CLA Build Stories: TUFT’s Eleven April 2020 – The Rebuild

TUFTs Lotus Eleven Rebuild April 2020

Between 2014 and 2016 we followed the build of the TUFT’s Eleven from the birth of the idea through to the car hitting the road in spectacular fashion at the 2016 Targa High Country. Well, after three years of happy campaigning, the Eleven, or more specifically its trailer, hit a little bump in the road. So, we, with the help of Automotive Craftsmen and Alister Rees, are picking the story up again for the car’s return to glory.

First things first, the original build story can be found in many parts, as so many builds start out, on the site. Click through the following, and enjoy! Part 1 herepart 2 herepart 3 herepart 4 herepart 5 here, part 6 herepart 7 here, part 8 here and the grand finale here.

Read on for part one of part two – the rebuilding of the TUFT’s Eleven – with thanks to author Alister Rees.

TUFTs Lotus Eleven Rebuild April 2020

The Story so far

The story started when we were contacted by Ashton in March 2019 and he sent some initial photos of the damaged car. We requested further photos from different angles and after studying a myriad of different shots, we were able to arrive at an initial estimate based on the information gleaned from these photos. From our understanding the damage was mostly isolated to the front end. The fabrication of a new front clam was the focus of this repair.

We then began a drawn-out procedure communicating with an assessor in Sydney who unfortunately appeared to have little knowledge of Lotus of any type, especially not a thoroughbred from the fifties.

TUFTs Lotus Eleven Rebuild April 2020

After several months of challenging discussions and delays the Eleven finally arrived at our workshop in late October 2019. Along with the state change, a new assessor was appointed by Shannons, and we were able to move forward with a proper physical assessment of the damage.

Once we were able to get the vehicle in the air for a full inspection, it became apparent that there was other damage not able to be photographed while on the ground.

The final assessment included: twisted chassis (front and rear), under-body skin damage, front and rear shocker damage, damaged wheel bearings, bent swing arm, buckled wheels, intake manifold gasket damage, carburetor readjustment, ect. All this adding significantly to the original estimate.

TUFTs Lotus Eleven Rebuild April 2020

Ashton was able to recommend a parts supplier in the UK and we duly contacted Mike Brotherwood with a parts list. We would like to acknowledge the assistance of Tony Galletly, who has been a great help in many areas and has a wealth of knowledge after his Eleven rebuild.

Once we received the quote from Mike, we were able to finalise our firm estimate and submit to Shannons. Approval was given within a few days and we immediately placed the parts order and started stripping the car.

Out first task was to dismantle all the damaged components. After drilling out 680 rivets to remove the floor trays and sill panels, the bare bones of this iconic design were exposed. The simplicity of this car is an amazing sight. After the outer body had been removed, next up was the mechanical.

TUFTs Lotus Eleven Rebuild April 2020

Documenting each part and its orientation gave us the understanding we need to see the car through the eyes of its creators. Knowing how the designer intended the car to be, we can ensure that this Eleven will be repaired correctly and retain its originality. With the vehicle stripped down to the bare minimum for transport, it was time to re-align the chassis.

We would like to acknowledge the assistance of Nick Contarino at Exclusive Auto Centre for the use of his state-of-the-art Car Bench chassis alignment system, which will help to restore the Eleven’s frame to its original dimensions and alignment. Adam did his apprenticeship at Exclusive Auto Centre and won apprentice of the year in 2014 and was runner-up in the National World Skills Competition held in Perth the same year. Luke spent approx 2 years at Exclusive Auto Centre repairing Ferrari and Lotus, including composite repairs, after completing a panel beating and spray-painting apprenticeship in Sydney.

NEXT MONTH — Building the new front clam

By Alister Rees

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