The Lotus Cars Community banner
1 - 20 of 81 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I have recently checked my bank account and found the balance was positive for the 1st time in decades. Therefore, I decided to take that valuable few dollars and put it towards something special. A Lotus Seven.

Why a Seven? A more modernized Caterham would be more ideal I suppose, but they tend to cost a lot more. I figured a Seven is a good start. I'm sure there is some blatantly obvious flaw to my rationale here, so by all means, contravene and whack some sense into me. :D

I want a very minimalist vintage car. Morgans are OK, but they aren't my 1st choice. Elans are cool. There's probably a host of other cars I haven't considered due to my limited knowledge. It has to be something relatively simple to take apart and replace things on in case something should go wrong.

So here it goes:

1. How difficult is it to take a Seven to a track or autocross? Do things break frequently? Tires expensive? Expensive replacement parts? Body panels? Is this a car best left in the garage as an antique?

2. Are there any LHD Sevens? I am really not looking forward to a RHD car. As it is, I hardly know which side of the road is the "right" side. Are these rarer and therefore more expensive?

3. What years are good years and what years to avoid if any?

4. Any leads to some Sevens so I know where to look when I'm ready?

5. Are motor swaps common? :)




Thanks... Feel free to share your advice, criticism, suggestions, etc. Hope to be a Seven owner, unless you somehow convince me not to.



Mike
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,294 Posts
O.K. Mike. Here's my opinion:

A more modernized Caterham would be more ideal I suppose, but they tend to cost a lot more. I figured a Seven is a good start. I'm sure there is some blatantly obvious flaw to my rationale here, so by all means, contravene and whack some sense into me. :D
A Caterham, although initially more expensive, will probably in the long run cost you less, particularly if you really are planning on beating on the car at the track. You can find very well suited vintage Seven racers, but they come with several prices - the initial cost and the maintenance. (see below)...

It has to be something relatively simple to take apart and replace things on in case something should go wrong.
Very simple to disassemble. Very easy to replace parts if you can find them. When you do find them, usually via a UK distributor, sometimes the price is fair, sometimes surprisingly not expensive at all and sometimes outrageous. It is getting harder to find parts for the vintage cars.

1. How difficult is it to take a Seven to a track or autocross? Do things break frequently? Tires expensive? Expensive replacement parts? Body panels? Is this a car best left in the garage as an antique?
These are 35+ year old cars. Yes, things break. Again, finding replacement parts can be a hassle and again can be expensive. It would be easier to find parts for a Caterham as they are new/newer parts. No car is best left in a garage. They all desire to be driven regularly.

2. Are there any LHD Sevens? I am really not looking forward to a RHD car. As it is, I hardly know which side of the road is the "right" side. Are these rarer and therefore more expensive?
There are LHD Sevens here in the states. I've seen more LHD here than a RHD. I don't mind the RHD. It actually makes it easier to answer questions at stop lights as I am face to face with the driver of the car next to me :D.

3. What years are good years and what years to avoid if any?
No good years/bad years IMO. S4s (last version - "a Seven for the Seventies") is the redheaded stepchild of the Sevens but they never bothered me. They also have the largest cockpit of the Lotus Sevens. You should research each S1-4 and see what you like and your budget will allow. Keep in mind that there were relatively few Lotus made S3 kits and there are a lot of Caterham kits (which are the S3) that have been rebadged/replated as Lotus S3s. The S1s are pretty hard to come by as well. Mainly what you will find are S2s, an occasional original S3, many Caterham S3s, several others (Birkins, etc), and occasional S4s.

4. Are motor swaps common? :)
I have seen many a non-original motor in various Sevens but it really depends on what you are referring to. If you want to take your Seven and put in a "bigger" motor, just get a Caterham.

Basically, with the original Lotus you are buying a more fragile piece of history. With the Caterham you are buying a more modern, easier to find parts for, easier to customize, better performing car (for the most part).

I like the history. I also like performance. Each has it's place. You need to decide exactly what you want from the car and then get what fits the bill.

The main concern that I have for you is if all the all-you-can-eat buffets will actually allow you to fit in a Seven -poke-. Seriously, have you ever sat in one? They can be tight. I'm 5'10" and about 180. It's tight. I have to wear driving shoes to fit my feet in the pedal box (size 9s) or I hit more than one pedal at a time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,175 Posts
Re your question 1--what could be more fun than this classic drive of an S1 7 on YouTube? :D
7 Gymkhana
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,026 Posts
Your answers lie at USA7s

Big questions are what do you want it for? Do you want a Lotus, Caterham, Clone?


Hello all,

I have recently checked my bank account and found the balance was positive for the 1st time in decades. Therefore, I decided to take that valuable few dollars and put it towards something special. A Lotus Seven.

