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MrChaos
MrChaos UltraDork
1/12/21 1:56 p.m.

Im interested in maybe getting a lotus 7 kit in the future and was wondering which kit is the "best"?

It seems like they all tend to end up about the same price finished.

I know Caterham is the big name, it looks like Flyin Miata sold Westfield in the past.

Which kit do we like the best?

or do i just wait and buy an already completed car?

or wait for the Tipo 184?

This is just the planning stages atm.

Did find a copy of Kieth's book on the westfield that is on its way.

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
1/12/21 2:09 p.m.

My book is on a Locost, which is sort of a fuzzy photocopy of a Westfield that requires a lot more problem-solving to build and can cost less. If you want to go that way, check out the UK Locost forums.

They definitely do not end up around the same price finished. Maybe a Birkin vs Westfield, but a Caterham will cost you more and will retain value more. Compared to a Westfield, they're built like little jewels. If I were putting real money into building one, I'd want to build either a Caterham or a Birkin. The Birkin is a copy of the Caterham that survived a lawsuit, Westfield's design did not survive the lawsuit so they're more different. A Locost is what the builder makes it, but generally more of them are oversize (the "442") and built with whatever engine the builder liked.

Westfield never really took the Miata-based car very seriously, there were some fundamental problems in things like clutch pedal motion ratios that never got addressed. I like the looks of the Caterham and the Birkin more as well.

The 184 is going to be a very different driving experience. Tall, single seater, loads of slip angle. 

MrChaos
MrChaos UltraDork
1/12/21 2:24 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

I have been leaning heavily toward a caterham.  I know it will be more than the others.

fanfoy
fanfoy SuperDork
1/12/21 2:26 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

My book is on a Locost, which is sort of a fuzzy photocopy of a Westfield that requires a lot more problem-solving to build and can cost less. If you want to go that way, check out the UK Locost forums.

There is also a very good North American forum: http://www.locostusa.com/forums/

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
1/12/21 4:21 p.m.

I'm out of date for sure, the USA forum used to be the smaller cousin. There was an individual on that forum that drove me off years ago as well so I kinda gave up on it.

For Sevens in general (ie, not Locosts), usa7s.com is the go-to IIRC.

 

84FSP
84FSP UltraDork
1/12/21 4:39 p.m.

They serve zero practical purposes for me but the want is so strong for one.  Unsure if I would stay true to the high rpm small displacement or go nutty with something modern and turbo or pushrod...  The Caterhams and Birkins are my fav on appearance as I am not educated on the topic enough to base this one merit.

lotusseven7 (Forum Supporter)
lotusseven7 (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
1/12/21 4:50 p.m.

Finally a topic that I can contribute to!!!!
 

I've had several "7 replica's" over the years. 3 were RM's manufactured in South Africa under license from Westfield or so the story goes. They were body & chassis kits that required you to build the rest, but compared to having to build your own chassis and body, it was a long way ahead right from the start. I built my first one in 1994/1995 and used it as a daily driver/track rat/Hillclimb toy. A true do-it-all toy at the time. Fast forward and I still have 2 of those "kits", one sitting on a shelf and the other being built currently as time allows. 
 

I also have a Rotus which was built by Chris Custer in Maryland. Mine has a turbocharged/intercooled 13-B rotary and will be my summer commuter. 
 

Over the years I've worked on quite a few different models, from an original Series 1 Lotus with a replacement Arch chassis, a Maxton Rollerskate, a Westfield MegaBusa, several LoCosts and 2 Rotus'. With ANY of the cars, it comes down to who built it, what their experience and skill level was/is and how much routine maintenance is being done. These cars, in my experience and for whatever reason, tend to rattle every damn fastener loose! Don't know why, but hitting everything with a wrench, loctite and safety wire is a good idea occasionally. 
 

Caterhams are the pinnacle of 7-esque ownership but come with a hefty cost depending on the specs. The most powerful offering is the 620R and is $100K! The most basic spec cars trade on the used market for mid 20's. Westfields, Birkins and Stalkers also trade in the $20's and go up from there depending on engine choice and HP. LoCosts are all over the place, but decent finished examples go for mid teen's.

 

The 7’s site has lots of great information but is mainly a Caterham discussion group.

The LoCost USA site is where those of us who build our own cars hang out. LOTS of unbelievably talented fabricators post there.

 

RM-8 in-progress with a Honda F20C engine/transmission and first gen RX-7 GSL-SE rear-end.


 

 

The RM body/chassis "kit" just waiting for me to win the lottery.


 

The Rotus that will be finished up soon.


 

My original build from 25 years ago.


pirate
pirate HalfDork
1/12/21 4:51 p.m.

