born until I was seven. I hadn't seen him since 1968.

"He has a Lotus Elan +2 and lives six streets away from me. There's a bottle of wine heading his way.

"I pulled up to my front lawn and it died again. I felt like dying too. I pushed it into the garage, had dinner and then went back out to the garage to cry privately.

"Then I went to remove the battery and found that both terminal clamps were broken," he said. "It was obvious they had to be replaced. We got the new clamps, charged the battery and with much trepidation, fired it up and off she went."

Since then, it's been the most used Elan in WA.

"Everybody wants to go for a drive," Mr Plunkett said.

The West Australian

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