Very rare factory ‘Big Valve’ Twin Cam engined car
One owner for last 30 years
Extensive history file
Recently featured in Classic and Sports Car magazine May 2017
12 months MOT
“Every Sports Car enthusiast should own a Lotus 7”. Road and Track, April 1968.
Having left Lotus’ Hethel factory on 15th December 1972, this Series 4 7 was registered to a Mr David Hopkin of Bishopbriggs, Glasgow on 4th January 1973. Letters and emails on file from both the Factory and Lotus 7 Registrar John Watson confirm that the S4 was finished in Lotus Yellow and was dispatched with an ‘Elan Sprint’ specification Twin Cam engine making it amongst the rarest of all Lotus’. Records are sketchy to say the least but with only some 660 Series 4 7s produced, it is understood that just a handful left the factory with ‘Big Valve’ twin cam engines. According to a note in the file, this is the 28th to last S4 Twin Cam built and while it is not clear from where this information was sourced, the Lotus 7 Register’s records indicate that only around 100 more Series 4’s of all engine specifications were produced after this car so this does seem believable.
The long term owner has contacted the DVLA and built up a full list of owners complete with copies of the various V5s going back to the 1970s; if Messrs Robertson (’77 to ’79), Davies (’79 to ’80), Bowden (’80 to ’82), Simister (’82 to ’85) and Gardner (’85 to ’86) are reading this, this is your old Lotus. The current V5C and old V5s are present as are some twenty two MOT certificates covering 1993 to date and a raft of bills and invoices so this 7’s history File is particularly well stacked.
Highlights from the records of the work carried out are a comprehensive engine rebuild in 1991 by RE Performance Centre which included re-boring the block and fitting appropriate new pistons, polishing and tuftriding the crank, lightening the flywheel, mating it to a heavy duty clutch and balancing the reciprocating parts. The cylinder head was modified at the same time and bigger valves were fitted along with Kent L14 high lift cams while the carburettor chokes were machined out to 34mm. The radiator was also re-cored and uprated at this juncture and a year later marque experts VM Sports and Race Cars supplied and fitted tubular wishbones (superior to the originals in both form and function) and attended to the car’s general wellbeing. In 1996 a new chassis was supplied direct from the original manufacturers, Arch Motors (at a cost of £750 cash) and this was fitted by VM along with the associated bushes, brake lines and so on; a part-restoration if you like.
Today the 7 looks as bright as a button with its perfectly judged Lotus Yellow screaming 1973. Though it is shiny and presentable, it is not without the odd blemish and there are a number of battle scars, chips and cracks present. Perhaps as this is such an unpretentious machine aimed squarely at the ‘fun car’ market, these imperfections are somehow of far less importance than if they were sullying the flanks of a thoroughbred from say Maranello or Newport Pagnell. The Lotus begs to be used and if it picks up the odd stone chip, really, who cares? The exposed body isn’t going to rust. Please have a look at the photo gallery, which is designed to show the car’s imperfections as much as it is its “twenty yard” impression, and decide for yourselves if this is the sort of machine you will be happy with.
The Dunlop alloy wheels – or are they Brand Lotus examples, if anyone can help us tell the difference please chime in – are in excellent shape with no significant corrosion or kerb marks and a good gloss black paint finish. They are wrapped in 165 width Avon CR 322s all round which have plenty of tread left and with only about half a ton to support, they should last a good few miles yet, though that will of course depend on what you do with the accelerator pedal and steering wheel.
A mild steel 4:2:1 exhaust manifold of decent bore feeds into a stainless steel system with an efficient silencer and nicely profiled, side exit tail pipe.
The interior, never particularly plush in a 7, is definitely race oriented with a lot of bare fiberglass and a cut-off switch mounted on an aluminium plate on the dashboard in front of the passenger, though a full set of carpets is a civilising influence. The fixed bucket seats are trimmed in vinyl which has been repaired over the years though the centre sections are finished in a very fetching tartan cloth rumoured to be of the Mc Lightweight clan and predating the now famous plaid of the early Esprits. A wooden Lotus badged gear lever knob is paired with a Moto-Lita leather rimmed steering wheel and a full set of original manufacturer Smiths instruments are present (though we suspect they are not all of the same vintage) with just the ammeter sourced from Lucas (ironically) the only interloper. Full harness belts keep driver and passenger in place and a full set of weather equipment is present – side screens/doors, boot cover, split tonneau cover and hood which appears to be the original.
The mild competition use has ensured a high standard of mechanical preparation with Aeroquip braided brake lines utilised throughout the car in place of potentially fragile rigid pipework and such sensible additions as double throttle return springs. Just as the bodywork has that charming slightly used appearance, the suspension components and chassis arguably put it to shame being nicely finished and largely free of chips and rust which epitomises the very ethos of the Lotus – go, not show. Under the large, front hinged bonnet, the engine bay is reasonably clean and tidy with just the slightest flaking of paint from the evocative ribbed cam cover. A Kenlowe thermostatically controlled fan keeps temperatures under control both in the paddock and queue for Ikea and a couple of decent sized horns help bring anyone unaware of the approaching fairly noisy, bright yellow bolide up to speed.
The engine, rebuilt as described some 13,000 miles ago, is teamed with a Ford ‘116E’ 4 Speed close ratio gearbox with its notoriously well-oiled rifle bolt change and a ‘Mexico’ rear axle all of which seem to be in rude health. In fact the 75,000 miles showing on the odometer may well be something of a record for a Lotus 7 but it drives better than some exceptionally low mileage examples; Classic and Sports Car magazine certainly approved, scoring it 34/40 for Sports Performance.
The 7 has seen fairly limited road use in the past ten years and has essentially been retired from competition since 2010. The long term owner has still kept it MOT tested throughout this time though mileage has been in the order of a just few hundred per year and perhaps now it is time for a new custodian to enjoy one of the purest driving experiences known to man, from behind the wheel of a genuine, Chapman era Lotus.
Registration number: KVD 373L
Chassis Number: S4/3211 BVX
Engine Number: SS 28620