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						Lotus Seven A8

1962 Lotus Seven A Survivor

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, Hemmings

Starting with an Austin 7 chassis and some plywood, Colin Chapman built his first race car and went on to forge his own path in motorsport guided by the philosophies of simplifying and adding lightness. His firm Lotus Cars has many significant accomplishments in motorsport to its credit, but the Lotus Seven just might be his most influential contribution to automotive history. This 1962 Lotus Seven on Hemmings Classifieds is a true survivor, having spent roughly 35 years disassembled in a garage, and has very few modifications from its original spec.

The Seven wasn’t really designed as some secret skunkworks model to take racing circuits by storm. Instead, the Seven was conceived as an entry-level money maker so Lotus could pay the bills of its more serious competition efforts. The first Sevens were built in 1957 using a 40 hp, 1,172 cc Ford side-valve engine and a tubular chassis heavily based on the Lotus Eleven. By 1960, Lotus had debuted an upgraded S2 model, along with a Super Seven S2 model in 1961 fit with 1,340 cc Cosworth-modified Ford engine. Subsequent iterations were fit with 1,498 and 1,599 cc engines.

Probably the most interesting aspect of the Seven’s production was Lotus’ knocked-down, kit car approach to sales. Basically, Lotus could avert a tax surcharge by selling the cars disassembled, or knocked-down. Lotus could not however, supply assembly instructions through this loophole, so they instead elected to include disassembly instructions, which buyers followed in reverse to assemble their cars. This approach worked until 1973, when the United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community, which changed its tax structure and ended the loophole.

The concept of a stripped-down affordable driving machine is as attractive now as ever, and Caterham cars has been offering Seven kits since the 1970s. What we don’t see often, are survivor Sevens like this one seen on Hemmings Classifieds. It’s a 1962 model fit with its original 948 cc Austin engine with twin SU H-1 carburetors, smooth-case manual transmission and four-wheel drum brakes. The car’s original owner was an aerospace engineer in southern California who daily drove the car. Originally finished in raw aluminum with a yellow nose and fenders, the seller reports that the original owner painted the car blue. The car was dissembled at some point, and was stored for approximately 35 years in the owner’s garage before being purchased by its second owner, who performed a sympathetic mechanical restoration. While items like the dings, dents and blue paint were left alone, the seller did repair and upgrade the car’s ignition, braking and clutch systems, while preserving as much of the car’s history as possible. He event went as far as repacking the original muffler instead of replacing it.

After 13 years of ownership, the car’s odometer reads 39,500 miles, and the seller states that the car is ready for its next custodian. The ’62 Seven asks 45,500 here on Hemmings Classifieds.

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Lotus Lotus Seven