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How much of a project would this be?

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  • How much of a project would this be?

    http://www.simplesevens.org/1539.htm

    Looking for something to commute with, mostly, plus or minus take it to the track occasionally.

  • #2
    Oh come on all you lurkers - take a shot. What are all the hidden costly things? Somebody must have been through this before.

    From the pics the LHD conversion seems a bit amateurish. I suspect replacing a bunch of suspension bushings may be in order. Will a single carb setup work well, or is it a bit anemic? And what about the shifting issues - is this just replacing some bushings, or is it a more global transmission thing?

    Also - what kind of sense does it make to terminate the side roll cage bars on the dash, which is basically unsupported fore and aft? Seems a bit crazy. How do you check for frame damage? Does a guy have to have it measured or something?

    What about suspension stuff? Do those struts and arms look decent?

    Finally, what do people generally pay for a reliable, streetable, drivable car that doesn't need work every weekend, whether a Caterham or a Lotus? I'm looking at vintage stuff because I think it may be easier to license here in CA, though perhaps it doesn't make much difference if I have to grab one of those SB100 tags regardless.

    Comment


    • #3
      The only advice I can give is to check and see what mods were needed to change from RHD to LHD. Were they done properly.

      Other than that I don't know enough about this vintage of Lotus Seven.

      I don't think you'd want it as a daily driver.

      It looks to have the correct front A Arm setup which is with the sway bar as part of the A arm. This needs to be upgraded as when the sway bar breaks you are off in the weeds.
      Last edited by Doug Liedblad; November 28, 2010, 09:43 PM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by atg View Post

        Finally, what do people generally pay for a reliable, streetable, drivable car that doesn't need work every weekend

        Well I paid about $20k for my Subaru



        .
        www.morgansegal.com

        The funny thing is my wife goes " What is that car a Morgan ? " and I said "No that's a Caterham but there is a Morgan driving it " -delise

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        • #5
          There are Subie forums for that...or so I've heard =;-)

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks Doug.

            Originally posted by Doug Liedblad View Post
            The only advice I can give is to check and see what mods were needed to change from RHD to LHD. Were they done properly.

            Other than that I don't know enough about this vintage of Lotus Seven.

            I don't think you'd want it as a daily driver.

            It looks to have the correct front A Arm setup which is with the sway bar as part of the A arm. This needs to be upgraded as when the sway bar breaks you are off in the weeds.

            Comment


            • #7
              I recently paid 24K for a pristine '98 Caterham with only 3K miles. Basic 1700 Ford crossflow with twin webers. No work necessary (except pcv valve installation to pass smog exemption test).
              Seems to me the only reason to spend 20K on something of this vintage is if it's important to you to own an original Lotus. Not likely to be a great choice for a daily driver though, I'd say.
              Nigel

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by atg View Post
                There are Subie forums for that...or so I've heard =;-)

                By the same token there are vintage Lotus forums for that too ;)

                The point being is that I believe most, if not all, of us have other cars to do what it is that you're asking.

                But to answer your question, I paid around $40k for a semi-reliable, streetable, drivable car that has needed work on quite a few weekends. It replaced my non-reliable, sometimes drivable, needed work on many a weekend, vintage Lotus Elan :D
                You can expect to pay anywhere between $18k and $75k depending on how fast you want to go. The $25k range is pretty reasonable for an older crossflow powered car (of which you just missed out on a good one that was already registered in CA)


                Escondidoron is the token vintage 7 owner here, he may be able to answer your other questions in a more reliable fashion ;)


                .
                www.morgansegal.com

                The funny thing is my wife goes " What is that car a Morgan ? " and I said "No that's a Caterham but there is a Morgan driving it " -delise

                Comment


                • #9
                  Agree,

                  Old cars break down. Period.

                  I'd get a 90's Caterham, drop in a Zetec and call it a day. The T9 gearbox, diff and Zetec are a fairly indestructible combo. The rest is easy to servivce and/or replace should it break down or need to be upgraded.

