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The Story of my 1963 Lotus 7 S2

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  • The Story of my 1963 Lotus 7 S2

    I was planning to post this a little later, but there's enough activity going on I figured I'd forget if I didn't start logging it here.

    About 2.5 Years ago, I sold my Caterham Classic to fund the purchase of our house. I'd always loved the Caterham, but I'd lusted after an original Lotus 7 to do some Vintage Racing.

    Last June I had the opportunity to fly out to Dallas to look at a 1963 Lotus Super 7 S2 Vintage Race Car.





    Here are the specs as purchased:
    1963 Lotus 7 S2 with additional triangulation
    Crowther Racing Engines Built Pre-Crossflow: Dry Sump, Dual Weber 40's, MSD ignition
    3.9 Rear end with Quaife LSD (spare 3.5 with Quaife ready to bolt on)
    Quaife Dog-Box Transmission
    1008 pounds
    2 sets of Minilites (1 set magnesium)
    Extras: Full Interior and weather gear, 1700cc long rebuilt, baffled pan, spare axle among lots of other spares.

    It was owned by a gentleman in his 70's that could no longer go vintage racing. He had owned the car since 1988 and had driven it a little on the street, but mostly it was a race car. I was told it had been in an accident in 2004 (not surprising since it had been a race car) and had been totally rebuilt over the course of 3 years. Due to the large number of spares and the heavy spare long block, I couldn't find anyone willing to ship it for me.

    I inspected the car, made a deal, grabbed a rental truck and trailer, removed all the bodywork (to minimize stone chips), loaded it up and headed over to a friend's place right outside of Dallas. I had planned to do a 2 day, 1800 mile drive so I could minimize the time away from work.



    I set off from Dallas and made my way across Hwy 40 without any problem until I started to smell anti-freeze at the texas/new mexico border. I pulled over and had a look, but couldn't find any coolant leak, so I kept on. I drove a while, but the smell kept getting stronger and stronger. It turns out the heater core was soaking the car cover I'd set in the passenger footwell. There was nowhere to stop, so I kept on (hoping for the best) until I got to Albuquerque at about 8pm. I had only covered about 700 miles, so I figured it was going to turn into a 3 day trip. I called the rental company to have the truck fixed the next morning, but since it was a Sunday nobody was around to fix it. They sub-contracted a mechanic that looked like he was from the cast of breaking bad to come out and take a look, but a new heater core was 2-3 days away. Luckily, I was able to convince them to bypass the heater core and I was on my merry way. I left Albuquerque around 10AM and was able to drive straight through 1100 miles to San Jose where I arrived at 4am Monday morning and unloaded the car. I did get up at 7am for work on Monday morning and made it all the way through the workday.

    I'll post more in the next few days...
    Last edited by GWise; December 9, 2013, 09:02 AM.

  • #2
    Well, I guess I'm the 1st to offer congratulations. So, congratulations! Well bought - there ain't nothing like the real thing as the song goes.

    For the record, I'm from Albuquerque (lovingly referred to as Al-co-hol-que. Hic!). Your experience there should be considered normal. I hope you had some green chile stew while there. Yum.
    Chris
    ------------
    A day you don't go a hundred is a day wasted

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks Chris. It was 90 degrees in Albuquerque when I arrived at 8pm, so I wasn't in the mood for stew. I really thought Albuquerque and the rest of western NM was beautiful and plan to stay for a longer duration in the near future.

      After getting home, I found a name and address on a few boxes. As it turns out, the name wasn't quite spelled right, but I was able to find him since he was the president of bucknell university. I few tries to email and phone numbers listed were no good. I found his wife's name through a newspaper article and through looking her up, I was lucky enough to finally get through to him.

