Lotus and Caterham enthusiasts turned out in force at Donington Park over the weekend of 7-9 July to celebrate 60 years of the Seven. This timeless sports car, first seen in competition at the Brighton Speed Trials in 1957, has remained in constant production ever since, the rights having passed from Lotus to Caterham Cars in 1973.
Some 1200 owners and enthusiasts, with about 850 cars, answered the Lotus Seven Club’s call to gather for a party to mark the diamond jubilee. Those taking part had travelled from around the world, including a ferry that was taken over by 110 Sevens from Germany, France, Switzerland and Belgium, and whose drivers punctuated their trip with stops at key locations featuring in the model’s history. Sevens of all ages and specifications featured in a display at Donington’s F1 museum, from early Series 1s to the latest 620Rs, via unique models such as the Caterham Levante Superlight, whose V6 engine delivers 600bhp, equating to 1100bhp per tonne.
Within the complex, owners from across Europe, the USA and Australia had the opportunity to drive slaloms, tackle handling circuits and test their cars’ acceleration on a 0-60mph drag strip. The oldest car there, and one of the best presented, was John Watson’s fully restored S1 in cream and maroon. Louis Lempereur from Belgium deserves special recognition for driving his S2 to the meeting; after 53 years of continuous ownership, he’s very much still smiling. Demonstrating the enduring appeal of the design that has been finessed for 60 years, the majority of cars wore Caterham badges. They ranged from Classics and Seven 160s to full-blown race and sprint derivatives.
Like the cars, enthusiasts young and old were well represented, including three generations of one family who enjoyed sharing the fun of throwing their Lotus Seven S2 around the cones all weekend. Meanwhile, other owners put their cars’ road-handling to the test, enjoying organised runs over some of the region’s most scenic routes. A range of trade stands showed just how vibrant the market-place remains, with new developments such as shoehorning Ford’s turbocharged Ecoboost unit into a Caterham. On Saturday, 300 cars completed a lap of the circuit, before lining up in formation for a celebration photo on the start-finish straight.Christine Abbott, LSC chair, said: “This has been a truly memorable weekend and a fitting celebration of 60 years of the Seven. The turnout of owners, and the distance that enthusiasts have travelled, are testament to the genius of Colin Chapman’s original design.”