                  /Magnus F.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    +1 on all of the comments about a Seven as a daily driver. It can be done for sure. But you'll have to be dedicated. I drive mine every chance I get. Down here in SoCal you get a lot of chances. My '62 is, knock on wood, dead reliable (so far).

                    As a first step I'd recommend getting some books on the subject and grabbing a ride in as many of the various types before purchase. Most Seven owners are more than happy to help with a ride. The books that I'd recommend as a minimum for any Seven aficionado or owner are as follows:

                    Legend of the Lotus Seven, Dennis Ortenberger
                    Lotus Seven & The Independents, Dennis Ortenberger
                    The Magnificent Seven, Chris Rees
                    Lotus & Caterham Seven; Racers for the Road, John Tipler
                    Lotus Seven: Restoration / Preparation / Maintenance, Tony Weale
                    Build Your Own Sports Car for as Little as آ£250 and Race It, Ron Champion

                    All of these books are applicable to all variety of Sevens. Reading these will help you to answer all of your questions in-depth. Doing this before you buy a car will help you dramatically in your own ability to assess the value and condition of any Seven that you look at.

                    From the pics the LHD conversion seems a bit amateurish
                    Unless there's something that I'm missing in the pic's in the advert, I don't see anything amateurish about the conversion. The left hand footbox extension looks to be a decent job. The pedal assembly is correct and is the same, no matter whether RHD or LHD. The right hand foot box shortening also looks OK in the pictures. The only issue with the LHD conversion that I see immediately is the placement of the tach: It should be directly over the steering column and not offset to the right:



                    what kind of sense does it make to terminate the side roll cage bars on the dash, which is basically unsupported fore and aft?
                    If the cockpit-side bars are intended to provide fore/aft structural bracing they don't unless there has been internal bracing added under the scuttle in the cowl area. However, I suspect that they are intended more for side protection in which cast they provide significantly more than the nothing that would be present without them. That said, the biggest issue that I see with them is that they prevent the easy use of side curtains. If you look at the roll bar structurally the primary for/aft bracing is provided by the rear and diagonal members.

                    How do you check for frame damage?
                    You need to visually inspect the chassis for crack, corrosion and accident damage. I'd ask the present owner to see if he is knowledgeable on the subject. Check to see if any / all of the DSK or SCCA reinforcements have been installed. You can read up on the DSK mod's here:

                    http://www.simplesevens.org/DSK/bulletins/

                    The most important thing to check for is the structural integrity of the upper leading arm link suspension mount on the chassis. This mount was subject to bending moment loads in the original Series 2 Lotus chassis design. This is not particularly problematic for a street car. But for any Seven subjected to track use with modern tires, a high output engine, or any combination thereof, this mount needs to be reinforced. It is a simple job to weld in a couple of tubes to triangulate the mount. However it requires the removal of both the inner and outer skins to access the area for the work or for inspection! I'd ask the current owner about this. If he isn't knowledgeable, ask for contact info for the previous owner, etc. The diagonal chassis members shown in the interior view of the advert aren't original. Those are reinforcements installed after its original manufacture. Given this I'd guess that the recommended chassis upgrades may have already been performed....and since this car doesn't have the original steel interior side panels installed the upper suspension mount should be easily inspectable. Ask for some pictures.

                    Also important are the transmission mounting structure reinforcements, engine bay reinforcements (it appears that there is reinforcement on the driver's side in the close up picture of the OEM Lotus single carburetor manifold), lower front suspension arm mount reinforcement, steering rack crossmember installation (reinforcement) and rear axle housing bracing.

                    And what about the shifting issues - is this just replacing some bushings, or is it a more global transmission thing?
                    If the transmission is an original Ford 4-speed there are no external adjustments. It is a simple 3-rail system. If there is an issue it could be a worn socket or other component at the shift lever mount or it could be that one of the pointed locating screws on one of the shifter forks has come loose. Either of these issues would be pretty straight forward to repair with the transmission in-situ.

