Is “Jumbo Seven” an oxymoron like “Jumbo Shrimp?” Probably. This is about a friend’s one-off Lotus Seven replica. A former road race vehicle on a custom (largish) frame, and he re-built it for the road. Saturday I got to drive it a little bit, and even with some bugs still to work out and being on a residential street, it was fun.
I timed my visit to my friend’s place to coincide with the widely acclaimed Greenville Cars and Coffee. Unfortunately, rainy and cold weather combined with the holiday meant very poor turn-out. Fortunately by the time I drove the Jumbo Seven the streets were dry.
No power steering and a wide turn radius meant planning turning around carefully. But the road feel once it got going was wonderful. And the Ford 302 was melodious with the exhaust right behind the driver. It was especially fun when all conversation was eliminated when the car’s harmonic resonance was achieved at a specific rev level.
He started with the frame and body panels. He had to do a lot of repair work on the hood, and he is also planning to create some fiberglass front wheel fenders, although mounting them is going to require ingenuity.
I’ll let him tell the important parts:
“The nose was included with the car, but had a really hideous snout which I remedied with a cutting wheel. I was going to rebuild the 302 that came with the car, but after pulling the heads and finding wasps nests in the cylinders that had open valves and evidence of a fair amount of cylinder wear, I elected to buy a 302 that had been freshly rebuilt (by the grandson of the great Fireball Roberts, no less.)“
Front suspension components are from an ‘89-’90 Mustang, rear end is a Lincoln independent rear suspension, and I’m told that it is unusual to have independent rear suspension on other Seven replicas.
“I sourced the clutch and pressure plate from one place, transmission from another, and ordered clutch fork, pivot bolt, cover, throw-out bearing, etc from various auto part outlets. The Lincoln IRS is all of a piece. It came from the Lincoln Mark VIII which was available in that car from 1993 to 1998. It was already in the car when I bought it.”
“The windshield frame came from the Kinetics company which makes parts for Seven replica cars, and while it took a good deal of trimming I am pleased that I didn’t have to try to make it from scratch. The glass was cut by Binswanger Glass from a cardboard template I made, as the car is larger than the usual Seven. Same for the dash board: First in cardboard, then aluminum, but I had no way to cut uniform holes, especially for gauges the size of the speedo and tach, so I took the dash panel to Carolina Rod Shop who cut the holes for me. I cut out the glove box and the smaller holes for toggle switches and mounting. The headlights and the gauge set came from Southern Rods, the radiator from eBay, pulleys and mounting brackets, alternator and motor mounts, tail lights, steering wheel, e-brake, fittings and fasteners, etc, from a variety of sources.”
He also trimmed off a full cage back to just the roll bar. And he went through the arduous process of getting it titled and registered, even with a fancy VIN. Really, a lot of effort over three years or so.
After we drove it, I helped my friend unbolt various parts of the car body in order to paint it more easily. The plan is British Racing Green with a yellow nose, naturally.
Here is the car as it was when he bought it: