The early 1960s was a great era for the release of vintage performance cars and the Lotus Super Seven, which rolled off the production lines in 1963, has to be one of the most iconic, and now incredibly rare, examples of sixties style and power.
Powered by the mighty Cosworth 1500 engine the Super Seven was built with comfort sacrificed for pure performance but, for the speed freak of the day, represented serious value for money. The car was bought in kit form with the basic version costing just £585 ($943). Opting for the Cosworth engine only increased the cost to £645 ($1040) and you can only imagine the number of young car builders working away in their garages to put one of these babies together.
The finished vehicle was ideal for circuit racing and on the road could, according to the road testers of the day, out accelerate anything put up against it.
Let’s Get Technical
The Lotus Super Seven was a two seater open top sports car with a four speed manual gear box. It had a top speed of just over 100mph and accelerated from 0-60 in 6.8 seconds, making it a serious beast on the roads. With a fuel consumption of around 20mpg it was fairly cheap to run for motorists of the day.
Surprisingly, despite the lack of creature comforts, the Lotus Super Seven was hailed as a nice touring car. A cover was available to keep out the worst of the weather on a long drive and at a cost of just £7 ($11) was hardly likely to break the bank.
Indeed putting the cover on the vehicle certainly added to the motoring experience as one reviewer said at the time, “With the hood (cover) and sidescreens buttoned up, the interior is very cosy indeed, a good deal of heat arriving from the engine compartment, not to mention plenty of noise from the ‘fruity’ exhaust.”
Vintage Performance Cars Specifications
Lotus Super Seven 1500 Cosworth
Costs – kit form, including engine, £645 ($1040). Extras; close ratio gears £40 ($64), oil cooler £15 ($24), full tonneau cover £7 ($11), flashing indicators £7 ($11), heater £17 ($27)
Engine – four cylinders 80.96×72.75mm @ 1498 cc. Compression ratio 9.5 to 1, 95 bhp at 5000rpm.
Transmission – single dry plate clutch. Four speed gearbox.
Equipment – 12 volt lighting and starting. Speedometer and rev counter. Oil pressure and water temperature gauges. Ammeter, windscreen wiper. Extras, indicators and heater.
Dimensions – wheelbase 7’4”. Length 13’6”. Width 4’9”. Weight 9cwt.
Performance – Maximum speed 102mph. Speed in gears 3rd 82mph, 2nd 60mph, 1st 41mph. Standing quarter mile 15.4 seconds. Acceleration: 0-30mph 2.4 seconds; 0-50mph 5.2 seconds; 0-60 mph 6.8 seconds; 0-80mph 12.6 seconds.
Fuel consumption – 18-20 mpg.
All in all the Lotus Super Seven 1500 Cosworth provided fantastic performance along with wonderful road holding and was a vehicle equally at home on the road or the track. With its low cost the vehicle, unsurprisingly, proved very popular with young drivers in the UK and could be seen regularly at club events at race tracks up and down the country.