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I have a dream

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  • I have a dream

    A thoroughly insane one, but a dream nonetheless.

    Ever since I saw one... somewhere (I can't remember where), I've been infatuated with the Seven. I'd like to say that my love affair with the Seven is what keeps me from having actual love affairs, but unfortunately there are other factors at work.

    Other than the fact that I'm 6'2", I'm almost ideally suited to own a Caterham - I'm rather mechanically inclined, having opted to rebuild the engine in my shop class on my own in favour of having my progress hindered by a bunch of wrench-banging proletariats, I love driving, I'm fairly good at it (the instructor at the track driving course I did called me an "absolute natural"), and I should probably stop talking about myself before my ego expands to the point of knocking over my computer, thus forcing me to write this again.

    Also, I am quite the lunatic, running an hour every single day regardless of weather or physical condition. I would not mind being in the freezing wind and rain waiting for a green light (although I would mind actually waiting for a green light).

    Moreover, I want the Seven to be my first car, and since I'm 16, the time is nearly upon me. Since I live in Canada, I technically start driving on my own when I'm seventeen, and I'll probably only scrounge up enough money for what I want by the time I'm 18.

    My budget will probably be around 11-12 grand, although my dad, being a car guy himself (his first car was an Alfa GTV, which is undrivable unless you really, really love cars), has agreed to spot me a bit of cash.

    I've been looking at the "Locost", and other than the rather alarming red flag that is the name "Locost", it actually looks pretty good. I have a few questions, though, since I have found little information elsewhere.

    1. Will I die painfully or quickly when the aluminum chassis snaps?
    2. Do you know anything about this kit?
    3. Would I be better off just shelving my dreams and ambitions and reduce my dream car to a picture and the wall and a depressingly large collection of books about Caterhams?

    Furthermore, I need an engine. Ideally, I'd have an Alfa engine, because there the only worthwhile part of an Alfa Romeo. Now now, before you all start screaming "OMGWTFDOHC!!!!" like a bunch of cokehead howler monkeys (like everyone else on the internets), hear me out - Alfa engines sound awesome. Also, my father says you can get a fair amount of grunt out of an Alfa L4 without much work.

    Then again, he bought a Lambourghini Uracco as his only car, so what does he know.

    I want to rip one out of an old rusty 164, because those things are everywhere, and 140 horsepower is just plenty, but there's the issue of it normally being mounted laterally, since it's a FWD car, and the odd orientation of the gearbox. Plus, I'd somehow have to forge out a prop shaft from a solid lump of iron myself.

    An engine from a GTV would be great, 'cept a good one of those costs about as much as a fully-equipped army for a medium-sized country, and I'd be spending most of my time on the shoulder, concealed beneath my shame and a large cloud of steam.

    Any suggestions? Does anyone know if you can shoehorn one of those tiny V6s from, say, a GTV6 into it? Should I perhaps sell a kidney and buy a crossflow DOHC nuclear-powered Cosworth thing?

  • #2
    Max: A few points of interest: The frame is welded steel tubes, not aluminum tube. Still, crashing is not advised! Ford motors offer the path of least resistance because a lot of 7s already have them and the needed parts like a bellhousing, trans, propshaft, diff, etc. are available at reasonable cost. Fabricating and modifying such components can get very expensive if you really want to reinvent the wheel; not recommended. Among the Ford motors the duratec and SVT zetec, in that order, are the best modern alternatives and likely to make power easier than a crossflow/Cosworth at a lower cost. Definitely advised! Cosworth offers duratec mods that are very good. If you feel the need to have some fun under the bonnet a motorcycle engine will give you high RPMs and a glorious sound. There is a Caterham dealer in BC that specializes the bike engine adaptations. A google dearch should turn him up.

    Good luck! It will be a project that will stay with you for a lifetime.

    Comment


    • #3
      Welcome Max,

      Although one of our members have a Locost, built by himself, I know almost nothing about this kit. Wikipedia has a rather lengthy article on it, though.

