What’s a perfect sports car, you might ask? One that is light, has a small but effective engine and is uncomplicated as the wind in your hair. It may or may not have too much space considering it's built for two, but it does have a lot of heart. Like the Lotus Seven roadster.

Lotus Cars Limited started its life as Lotus Engineering Ltd, by engineers Colin Chapman and Colin Dare in 1952. But even before that Chapman had built his first racing car in 1948, in his garage, and the first Lotus factory was a makeshift one, in some old stables in North London. The first cars that Lotus made were kit cars, something people could put together with their own two hands because this saved them money on taxes. And the first kit car from Lotus was the Lotus Seven that was introduced in 1957.

Production cars became a thing for Lotus only in 1962, with the Lotus Elan, so clearly, the Lotus Seven was enough to sustain and grow the company for a good number of years. So here’s what we know about the car and why it was so amazing. Plus, as a bonus, this is how the Lotus Seven is still being kept alive today, in case you get a hankering for one.

An Ode To Colin Chapman

Colin Chapman & Jim Clark Celebrating After Winning 1963 F1 World Championship
Via: Reddit

Colin Chapman was just 24 years old when he founded Lotus Cars, as Lotus Engineering, and it is rumored that his then-girlfriend (and late wife) was dubbed Lotus Blossom by him, thus the name. 30 years later, he was gone. But not before he churned out car after successful Lotus car, for the masses, and for racing.

His father’s sponsorship runs made F1 into the giant it is today from being just a gentleman’s pastime. He’s the man who started to use struts as rear suspension, the reason why they are still called Chapman’s struts.

The 1962 Lotus 25 Formula racing car pioneered the use of a monocoque chassis. He is the man behind the billboard advertising on F1 cars. He added so much to the field of downforce and aerodynamics, pushing for modernity wherever he saw fit. Even though he died of a heart attack at the age of 54, his legacy lives on, and not just in the Lotus Seven.

Related: JP ZERO Track Car Channels The Spirit Of Colin Chapman

The Origins Of The Lotus Seven

1961 Lotus Seven 2 Sports Car
Via: BringaTrailer

When Colin Chapman created the Lotus Seven, he was a bit offhand about it, saying, "There wasn't much to it really. It was all well-known stuff, the sort of thing you could dash off in a weekend.” While he was being modest about it, the Lotus Seven truly was a bareboned roadster, very unsophisticated, and existed for the pure thrill of driving fast.

From 1952 to 1955, Lotus sold the MkVI racing cars. Chapman wanted to bring the MkVI to the masses, and the Seven became its natural successor, coming in a kit form. First came the Series 1, all right-hand, and powered by a 1,172-cc Ford four-cylinder engine. Only 243 of these were made, with the base engine making only 28 horsepower.

This car was called the Series F, and then came the Super Seven, also called the Seven “C” that now made 75 horses on the Coventry Climax engine, and only 24 or so of these cars were ever made in 1958. By next year, the Seven A came to be, now running on the same 948-cc or 1098-cc engines that powered the Austin-Healey Sprite and even the MG Midget.

Finally, the Series 2 arrived in 1960 and became the most popular model with 1,340 sold. And they came in both left-and-right driving, proving that it was not only Britain that liked a racy roadster. From then to 1968, 385 Series 3 and 887 Series 4 Lotus Sevens also came to be with varying engines and power before Lotus gave up on the Seven.

Enter Caterham.

Related: Here's What Distinguishes A Caterham From A Lotus Seven

After Lotus 7 Came The Caterham 7

2017 Caterham Seven 310R Sports Car
Via: Pinterest

In 1973, Lotus decided to dump the kit cars and now make up-market sports cars, along with the racing cars it was well known for. But the Seven was so popular, it could carry on, even without the Lotus name. So, rights to the Lotus Seven were sold to England’s Caterham cars, and Steel Brothers Limited of New Zealand.

By 1974, Caterham had run out of Lotus Seven Series 4 kits, so it made its own version of the Series 3, and called it the Caterham Seven. And the Caterham Seven is still sold today, although, with modern updates and safety tech, it’s nothing like the Lotus Seven of yore.

Today, Caterham also sells the Road Sport and Superlight, and both these versions are futuristic descendants of the Lotus Seven itself.

They are not as bareboned as before, but still, find plenty of markets to thrive. For the purists though, there was nothing like the ‘50s or ‘60s Lotus Seven, a car whose sole purpose was to go fast, with comfort be damned.

Sources: Hemmings, CaterhamCars

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