The Story of a Lotus Seven…..thus far.
By John Barram.
SB2282 is a Lotus Seven which left the factory in 1968, fitted with a black, Jim Clark memorial, Lotus badge. This car is one of the last few hundred of the much loved spaceframe Sevens to be made by Lotus.
By 1968 Lotus were making changes to engines, rear axles and more cosmetic matters, as you do during production if you are Lotus, and then they began production of the series 3 cars. This car came with a 1600cc crossflow motor, instruments grouped in front of the driver, Cosmic alloy wheels, an external fuel filler, an air scoop to cover the down-draught Weber carburettor and carpets and other improvements.
The car was first registered in England on 22 Jan 1969. Documentation shows that the Seven had six different owners and passed through two car yards in the UK from 1969 until early 1987.
In about March 1987 the car arrived in Adelaide for Paul Charal in South Australia who had arranged to import the car privately from England. The Seven was soon road registered and in April 1987 the car was issued with a CAMS Log Book for competition.
Paul was soon a regular competitor in the car at SA. tracks. Around this time a few changes were made to align the car with the earlier S2 Sevens which had been rampant on Australian race circuits since the 1960’s with the fitting of a non-crossflow Cosworth Spec. engine with twin side-draught Weber carburettors and narrower rear guards.
Paul raced the car at Mallala, and A.I.R. and did sprints at Victor Harbour. The car was also used in a number of tarmac rallies including The Grand Prix Rally of 1987 where it won Post Vintage Thoroughbreds under 3000c.c.
Around 2007 the car was sold to a William Beckett in Kingston ACT along with a few pallets of spare engines, gearboxes, bonnets and mud guards. The intention to restore the car did not happen and the Seven along with its spare parts were sold to Jeff Thomson on 22 April 2014 along with documentation of its life to that point.
Jeff Thompson was a jeweller and had raced a Lotus 18 and Lotus 20 when they were at their best. He also owned a Seven in his earlier years. Now, later in life he was very keen to restore a road going Seven to concourse standards.
Jeff’s restoration began with a complete strip down and the frame had rust in some of the lower tubes. The alloy skin was removed and the frame sand blasted. Surprisingly for a car of this age there was no evidence of previous frame/accident repairs but there were cracks showing in the nickel bronze welding.
Brisbane craftsman Ken Gray did the frame repairs and the manufacture and fitting of all new alloy panels. Most of the fibreglass panels were also repaired or replaced.
Jeff lived an hour out of Brisbane and when the body work was completed and the car painted it was decided to bring the car to John Lungren’s workshop at Thornlands for final assembly, closer to the people and parts for Lotus Sevens in Brisbane.
Many new parts were sourced from England as the assembly progressed. The engine was built by Peter Larner Engines in Melbourne. The gearbox was rebuilt by Greg Bray in Brisbane.
The car went home to Jeff’s place on 28 March 2018, with minor trim work to be completed but ready for registration. Sadly, by this time Jeff’s health was in decline and he passed before the car was registered.
Gary Wrenn bought the car from Jeff’s estate and began to share his life with the Seven. Gary also is a man of high standards in car preparation and as the paintwork had sustained some damage and other parts were less than perfect, he took the six fibreglass panels and had their shapes perfected and all repainted by a leading auto body shop. It is much better than new.
On 22 September 2019 Jeff’s dream did come true with the Seven winning awards for the Best Seven and the Best Lotus Overall at the Queensland Lotus Club annual concourse at the All British Day at Tennyson.
The car is still in perfect condition but now Gary has health problems and has decided the Seven should go to a new custodian for the next stage of its life.