      As the saying goes over in Britan: A Seven is about as safe as having sex with a chainsaw. A roll cage is strongly recommended together with a sturdy race seat.

      You should definitely go for a Seven, even if it probably will take longer than expected to get it on the road. I second Brad's advice to go with proven parts and select a drivetrain others have used before you. Fords and Miatas are the most popular donors. Check out what your kit manufacturer recommends.

      One way to spread the cost is to buy bits and pieces as you build. Investing all the money up front may be unnecessary since it will take a long time just to get the rolling chassis done.

      Good luck, and don't hesitate to ask us if you think we can help!

      /Magnus F.

      Comment


      • #4
        Max, great age to start with a Se7en. Although I got interested in one at your age I wasted 30 more years before I actually bought one.

        Your budget probably will not allow for one of the more finished kits and even decent used ones are hard to get by for 11 grand. The Locost route is probably very rewarding but be aware that it takes an enormous amount of persistence and a bit of skill (can be acquired) to build a car from scratch.

        Assuming you have finished the car and want to take it to the track I think you are on a good way to become the next F1 champion. If you want to take such a car on the road I would cringe because that takes more than natural driving skill but also the patience acquired in a few 100,000 miles. No insult intended but guys of your age have a nasty habit of getting killed in fast cars. But obviously that can happen just as well in a Scooby or riding a sports bike. Oh well, you won't listen anyway ;-)

        Some more resources are:

        http://www.locostusa.com/forums/
        http://www.locostbuilders.co.uk/
        http://www.usa7s.org

        Obviously you can put any engine into any chassis but if you build something from scratch you can make it increasingly hard if you go for uncommon parts. Just sourcing the components can become an (expensive) nightmare.

        Good luck!

        Gert

        P.S.: Don't know where you live but there are a few Locost builders/owners in Canada. E.g I know one of them in Kelowna.
        Last edited by slomove; March 17, 2008, 10:03 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Max,

          Welcome to our wacky world! :) I would certainly go for it - even if it takes you a few more years to get the car you want.

          If this is your only car, and you are interested in building it yourself, I would think that a locost with a miata drive train is a good choice. It may not be as challenging as fitting an alfa engine - and may not sound as good, but it would be much easier (since its been done many times) and there are plenty of cheap miatas around.

          Personally I would love to build a bike engined car, but from what I have read, I don't think I would want one as an only car. The car engined sevens are much easier to drive. A bike engined seven would be lots of fun on the track though! ;)

          Also, they are rare, but I have seen some used Caterhams and Birkins going for not too much more than your budget (16-18K).

          Regarding V6 motors, there is the Brunton Stalker: http://www.bruntonauto.com/ although with such a light car, most sevens use 4cyl motors (which still give supercar performance!).

          Anyway, welcome to our community. Rest assured that whatever type of seven you decide upon, it will be a fun car!

          Tom
          Tom "ELV15" Jones
          http://PIErats.com

          Comment


          • #6
            The frame is welded steel tubes, not aluminum tube.
            Right... should've read the eBay page a bit better. I was wondering about that - I thought it was ludicrous to make a spaceframe out of monkeymetal.

            Fabricating and modifying such components can get very expensive if you really want to reinvent the wheel; not recommended.
            True, I could probably scrounge up many of the parts I need from one of the billions of mechanics I know, or just find some in a parking lot, stuck to the bottom of someone's car.

            A Seven is about as safe as having sex with a chainsaw.
            At least there's very little risk of STDs.

            The Locost route is probably very rewarding but be aware that it takes an enormous amount of persistence and a bit of skill (can be acquired) to build a car from scratch.
            From what I understand, you pretty much get most of everything you need from this "Locost" dealer, which is actually just a clone kit manufacturer that asks you to provide the engine, transmission, prop shaft, and Lemon-Pine air freshener.

