BA74FM59737 Finds a New Home

"Two years ago, my buddy told me about this car, that was sitting a few blocks from his house. When I contacted the owner about buying it, I found out he had owned it for 20 years and that he wanted to keep it for his son (who didn't seem too interested). I kept in touch with him, asking every 5 or 6 months if he would part with it. During that time, I aquired two other Cortina projects, which have since been in stasis (never pay a body man until the work is done! Not even half!). But I really wanted that complete Lotus Cortina."

"Recently I sold my Lotus Elan +2, and had cash burning a hole in my pocket. I thought "What the Hell, let's see if he'll sell it now." So I called him- and this time, he asked what I would give for it. I made an offer... Then he seemed more interested. He told me that he had an extra cylinder head and an extra transmission... so I increased the offer, telling him I'd give him all the money I had acquired from the sale of the Plus 2."

"He waited approximately a week, called me, and said "OK". He said that he was leaving on a vacation (Thankgiving) and I asked if I could roll the car over to my friend Alan's house and do a compression check etc. before completing the deal. He had told me the engine was good... but that was the only question I had."

First, we did the compression check -- it was between 210 and 220 down the line! We drained the gas, rebuilt the fuel pump and carbs, and then cranked it up. It started reluctantly, it would not idle, but it ran! The brakes sucked, but... we drove it around the block, even though it was last licensed in 1989."

"It seemed faster than Alan's Hillman Imp, but not by much. It certainly did not seem as fast as my old Elan, but we thought it could have just been heavier and the engine could have been tired. Then we thought to check the timing. (After all, it was idling poorly.) The distributor had come completely loose. We set the timing at 15 deg advanced (which I hear is off) and the thing ran like a top. It is very quick for a little car and will easily spin its old rubber into oblivion. The tires still look great and were new at the time it was last retired from use- There is no checking or cracking... but I feel nervous about them. They will be replaced."

"We went back later that week to pick up the spare parts and I got a big surprise! The parts inventory was huge -- an entire motor, three trannys, lots of rare trim parts, hot cams, springs, swaybars -- the original steering wheel -- it was way more than I had expected."

"He also gave me the history back to when it was nearly new, including bills of sale for all the prior owners. And he has since uncovered even more documents, so I have to go back again, and pick them up."

"The car has no real competition history, but apparently he autocrossed it. At one point it was lowered with stiffer springs, but he claims he raised it back to stock height. (It still seems low and stiff on the front to me.) He is an interesting guy (the previous owner). He has three boys, and operates a construction company with his wife. He rock climbs, bicycles and sings opera. And obviously has good taste in cars. I promised him right of first refusal if I sell. So maybe he'll get the car back someday. But I have no intention of getting rid of it yet!"

Pete Steilberg
Seattle, Washington


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