History - Legend - Stories - For Sale

MKVI - MK7 S1 | SB1000 - 1499 | SB1500 - 1999 | SB2000 - 2499 | SB2500 - 2999 | SB3000 +
important: chassis numbers are as reported by owners -- their appearance here does not guarantee authenticity.

Mike Carpenter's ex-Brian Hart 1958 Lotus 7

This is the second entry in an ongoing presentation of the long-term restoration (initial entry here)

Initial notes and thoughts by new owner, Mike Carpenter, August 2012

It is really tough. I haven't had time to see what all is with the Seven yet, and start squirting the PB Blaster and Kano Kroil. I plan to scrub all parts of the Climax with soap and water then blow out with compressed air. Then soak every thing in a vat of automatic trans fluid as it lubes as well as cleans - also low viscosity to get in crevices. Then after after a couple of weeks or so soaking, chase all threads with taps and dies - British National Fine and British Nat. Coarse. I have not located any Whitworth yet, thankfully! I will go through each engine piece one at a time and as I locate anythin unuseable, I will replace. Someday, it will run again!

The engine is a late 1959, early 1960 by the serial number the distributor that still looks new on the tag. The tag says 7 month of 1959. (Remember my MK7 #821 was originally FWA on the log book!) The FWA uses the same Spridget transmission and front engine mounting holes as the Sprite engined version. That is tempting - maybe 821... 409 doesn't even have mounting holes in the lower frame tubes as it always does for the English Ford. At this point, I am not sure what stage FWA this is (there are three stages of tune: I, II, III). I hope this is a stage one -- a good street engine compression.

I know why it was apart though! Someone had floated the valves at some point probably in a race. I was looking at the head and wondering why just the exhaust valves were out and the intakes still in place in the head. Then I began to wonder and looked at the flat top pistons and yep, there's the evidence: very minor indentations where the valves are. Not bad but deep enough to possibly bend valves. Someone floated the valves (makes strange noises afterward) and the springs weren't strong enough for the revs. Should be an easy repair. Now to see if the valves are bent...

Otherwise, the engine looks to be really low mileage and the important mating surfaces excellent. The block also seems to not be porous as many are.

The fun of this is the learning part. I have to learn as much as I need about the Climax as I will do the work myself. It is a simple engine design. This is great. This is what dreams are made of. I will simply take my time and get it right. It will be fun. I will do this all while having it on my work bench to look at. I thankfully was pointed to a website that had the entire Climax FWA manual downloaded as a PDF page by page. I think even God wants to see this Lotus back on the road again!

In looking at the engine bay of #409, it has definitely only been E. Ford powered, 100E (originally) and then 116E in the pictures that appear on the first page with 1980's aluminum rims. The driveshaft is E. Ford as well. I can tell by its length and yoke style. I was looking closely at the gauges in the dashboard last night and guess what - it has a 130 mph speedo - Smiths. I wonder if that was put in when it became the "Super Seven 1 and 1/2" for a while in its life in the early 80's. I will forward pictures of all this stuff shortly.

We'll have to dig in the paperwork... I wonder if there is mention of when and who the Climax was bought from. For now I am trying to free everything up. Man that salt water adventure was really rough on things...

I've wire brushed the Climax crank and some of the other parts and I also spent some time looking at the CBU. It has all of its original aluminum skins except the rear section where it had been replaced. None of the suspension mounting holes were even ovalled out on the frame. I bet this was a really nice Seven before the front end collision. I can see where the front left frame members have absorbed a blow. Thankfully, the frame took the crash energy and absorbed it. The front suspension and steering system is fine - I had them on a Granite table here at work. They are as designed and usable. That was a concern of mine as those can run into some money and be tough to locate. All in all the tough to get parts all seem to be there. The only missing piece that I have noticed so far is the panhard style triangle piece of the rear suspension that bolts to the transmission tunnel tubing right behind the driver. I have one to copy on 821. No problem.

The entire scuttle is 100% as original with the factory cut-out holes for the 100E transmission shifter to pass through. Original rivets still in it. I have to find a great aluminum body massager. The scuttle still has the rivnuts where Brian Hart had the single windscreen!!!!!! You will love this.

This car should have had one of the Burman type steering units. I can tell where attachment points may have been. There are interesting names on the steering rack etc. I will forward very intricate pictures of all of the early Seven details and of all of the parts. They seem to be numerous.

There were a few folders of material that came with the car. I read a little of the stuff. Enough to see that most of it was arguing with the insurance companies about an accident that in 1982 that caused enough damage for the insurance company to total the car.

From studying the chassis and parts. I can say that the insurance adjuster was probably correct in just considering the Seven "totaled" from a financial standpoint. It had an "agreed - to" insurance value of lower money than the huge DSK estimate of repair costs. The bottom threaded portion of the vertical links were bent considerably on both sides. That is the link that saved the rest of the "chain" of parts that I need for the restoration. The steering rack mounts on the frame were also very thin and they took a good portion of the stress resulting from the collision along with the left primary vertical frame tube that is significantly bent. The frame tubes were not effected from the scuttle on back.

