This Lotus Seven is the go-kart of your daydreams

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1958 Lotus Seven S1 3/4 front BaT

The man behind the Lotus brand, Colin Chapman, was an engineer and tinkerer who enjoyed cars. A day job at British Aluminum helped to shape his philosophy for the cars his Lotus brand would create. None exemplify his lightweight ethos better than Seven though, and this polished-aluminum 1958 model, currently for sale on Bring a Trailer, is a great example of just how wild these roadsters are.

With the goal of a street car capable of competing in hill climb and track events, Chapman laid out a steel space frame that would be stiff yet featherweight. A DeDion rear and independent front suspension give the Seven an 88-inch wheelbase. With that basic setup, the Seven went into production in 1957.

With the goal of a svelte overall weight, a high-output engine was not necessarily needed. Chapman elected to utilize the Ford 100E four-cylinder which displaces 1172 cc and is rated at just 36 horsepower in stock form. With upgrades like twin SU carburetors, the engine could reach 45 horsepower. A three-speed manual multiplied the meager torque output and transferred it to the rear axle.  

1958 Lotus Seven S1 gauges
1958 Lotus Seven S1 BaT
1958 Lotus Seven S1 twin carbs
1958 Lotus Seven S1 BaT

1958 Lotus Seven S1 3/4 rear
1958 Lotus Seven S1 BaT

Early examples were known to be finished by polishing the un-stressed aluminum body rather than weighing the car down with an ounce of paint. The finished weight could be low as 725 pounds, which stands out as comically low during a time of 5000-pound Cadillac Eldorados with 365-cubic-inch V-8s.

This 1958 example adds to the polished aluminum look with twin Brooklands-style windscreens, and a bright red interior replete with matching steering wheel. Said to have been a race car before returning to this street specification, the car features a handful of upgrades and spares including an extra set of wheels, the original steering wheel, and an upgraded Aquaplane cylinder head to compliment the twin carbs.

The adult go-kart of daydreams and race tracks alike, this Lotus Seven is a car that could never be built in modern times. If you desire the bare-bones motoring experience or think your Miata needs to go on a diet, this might be the car for you.

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