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.

Renaud Richard's Lotus Seven

September 2006
Author's biographical notes:
The reader can skip these next paragraphs which are pure biographical background of the present owner and has nothing to do with the car! In the sixties I was a teenager and following my father, impassioned by car mechanics. We were 2 stroke bike tuners, conceived and built our own karts were among the first licenced kart drivers and race organizers in France.

September 2005
The restoration is going on. Though I wanted to keep anything as original as possible I quickly realized last summer when I began to dismantle that I would have to "bin" nearly all the ali because of unwanted holes, dents, cracks etc. (the car was raced) Anything but the scuttle and the bonnet were beyond repair. Anyway they were not original either...Of course I will keep them forever for the next nut.

The current state of the reskinning (Sept 3 rd 2006)

So I'm all on the skin right now and I must confess it gets a bit under mine... This of course because I'm not really competent! For example last weekend I was teaching myself, with help from long ago school memories, how to anneal aluminium. You have to paint the ali with soft soap, then when you heat and when the soap turns black there you are, just let it cool down and you can shape it again. And do you believe it, to my utter (nutter?) satisfaction it works! In all the process I'm very careful not to do anything that could not be undone. I don't make new holes in the frame for example.

The sixties were Lotus F1 glory and Chapman and Jim Clark were my heroes. The 7 was of course my dream car. Still is after 35 years... Karting years were followed by thirties bikes restoration. In 1970 we restored my father's 1932 Sandford 3 wheeler and won in the first "Coupes de l'Age d'Or" in Montlhery against badly tuned and lowered British Morgan 3 wheelers. Sadly that wonderful car was robbed from our shed in Brittany in 1989 and never reappeared since. As a consequence to that thief my father, who was 80 in 1989, decided to do what was in his mind for many years: build a modern 3 wheeler of his own. More on this on Elvis site: http://www.3wheelers.com/gal237.html "The SimpleSevens of the 3 wheelers"! (my opinion)

Now in the first days of 2004 I decided that I had waited enough, this has to be Seven's year. My budget was tight around 10,000euro (7,000UKP, 1,2000USD) so it would have to be an old Caterham with probably some work to be done.

After following different battered Caterham leads in GB I found some very good ones too, fitting the budget or close and was finally negotiating with a chap near Oxford for a really beautiful Cat when I found SB2489 in an advert here in France. I took a day of leave from work and did the 1200 km to and from south of Paris to see it on his trailer in an underground garage.

The price was within my budget, though of course what I got that was more a Lotus wreck than a perfectly running Caterham for about the same amount of money! Nevertheless I fell in love with the little thing and her true Lotusness did the rest. I apologized to a very nice Oxfordian fellow (more about his Cat later...), my extremely kind and understanding (aren't they all?) wife agreed to vote the funds and some weeks later the owner delivered.

January 2005
I'm the new owner here in France of SB2489. I'm a new one in the community of happy 7 owners. (40 year old dream made real -- Yes I was very young!) Mine is SB 2489. I would like some advice about restoration because 2489 needs it. First I must say that I hate two things in restored cars:

1: Changing everything possible by some new part (On the contrary I would prefer to keep every possible original parts as long as it's possible) and

2: A poor looking old sad car.

So it's a case for compromise again I suppose. Through SimpleSevens I found a very nice British fellow and we had some very useful exchanges (for me anyway!) because his frame is bare like mine and he is about to reskin it himself too.

Known history of the Lotus Seven S3 SB2489
I want to declare that the following text is honestly based on my current knowledge of the past of SB2489 as I collected it from the previous owners. I was certainly very lucky because there were only 6 previous owners and they were all willing to help me as you will see. My thanks to them and specially to John Alan Hartley, John Morgan Hardman and David Parker and also to JW Watson (General Secretary and Joint Seven Registrar for Historic Lotus Register, Lotus Historian for Lotus Seven Club) who were kind enough to dig deep in their archives for me. My thanks to John Donohoe for his wonderful site and his dedication to our cars worldwide. If not for John Watson and John Donohoe I would probably not have realized how important our car's history was per se and I would just have played with my toy on my solitary playground! This is told here backwards the way I got it and to maintain the suspense! The headings are named by the car owner and dates of ownership, presented in reverse chronological order.