Why a Seven? A more modernized Caterham would be more ideal I suppose, but they tend to cost a lot more. I figured a Seven is a good start. I'm sure there is some blatantly obvious flaw to my rationale here, so by all means, contravene and whack some sense into me. :D

I want a very minimalist vintage car. Morgans are OK, but they aren't my 1st choice. Elans are cool. There's probably a host of other cars I haven't considered due to my limited knowledge. It has to be something relatively simple to take apart and replace things on in case something should go wrong.

So here it goes:

1. How difficult is it to take a Seven to a track or autocross? Do things break frequently? Tires expensive? Expensive replacement parts? Body panels? Is this a car best left in the garage as an antique?

* Se7ens are easy to take to either as long as you have a trailer that holds low cars.

* A full race 7 is the same as any other full race car (requires full race maintenance) Think formula car.

* Tires are comparable in price to Elise tiers.

* It depents

2. Are there any LHD Sevens? I am really not looking forward to a RHD car. As it is, I hardly know which side of the road is the "right" side. Are these rarer and therefore more expensive?

* LHD are available. Later Lotus 7s and most or all subsequent builder.

3. What years are good years and what years to avoid if any?

Lotus 7 S1 a classic use it as such or for vintage race only
Lotus 7 S2 I think they were only made in RHD
Lotus 7 S3 The most common
Lotus 7 S4 the ugly 7 in many peoples opinions. Totally different structure...
Caterham - have rights to the 7 name
Birkin, Westfield, Lowcost, S1, ... each has its fans and detractors


4. Any leads to some Sevens so I know where to look when I'm ready?

For Lotus:
Sevens & Elans
Wirewheels
Historic Lotus Registery


5. Are motor swaps common? :)

* Definitely you will see side valve Fords to the Generals 350's. V2, I4, V6, V8, Wankle, sometimes with turbo or mechanical superchargers. I've seen 40hp and 400hp cars.

* Same with transmissions: 3, 4, 5 or 6 speed traditional manual & 6 speed sequential.

Thanks... Feel free to share your advice, criticism, suggestions, etc. Hope to be a Seven owner, unless you somehow convince me not to.



Mike
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,294 Posts
Dean,

I call dibs on your S1 when you sell it. I'm close enough that I will pick it up in person, cash in hand, and carry it home if I have to.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,026 Posts
A note, my body style fits with Colin Chapman's nickname "Chunky" (of course never to his face). I fit my 7 series 1 at 5'8" 250# although I fit better at 230#.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,294 Posts
Mike,

Not all of them are "too fragile." There are many vintage Seven racers around that are pretty stout cars. Think of them as old.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
12,140 Posts
The part you won't want to hear: Your first two full sentences lead me to say: Save your money; interest rates will rise and the best time to put $$ away is EARLY.

And, if you're not planning on doing your own work, an older car can get expensive to run.

I had a RH drive S2 7; it was no problem...except that I was next to other drivers who seemed to have endless supply of questions/comments. Promixty bred this. Plenty of LH avail.

Best handling car i drove, save the Formula car @ Bertil Roos.

1. Light: easy on tires. Pretty simple cars, but age takes its toll on everything. Body: Fenders, nose bolt on, but tub is riveted alum and not cheap, not easy.

2. RH was even ok during passing, with such a narrow, nimble car.

3. Series 4s are unpopular, due to poor body style, but i can't remember which chassis are stronger. When I visited Caterham, i heard all about the arguments over which body to reproduce; you see the results.

4. did you check for sales here?

5. Oh yeah, even v6s.

When I had the Elan and the 7, I mostly drove the Elan as the wind buffeting on the 7 was disruptive (moved my glasses and beard) at 60 mph, but I figured out a bit how to fix that. Also, my particular Elan was faster in a straight line, but would not outhandle the 7; I also took trips in both: Much easier in an Elan.

Note that a few here regetted selling their 7s for elises and Mopho, for ex, bought a 7 (instead of an Elise) and is selling his beautfiul Elan.

Invest a few bucks in driving school and, if you like, learn to fix stuff yourself.

Last: Can you fit comfortably in a 7???
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,026 Posts
Dean,

I call dibs on your S1 when you sell it. I'm close enough that I will pick it up in person, cash in hand, and carry it home if I have to.
My wife offered it to the Barber museum for $100,000. I will extend the same deal to you. I am also willing to trade it straight up for a Lotus F1 car, preferably a 49 but will consider others.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,294 Posts
My wife offered it to the Barber museum for $100,000. I will extend the same deal to you. I am also willing to trade it straight up for a Lotus F1 car, preferably a 49 but will consider others.
Put me in front of Barber. I'm saving my pennies rotfl...