            Allow me to list what "www.lightweightsportscars.com" provides, other than a horribly long URL:

            Two main side panels/floor
            Two tunnel/diff mounting panels
            Rear panel
            Rear shroud
            Scuttle
            Two dashboard options
            Firewall panels
            Tunnel top
            Tunnel bottom
            Two engine bay panels
            Engine mounting panels
            Engine bay diagonal panels
            Cockpit cross member
            Fillet panels
            Set of diff fillet panels
            Seat back panel
            Set of angle joining panels
            Four front cross members
            Four rear cross members
            Headlight mounting panels
            Spare wheel hoop
            Steering rack panel
            Front panel
            Front underside panel
            Body chassis jig board

            Wishbone Pack (Fully Independent)
            Four welded front wishbones
            Four welded rear wishbones
            16 inner tubes
            40 top hat Nylaspa bushes
            Screw in top ball joints and lock nuts (2)
            Pre-cut lower front wishbone plates (2)
            Lower front bolt on ball joints (2)
            Six plate set of rear hub carriers (drum brakes)
            Four long rear inner tubes
            Six threaded spindles
            Four spindle tubes
            Set of nyloc lock nuts
            Set of shock absorber brackets
            Suspension & Steering
            Set of four Zeemeride adjustable seat coil over dampers.
            Steering rack and brackets.

            Light Set
            Two chrome headlamp cases
            Two sealed beam units
            Two rear lamps
            Two motorcycle style front flasher lamps
            Two side repeaters
            One fog lamp
            One number plate lamp

            Fiberglass
            Set in either Red, Green OR Blue
            Nose cone
            Two rear arches
            Two front cycle wings

            Miscellaneous
            Pair of universal engine mounts
            Louvred aluminium bonnet
            Exhaust silencer
            Set of pendulum pedals
            Flyscreen and flyscreen base
            Maxcool radiator
            Electric fan
            Wing bracket material
            Four traditional bonnet catches
            Rear wing piping
            Shroud piping
            Pair of rear wing panels
            Back braced roll over bar
            Pair of stainless steel stone guards
            Assortment of bends to fabricate exhaust pipe
            Stainless steel exhaust cover
            Seat harness reinforcement members
            Black interior deluxe covering
            Black stiff back floor carpet
            600 piece fastener pack
            Nose cone badge


            And, perhaps most importantly:

            Extensive video or DVD instruction

            They also provide a brake set, Cobra-style rollbar, Ford Sierra diff and rear axles, fuel tank, windshield, and air freshener installation kit for a little extra.

            To my knowledge, there's very little missing, and according to them, it can be completed with conventional hand tools, no welding, and a handheld riveter. And their 99.2% satisfaction does fill me with a warm, happy feeling.

            If you want to take such a car on the road I would cringe because that takes more than natural driving skill but also the patience acquired in a few 100,000 miles. No insult intended but guys of your age have a nasty habit of getting killed in fast cars.
            Tell me about it. The main thing I worry about is Vancouver's inexplicable abundance of habitual tailgaters, because if a child, or worse, a dog darts out in front of me and I have to apply a bit of braking, my braking distance will be ridiculously short and the moron behind me will smack right into my fuel tank, ingeniously situated right at the back, Ford Pinto style.

            Mostly, though, it's the rich idiots with imitation Rolexes and hideous sunglasses, and their goddamn pointless Honda Civics, who think they're bloody Nigel Mansell because of the two modifications they made to their car: painted calipers and drums, and a totally useless but very noisy sport exhaust.

            But obviously that can happen just as well in a Scooby or riding a sports bike.
            Hell, I think I'm safer in a Caterham. At least if I lose control, my soft, supple flesh won't be padding my vehicle's impact. Not to mention, Caterhams (to my understanding - never driven one) have a lot more brake and grip to them than mind-blowing speed, so at least I'm not in one of those 8000 HP muscle cars that can indeed go very fast, in a straight line, but as soon as you want to stop going very fast, or worse, start going around a corner, you run right into a wall and end up with a big V8 ticking itself cool where your legs used to be.

            That said, I would only drive my Seven very fast on the track, and probably under our ridiculously low highway speed limit (around 48 MPH) if it's wet out, lest I break out and propel myself through the pearly gates and halfway across God's breakfast table before you can say hydroplaning.