Nicolas Pierre (1998-2004)
I bought the car on April 2nd 2004 from Nicolas Pierre near Paris. Nicolas first registered it 222 MKG 75 on June 9th 1998 at his address in Paris. The car was fitted with a Twin Cam when he bought it as we will see later. Nicolas road used it first then in 2001 raced the car in the "Trophee Lotus" (TC not allowed) he changed the engine for a 1600 Crossflow with 2 Webers, and a straight cut race gearbox and sold the TC. Then as he changed his place of residence he got a new registration on May 7 th 2001: 436 CYG 91 (departement de l'Essone).

In the end of 2003 he began to dismantle the car in order to restore it. He then found an S2 and decided to sell the S3 "as is". Hence the selling price fitting my budget! The view above shows the car as I discovered it in an underground parking under Nicola's apartment.

As I bought it in 2004 near Paris, the car looks good in the photo but:

  • Unknown frame state
  • Very roughly cut ali panels dented, broken, parts missing...
  • 205 Peugeot wheels plus a set of period Ford aluminium wheels
  • no box, guy kept his straight cut race box for the s2
  • dismantled engine, parts missing
  • electric wires roughly cut everywhere
  • same for hydraulics
  • two card boxes with parts, many missing anyway...

Bernard Mary (1995-1998) photo: SB2489 in GB 1995 Nicolas bought the car from Bernard Mary on April 25 th 1998. As I had a copy of Bernard's "carte grise" (ownership document) and La Rochelle is not such a large town it was not very difficult to track down Bernard's phone number and a real pleasure to call him in spring 2004. Bernard is a very nice guy who, when said the purpose of my call replied:

"Oh so you bought my 7! I should never have sold that wonderful car!" A long friendly conversation followed during which I suggested he bought another if he was so fond of it. There were nice examples of inexpensive Caterhams in GB. I spoke about the Cat I nearly bought in Oxford before the S3 and he asked me about the email of the seller. And guess what? He called me back about two weeks later to tell me he bought the car without even seeing it and it was nice to be sevening again!

I really enjoy that anecdote! The 7 virus still rampant in that guy's blood all these years and just waiting to be rejuvenated! When Bernard bought SB2489 on July 8 th 1995 he registered it in GB under a friend's name, a "prete-nom" (frontman) to avoid the French "tracasseries administratives". So the car kept his initial CJJ 22H plates till December 26 th 1995 when he finally decided to register it 846 VQ 17 in France. He didn't do much on the car and used it mainly on the road apart from some hillclimb.

John Allan Hartley (1980-1995)
With the car Nicolas gave me a lot of documents V5's copies, mot's etc and a text from the penultimate owner: This car was constructed by its first owner in late 1969 and then sold to John Hardman at the beginning of 1970. [John is wrong here. There is one more owner in between and J Hardman bought the car next in 1976. (RR)]

John owned the car for about ten years intending to keep the car and give it to his son when he reached 21. A change of plans made him sell it to me in August 1980 and I have owned it ever since. When I bought the car it had a 1600 cross flow Ford engine but this was subsequently replaced by a fully rebuilt Lotus Big Valve twin cam complete with Webers. The car is fitted with the original solid rear axle complete with 3.55 diff. (a 3.9 is available)

During the course of my ownership I have removed the aluminium side panels to inspect the chassis rails. These were found to be in sound condition and so were filled with waxoyl and new aluminium panels were fitted. The inner steel panels have also been replaced this time with 22 gauge stainless steel to add rigidity to the chassis. The chassis has been properly triangulated according to Dennis Ortenburger's recommendations.

The car currently has a Caterham bonnet and nose cone although I still have the original Lotus items. The interior vinyl perished a while ago and I replaced it with air inflatable seats to give the most comfortable ride possible for the thinnest squab depth. (I am 6 foot 2 inches tall) The car is currently fitted with Alleycat Wheels with 205/60 tyres but I still have the original Cosmic alloys.

This is a great car which I will be sorry to see go but a growing family and a newly discovered passion for hang gliding means that I don't drive it anymore. The last time I drove it for any distance was in 1993 when we drove to Le Mans for the weekend, 500 miles round trip with complete reliability. It's a wonderful machine.

John Alan Hartley, July 1995 In the fall of 2004 I was able to find a phone number to another address for a John Allan Hartley who, I reckoned, was the right one. I called him and it was! Again I found a very friendly man and was obviously eager to be helpful. He was kind enough to mail me the following:

I will try to answer as many of the questions I can now and I will sort out as many photos as possible. I think that I painted the car red in 1983 when I re-built it. At the time I had a Lotus Elan Sprint and used to swap the cars over every two weeks or so. I wrote off the Elan and so put the twin cam into the Seven. The extra torque of the twin cam broke the chassis and so the side panels had to be removed. This lead to the rebuild. I have some photos of the broken chassis and I will forward them in due course.