                    What about suspension stuff?
                    The front suspension looks pretty stock to me from the pictures. Ask the present owner about the service history. The OEM Metalastic bushings are still readily available. These bushings should be considered to be regular service items with a life of 6k-12k miles typically. Use of polyurethane or similar stiff bushings is a little bit tricky for these cars as the compliance of the OEM bushings is necessary to prevent binding in some of the locations. I spent about $200.00 IIRC to replace all of the bushings and mounts in my car over the summer. Source: JAE in Goleta. Jeff and Jay are great people. They had the parts in stock.

                    http://www.jaeparts.com/

                    Shocks for a Series 2 go for $100 to about $500 (or more) per corner depending manufacturer, type, adjustability and material. Let your wallet be your guide.

                    what do people generally pay for a reliable, streetable, drivable car that doesn't need work every weekend, whether a Caterham or a Lotus?
                    I'd expect the reasonable asking price for a mid-range car to start at about $15k and up with the sweet spot in number of cars available to be in the $20k - $30k range.

                    Check out this 1980 Caterham for $15k:
                    http://www.texasmotorworks7.com/webt...px?IID=2985626

                    As for needing work every weekend, if working on the car is problematic for you, well, working on a Seven is part of the joy of ownership experience. I'm guessing that almost every Seven owner spends a fair amount of their spare time thinking of the mod's or upgrades they want to do to their cars. And then there's the routine polishing that is necessary to keep a bare aluminum skinned car looking in top shape. In my own case, I do all of my own maintenance on the car. I wouldn't let anybody else work on it for me. Mine doesn't require work every week. But it does have an old points and condenser ignition system. Regular tune ups are requisite. Regular inspection of all suspension joints and structural fasteners is also a good idea.

                    I'm looking at vintage stuff because I think it may be easier to license here in CA, though perhaps it doesn't make much difference if I have to grab one of those SB100 tags regardless.
                    If you're looking at a Lotus Seven all you have to have for registration is a proper Lotus title for the car. Any car already registered in California should also present no issues as long as it has a proper California title already. Any car that you bring in from out of state with a year of manufacture on the title with 1976 or newer will present issues relating to emissions and registration, i.e. SB100.

                    If you are considering buying a Lotus Seven you should check with the Historic Lotus Seven Registry to confirm that is indeed an original car.

                    http://www.lotus7register.co.uk/index.htm

                    Documentation of originality is important for long term resale value. There are 2 numbers that you will need to have at hand to confirm originality:
                    1) S/N (as in SB1359 for the car in question)
                    2) Chassis number
                    The chassis number is different from the car's S/N. It is typically in one of two locations on a Series 2:
                    1) On the top of the chassis tube directly in front of the left hand passenger seat cushion
                    2) On the chassis tube under where the clutch and brake master cylinders would mount on a RHD car.

                    A check with John Watson (the Lotus Seven Registrar) is easy to do. The present owner will not likely give you the chassis number. These are closely held to avoid counterfeits. However, Mr Watson may be able to give you a preliminary confirmation of provenance if you reference the advert on Simple Sevens.

                    From looking at the advert on Simple Sevens there are 2 things that caught my eye:
                    1) The aluminum nose cone is an awesome piece if it is as nice in person as it seems to be in the pics. Also, anyone who went to the effort and cost to have this fabricated probably took very good care with the rest of the car. This is a very positive sign.
                    2) The heading of the listing says the engine is a 1340cc unit. But the casting number on the side of the block shown in one of the pictures shows it as a 116E. These 5-main bearing blocks were later Ford castings and are generally 1500cc. Note: all of the Kent pre-crossflow blocks have the same bore and the different displacements (997cc, 1100, 1340 & 1498) are the result of different crankshaft strokes. I cross my fingers that is a 1500 and not a 1340. Remember the old hot rodding axiom: There's no replacement for displacement.

