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The Soul of the Seven

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  • The Soul of the Seven

    Seven Owners

    The Soul of the Seven

    I had the privilege of visiting ARCH Motor last week during my visit to England.
    Leslie and were the guests of Roger and Barbara Swift, whom I met
    at the NASA event at Button Willow CA in October.**Roger and Barbara are Seven owners and Roger has been the President of the Lotus 7 Club of England.**They very kindly went far out of their way to arrange a tour of ARCH and provide us with a beautiful day I shall never forget

    Bruce Robinson the son of Bob Robinson one of the founders met us at the door and patiently answered all our questions showed us the entire plant, introduced us to his 2 brothers and some of the lads who have made our, that would be yours and my, chassis. Some of the lads have been working there for 40 years.**Imagine what they have done and seen ?* The factory is clean organized and continues to build chassis for production, the Ariel Atom for example, prototypes and repair bent 7's.**

    Visiting ARCH was**a**dream . When you**enter the front door there is a**list on the wall, Lotus, Caterham, Brabham, McLaren, Elva, Lola, Ford, Cooper, Chevron, March, Ariel, Ford,**Ralt. my order, to name a few,which begs the question of who designed and who drove those cars.

    My hero Jim Clark, no combination of skill and sportsmanship has existed before or since.* Actually they are all my heroes.
    Dan Gurney, Jack Brabham, Graham Hill, Denny Hulme, Jackie Stewart, Bruce McLaren, John Surtees, David Hobbs, Richie Ginther, the list goes on.**
    As for Designers Chapman - Lotus, Cooper, Broadley - Lola, McLaren still a major force. These names are the absolute top of the motor racing world.

    No company in the world has been at such a pivotal point in this time of Motor racing.**The partial lists above speak to this very clearly. For me the most important and unchanging component of the Seven is its frame made by ARCH Motor, because it is the direct dna of all its predecessors.**

    *A space frame is, form following function like an Olympic sprinter in motion,**a piece of music by Bach, a building by Mies van der Rohe, a painting by Vermeer.* **My Classic would raise no eyebrows at a 7 meeting in 1968 and still in my unskilled hands has beaten many “ better cars “, including all the Cobra replicas that have shown up at our local autocross, with about 90 hp.

    Our Seven is unique in the world.**There will never be anything like it.**No other car designed in a weekend, but dreamed about for years before that.**Saved by the Nearn’s banned by the SCCA as too fast,**The quintessential combination of hot rod , prototype race car and British pluck.**

    The beauty of the the seven is, it is no more or less than its frame and skin, an aluminum skin**magically wrapped around the hand fitted steel tubing and beautifully bronze welded joints.**The connection to the golden age of racing that I studied dreamed about in Road and Track, another victim of globalization, is clear and bright every time I look at and drive my Seven.

    Which brings me to the point of this novella.**As you may know Caterham has been purchased by an investment group.**One of the first things that the management did was to announce that Seven frames would no longer be made by Arch Motor but by a modern company with the very latest in tooling.**That company was set up to use the latest laser cutters, cnc and robots to make the frames.* Apparently the robots are having trouble, no information is available to me as to when the first robot frames will be available. *A great deal of skill and knowledge goes into making a seven frame, why fix something that " aint broke ".

    To me THE SOUL OF THE SEVEN is its chassis which to me is hand made by the same Englishmen who had beers in their pubs with and shook the hands of Jim Clark, Colin Chapman and all of the above not to mention the hundreds of unnamed players who are just as vital links in the chain.**I want a Seven that is made by hand that old racers slip into like a pair of old shoes not made in some soulless workshop of Sauron.

    Apparently Caterham’s new owners have little idea why we spend so much money on a car that was designed 50 years ago, is hardly practical, struggle to get it liscenced in California, race it fix it, upgrade, it fix drive it, fix it show it, fix it take friends for rides and still love it and encourage others to join us in our mad dogs and Englishmen obsession.

    Will you all join me in writing to Caterham and telling them about your feelings for the Seven
    and why it means so much to you.**And why ARCH Motor is the crucial nexus of our Seven.**As Roger and Barbara say “ It’s the people we have met while driving our Seven that have made all the difference ".

    Respectfully Yours*
    Rod Lingren*
    11 - 16 - 06

    Contact me at*
    [email protected]

  • #2
    We don't need no steenking robots!!!!!!!!!!


    • #3
      If you consider the possible Caterham frame variations that are needed: crossflow, vauxhall, K series, MG, zetec, duratec (times) classic, dedion, csr, SV, multiplied by rhd, lhd.....

      Well, you get the picture I think. Programming that newfangled crap to do all these variations will cost considerable time and $$$ (OK, figure it out in BP or Euros). There is a traditional company that is part of the heritage that should be being respected by the financiers.

      Arch Motors already knows all this stuff and has made/fixed 7s since 1959. I own a 7 because it ain't a mainstream factory made lump of metal. Anybody @ Caterham listening?

      Fire the beancounters and bring back the traditional craftsmen that ARE what the 7 has always been made from.

      Corven is in over its head and getting in deeper. Sell it back to the Nearns or some one that likes the cars and isn't just looking for their investment exit strategy.


      • #4
        As a bean counter, I can understand the desire to streamline business.... but at the same time I/we recently upgraded our systems at work to the tune of $5M (5,000,000). We didnt realize all the cost totals until we were in to deep.

        I hope the count all the cost before they take the leap to modernize.

        On another note, I'm only weeks away from taking my 7 on it maiden voyage.... been working on it for 18 months and it's almost done.


        • #5
          You are not a number!!


          • #6
            Well, you could simply add a robot-built chassis to the list of variants. Personally I don't see any reason why not. I think that a super precise race chassis built by machine would be a good idea but not all of the cars should be done that way. Arch has way too much history & historical memory (certainly more than the new owners of CC) to be cast completely aside in favor of robots.

            I guess they've had major trouble getting it all together. Caged went into recievership and were subsequently purchased by similar (if not the same) money that now owns CC. And i read that the Caged guy that actually builds the cages is off on his own doing same now.
            A day you don't go a hundred is a day wasted


            • #7
              Originally posted by moosetestbestanden
              .... I think that a super precise race chassis built by machine would be a good idea .....
              I would agree if I could believe this to be possible with current technology. There are things that a modern CNC machine or robot can do much better (e.g. more precise) than any human. But to convert a pile of tubes into a spaceframe by welding from all sides into nooks and crannies takes more than a precision programmed robot path. As long as the robot does not have the vision capabilities and the real time quality control and adaptability of a skilled welder/brazer all the precision is rather a problem than a help. At the end, the robot needs the tubes strapped to a jig, just like a welder and why should that become any more precise? Not to mention that some highly qualified technician probably will watch the robot to see that everything is going alright. So, where is the savings here? I don't think Arch will lose their business anytime soon, as long as Caterham survives the experiment.

              However, the laser cutting of the tubes is probably a good idea (as long as the utilization of the machinery guarantees payback). That's where precision, automatic handling and repeatability count.


              P.S.: In a previous life I was project manager for several comparable automation projects in Switzerland. In spite of sky-high labor cost only one of them ever paid back. While that is now 12 years ago, some of the major problem areas are still not addressed. The biggest is probably that you can fire a welder when business is bad but you can not fire the bank that financed your robot.


              • #8
                Maybe there is a dark master plan to change the Caterham to a unibody construction... Robots can weld those much better