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lotusseven7 Reader
5/20/15 8:07 a.m.

I picked up the Rotus that was listed on the Washington DC CraigsList this past weekend. It was listed with a bunch of stats from an old Rotus brochure but only very brief description of the cars current condition. I was able to speak with the owner, but other than a few of the bits that he replaced, he didn't know much about the mechanical condition of the car. That's fine as I'm familiar with both the Mazda rotary engine and Lotus 7 kits. I raced Mazda's for many years(RX-2's, RX-3's, an RX-4 and numerous first generation RX-7's) and have built several different Lotus 7 replicas(RM-7's, RM-8's, a Rotus and an original Arch chassis 7 and a Maxton). i probably paid a bit too much for the car, but the seller was firm on his price and since it was Carlisle Import and Kit Car weekend, he was getting ready to trailer it up there and sell it. I decided to take the plunge and buy the car. After a 4-1/2 hour trip south, I loaded it up and headed back home. 9 hours on the road, 2 tanks of fuel and some crappy fast food later, its now resting peacefully in the shop. I took a quick look at the car and it needs some "love". Here's the short list. - the radiator needs to be moved forward and have proper ducting fabricated. - after the radiator gets moved, the air intake needs to be relocated. - the wiring needs to be cleaned-up big-time! - find and repair the rear differential leak. - fix the broken emergency brake. - install the included clamshell fenders and make some supports. - cut-off the crappy roll bar and build something that will be SCCA legal. - purchase new seat belts. - install a steering wheel quick release. All in all, not a bad car. A few weekends worth of work and it will be a nice summer ride for my father. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I didn't buy it to drive it myself, I bought it for dad. I've had his RM-8 kit in the shop for 2 years now and simply don't have enough time in life to work on it. I have been apologizing to him for not being able to find time to build it, but with work, building a new house, a fiancée with some medical issues, it was easier to buy a car for him to play with. He can take mom for ice cream or go to a trackday with it, it's his as far as I'm concerned and hope he enjoys it. As soon as we fix those couple items we will see if its more fun to drive than my Miata V-8! They should both be fun but in very different ways.

Pictures link:   http://s31.photobucket.com/user/w650gb500/library/Rotus?sort=6&page=1 



tuna55 UltimaDork
5/20/15 8:08 a.m.

That's the exact opposite of every car I've ever driven in anger and I really really want the chance to at least drive one someday. Looking forward to updates. Congrats on the purchase!

T.J. UltimaDork
5/20/15 8:24 a.m.

That looks like a hoot.

DaveEstey PowerDork
5/20/15 9:26 a.m.

This is pertinent to my interests since I just picked up an incomplete Locost project and have 3 rotary drivetrains.

RossD PowerDork
5/20/15 9:30 a.m.

Awesome. I've never seen a Turbo Seven with the turbo completely inside the car. Didn't know it was possible without bulges or it hanging outside.

Dusterbd13 UltraDork
5/20/15 10:07 a.m.

This is relevant to my interest.

I really want to do a seven clone. Only with a better looking rear end.

bgkast UltraDork
5/20/15 10:08 a.m.

Hotness. Looks like it could use a vent to feed the intercooler.

NOHOME UltraDork
5/20/15 11:02 a.m.

I remember when these hit the market. That was a long time ago! The Rotus is now a classic in its own right. I want to say it was mid 80's and built in Colorado? Or was it Texas?

lotusseven7 New Reader
5/20/15 11:40 a.m.

Built by Chris Custer in Frederick MD.

NOHOME UltraDork
5/20/15 12:56 p.m.
lotusseven7 wrote: Built by Chris Custer in Frederick MD.

Why it's best not to trust my memory. Still a cool toy.

Any links to the company or any articles published in the day? I love doing the time machine thing and reading about stuff in the past while sitting in the future.

Any idea of how modern of a rotary can you fit in the chassis?

lotusseven7 New Reader
5/20/15 1:22 p.m.

Do a search for Rotus cars and there are numerous magazine articles from back in the day.

There are LS powered Roti running around, so my guess if anything short of a BBC or Ford modular would fit.

NOHOME UltraDork
5/20/15 4:10 p.m.
lotusseven7 wrote: Do a search for Rotus cars and there are numerous magazine articles from back in the day. There are LS powered Roti running around, so my guess if anything short of a BBC or Ford modular would fit.

I like this one:

http://jalopnik.com/277573/jalopnik-presents-the-se7en-se7en-se7en-awards Meet the Rotus. What started out a stupid, racist joke has become one of the most mind-blowing vehicles I've ever had the privilege of driving. Most rumors hold that the name Rotus is due to the fact that these cars came with rotary engines. Not true. Custer Toyota in Fredrick, Maryland thought it would be a funny name for their Japanese-parts Se7ens that used AGE Toyota Twincam engines. Get it? The Japanese can't say their Rs. While it is true that one or two wankels got tossed in under the bonnet, what sets Mazda Ebrahimi's Rotus apart is that he managed to wedge in a 440 hp LS1 small block. Let's recap before we move on: An Iranian-American named Mazda owns a Japanese-American British-themed Se7en that features a Chevy 350. If that's not Fantasy Garage material, nothing is.