During the re-build I triangulated the passage area in accordance with recommendations. It made very little difference to the feel of the car. I also did the engine bay but again it made very little difference. I replaced the inner panels with stainless steel as I met someone who said it would make a huge difference. I didn't notice it. I did make sure that I used inert rivets to stop the possible corrosion between the stainless steel and the mild steel. The original steel panels were badly corroded so there seemed very little point in not using stainless steel.

The thing that made the biggest difference was to weld a bit of angle iron between the steering rack supports. This made a huge difference to the resistance to bump steer. It was much better after the modification. I also installed the arrangements to push the pedals further away from me. I put longer bolts and spacers to hold the master cylinders in place. I don't know if this system is still on the car but I did it in such a way that it could easily be reverted to original. I am 1.85m tall and so fitting into the car was always difficult.

I sold the original Cosmic wheels with the car. I will check to see what panels I still have but I am pretty sure that Mr Mary took everything I had. I will sort through my photos and send them through as soon as I can. I hope this helps. It would be really good to see the car again. Next time I am coming to Brest I will E mail you and see if we could get together. If I can help with anything please feel free to call, I would be happy to help.

Kind regards John Hartley, Sept 8th 2004

John sold the car with the original unused parts: lateral panels, bulged bonnet for the single carb Crossflow, Lotus nose cone, Cosmic wheels and the Crossflow. Some guys are conservative and think forward luckily!

So I got the car with the extra (bulged) bonnet and the extra nose cone. They don't fit because the front Dzus for the bonnet were brazed forward 2" for the Cat bonnet and nose cone (proofs of that move could be seen once I sand blasted the frame) but I will put them back.

Bernard binned the old panels but I plan to make the trip to La Rochelle to get the crossflow and the Cosmic wheels. When I peeled the car the inner stainless steel panels were still there, as well as the welding of the broken round tube above the rear right suspension articulation. Cross bracing of the engine bay a la Ortenburger are there too. The brazing of these is of a redder colour of bronze than the original brazing of the frame and a bit less thoroughly done.

Detail of the original brazing up left and cross bracing brazing right.

John Morgan Hardman (1976-1980)
Through John I was then able to reach John Morgan Hardman who sent me this: I purchased the Lotus in I think September 1976 from a college friend of mine. The engine was rebuilt in 1977 to half race spec. with flat top pistons, lightened fly wheel and high lift camshaft etc. The machining was done in Birmingham by 'Autosprint', and the engine was re-assembled in a University of Birmingham Engineering Workshop by some friends of mine.

Both offside wings were replaced after minor scrapes and the car was totally re-sprayed in the colour yellow I purchased it in. I kept the car in this state without further alteration until I sold it to a man from the city of Bath, in the West Country. (J Hartley)

John Hardman 2004 Tracking down the previous owner proved to be more difficult though obviously John was a great help. I can't resist to share the nearly unbearable suspense with you:

From John Hardman (Fall 2004):

Dear Renaud,
I'm sorry for the delay in reply but I only managed to acquire the telephone number and get a message to the previous Lotus owner 2 days ago. He is a sailing man and was away for the weekend but phoned me tonight (Monday). His name is David Parker and he will e-mail some useful information to you soon.

Hope you are well, John.

Renaud Richard to John Hardman (winter 2005):
Hello John, I think David Parker either lost my e-mail or forgot about the mad frenchman, which I can perfectly understand! After 3 month anyway I suppose there's no more hope and I take the liberty of asking you to call him again if possible (that is if the sailor is coming home for Christmas). All the best to you and your family John for Christmas and the new year, Regards, Renaud

Renaud Richard to John Hardman (Fall 2005):
Hello John, Some news from Brittany. The restoration of the 7 is going on steadily (meaning slowly!) The frame was sand blasted and primer painted and I'm reskinning it myself now. As you may guess I would really enjoy to track the complete history of the car but unfortunately I never got any news from David Parker. Mr Parker's e-mail if there's any would be a blessing. Does the sailor never reach solid earth? Thanks for your help John and don't forget to tell me if you ever come to Brittany. Renaud

From John Hardman (Fall 2005):
Dear Renaud, A lot of effort but worth it. I have sent on your e-mail to Dave Parker but as you have gathered he is somewhat of a recluse. His e-mail address is [...] Then from David Parker (fall 2005) Hi Renaud sorry for delay in replying have been busy this summer and pc went down along with your email address not sure if i can be any help as it was a long time ago and the memory fades Regards Dave

Hmm! What do you reckon? Nice fellow but not much help to hope? Wrong!

