's Great British Cars – Lotus Seven

Fri 15th Mar 2019

Great Britain, great cars. The UK motor industry is respected the world over, and though many of the vehicles are actually owned by foreign manufacturers, there can be no doubting of the fantastic heritage of the British motor.

To celebrate Britain’s famous history is launching a series looking back on some of the most famous vehicles the UK has ever seen.

Lotus Seven
The ultimate kit-car, the Lotus Seven was a lighweight two-seater open-top sports car, which embodied the ‘lightness’ philosophy of Lotus’ founder and driving force, Colin Chapman.

Produced between 1957 and 1972, the Seven looked and performed like a motor sports car, but was incredibly economical and with its Ford saloon engine was great fun to drive.

The simplicity of design helped the Seven achieve its legendary status amongst car enthusiasts as it launched a generation of tinkerers and garage enthusiasts as the first readily available kit car.

Though the Seven provided sports car thrills at relatively affordable prices, being a kit car also allowed buyers to avoid Purchase Tax when supplied as a kit form, though tax rules specified that the car could not come with assembly instructions, so Lotus sent disassembly instructions instead, and enthusiasts just had to build the car backwards.

The original Lotus Seven sold more than 2,500 models, both from the Hethel plant in Norfolk and also in Argentina where the Lotus was licensed. The distinctive car was a favourite in popular culture with a host of famous faces driving one, including Patrick McGoohan’s Prisoner, Wolverine from Marvel Comics and the car also features in many video games including Grand Theft Auto.

Lotus built the car until 1973, when the decided to focus on more luxurious motors, but that didn’t mean the end for the Seven, the rights were sold to Caterham and they are provided kit-car Sevens to a new generation of enthusiasts to this day.

Years of manufacture: 1957-present 
Price when new: £1,157
Price now: £10,000-£33,990
Engine: 1,172cc 4cyl petrol, 34bhp
Top speed: 80mph