Jalopnik Presents The Se7en Se7en Se7en Awards

"....If the Deman SR27 defies Newtonian physics, the Rotus messes with Einstein. It bends time and space. Weighing 1700 lbs and sending 380 horses to the wheel, Mazda freely admits that his Rotus has a hard time laying all that power down. "Other Se7ens might have me from 0-60 mph," he explained. "But I have them from 60-150 mph." And everything else on planet earth,...In the SR27, being belted into the passenger seat is horrifying. Yet, once you get behind the wheel, all that minimally-lagged power is quite manageable. Thrilling, sure, but you can work with it. The Rotus is always horrifying. The brand new 434 hp LS3 powered Corvette does the 0-60 romp in 4.4 seconds and weighs 1,500 lbs more! This monster has to be hitting sub-3. But again, exact numbers don't matter as the Rotus hits 80 mph faster than you can start urinating. Did I mention the brakes? Again, Corvettes stop exceptionally well for 3,200 lbs. vehicles. Mazda fitted Corvette brakes to the Rotus. I can barely describe the stopping power. Long story short, it hurts. And the very best part? It runs an unregistered copy of Windows XP. Still handles like a Se7en, too."

Hal SuperDork
5/20/15 9:27 p.m.

I used to work for Chris Custer before and after he took on the Toyota dealership. He originally sold SAAB's and was the guy in the DC area for porting the 3cyl 2 stroke motors. We would work on any foreign car that someone brought in which made things interesting at times.

While it is true that Custer Toyota was in Frederick, MD, the Rotus cars were built in Hagerstown, MD.

I'll try to find some of the old pics I have and post them here.

BoxheadTim UltimaDork
5/20/15 9:34 p.m.
NOHOME wrote: I want to say it was mid 80's and built in Colorado?

You're probably thinking of Maxton Rollerskates, those were built in CO.

lotusseven7 New Reader
5/20/15 10:12 p.m.
Hal wrote: "While it is true that Custer Toyota was in Frederick, MD, the Rotus cars were built in Hagerstown, MD."

I thought it was Hagerstown. I remember visiting him at the garage and then going over to Dennis' house to see what cars he was working on at the time.

Back in the early 90's we actually discussed building cars for Chris but instead imported a bunch of RM's from Canada and built/sold those instead. I understand that Dennis is still around and working on cars/engines.

Good guys.

banzaitoyota Reader
5/21/15 2:03 p.m.

I visited ROTUS in Hagerstown in the 80's when I had a Toyota 2TG in search if a home. Chris was telling me about the FEA of the chassis that was done at Mack And how they tore up the bill for the mainframe time. Wish I could have afforded to have my car built

lotusseven7 New Reader
7/14/15 8:09 a.m.

Not much time to work on the car lately, but I decided to play hooky from work yesterday and get in a few hours of shop time. I decided that the rollbar needed the most attention, so that's what I spent the day working on.

The sawzall and grinder made quick work of the old POS bar that was on the car. After taking a good look at the bar, it seems like someone did a half-a$$ job of attempting to shorten the overall height of the bar. Unfortunately they FAILED in a big way! It's no longer a problem, just scrap tubing.

I looked at how I was going to build the new bar and rear down tubes given the structure in the back of the car, or lack of structure in this case. After measuring for an overall height and bending the main hoop, I decided that instead of traditional rearward facing down tubes, I opted for a second rear hoop as bracing. Then came a symmetrical "X" in the plane of the front hoop which will give me a place to mount some sort of headrest.

Standing back and looking at the bars reminded me of my old Reynard formula ford(double roll bars), so I decided to go get some 16gauge sheet, hole saws and dimple dies and see what comes of it. It might be to everyone or anyone's liking, but its different and I think a cool look.

I'll try to finish weld everything this weekend and post some finished and painted pictures.

JtspellS SuperDork
7/14/15 8:30 a.m.

Subbed, sounds like an amazing rebuild!

jimbob_racing Dork
7/14/15 8:39 a.m.

Wow, very cool!

lotusseven7 New Reader
7/23/15 7:08 a.m.




Next on the list (after putting the interior and trunk back together) is to swap out the engine oil pan and then install the clamshell fenders.

Slow progress!

yamaha MegaDork
7/24/15 1:02 p.m.

The people at Jalopnik are morons.......most asians pronounce the letter "L" as "R". Hence the joke, which they ruined.

Nice looking Rotus BTW.

ssswitch HalfDork
7/24/15 10:39 p.m.

Those dimple died holes in the rollbar cap are pretty awesome.

If you wanted to go all the way into nerddom, you could easter egg up one of the holes by tapping it for a GoPro mount.

lotusseven7 New Reader
7/25/15 8:46 p.m.

I have a 1.5", 1.0", 0.75" and 0.5" dimple dies. I probably should have waited and purchased a 1.25" and I could have layer them out and had 5 on each side. If so, like all my other projects, it would take months just to get it done. I guess I'll have to live with it.

SnowMongoose Dork
7/25/15 8:50 p.m.
lotusseven7 wrote: Ill have to live with the 3 holes.

Cool project!
Unexposed rollbar is way cool, regardless of number of holes

lotusseven7 New Reader
12/9/15 7:41 a.m.

No progress in months, but I just moved everything into space in one of our buildings and will be setting up shop soon. Finally enough room to work on all the toys.

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