      Apparently he bought the car in 1973 around Tulsa, OK and raced it throughout the 70's and 80's, finally selling it to the gentleman I purchased it from in 1988. He said it had been restored in the early 80's by a shop called Ecurie Motors. Ecurie was run by Peter Law, an ex-penske mechanic and father of future grand-am driver darren law. He did confirm that the car was a cosworth (I have the cosworth valve cover), but said he couldn't remember who he bought it from or what the history of the car was.

      He was able to send me some pictures of the car as he first purchased it:



      Interesting Cage, isn't it? I'm still trying to locate the car's history prior to 1973, but I haven't had much luck.
      Last edited by GWise; December 9, 2013, 11:06 AM.

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      • #4
        Should be lots of fun... enjoy

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        • #5
          Try contacting simplesevens.org about the your car's history, here is a link http://www.simplesevens.org Very nice car and looks to be in great shape.

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          • #6
            Very cool. Beautiful car. It'd be fun to compare notes with you regarding my unrestored old '62 S2.
            EscondidoRon

            '62 Lotus Seven
            '84 Turbo Esprit (x2)
            '14 Evora
            '77 Esprit S1 (RIP) :(

            "A man must keep a little back shop where he can be himself without reserve. In solitude alone can he know true freedom." -Michel De Montaigne 1588

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            • #7
              Hi breezy,

              I've contacted John, but he doesn't have any further information (nor does the lotus 7 registry) about my car. I've sent him the info on my site in hopes that someone may stumble across it eventually.

              Ron - I'd be happy to chat with you and thank you. It's not quite as beautiful at the moment, but I'm working on it.

              Thanks Mondo.

              Since the bank account still needs to recover, I decided to put off vintage racing for a few years and enjoy the car on the street. I'd rather not run the car on Race Gas and the dog ring transmission/tilton racing clutch is no good for the street.

              Titling the car in California with a 1988 Title from Texas was interesting. The title was basically a piece of paper that said 1963 Lotus Super 7 and the chassis number. The whole process took 2 DMV trips and about 3 hours to get done. They put the VIN down as the chassis number, paid my dues and I was on my way. Seems all they really want is your money after all.

              The next problem was sourcing a head to be able to run on pump gas. Unfortunately that large supply of spares didn't include a head. I asked around with local Lotus 7 owners and managed to come across a 116e head that needed to be welded up for free.. I took it in to the machine shop, waited about 3 months, then they had it welded, waited another 2 months and they did the porting, cut and installed larger valve seats (hardened for exhaust), installed the valve guides and did the port match. I am running Twin Cam Valves as even big GT valves are a still bit small and hard to come by. Since the long block has a cast Crank, I don't plan on spinning it really high.I didn't do a whole bunch of trick things to the head yet for this reason. If I had known it was going to take this long, I would have waited as I saw some decent heads come and go on ebay for much less than I spent.



              I had planned to run the baffled wet sump on the street, but I cant seem to find a dipstick and tube for the pre-crossflow. This is forcing me to run a dry sump on the street. It isn't such a bad thing as I'll get more ground clearance this way. The problem is the oil tends to drain from the sump to the bottom of the tank. Do any of you guys that run dry sumps have this problem? How did you solve it?

              I was able to source an old lotus elan transmission that had run low on oil and had been sitting in a shed for a good 15 years. I pulled it apart, replaced the main bearings, roller bearings on the layshaft and all the seals. I was expecting the gears and synchros to be pretty worn, but it actually looked really good. We'll see how much noise it makes when I get it running. The 3/4 shift fork was pretty worn, but I had a spare that wasn't too bad. I plan to have the old one braised back to the original height and machined flat.



              The other thing I found when I pulled the motor was that the transmission mounting on the tailshaft was different. The prior owner had adapted the E-Type Motor mounts for use on this transmission, but the elan transmission had a different mount on the tailshaft. Unfortunately, the recess for the bearing does not allow the tailshafts to simply be swapped, so I bought an elan motor mount for the later style transmission and my next job will be figuring out how to mount it in the car.
              Older Style

              Newwer Style


              I thought the head was my rate limiting step until I had a closer look at the chassis...

