THE SEVEN OF MY DREAMS
by David Caley
In October 1957, I and the motoring public saw the first Lotus Seven put on display at the Earl's Court Auto Show, London. Alongside was displayed the first Lotus Elite.
Ever since then I have wanted to own and drive a Lotus Seven. At the time I was stationed at Bentwaters RAF Base and deeply committed to restoring and bringing back a 1935 SS I (Jaguar predecessor).
Travel, work career, family, and kids took me to many places and activities, yet the passion remained. I became a fan of "The Prisoner", a TV series featuring a Lotus Seven in the opening scenes.
Now that I am approaching retirement, I began my search for a Lotus Seven. For Christmas, Virginia gave me two books on the Lotus Seven. In December I received a sample copy of the September issue of reMARQUE, the newsletter of Lotus Ltd. as promotional material included with an application. In it was an ad for a 1966 Lotus Seven.
On Wednesday, January 10, I finally had a few free minutes and left a message on Jim Duncan's recorder. I received a call back at 7 pm from Jim in Cambria, California. He described the car I have been dreaming of all this time. I told him to hold it for me. I bought a cashiers check on Thursday morning and Virginia and I left at noon for San Luis Obispo. We arrived at 6 PM Friday (1100 miles), but had to wait until 8:30 am Saturday to see the car. As we drove to Jim's Classic Car Rental shop I told Virginia that if I did not like the car I would give a clue by saying we should return to the Motel. If I liked it I would say "Go get a trailer".
As we rounded the corner, I could see the car of my dreams half a block away. . . "Go get a trailer". I had never sat in a Lotus. I drove Jim around the town, then Virginia. She got a trailer in Paso Robles, 26 miles east and returned while Jim filled me in on the details and spares for the car. We loaded it on the trailer, Jim bought us lunch ("I have just come into some money") and off we went, getting back to Indianola at noon on Monday.
The car is original in every respect, only 7,500 original miles, no modifications or damage other than age and normal use. Jim repainted the mud guards, nose and headlights black (had been green), put back the original steel wheels and narrow rear mudguards, and redid the hydraulics, ignition, SU carbs, exhaust system etc. The engine is a Ford 105E with cast iron head with polished combustion chambers and twin SU carburetor manifolds, generating 40 bhp.
The car was originally sold by a Tennessee Lotus Dealer to a lady school teacher. Jim bought it sight unseen from the second owner in Florida. I think it was factory- assembled. During storage sometime the top and side curtains were thrown out accidently by a cleaning crew.