For someone whose mantra was adding lightness to make his cars go faster, Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman sure was weighted down by his hefty moniker. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe home-built homage goes simply by Seven, but does it carry a price tag that's way too heavy?
Hydrox is a cookie, Hilux is a pickup, got that? Good. Also good, apparently, was the price on yesterday's rusty-bedded 1986 Toyota Hilux, which, despite its Swiss cheese-ification, managed to take away a slim 55% Nice Price win. Following the similar result for Monday's Mazda, that makes it this week: Japan 2, haters zip.
That Toyota was rendered lighter due to its ongoing (and in the case of its bed, losing) battle with oxidation, while today's home built homage to the vision of one Colin Chapman has had lightness added on purpose. The Lotus Mark VI, like all of Chapman's designs of the fifties, were products of his background in structural engineering gained in studies at UCL. At 55-pounds the frame for the VI weighed less than a single Chuck Norris testicle, and the whole car in street trim came in at a svelte 942-lbs. That was even with all the Ford Prefect bits that made it go, stop and turn. At a little over 1,100 pounds the successor Seven was a relative lard-ass by comparison, but despite having some of its lightness removed it was still a car that was at comfortably at home on both track and - at least for monastic commuters - the street.
In avoidance of a British tax on cars, both the VI and Seven were sold as knock-down kits, designed to readily accept any number of off the shelf engines, gearboxes, and jaunty cap-wearing drivers. Today that tradition continues, and in fact with only 2,500 official cars actually ever offered, there are now hundreds more homages than real Lotus editions littering the globe.
This MGB-filled Seven clone is among those latter cars. As noted, the original Lotus Seven was built to accept any number of engines, and commonly they would get either Ford or BMC powerplants. This one has the 1,800-cc engine and 4-speed transmission out of an MGB, and before you go lamenting the loss of another sports car for the creation of this one it should be noted that the donor was a rubber bumper ‘74, a version of the MGB blighted by both those black protrusions and a heightened ride allowing it to meet then current federal bumper and headlight standards. tl;dr, no big loss.
Sporting yellow fiberglass and bare aluminum bodywork, what there is of it, this clone appears to be the spitting image of its progenitor. And spitting while diving it will be ill advised as aside from a modest windscreen and a pair of snug-fitting high-backed buckets there's little protection from either the elements or your own expectoration blow-back.
That of course is part of the charm of a Seven and this B-suspended kit seems to embody all of that. The ad details its history, noting that it was built ten years ago and originally titled in convertible unfriendly Oregon. The bonus here is that it is currently cleanly titled in California, registered as a smog exempt ‘63 Lotus. The seller also offers pictures of the car not only at rest but also in action in a parking lot gymkhana, and if that doesn't give you a chubby for this beast nothing will.
This car is probably still under 1,200-pounds and that B-series engine, with its two-barrel down-draught carb, should be good for about 100 horsepower - just a guess - and the 5-main four is capable of plenty more with some simple deep breathing exercises. As it sits this is one of the few cars where your own weight could make a significant difference in its performance, so layoff the Ding Dongs, m'kay?
Even if you don't need to add lightness to yourself, slipping behind the wheel of this apparently tidy and sorted Seven will require added lightness to your wallet, to the tune of $16,999. In comparison to a Caterham - the official Seven clone - which usually command $25K-plus, that seems pretty reasonable. Of course, when compared to riding a stolen shopping trolly down a steep hill, which would offer similar sphincter-tightening thrills, that's a lot of money.
But this Seven clone offers many more thrills than does a wire cart from the Piggly Wiggly, and for that we need to consider the value of its price. What do you think, is this clone worth nearly seventeen thousand bones? Or, is this a kit requiring far too much caboodle?
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