              Comment


              • #8
                Not sure I would describe the black transmission as "old" and the bluish one as "new". Here's a pic of the transmission in my '62 taken when I had the engine out to install a new clutch this past summer:


                Note that the mount boss on the tailshaft housing casting on your bluish unit looks very much like like the one on my transmission.

                As far as I know, the 113e 'box fitted to my car is the original unit. The 113e Type 4 transmission dates to about September of '62 from what I have read. According to Lotus records my car was originally shipped from Cheshunt in December of that year.
                EscondidoRon

                '62 Lotus Seven
                '84 Turbo Esprit (x2)
                '14 Evora
                '77 Esprit S1 (RIP) :(

                "A man must keep a little back shop where he can be himself without reserve. In solitude alone can he know true freedom." -Michel De Montaigne 1588

                Comment


                • #9
                  Interesting about the transmission mount. All the elan transmissions have the block of aluminum, so I assumed the one with the 2 bolts and jaguar motor mount was the old style. Either way, I've figured out a way to make it work.

                  Just before I had the motor out I discovered this:



                  I found someone to do the braise welding, but he is about an hour away. Two weekends now he's called me at the last minute to say he doesn't have room in the shop. My ability to get this done by the new year is slowly slipping away...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by GWise View Post
                    Interesting about the transmission mount. All the elan transmissions have the block of aluminum, so I assumed the one with the 2 bolts and jaguar motor mount was the old style. Either way, I've figured out a way to make it work.

                    Just before I had the motor out I discovered this:

                    I found someone to do the braise welding, but he is about an hour away. Two weekends now he's called me at the last minute to say he doesn't have room in the shop. My ability to get this done by the new year is slowly slipping away...
                    At least I'm not the only one who has had to wait on a welder.:-O

                    I hope you've looked everywhere. If you've got to do it once you don't want to have to do it again. It looks like a lot of paint on that frame...
                    Chris
                    ------------
                    A day you don't go a hundred is a day wasted

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                    • #11
                      Time for a bit of an update:

                      I was able to drop off the car just after christmas. It was supposed to be done last weekend, but he still hasn't started.

                      After I purchased all my parts, I realized that the "expert" that sold me the headgasket didn't quite know what he was talking about. Running the static compression with this head gasket put me at 11:1. I was targeting just under 10.5 to run on pump gas, so I found a thicker headgasket from burton power that puts me at 10.2:1. The same guy sent me pressure plate bolts that were fine instead of coarse thread.

                      After painting the head, I realized the supplied paint doesn't quite match the block. I'm headed down to the auto parts store today to see if I can find something that more closely matches.

                      Test fitting of the head showed that shims were needed between the rocker posts and the head. I made up a few from sheet steel and added a hole for oiling.

                      Anyway, I'm waiting again. Hopefully the gasket should get here in the next few days and I can finish putting together the engine and bolt up the transmission.



                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The head color looks like a GM orange from the 60's.

                        How did you determine the compression ratio?

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                        • #13
                          Yeah, I agree it looks quite orange in the photo. It doesn't actually look that orange to me, but maybe I'm going color blind...

                          For the compression ratio, I used Dave Bean's calculation listed in his parts manual. (sorry, scanner is broken)


                          I also used this online calculator to back up my calculation: http://www.csgnetwork.com/compcalc.html
                          Last edited by GWise; January 19, 2014, 07:28 PM.

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                          • #14
                            By the way doug, I spotted this while doing some googling the other day:

                            http://motormavens.com/2012/05/super...oodland-hills/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by GWise View Post
                              By the way doug, I spotted this while doing some googling the other day:

                              http://motormavens.com/2012/05/super...oodland-hills/
                              Well, I guess that Doug's famous now. And the dude in the Locost was probably pulled for no license plate - at least there were none visible in the photos.

                              Was that one frame failure point the only one?
                              Chris
                              ------------
                              A day you don't go a hundred is a day wasted

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