            Anywho, thanks for the warm welcome, I do appreciate it (you put every other specialized forum to shame), and I hope to be posting here more often.

            Comment


            • #7
              Max

              From the lightweight sports car website, "Brand new for 2006, we’re proud to announce the all aluminum monocoque lightweight"

              If I read this correctly then there is no frame, the body and frame are one piece and from Aluminum. This method was / is used to great success if done correctly. I don't know the results if not done correctly nor how to tell the difference without building the car.

              Do you get the parts supplied all in one batch? Early kit plane makers were famous for supplying 1/2 of the parts before they went bankrupt leaving buyers with piles of junk.

              The real cost you should look at is not how much it cost to buy the car but the cost of ownership. The cost of the car minus what you can sell it for. Assuming all other factors as upgrades, operating costs, etc, being somewhat equal. Is there a resale market for this version of the Locost? You may plan on keeping it forever in which case this may have no bearing on your choice.

              Part of the reason I bought a Caterham is that you can pick up the phone and get any part you need for the car. The support from Caterham and the Lotus Seven Club http://www.lotus7club.co.uk/ (Blatchat) was invaluable.

              Does this car have such a support group made up of hundreds if not thousands of members?

              The nature of the Seven is the lighter the better. The traditional American way was 'MORE POWER' for the Lotus it is 'MORE LIGHTNESS' . You will probably be better off with a lightweight 4 cyl at 200 hp than a heavy V6 at 300.

              The above should not stop you from buying what you want to buy. Just factor them into the equation.

              Do it now, don't wait until too old.

              Doug

              Comment


              • #8
                The ad states that it is a Robin Hood. You might want to do a search on google.co.uk to learn a little more about the car. You may also want to read this 1 year old thread on the LocostUSA forum. They may have things sorted out by now, but it would make me a bit nervous.

                The Alfa engine is a nice little powerplant, but as I recall it is a pretty tall unit and can be a little tough to fit in a se7en. If sonics are important to you, then you should really consider a crossflow. I've owned cars with both engines fitted with DCOEs and there is no comparison in my mind. The Alfa sounds great, but the crossflow...ah, magic ;)

                -John
                Westfield SEiW
                2.0L Duratec
                Throttle Steer

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by JohnCh View Post
                  The ad states that it is a Robin Hood. You might want to do a search on google.co.uk to learn a little more about the car. You may also want to read this 1 year old thread on the LocostUSA forum. They may have things sorted out by now, but it would make me a bit nervous.

                  The Alfa engine is a nice little powerplant, but as I recall it is a pretty tall unit and can be a little tough to fit in a se7en. If sonics are important to you, then you should really consider a crossflow. I've owned cars with both engines fitted with DCOEs and there is no comparison in my mind. The Alfa sounds great, but the crossflow...ah, magic ;)

                  -John
                  I'll definitely look into the crossflow, see if I can track one down easily and for not much tosh.

                  And ouch, the Robin Hood guys are looking a bit shady. I'm worried more now about the structural quality (http://locostusa.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1060) than customer service, and now I think I may actually die quickly AND painfully when the chaissis snaps.

                  EDIT: I've decided to go with the staker kit, since it seems much more trustworthy and they can potentially supply everything you need. Also, I can (maybe) fit an engine from a GTV6, which provides the same output as their 3.6L Chevy V6, but it has one liter less displacement. Also, it's about the best sounding engine I've ever heard.

                  I say maybe because it does look a bit tall:



                  But then all V6s are like that.

                  AGAIN EDIT: There's also these guys, who've overcome the considerable handicap of living in Canada to deliver a kit that actually looks pretty damn good.
                  Last edited by Maxmillian; March 19, 2008, 10:38 AM. Reason: Update

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    i think u should hold off on a se7en till ur mid 20s unless u've been involved in motorsports already. a se7en is unlike any other that u will normally find here in the US.