David Parker (1972-1976)
From David Parker (fall 2005)
Sorry for the delay in replying very busy at the moment and have been ill, no excuse though. Thanks for the pictures and good to see the car is being cared for. I'm not sure i can answer many of your questions as it was a long time ago. Not sure when exactly when I bought the car it may have been 1971 I was the second owner and bought it from Caterham Cars and the guy I dealt with was Graham Nearn so they may be able to help the original reg was CJJ 22H and they may have records Neport was the previous owner and I remember going to pick the car up on a sunday from a private house in Surrey and I think he was something to do with Caterham Cars.

Unfortunateley all the documents were lost many years ago as I tried to find them when I sold the car to John. When I get chance I will look for any old photos sorry I cant give you more info and if I can be of any more help please contact me

PS the colour when I bought it was green with a yellow stripe down the bonnet and it is definitely a genuine Lotus Seven. Best Regards Dave.

Renaud Richard to David Parker (fall 2005)
Dear David, I sincerely thank you very much for your reply which is very good news. This is not late at all and you certainly don't have to apologize, though I must confess I checked my mail every day in hope of your answer! What you tell me is really excellent because I can trace the car's history one more step back so now I can follow that new trail (and be sure I will). I'm delighted to know the original color and I plan to paint it back in green (though not with the yellow stripe for my wife is horrified by that idea and I must make some concessions...). I will certainly keep you informed of my (slow!) progress. Thanks again for taking the trouble to answer my silly questions. I hope this finds you in good health now David, Best regards, Renaud

From David Parker (winter 2005)

Then I indeed received from David a post mail with his original Caterham order for a car:
Make: "Lotus"
Type: "7 series III"
Colour "Green/yellow"
Price: "UKP837 p15"
Document signed by a gentleman from "Caterham Car Sales and Coachworks Ltd" named John T Fitgerald on March 30th, 1972.

In the package was a CD too containing 17 photos of the car in the different states it was while with David: Green/yellow when bought then painted yellow, different wheels, carbs etc.

Suffice to say I was absolutely delighted...

From David Parker (winter 2005)
Hi Renaud. Glad the pictures were of some help my memory has been jogged and it is confusing but I will attempt to explain.

1. The big box on the bonnet was on the car when I bought it and yes it was green and yellow and the engine was fitted with a single downdraft carb (weber I think) I got rid of the horrible box when I fitted the side draft webers and fitted the small bulge I think a new cam was fitted at the same time to suit the webers I know it went a lot better with the webers and the bonnet did fit with the webers.

2. The plates were changed to the new style yellow when the car was sprayed yellow and the small grey bulge became yellow and the suspension was powder coated along with the roll bar I think.

3. When I bought the car the wheels were steels I just borowed the minilites from a friend sorry about that red herring the cosmics were fitted about the same time as the respray.

4. Yes that's me by the car. How fashions have changed since then! Still have the hair though but not as long. Hope that clears up a few questions. Regards David

photos left to right: David and the car in 1972 when he bought it with the ugly bonnet box; Later in a somewhat different attire: different plates and normal box on the bonnet; Later again painted very "seventies yellow"! Those my age understand!

G H Ne-port (1969-1972) For the time being (summer 2006) I was not able to track down "Neport" the previous (and presumed first) owner and maybe even kit builder in 1969. His name was also confirmed to me by JW Watson though with a somewhat different writing:

From JW Watson (winter 2004)
In 1972 someone named "Ne-Port" sold it to someone else named "Parker". The factory records show the car as you describe but with a Single downdraught Weber. JW Watson confirmed too the correct registration CJJ 22H and frame number stamped by Arch on the tube in front of the brake and clutch master cylinders still present.

In the summer of 2006 JW Watson was indeed able to give me a more precise name: "G. H. Ne-Port" and an address in London for this fellow in 1972 plus the fact that CJJ 22H was a London registration. With the help of friends living in London I'm now trying to find this gentleman. Any pertinent information can be forwarded to [email protected] .

Any comment as well welcomed about SB2489! As you can see if you dismiss the "bogus" owner (the nice fellow who was a frontman) I'm the seventh owner of that seven. I'm sure it's a good omen!

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.