The Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon, Warwickshire has taken custody of a selection of unusual Lotus Seven sports cars. The cars are owned by Caterham Cars of Surrey and have been loaned to the museum by Graham Nearn, chairman and founder of Caterham Cars.
The cars range from an early (1953) Lotus Mark VI which was the first production sports car made by Colin Chapman who had recently formed the Lotus Car Company; to a more recent (1992) Caterham Super Seven, which won the Nelson Ledges 24-hour race.
The cars tell their own story of how Colin Chapman made his dream come true and provided an affordable sports car in kit form for the DIY car enthusiast. The production costs were kept low, as most of the parts were sourced locally. Initially the chassis came from a factory a few doors up from the Lotus factory and the aluminium body was from a body shop in the same street. Colin Chapman saw the potential for his Lotus cars and took them to even greater heights with F1.
Caterham Cars were one of the original Lotus service centres. They took over the production of Lotus Sevens in 1973 and have recently celebrated their 30th anniversary with the production of 30 special edition Caterham Cars.
Colin Chapman was the pioneer of economical lightweight sports cars, in kit form. By manufacturing in this form he saved the buyer the expense of hefty Purchase Tax, therefore making them far more affordable. He used specially selected and cost-effective components, including Ford engines and Progress Chassis.
From the variety of Caterham cars on display it can be appreciated how the Lotus cars have been cherished by Caterham Cars, since the founder Colin Chapman died prematurely at the age of 54 in 1982.
Stephen Laing, curator of the museum said: "The cars have been carefully preserved by Caterham Cars and are a wonderful example of the progress made by a small sportscar manufacturer over the years. They will certainly add another dimension to our extensive collection of historic British cars."
The display in the museum at the Heritage Motor Centre is open to the public every day (except 24 to 26 Dec inclusive) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission charges are adults £8 concession £7, children under 5 years FREE; children 5-16 years £6.00; Family tickets (2 adults & 3 children) £25.
Visit the website www.heritage-motor-centre.co.ukPublished 10 November 2003