The history of LEC

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There are four people, without whose passion and drive, I would not have an Elan today:

Peter Stevens - who designed it.

Mike Kimberley - who had the balls to make it.

Doug Abbott - who started LEC.

Simon Vickers - whose offers of support inspire many (myself included) to take the plunge.

There is plenty written about the first two, particularly in the Mark Hughes book, but the other two seem to have been overlooked. This is my amateur attempt to put the record straight and record at least some of the history of LEC. Many thanks to John and Brian for their words of wisdom, many of which are plagiarised below.

Please feel free to add or correct.


In the early days of the internet, there were no M100-centric websites and information about the model was difficult to come by. Randy (lotos on LEC) created a website on AOL's server ( in the late 1990's, providing a simple forum page to post, and culled information, pictures, technical information, magazine articles, and anything else he could find regarding the M100 for the website. The site later migrated to, and went through various overhauls and design changes. "Unfortunately, not having an Elan of my own, I lost interest in the day-to-day upkeep of the website," Randy sighed, nodded, and continued. "It was a car I lusted after for many years, but life got in the way."


Early on the scene were Top End Performance (TEP) who did some pioneering work on Seamus Blackley's 1991 Elan, developing the intake pipes, MBC and BOV. (These parts are still available on their website.) Some of the early names in the SoCal scene were Charliex (British software guru and still tweaking Elises), Ryan Moos (Disney Director) Ed Miller (Airline Pilot).

LEC is born

Doug, a frequent visitor to the forum, taught himself HTML and created LEC using the same AOL format Randy had used years earlier (and in fact, there are still references on the internet to his message board {http: //} going back to September 1999).

Also around in these formative days was the now infamous Bills’ Isuzu Performance Site which offered a bunch of goodies for the Elan, such as Exhaust Systems and quickshift gearchange upgrades. Unfortunately Bill seemed to resent doing business with anyone, although his products seemed to work quite well!

Fortunately, another of the early LEC members was Nitroman, who proved to be a perfect foil against Bill’s rants and was the LEC trailblazer when it came to power upgrades, with his Nitrous-boosted engine. He also set, and still sets, the standard for meticulous attention to detail and perhaps set the ball rolling for the LEC ‘group buy’ special projects by offering to have extra custom-made parts fabricated as his own were being developed. Nitroman took a relatively direct approach to nutter-power, and then came Costas’ Sh4rk project that raised the bar of lunacy to the present level {400hp+}.

Doug used to coordinate meetings where the local Elanoraks would gather in Santa Monica for a blast around the hills and canyons behind Malibu, followed by lunch at Duke's in Malibu, and show and tell Elan time. Another popular meet was the [Donut Derelicts] gathering in Huntingdon Beach, where any imaginable car could be seen, and some interesting characters, including Peter Stevens himself, who came by a meeting one day, was surprised and joyed to see a handfuls of his Elans gleaming together, and hung out and chatted to the LEC group and recorded and photographedfor posterity.

In early 2003 Doug had enough with the old Message Board and studied up to load in a new bulletin board program (still linked from the old front page as above) which was divided into subject headings. This was the YaBB bulletin board format which was a vast improvement for about two years, but was frequently down and a bit flaky. It finally self-destructed in June/July 2005 as the newer, current Forum came online.

The revamped site we now have started in July 2005. At this point, Doug handed the torch over to the homeland where Sy now keeps it hidden in the barn. Tony and Liz donated their programming knowhow to get the new site going in proper colour theme: green and yellow. Although a lot of useful data from the threads on the YaBB site was saved, unfortunately many threads were lost in the ether. Lost information included Dave Meyers track Elan, ElanScanMan's Elanscan development / ECU hack and Mountain chip development, Philbo's racing Elan development, and (thank goodness) the Vauxhall front brake alternatives megathread.

That puts us about where the site is now. The site has always been international, but the growth in members since about 2003 has been huge. Many Characters have come and gone over the years; some are still here.

Long time members

From the US: Doug, Matt (Nitroman), and Dave Meyers have always been about, and many others have come and gone. In the UK: Sy, Darren, Nige, Dave, and many more have been around for ages.

Get togethers

Rod ("Mardibloke") organised Donington pre-gatherings starting in 1999 when about a dozen cars would show up. Directly because of LEC, this grew to about sixty in 2004 and almost a hundred in 2007. Doug even snuck over and attended the weekend in March 2005. Rod sold his car to Enright13 in 2005. The convoy from the services into Donington is a tremendous sight and the curry evening and whisky tasting is becoming the M100 event of the year.

ECU development

ElanScanMan {ESM} developed the first ElanScan in 2003, as Doug & other members had been bemoaning the lack of diagnostic tools. It was the car-park sensation of Donington 2004 with Alan attaching his laptop to many cars for demos. MBC valves were in common use (Doug, Sy Rob-C etc) but Doug had a theory that as the Elan already had its own electronically-controlled boost controller (ie the BSV) all it would take would be somebody to hack into the ECU to learn how to control it. Enter ESM and his lost "ECU hack" thread where Doug challenged the inventor of ElanScan to go one better and decode the ECU workings to find out how a chip could be developed to give controllable extra boost. Alan developed the first chips in summer 2004, tested them using Sy, Stevo, etc, then refined them using me (SE) and Nige (S2) as dyno testers, and Doug for the Federal version. The Mountain chips were the sensation of Donington 2005, with Alan spending most of his time in the car park fitting them to ECUs as well as diagnosing problems on ElanScan (Alan found that one reason Enright wasn't getting any noticeable power increase from the Everest chip was that his car had had its BSV removed). Brian (F1Lotus) lays claim to christening the Mountain chips. ESM had mentioned he would be offline for a while as he was going to climb a hill called Kilimanjaro and at that time he'd sent Brian some boost graphs which looked like mountains!

