Introduced in 1957, the Lotus Seven, followed by the Super Seven in 1961 are the cars that put Lotus on the map, so to speak. This now legendary car was an extremely minimalist affair, very light and thanks to Colin Chapman’s tender ministrations, very agile. The car featured an open-wheel concept, with minimal mud guards covering the front wheels. It had an independed front suspension and a live rear axle, and proved to be exceedingly popular in kit car form, which customers assembled themselves. In 1973, however, the introduction of the value-added tax destroyed the industry overnight, and Lotus sold the rights to the Seven to Caterham, who are still happily producing and selling it, almost 40 years later.
The original 1957 Lotus Seven was equipped with a tiny, 1-liter engine that produced only 37 horsepower, but the car’s potential was so great that it soon begged for more power, which came in the form of Ford engines, all the way up to 1.6-liter Cosworth engine producing 115 horsepower. This was enough for a top speed of 108 miles per hour, and 0-60 acceleration in 7 seconds.
To give you an idea of how versatile this chassis really it, today’s Caterham cars, which are very close to the original in structure and design, can handle up to 260 horsepower, for a 0-60 acceleration under 3 seconds! That’s speed enough to beat a sports motorcycle!
Anyways, the 1957 Lotus Seven wasn’t quite there yet, but based on what it accomplished since then, it certainly is a car to remember and honor!