Classic Sports Cars; 1968 Lotus 7 Sports, Series 3
The Lotus Seven was launched in 1957,
based on Chapman's first series-produced Lotus 6, the Seven was
powered by a 40 bhp Ford Side-valve 1,172 cc engine. It was mainly
for lower budget club racing on short tracks.
The Lotus Seven Series 2 followed in 1960, and the Series 3 in 1968. In 1970, Lotus radically changed the shape of the car to create the slightly more conventional sized Series 4 with a squarer fibreglass shell replacing most of the aluminium bodywork. It also offered some "luxuries" as standard, such as an internal heater matrix. The S4 model was not widely welcomed, and Lotus sold few cars.
The British tax system of the time meant the car could be supplied as a kit without attracting the tax surcharge that would apply if sold in assembled form. Tax rules specified assembly instructions could not be included, but in a typical Chapman-inspired piece of lateral thinking, there was no rule covering the inclusion of disassembly instructions. Hence all the enthusiast had to do was to follow these in reverse.
In 1973, Lotus decided to shed fully its "British tax system"-inspired kit car image and concentrate on limited series motor racing cars. As part of this plan, it sold the rights to the Seven to its only remaining agents Caterham Cars. After a brief period producing the Series 4, including assembly of the last "kits" supplied by Lotus, Caterham introduced their version of the Series 3, and have been manufacturing and refining this car ever since as the Caterham Seven.