Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 6th November 2017

Lotus were known for their ‘performance through lightness’ motto, and perhaps the car that represented it best was the Lotus Seven. Created by company founder Colin Chapman, the Seven had a lightweight body and it doubled as a road legal and clubmans racing car. The original model sold over 2,500 units and it inspired a kit version called a sevenesque roadster. We’ve decided to take a look at the history of this iconic motor.

The magnificent Seven

The Seven got its name from an abandoned Lotus model that would have been entered into the 1952 Formula Two race. It was introduced in 1957 and had a similar tubular frame to the Lotus Mark VI. The Seven came with a Ford 1172 cc side-valve engine, which propelled it from 0 – 60 in sixteen seconds. Combined with nimble handling, the Seven became an effective clubmans racing car.

Lotus needed to keep making money in order to build successful racing cars, and the Seven was never designed for the track. The Super Seven’s introduction in 1960 was based on keeping building costs as low as possible. The Super Seven possessed a 1097 cc Coventry Climax engine, giving the car a racing advantage.

Too fast to race

In 1973, Lotus had established itself as the most innovative Formula 1 constructor, but the Seven no longer fit with the luxury direction Chapman wanted for his company. He sold the production rights to Caterham Cars and they kept the traditional Seven design for almost a decade. By 1976, the RAC had banned the Seven from racing in the UK because it kept winning. This inspired Caterham to product t-shirts that read ‘too fast to race.’

The first major change to the Seven came in 1985 with the inclusion of the De Dion back axle. In 1986, the engine was updated to a 170 bhp Cosworth BDR. The 1990s saw the introduction of the 1.4 K-series and Seven JPE, with the latter setting a new 0 – 60 world record of 3.44 seconds.

The Lotus Seven’s design was so popular that it inspired many imitations on the kit car market and a lot of them are produced to this day. Some of the models include the Almac Clubsprint, Fraser Clubman, Hispano Aleman, DAX Rush, Lucalia Clubman and Hauser.