There are numerous Stalkers out there powered by 3.4 Chevy V6 carburated or later versions of the supercharged V6's as well as LS V8's. Stalker is still making kits.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
1/12/21 4:56 p.m.

Stalkers are fundamentally Locosts in design. They're fairly large, which makes a surprising difference to the feel. There's also the WMC Superlight which uses an S2000 donor. Again, big, but what a great package for that engine.

84FSP said:

They serve zero practical purposes for me but the want is so strong for one.  Unsure if I would stay true to the high rpm small displacement or go nutty with something modern and turbo or pushrod...  The Caterhams and Birkins are my fav on appearance as I am not educated on the topic enough to base this one merit.

I've driven ones with high compression snappy engines and with turbo engines. The latter is fast but the "softness" of turbo power delivery is very obvious when everything else is so immediate. It did not suit the car. Bike engines, on the other hand, are a riot. But more difficult to build and not as streetable.

It seems like whenever you find an "uncompleted Lotus" or "Lotus frame", it's an RM. I swear someone sprinkled hundreds of them across North America about 25 years ago.

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) UberDork
1/12/21 5:16 p.m.

If you're seriously considering a Caterham, you're pretty well-heeled. IMO, going Caterham is paying a premium for the nameplate, which is fine but not my cup of tea. If you want a car with a recognizable nameplate I'd go with a Birkin or a Superformance. Superformance has arguably the nicest detailing, but I used to run with the Team Birkinsport crowd  and they've got a fine product as well.

Unless you've got remarkably smooth roads where you live or intend to mainly track it, IRS is something that  you should look for. Sevenesques plant you inches away from the rear end, and the improvement in ride and traction is significant. 

Stalkers are pretty wonderful, but fundamentally different due to their larger motors. They're more of an Anglo-American hybrid. I'd stay away from the 3.4s though, as it's a pretty dated design. Go for the 3.8, or better yet, the LSX. 

Edit: It looks like Superformance isn't making their own design any more. You go to their website and find Caterhams.  If you do find one of their S1s for sale. I recommend it. Also, the WCM Ultralight should be on your short list.

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
1/12/21 5:20 p.m.

You can see a definite step up in design between a Westfield and a Caterham, but Birkins and Caterhams are much closer.

You can still get Caterham F1 team gear on eBay :)

lotusseven7 (Forum Supporter)
lotusseven7 (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
1/12/21 5:54 p.m.
 

It seems like whenever you find an "uncompleted Lotus" or "Lotus frame", it's an RM. I swear someone sprinkled hundreds of them across North America about 25 years ago.

Funny you say that! 25+ years ago my father, his brother and I brought 11 or so of these body/chassis "kits" and a few rolling chassis cars down from Canada. Two are still in my shop and we sold the other bunch at Kit Car Carlisle, some to racing acquaintances and others through word of mouth. A few were brought down by Chris Custer who was supposed to build and sell them for the Canadian guys who owned a warehouse full of them. My father is still in touch with the Canadian guys after all these years! I've seen 3 or 4 RM kits advertised over the years. There were 2 different models, a narrow body(white car and blue body/chassis in pix) and the wide body (car with the F20C) which had an English Ford IRS set-up. The narrow body was set-up for a live axle.

 

IMO, these cars are the most fun with a normally aspirated 4-cylinder. You don't over-power the chassis and it's fun to drive at the limit. Unfortunately nowadays, everybody wants a 500+hp LS powered car which takes away from what they are meant to be. To each his own, but the F20/K20 seems like the perfect balance from all the ones I've driven. My turbo rotary car is scary fast when the turbo spools. You better be pointed where you think you want to go before you press the loud pedal. It's gets there in a hurry.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
1/12/21 6:10 p.m.

My car was 1200 lbs with a 148 rwhp high compression 1.6. Perfect match to the chassis - fast and super fun.

Oddly, I don't feel the Exocet suffers with a turbo. I think it's because they're just that much less raw.

kb58
kb58 SuperDork
1/12/21 6:21 p.m.

Completely agree with the "IRS for the street" comment. Even totally ignoring the arguing about what's fastest on-track, for day to day driving, IRS can make an enormous difference in comfort in a light car. It all comes down to the total weight of the back half of the car compared to the weight that goes over the bumps. On something like a Seven, the axle assembly can literally be 30% of the total weight of the car at the back, so 30% of a bump gets fed straight through, or feels like it. My brother's Stalker has a Chevy straight axle assembly that weighs 150 all by itself. Add wheels and tires and it's an enormous share of the total weight. Hitting a bump is like someone hitting the bottom of your wooden church pew with a baseball bat. Then we got in another car, a mid-engine one of similar weight but IRS, and driving over that exact same bump, you could hardly feel it. 

