Lotus Seven (1957-1973) Spotting Guide

Another spotting guide I’ve written. Also posted on the Flickr Spotting Guide Group.

LOTUS Seven Series 1 (1957-1960)

Lotus Seven
LOTUS SEVEN SERIES I (Image by satchmoblue)

1958 Lotus 7 Series 1
LOTUS SEVEN SERIES I (Image by exfordy)

Description: The Lotus Seven was sold in either kit or finished form with a variety drive train options available. Common engines used in the S1 cars where Ford sidevalve, Ford 100E, Coventry Climax and after 1959 BMC A-series although owners can install whatever suited their needs. S1 cars are characterized by their hand-beaten aluminum body panels, slopping nose and thin fenders. The S1 “America” models had the clamshell style fenders instead of the cycle style ones.
Specifications: Front engine/rear drive. variety of 4-cylinder engines. 3-speed or 4-speed manual gearbox.
Body styles: 0-door sports car
Production:~240

LOTUS Seven Series 2 (1960-1968)

1965 Lotus Seven Series II
LOTUS SEVEN SERIES II (Image by dave_7)

1965 Lotus Seven Series II
LOTUS SEVEN SERIES II (Image by dave_7)

Description: For the Lotus Seven S2 fiberglass replaced a lot of the previously aluminum panels, the nose cone slop angle was made more shallow, and the fenders where widened. Front suspension geometry was also revised and more Ford engines where offered as options including the 105E, 109E, 116E. In 1968 the Ford crossflow Kent engine was offered and these are sometimes called series two and a half. A S2 was featured on the tv show The Prisoner.
Specifications: Front engine/rear drive. variety of 4-cylinder engines. 4-speed manual gearbox.
Body styles: 0-door sports car

LOTUS Seven Series 3 (1968-1970)

1970 Lotus Seven
LOTUS SEVEN SERIES III (Image by dave_7)

Description: For the Lotus Seven S3 Lotus offered higher powered Ford crossflow Kent engines. A small fiberglass intake bulge was added to the bonnet/hood to clear the carburetor. There where thirteen Lotus/Ford twin cam engined S3 Sevens sold.
Specifications: Front engine/rear drive. variety of 4-cylinder engines. 4-speed manual gearbox.
Body styles: 0-door sports car

LOTUS Seven Series 4 (1970-1973)

Lotus 7 S4
LOTUS SEVEN SERIES 4 (Image by liftarn)

Description: Lotus radically changed the body for the S4 version with much more square body work and almost no aluminum body panels. Some sources say that the styling was influenced by the dune buggy craze of the day but it was definitely shaped by a cost cutting program. The suspension was redesigned as well with the goal of simplification. Improved weather gear and a heater was offered. Caterham took over Seven production after the UK’s tax laws changed in 1973 to eliminate exemptions that kit cars received.
Specifications: Front engine/rear drive. variety of 4-cylinder engines. 4-speed manual gearbox.
Body styles: 0-door sports car

Just a note but there are literally hundreds of Lotus Seven imitators and clones. They range from hand built Locosts to motorcycle engined monsters to very faithful early Caterhams which where identical except in name to the late Lotus Sevens.

The Seven Roadsters – Lotus, Caterham, kits, Locost, homebuilt, etc has many pictures of a wide variety of Sevens.

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2 Responses to Lotus Seven (1957-1973) Spotting Guide

  1. rloewy says:

    Note – The Series 1 “America” models are a bit different, they are S1 with clam-shell fenders instead of the cycle wings.

  2. oldcarjunkie says:

    Thanks for the correction/addition! I’ve added that to the text.

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