Prospective donors for a low-cost Lotus Seven replica

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Before hunting for a replica, it makes sense to get a sense of what it is one is replicating. In my case, we’re talking about the Lotus Seven Series 2, built from June 1960 to August 1968 according to the Lotus Seven Register.

The Lotus Seven Series 2

Here are some basic specs which should govern the choice of donor. It is difficult to list all possible combinations succinctly, so the information below shall suffice.

Engine configurations

–late 1962? 1172cc FORD 100E either Solex down-draught or twin side-draught SU H2 carb. 28bhp and 36bhp @4,500rpm
–late 1963? 948cc (a few 1098cc) BMC “A” SERIES one side-draught SU H2 carb.; twin side-draught SU H1 carb. 37bhp at 5,000rpm; 43bhp at 5,200rpm
Jan. 1961–early 1968 997cc. FORD 105E twin side-draught SU H2 carb. 39bhp at 5,000rpm
mid-1961–Sep. 1962 1340cc. FORD 109E COSWORTH Mk. V paired Weber 40DCOE2 twin-choke, side-draught carb. 85bhp at 6,000rpm
Sep. 1962–early 1968 1498cc. FORD 116E 5-bearing single Weber 40DCOE2 twin-choke, side-draught carb.; paired Weber 40DCOE2 twin-choke, side-draught carb. 66bhp at 4,600rpm; 95bhp at 6,000rpm; 125bhp; 100bhp

The car seen in the television show the Prisoner (not counting the final episode) had the following configuration: Ford 116E Cosworth MkXIV Fast Road (1498cc), 8 overhead valves, 5 bearings, Twin 40DCOE2 Weber, compression 9.5:1, 95bhp @6,000rpm, torque 95 ft/lb @ 4,500rpm. Other details can be found here.

Donor evaluation according to engine

It is very difficult to find original Series 2 engines except in actual cars in running condition, whether Sevens or other. One therefore has to make some compromises. Below are some possible options.

Triumph Spitfire

There are quite a few of these around, they are small, and in many cases cheap.

1962–1964 1147cc engine? Twin SU carb. 63bhp @5750rpm 67 lb-f @3500rpm
1965–1967 1147cc engine? ? 67bhp @6000rpm ?
1967–1970 1296cc engine? Twin SU 63bhp @6000rpm 75 lb-f/in @4000rpm
1970–1974 1296cc engine? Twin SHUS4 side draughts; various Stromberg (US) 71bhp DIN @5500rpm; 53bhp SAE @5000rpm (US) 69 lb-f @3500rpm
1974–1980 1493cc engine? Twin SHUS4 side draughts; various Stromberg (US) 71bhp DIN @5500rpm; 53bhp SAE @5000rpm (US) 82 lb-f @3000rpm


The MGB was a slightly more powerful machine.

–1964 1798cc BMC B-Series 3-bearing Twin SU carb. 95bhp @5400rpm 110 lb-f
1964– 1798cc BMC B-Series 5-bearing Twin SU carb. –1974; 1975– Stromberg (US) 95bhp @5400rpm 110 lb-f

Tube-type axle on all post 1968.

Donors suggested for the Haynes Roadster

Chris Gibbs has put out a book Build Your Own Sports Car on a Budget as a revision to Ron Champion’s earlier book on a similar subject; both target the Seven replica market for DYIers. In this book, several possible donor cars are suggested as of the time of publication, 2007.

BMW 3-series

The first is the BMW 3-series. The closest fit is the M115 engine, used from 1962–1977. Displacement was 1499cc with 75-80hp. It was used in the BMW 1500 from 1962–1964 and the 1502 from 1975–1977.

There isn’t much around from that early period. Also the suspension is all around independent and would need modification.

Mazda Miata/MX-5

A popular vehicle although the same concern re: suspension applies here. Also, it was produced 1989–1997, which is rather late if one want to emulate anything 60s-ish. The engine in the early period was a 1600cc DOHC in-line 4 producing 115bhp @6800rpm and 100 lb-ft of torque @5500rpm.

Mercedes 190

This is mentioned only parenthetically by Gibbs as a rear-wheel drive (RWD) vehicle rather than as a potential donor. 1989–1991, 2000cc engine, not really what we’re looking for.

Ford Sierra

This appears in the book for the obvious reason that it was put together in the UK—the Sierra was a Ford Europe production over 1982–1993. It would have to be an import, since not surprisingly the only Sierra which shows up in local (Ontario) searches is a GMC.


On the Japanese front, nothing around for Datsun; Toyota Supra had a 2000cc engine. Nothing to see for Fiat or Alfa Romeo. Volvo is enticing, but the engines are somewhat large so this might be problematic.

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