Welcome to Throwback Monday where we take a look at how things once were, or at least how certain famous cars were once built. This week we’re looking at how a Lotus Se7en clone was—and is—built.
There are three prominent cars that debuted in the 1950s and ’60s that continue today in kit or limited production form. Those are the Porsche Speedster, Shelby 427 Cobra, and the subject of our interest at the moment, the Lotus Seven. There are greater numbers of each of these three models built in homage than in their original production runs. That’s got to mean they were each very special cars, right?
Well, yes they were, and the Seven, originally introduced by Colin Chapman’s Lotus in 1957 was so special that it is probably the record holder for iterative editions having been concurrently built by different companies. Somebody should call the Guinness Records people on the one.
The Seven famously embodied Chapman’s philosophy of performance through lightness and the legend is that he designed the car’s tube frame structure by first building what he thought would be a stout chassis and then removing pieces until it collapsed under its own weight. He then put that last piece back in and that was the Seven.
Sold over four generations and totaling more than 2,500 cars, the Lotus Seven was one of the company’s most successful models. So much so that when Chapman decided to take the company up-market, where there was no place for the bare-bones Seven, he sold the rights to the model to a pair of other companies, Caterham in England and Steel Brothers Limited in New Zealand.
In addition to those companies building Sevens, there have been literally hundreds of others who have created their own visions of the model. One of those is Westfield of Kingswinford, England. Westfield was founded in 1982 by Chris Smith to build a homage Seven clone. This led to Caterham threatening to sue Westfield for copyright infringement as they had the license for Lotus’s original design.
Westfield and Caterham came to terms which led to the former changing their design enough to satisfy Caterham, while still paying fealty to Champman’s original vision. Today, Westfields are some of the best engineered Seven clones around, and the company has built other cars like the XTR2 track car that a few years back beat the track time of the Pagani Zonda on Top Gear.
You can buy a Westfield either turn-key or in kit form, and when it comes to either there’s a lot of work that goes into the execution. Here we have a look at the Westfield factory where we see raw steel tubing turned into cars. The tour is led by Westfield’s Marketing Manager, Simon Westwood, who introduces us to each aspect of the production process, leading to a completed car. It’s not exactly a production line, but it seems to work, and has done so for years. Let’s check it out.
Image: Navorks on Flickriver