                    I have seen the Deman SR27 up close and its that GOOD.

                    u may want to really consider a LoCost build. with the years that it would require, u can develop ur driving skills on other safer cars.
                    2002 SV zetec/sierra; yellow over green

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      A few more worth a google are: MK sportscars, SBD Motorsport, MNRacing, and Toniq R.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        There is a Stalker distributer in Alberta somewhere. www.canadianlocost.com is in Langley and is/was building kits. You CAN build a Locost, but spend time NOW finding a shop to do your inspection - it is a very gray and subjective area.

                        I would also highly recommend waiting until you have a few years of driving under your belt. If you don't kill yourself with a 7 first, the numbnut fumbling for his Sirius channel-changer thingie in their 8mpg Hummer will change lanes right over you. Or back over you in the Wendy's drive-through because they're too stupid to learn the perimeter of their behemoth of a vehicle and couldn't make the entrance. Or not be able to hit the brakes fast enough (if at all) on highway 99 during rush hour. Or clip you with their mudflap on 12th just before Kingsway, where it gets really narrow, because they (almost) did the shoulder check and ~thought~ it was clear.

                        7 years of my life there, man, gone forever. Get out while you still can. I'm not bitter.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SkinnyG View Post
                          There is a Stalker distributer in Alberta somewhere. www.canadianlocost.com is in Langley and is/was building kits. You CAN build a Locost, but spend time NOW finding a shop to do your inspection - it is a very gray and subjective area.

                          I would also highly recommend waiting until you have a few years of driving under your belt. If you don't kill yourself with a 7 first, the numbnut fumbling for his Sirius channel-changer thingie in their 8mpg Hummer will change lanes right over you. Or back over you in the Wendy's drive-through because they're too stupid to learn the perimeter of their behemoth of a vehicle and couldn't make the entrance. Or not be able to hit the brakes fast enough (if at all) on highway 99 during rush hour. Or clip you with their mudflap on 12th just before Kingsway, where it gets really narrow, because they (almost) did the shoulder check and ~thought~ it was clear.

                          7 years of my life there, man, gone forever. Get out while you still can. I'm not bitter.
                          Oh man, that's so... indescribably depressing.

                          I was looking at deman-motorsport.com, and those look promising. Apparently someone coerced a Deman to do 0-60 in 2.8 seconds.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Ha-ha, sorry. It does sound pretty unpleasant, doesn't it?

                            The only thing you can control is you. You will need to be as defensive a driver as you can be. You will be both highly visible, and highly invisible. YOU need to be aware of what the other driver is doing, anticipate what they are going to do, and make sure you have an "out" should the inevitable become unfortunately accelerated. If you've done the best driving you can, and still something bad happens, that's fate/karma/providence or what-have-you. You gotta control what you can control; the rest is out of your hands.

                            Having said that.....

                            Canada has no sense of humour on importing kits. Good freaking luck. It's "car parts" not a "kit." Apparently the FactoryFive is the only kit that's been approved for import, though I may be wrong.

                            You could piece-meal a car from one or more sources. That sounds like it could get expensive.

                            www.super7cars.com (from what I've heard) doesn't seem too keen on selling kits - they'll gladly sell you an assembled one.

                            I have heard only awesome about Deman. There's one being built here in Kelowna - I'm hoping to hook up with the guy and see it soon.

                            These are a handful in the rain. And I know it rains there - I never owned an umbrella until I moved to Vancouver, and then discovered they actually wore out! I never saw mold growing on a car in-use until I moved there.

                            Theoretically you will need to have the car pass a structural integrity inspection, regardless of where you buy or build it. Then a private vehicle inspection. You will need to get it weighed. You're supposed to have to follow the BC Motor Vehicle Act and Safety Standards, but these are often interpreted very differently from shop to shop. For example, the Act says that vehicles with windshields must have wipers, but nowhere does it say that vehicles must have windshields. If your inspection facility prefers to following the Canadian Motor Vehicle Act, prepare to have your car crash tested. Find a different shop.

                            And having said that......

                            While mine is a fake, owning/driving one is one of the greatest experiences in life. You gotta do it!

                            G

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