Seriously, if you ever do want to sell it (for less than $100K), let me know first. I called dibs ;).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,294 Posts
Mike,

I just read Dean's input in his first post above. I have to disagree with the Lotus 7 S3 being the most common. The S3 is by far the most common of the Sevens but only because that is the body style that Caterham chose to make after they got the rights to the car from Lotus in 1974. Caterham made some number (can't recall exactly right now) in the high teens/low twenties of the S4 then reverted back to the S3 style. "Original Lotus" S3s are not that common at all. Most of the S3s that you will find are Caterhams. If you are interested in an S3 and want an original Lotus you have to be very careful. PM me if you get to that point and I will walk you through that process. Lotus only made 340 of the S3s. Caterham has made a whole lot more of them. Original Lotus S1s - 243 cars made, S2s - 1310, S3s - 340, S4s - 650.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,294 Posts
S3 and S4 are really different cars. Similar, but different enough... the S4 changed in many different aspects: bodywork, frame, etc.

Again, remember you have to be careful with "original Lotus" S3s as many of them are Caterhams that have been rebadged.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
234 Posts
My bank account has been taunting me about a Caterham too.

The good news is that if you need to order parts from the UK, the exchange rate hasn't been this good in a long time. It dropped again today to around $1.40 per pound.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,041 Posts
If you want to know about Sevens....all the types.....I dont mean to blow my own horn...but I am the guy to ask.

I have owned most of them except for the Series 4. I have driven them all except for the Series 1 which is Deans car.

First, you must realize the the Lotus Seven is a 40 year old car and drives like one. they are fragile and not that fast. And you would not want to ruin the value by changing engines. If you want a fantasic Series 3 with LHD...one of my best friend is thinking of selling his...but he will want in the low to mid 30's for it...but the car is PERFECT.

The early Caterham cars are pretty much like the early Sevens...but that changed in I think 91 (might have been the late 80's) with the introduction of the dedion rear end.

I have a 93 Caterham and it is fun car to drive. Rides great and has a real race car feel. I have put thousands of miles on it. I like the 91-95 cars best because I feel they feel more like race cars.

In 96 and 97 Caterham slightly changed the suspension and made it more forgiving. They also started to introduce the Zetec into the cars.

1200 lb car and 220HP...takes your breath away. Caterham cars now come with Duratecs

About 1998 Birkin came in with their Seven. Built true to the early Seven with a bit more polish. Most Birkins now have the Zetec motor.

Birkin has just introduced a IRS (independent rear suspension). What a great car. They put Duratecs in them and they fly.

Here is the pricing story....

Old Sevens...they now go for in the mid to late 20's. Soon in the 30's. 91 to 95 XFlow caterhams go for in the mid 20's. Cars that have been converted to Zetecs go for in the late 20's. I know of a few for sale right now.


The later Caterhams.....2000 and later with 220 hP Zetecs go for in the early 40's to late 40's. Great cars and my best friend is a dealer and is selling his demo. Call me if you are intersted in that one.

A new Caterham will cost you about 60K out the door...again...my best friend is a dealer for them.

Now.....

Lets talk about Birkin. I am a little self serving here because I am becoming involved with Birkin. If you want one...I can get it for you.

You can get a brand new Brikin with a 225-275HP Durtec for the highr 20's to mid 30's depending on equipment. It has IRS and a fully adjustable pedal assembly and you should be able to fit no problem.

The 275HP Birkin is like driving a race car and it accelerates at breath taking speed. 0-60 in about 3 secs.

If any of these things interest you......send me an email. my email address is my first name at lotusowners.com

There is not much I dont know about the Seven.....I am light on the early Lotus cars because they do not interest me....but Caterhams and Birkins...I am pretty good. You can see some of these cars and a bunch of other 7 stuff on the LOONY website.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,041 Posts
My bank account has been taunting me about a Caterham too.

The good news is that if you need to order parts from the UK, the exchange rate hasn't been this good in a long time. It dropped again today to around $1.40 per pound.

but you cannot buy a Caterham in the UK and bring it here. You have to buy it from a US dealer.

You cannot get Caterham to sell you the car directly. I am not saying that you could not get a friend or relative to buy it for you in France or Sweeden.....then sell it to you...but then you have to get it over here and the intermeidate taxes will probably make it not worthwhile.

You cannot bring in a used car. Aganist the law. and if you dismantle it....that is a very grey area. You may or may not get it in. Wont know till you buy the car...get it to the dock....and then try to get it out of customs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Take a look at the California Caterham Club site for more information,you can make a post with your questions or try this link Ordering a Caterham...what should I get? - California Caterham Club Forum
The folks on the USA7s site will be glad to chip in with advice too. If you plan on attending the LOG in Birmingham there should be several 7s there, USA7s was planning a national 7s get together in Branson,MO but it was scrapped and will be held in conjunction with the LOG. For a good look at what makes up a Caterham I recommend The Caterham Project - Build Site for a 2004 Caterham DeDion SVT , it shows the build of a 7 from arriving in boxes to finished car. Are you set on getting a Lotus or Caterham? The Stalker is a 7 clone that gives the best bang for the buck, they advertise on the USA7 site and clicking on the ad takes you to the Stalker site. The Stalker uses may GM parts including supercharged and naturally aspirated V6 engines.Good Luck, Mike
 
1 - 20 of 81 Posts
Top