Lo­tus Seven

Classic Driver - - LETTERS -

Just been read­ing the great ar­ti­cle on Steel Broth­ers / Lo­tus 7 S4 in Feb/ Mar 2014 Clas­sic Driver. I was then in­ter­ested on the Club Lo­tus piece and in par­tic­u­lar on page 115 the com­ment on a pic­ture with “...last of Steel Broth­ers built Lo­tus Sev­ens which makes the car the world’s new­est Lo­tus Seven”.

In­ter­est­ingly there was a time when there was a bone of con­tention as to whether there were 3 later ones – these be­ing the Bain­bridge cars (of which only one sur­vives – mine!).

The story of the ill-fated sale from Steel Broth­ers to Bain­bridges is widely known but no doubt much of the de­tails as to why, what, who, how, etc. has likely been long for­got­ten. In­for­ma­tion I have come across is via the 1989/90 Court Doc­u­ment of Steels vs. Bain­bridges. Much of it is around the pay­ment (or lack of!) for parts, jigs, en­gines and gear­boxes but also, as part of the coun­ter­claim, is around li­cence, badge and in­signia rights – which Bain­bridge claim was part of the orig­i­nal ne­go­ti­a­tion.

A let­ter from Steels in 1983 pointed out that “the con­tract to Lo­tus Cars Ltd pro­hibits the plain­tiff from as­sign­ing its man­u­fac­tur­ing or mar­ket­ing rights but not the sub-con­tract­ing of any work of the in­volv­ing of any in­di­vid­ual com­pany on a re­la­tion­ship which is less than an as­sign­ment.” Then “The let­ter it­self sets out the ba­sis of such an ar­range­ment – de­fen­dant act­ing as a sub­con­trac­tor to plain­tiff and pay­ing a royalty of $10 per car”.

Steels ap­pear to have pro­vided – “chas­sis, fi­bre glass tub, the mo­tor and one set of four wheels and tyres” it continues “...it is un­der­stood that you wish to take these com­po­nents through to a com­plete car.” As can be seen on pho­tos, the fi­bre glass tub cer­tainly wasn’t used, as Bain­bridge’s wanted to cre­ate a S4 with a S3 styled body out of alu­minium – car was reg­is­tered as a S4X.

The re­main­ing pages of the 38 page doc­u­ment then go through the dis­cus­sion as to what was said, writ­ten and con­tracted, and al­though it ap­pears im­plied both in letters and ver­bally that the Lo­tus name was part of the deal, it was never writ­ten into con­tracts be­tween the par­ties. The 1990 rul­ing was that the de­fen­dant “got what it was con­tracted to buy...” and de­fen­dant was ruled against on that as­pect.

And there lies the grey area; a ten­u­ous link that my car could in fact be the world’s new­est Lo­tus 7, be­ing it was built in 1985 while Bain­bridge’s were work­ing un­der the un­der­stand­ing around both the sub-con­tract­ing and the li­cens­ing agree­ment. It has chas­sis and com­po­nents from Steel/Lo­tus jigs as well as the Lo­tus 907 mo­tor mated to Elan+2 gear­box so ei­ther way it is closer to an orig­i­nal than not.

Cer­tainly I see it as an in­ter­est­ing car, with a great story and people seem to en­joy see­ing and hear­ing its his­tory. Of course there are also smirks when you have to ‘fess up that the slickly named ‘Lo­tus Elan+2 5-speed’ gear­box ac­tu­ally has the in­ter­nals from an Austin Maxi... can’t have it all I guess!

Great mag­a­zine where al­ways some­thing in­ter­est­ing comes to light. Lind­say H

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