To the OP, it depends what you want. Do you want an immediate solution to your "problem", and when it arrives you can drive it, or do you want to go on a long adventure of building one from scratch. There's a lot of distance between these two, but don't dismiss building something yourself, which is an adventure all to itself.

An analogy might be hiking up a mountain over a week, versus having a helicopter drop you at the top. Both achieve the same thing, or do they really? Only the OP can decide.

Mike (Forum Supporter)
Mike (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
1/12/21 6:35 p.m.

The Mitsuoka Zero1 that just passed through Duncan Imports looked really nice. They're factory built, have an IRS, use early NA Miata underpinnings, and have overall dimensions similar to an SV Caterham. Some later cars were crash tested and come with airbags and air conditioning.

 

Edit:photo

 

 

HFmaxi
HFmaxi Reader
1/12/21 6:47 p.m.

For other kit alternatives I like the GBS Zero https://www.greatbritishsportscars.com/the-zero and the MK Indy http://www.mksportscars.com/ 

 

SlowNB
SlowNB New Reader
1/12/21 7:42 p.m.

This topic is very inline with my current interests. I keep going back and forth between some sort of seven clone and an Exocet for my next project.

Stalker did make a lighter weight "MX-5" version that was based on their "classic" which is less gaudy than their LS based kits but uses Miata running gear. It isn't currently listed on their website as an option... bummer.

 

Mike (Forum Supporter)
Mike (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
1/12/21 10:36 p.m.

I hate that I have, to date, never seen any Seven in person, compounded by the fact that my size puts me into the "maybe" camp (more like the "probably not" camp) for fitting in a standard car.

lotusseven7 (Forum Supporter)
lotusseven7 (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
1/13/21 6:36 a.m.
Mike (Forum Supporter) said:

I hate that I have, to date, never seen any Seven in person, compounded by the fact that my size puts me into the "maybe" camp (more like the "probably not" camp) for fitting in a standard car.

Mike, not necessarily true depending on the model. A car with dimensions of an original 7 would have your inseam measurement as the biggest limiting factor. 34" inseam, depending on pedal placement is getting tight because you need to bend your knees and the steering wheel comes into play. On my Rotus, I've had 2 friends who were both 6' tall, 36" inseam and size 11/12 shoes and they were shocked that they fit with no issues. My understanding is that the Stalkers are also very roomy but I've never seen one in person. If you are anywhere near northeast PA, feel free to hit me up and visit the shop. That goes for any other members as well. Always fun toys hanging out here being worked on.

 

   Dan

Mike (Forum Supporter)
Mike (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
1/13/21 8:16 a.m.
lotusseven7 (Forum Supporter) said:
Mike (Forum Supporter) said:

I hate that I have, to date, never seen any Seven in person, compounded by the fact that my size puts me into the "maybe" camp (more like the "probably not" camp) for fitting in a standard car.

Mike, not necessarily true depending on the model. A car with dimensions of an original 7 would have your inseam measurement as the biggest limiting factor. 34" inseam, depending on pedal placement is getting tight because you need to bend your knees and the steering wheel comes into play. On my Rotus, I've had 2 friends who were both 6' tall, 36" inseam and size 11/12 shoes and they were shocked that they fit with no issues. My understanding is that the Stalkers are also very roomy but I've never seen one in person. If you are anywhere near northeast PA, feel free to hit me up and visit the shop. That goes for any other members as well. Always fun toys hanging out here being worked on.

 

   Dan

Sadly, I'm not near PA, or I'd take you up on it!

I'm 6'2" with a 32" inseam and size 13 shoes. I think width should be okay, though individual seat variances could mess with that. The tunnel to wall width at the driver's hip looks to be about 17", which benchmarks well for me as it matches published armrest to armrest measurements for Southwest Airlines.

Right now there is a 1990 Birkin on the other side of the country that really has my attention, but the selling dealer's instagram mentioned the car had gone unsold for so long because people couldn't fit in it.

kb58
kb58 SuperDork
1/13/21 8:21 a.m.

My brother is about 6'-2" and 185 (at least cheeky) and fits in his Stalker no problem.

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) UberDork
1/13/21 8:38 a.m.

I'm only 5'-11" but  I have the hips of someone much bigger. I've driven 3 sevens: The Stalker was fine, The Birkin was snugger but OK, and the "book frame" requires elbow grease and a bit of pain  tolerance. 32 inseam, and that hasn't been a problem on any of the cars, although I've always wished for a dead pedal.

 

frenchyd
frenchyd PowerDork
1/13/21 9:28 a.m.

Are any of these eligible for wheel to wheel racing  with groups like SCCA? 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
1/13/21 9:51 a.m.

Yes.  E Production for the right Caterham at least.

MrChaos
MrChaos UltraDork
1/13/21 10:21 a.m.

I think they would fall under group 1 for SVRA as well

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