I have cleaned enough welds to see that the whole frame was nickle braze welded. yesterday, I pick up a nice set of Victor Braze torches (as well as cutting), hoses and acetyline cyl gages. The frame will be repaired with braze welding and I have a big tooling table to lay out the exact angles and dimensions on. No problem, we have 821 as well to determine proper frame dimensions. This CBU has many, many little differences from the later series ones. The frame was not repaired after the accident discussed above, and the side panels are as original and have never been removed.

The rear of the frame and under the tool tray has a lot of usable frame tube sections. That is the good part. None of the frame tabs were in the least bit ovalled. It is a shame that they had a crash. I do not think this early Seven had many miles at all. However, we may have never had the chance to obtain the Seven had it been not-crashed and had a different history. Things happen for a reason!

As mentioned above, he body is still largely original inside and out. Just the rear aluminum of the body has been replaced. I think that a previous owner did that to put a fuel cell angle-iron mount in it. I removed the fuel cell mount first thing and threw it over a hill!

I know that the wingsand nose are NOT original to #409. They are TOO nice. No rock chips in the rear wings where the aluminum always gets it. The front wings were new as well. The nose was new as well. Still such a shame as those are the costly items. The nose -- I will likely buy a replacement in a year or so when the chassis is nearing completion.

The scuttle is original aluminum but is toast so it will be replaced as well. The original windscreen looks repairable.

Note the NEAT pedal box (scans of slides to come). I wonder if that was a common conversion for early bottom-mount Sevens? I had wondered what the brazed on frame tab was that was similar to the coil mount. I immediately saw the use of it in the slides. I wonder if the pedal box was an American offering and mod or a mod that was correctly done in England to convert to the later style pedal placement? That is why the extra frame tab is brazed onto the engine bay diagonal tube by the coil frame bracket. The extra tab is in the shape and style as the original coil bracket. Take a look at the photo below.

I plan to shortly provide pictures of all of the "early" Series one Seven differences. There are quite a few. Now we have a gauge when looking at other supposedly original early Series ones. They will be documented.

The wings and nose are the exact shape as they should be for a Series One but they are in deceivingly nice condition. Especially where the pebbles would hit the rear ones. I need to look at the nose a lot more. The emblem on it looks real, albeit crunched ;^(. It seems to me that the early series ones were slightly different profile in the snout but not sure.

In the photo you can see the only piece added to the frame that could be used to hold the Burman steering box: It has NO actual mounting holes or evidence of mounting holes. I do not believe that 409 had the Burman unit. I think since it was Brian Hart's car it may have skipped that erroneous stage and gone straight to the rack and pinion unit. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? There is no evidence of mounting of any steering unit besides that bracket.

I know what happened for sure with the Coventry Climax FWA (which we know is not the original engine, but one that a previous owner had planned to install). It is in stage three tune - meaning milled head .070, 5 journal camshaft instead of 3, two 1.5 SUs with B0 needles and special cam. Someone rebuilt it in the '70s Disco era and didn't put cut-outs in the top of the pistons for valve relief and they started the engine and presto the valves made their own reliefs and bent in the process. I was hoping to make this engine a 9.5:1 street longevity engine as they seem to be pricey to rebuild. This one is probably 11:1 or more with the .070 milled head.

I am still cleaning rust off of the parts and freeing up stuck parts with the engine. I have washed all of the Seven aluminum down with soap and water several times. I bought my brazing torch setup and now need to start measuring and buying frame tubes. I am going to lay out the frame on a plate steel 4x8 about 3/8 thick so that I can check and keep the frame straight and suspension points parallel.

The exit cut-outs in the original aluminum for steering to pass to the wheels are larger than on 821 revealing that they may have been done that way possibly for the Burman steering setup. Or possibly they simply had larger cut-outs in the bodywork at that point and then determined later that that was excessive? Both 821 and 409 have original side panels still in place. The welds on the bottoms of the rack and pinion brackets look to be welded or brazed in a not so neat manner perhaps implying that they were a later addition? I wish we knew what a Burman steering box mount looks like!

About the brazing, I would like to know if the frame swere possibly brazed with filler metal that resembled the mild steel tubing in color and did the early brazing resemble fusion welding in its appearance?

The Climax appears to be a Stage 3. I hope to detune as race gas is not what I would want this engine to run on!

This is the second entry in an ongoing presentation of the long-term restoration (initial entry here)

History - Legend - Stories - For Sale

MKVI - MK7 S1 | SB1000 - 1499 | SB1500 - 1999 | SB2000 - 2499 | SB2500 - 2999 | SB3000 +
important: chassis numbers are as reported by owners -- their appearance here does not guarantee authenticity.