We enjoy the Lotus Seven and put it fully to the test
1 DAILY DRIVING
Assuming that you can get in and out of a Seven easily enough ( by no means a given) and it doesn’t bother you that the only thing protecting you from the slipstream is a pair of aeroscreens, then this is certainly a sports car you could at least attempt to drive everyday. We suspect, though, that even the most ardent Lotus fan would soon find the commute tiresome. Creature comforts are non-existent, with no heater, glovebox, doors or radio fitted. Visibility is great, though you might want to remove the harnesses before twisting in your seat to reverse into a parking space…
2 IN THE SERVICE BAY
The Lotus Seven was designed so it could be built at home by enthusiasts, so it should come as no surprise that they’re straightforward to service and maintain. The bonnet panel lifts off, providing unparalleled access to the engine and its ancillaries and the double-wishbone front suspension is visible in situ. Just be careful about where you position the jack, otherwise you risk damaging the bodywork should you need to get underneath. There are plenty of club contacts and model specialists to provide support should you need it and parts availability is unlikely to be a problem with so many bits borrowed from mass-produced mainstays.
3 ON THE SHOW CIRCUIT
If there’s a catch with taking a Seven to a show, it’s that it will probably be a bit of an anti-climax compared to the drive to and from the event. That said, it’s sure to be a hit with visitors, being so different from more conventional Fifties and Sixties sports cars. Just be prepared to correct people when they congratulate you on owning a Caterham or Westfield (or worse still, accuse you of plonking a Lotus badge on one) and be careful any time you venture off main roads – ground clearance is pretty negligible and the oil sump is quite vulnerable as a result.
4 THE LONG WEEKEND
There is some storage space below the tonneau cover, but it’s not particularly deep and is where the side-screens and associated weather equipment live. But let’s face it, it will have probably stopped raining by the time you get that lot in place anyway, so is there much point in bringing them along? Fitting a tow bar to facilitate a trailer might seem ridiculous, but some owners do it, working on the basis that it’s the only way you’re ever going to get a suitcase in a Seven. The alternative is travelling light and buying clothes when you reach your destination.
5 THE B-ROAD BLAST
Now we’re talking. The Seven might not have excelled in its previous trials, but it truly shines in the fifth and final one. All of the aforementioned compromises come as a direct result of the Seven being one of the most driver-focused sports cars ever produced, therefore you can expect unrivalled communicative handling, limpet-like grip in the corners and all of your senses to be assaulted at once. It may not be the quickest car in the world (the earliest S1 Sevens had just 37bhp!) but you’ll always be in awe of how quickly you can drive it on twisty backroads and country lanes no matter what’s powering your particular Seven.