                    My experiences living with an original Seven:
                    I bought my car last October. It was a barn find. You can read about the day I brought it home here:
                    http://www.californiacaterhamclub.co...ight=barn+find

                    The only problems I've encountered over the past year of ownership are electrical system related. My car is a 109E (1340cc, 3 main bearings). Currently I'm running the original dual 1.25" SUs. I'll be installing my single Weber or dual Dellortos later this spring. I have the single Weber and original Lotus manifold (like the one in the advert) and a separate pair of Dellortos bu no manifold for them. If I can come up with an original pre-X/flow manifold for the Dellortos I'll install them. Otherwise I'll go with the single Weber for a while. either installation, will give about the same max power output of ~85Hp for a 1340. The major difference will be in throttle response and torque. The single carb will give more low end and better bottom - mid range throttle response. The dual carb set up will sacrifice some low-end response for high RPM breathing. Your choice. The dual carbs look cooler to most guys over the single carb.

                    My car is basically the same setup as the advertised car. But is is an unrestored original and is RHD. I'm planning on leaving it that way and enjoying it. BTW, so far I haven't found the RHD to be an issue. Its a little weird getting used to having traffic on your immediate right on a multilane road though. I'm going through the suspension at this time, replacing all of the 1962 vintage rubber bushings, shocks and springs. I'm shopping for shocks at the moment.

                    I've done a simple re-wire job on the car, installed new fuel and brake lines, a new low pressure electric fuel pump and tires over the summer and it has proven to be trouble free since, except for the starter relay. It sticks sometimes. But the internal solenoid axle sticks out the bottom of the relay. So when it sticks it is a simple matter of manually pushing it up a couple of times toffee it up. I'll probably replace it in the next few months. All in all, not too bad for an old race car that sat untouched in a garage for the last 35 years!

                    Also, since mine is an early Series 2 it has no fuel gauge or speedometer Note: SB1359 doesn't have a fuel gauge either). The lack of a speedo is no problem. But without a fuel gauge you have to remember to check the fuel level before going anywhere. The OEM 5-gallon tank in mine only lasts a week or so for me!

                    As for overall reliability, in basic form, a Seven is probably no different than any other car, in that the newer the better. But I'd also go out on a limb here and say that reliability for any toy type car is basically a function of 2 major factors:
                    1) How hard you drive it
                    2) How much you mess around with it

                    All of the factory built Sevens, no matter which manufacturer, use fairly plebeian drive trains. Let's face it, the drive trains from a Focus, Pinto or Cortina are all very reliable until they are modified to produce very high output.

                    Also, these cars are basically go karts with lights. There's just not much there to go wrong. Once sorted, they are all fine toy cars. So if you maintain one appropriately, no matter which type you select, you should have a fine time with it.

                    Good luck.
                    Last edited by escondidoron; November 29, 2010, 12:47 AM.
                    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


                    • #11
                      escondidoron:

                      On behalf of the club, thank you for an excellent review and analysis of the car, as well as a primer on purchasing a vintage Seven.

                      /Magnus F.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks.

                        It is my pleasure to return the favor that you guys have afforded me.

                        Regards,
                        Ron
                        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


                        • #13
                          I am also token but fabulous write up. One correction: the 1340cc single weber rating is 66 bhp I believe (wasn't Cosworth tuned after all).

                          That car in the ad has been for sale for some time. The owner says he has had it since 1997 and bought it to drive on "pretty" days. I have a feeling it has been used very little and we all know what happens when British cars don't get regular exercise. The "notion" of owning a 7 can sometimes collide with the reality of "living" with one. Best if you can ride along with someone to see if you like it.

                          Lee

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by escondidoron View Post

                            You need to visually inspect the chassis for crack, corrosion and accident damage. I'd ask the present owner to see if he is knowledgeable on the subject.
                            Ron gave you an excellent write up. Just wanted to add as far as checking for straightness - a tape measure is your friend. Also, keep in mind cracks aren't always visible, at least the grey frame makes it easier to spot them.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Holy shit! I've just finished an exhaustive search and have discovered that Ron's post is the longest internet forum posting in the history of the web! And the most informative too!

                              Bravo!
                              Chris
                              ------------
                              A day you don't go a hundred is a day wasted

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