The ESM version of events

A biography - always knew I was important! Its not, naturally enough, exactly how I remember it. ElanScan did come about because Doug was whinging up a storm about the lack of a diagnostic tool. When I, a noob, said I'd have a go it was treated with a large dollop of skepticism because I was by no means the first to try - Doug was muttering about paying someone professional to write it. He didn't offer me money when I did it :-) However, he and Brian (F1Lotus) did sort me out with a CAS so I can't complain. Doug sent the CAS to 'Sir Alan McNicol' - so I reckon I'm one of the the Knights of the round elblem with a cat on skates in it... and a triangle... and some words.... For me the worst thing about the whole ElanScan project was that people expected I would have no problem supplying the interfaces. Before the whole ES thing I had little or no electronics knowledge or experience, I still lack the former. I soldered the odd thing at work - in plugs mainly. Anyway, I hand-made a very elaborate circuit (that I nicked from Ian Levi) on vero-board. Each interface took around 5 hours to make and I charged £40, or something stupid like that, for them. Got nothing but complaints about how long it took to deliver them. Then I moved on to a pre-made USB board - easier but still fiddly because of drilling the holes in the boxes and soldering the wires. Gave up on that when Geoff, thankfully, took that side of it over.

The chip hack - now that's where my memory veers away from the account above... I don't remember Doug pushing this. When I researched ALDL the whole GM ECU re-programming thing quickly became apparent because ALDL is often used as a tuning tool for such activity. I also found how to copy the contents of the standard chip via ES - no need to remove the chip and cludge it into a reader. Since I had the file I thought why not take a punt at reverse engineering it? It was a punt, I knew bugger all about engine management when I started. I got all the tools to do it and some tips and examples from the internet. The first time I tested a modified chip I was scared half to death. Thought flames would jump up from the engine bay the second I turned the key. I was really pleased when it seemed to work as intended. I was basking in smugness on my home on that test drive when an Arriva bus drove into the back of me and wrote off the car! That delayed further development a little bit. I should mention the group of testers who put development version into their cars, particularly S2 and federal owners, as they put an utterly untested prototypes into their cars (I had an SE). Brave, brave men... The mountain chip is now a very common item in Elans - I've sold more than 200 which is close to 5% of the total production. Brian probably did come up with the mountains tag. It definitely wasn't wasn't me but I liked the idea.

Brake upgrades

In the UK many people (especially ESM) have tried to find Vauxhall-type calipers to fit; some do pretty well, but are not exact. The mega-brake thread which was lost in the 2005 crash contained all that info.

Philbo was the first Elan person to go to HiSpec (in about 2002) after he fried his standard brakes on a trackday. Poor service from HiSpec led others to find alternatives

APs have always been available but expensive but Dave Meyers uses them for track use in the US.

In the US, Brian (F1Lotus), having suffered similar intermittent failures with both his UK Elan and his current US car, had made Wilwoods to fit his car in August 2000. Doug, seeing Brian's setup, pestered him to do something for his car, and so the 16" Wilwood upgrade was born in May 2002. In July 04, Brian ran a similar project with ESM for the 15" wheels - Kuching reverse-engineered the wheel and provided a CAD file to help with the packaging.

LotusGirlMarie (LGM) went her own way with Brembos.

Hard top

People had been promising to develop a hard-top for the Elan for years, with one English company (I forget the name) keeping people on the hook for years. Kuching appeared in 2004 and in very short order "just did it". He did a super- professional job using state-of-the-art equipment (thread covering the development and design disappeared in 2005 crash). At Donington 2005, Stef's Blipi was on the LEC stand modelling the only carbon fibre hardtop sold, Grahame C's Medina green had a hard-top and Kuching spent the weekend in the carpark fitting several hardtops for people. He then passed the hardtop sales to Paul Matty, but that didn't last because it took so long to fit each one individually, and Kuching is back supplying them himself if you're lucky enough to catch him and get one.

LEC Occupations

As well as the usual surgeons, policemen, geologits, tribologists, ice skating instructors, builders, tax consultants, pilots and attorneys, there appear to be more engineers of various types than you can shake a stick at. This, to me (an engineer), makes perfect sense.

LEC in Lotus

Several LEC members have worked for Lotus: Brian (F1Lotus) designed aero parts and composite structures right up until the doors closed on the F1 team. Simon (Kuching) was also there at this time in the aero department as a very talented model maker. ExFastcat in Australia too.

Doug's legacy

Although Lotus had the financial backing of GM at the time of the M100 development, which allowed unheard of sums of money to be available for paying attention to detail, the M100 is still a hand built sports car that requires regular work and fixing. The knowledge that many have on this forum is invaluable to all those who have been lured by the M100's charm. It was with some disbelief that Doug announced he was selling Stripey on 1st April 2006 due to increasing family numbers. Happily, since selling Stripey, Doug has continued to offer his expertise and advice (together with his quick wit) and LEC is fortunate to retain his experience.