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65 Lotus Seven S2


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My "new" Seven spent most of its life in Melbourne suburbs of Victoria, having been imported by the original owner when he emigrated from London back to Australia in 1966. Its first 35+ years saw two owners, a couple paint jobs (1 well done to full-body BRG, the second a very sloppy red over the green), and about 45k miles. It was apparently primarily a road car, though it was run in at least a couple club events and hillclimbs (with a broken piston to show for one of them). Since then, it has had 3 or 4 owners (still working to fill in the gaps) and been driven very lightly (less than 5k miles if the odometer is to be believed, and what I've learned so far leads me to believe it). The poor paint job was scraped off in the early 2010s and the car stayed aluminum and and green until it was exported to the UK in 2017, where the latest owner returned it to aluminum and red, as it left Cheshunt in 1965. To my knowledge, the bonnet, nose and one front wing are the only body parts that have been replaced.

 

circa 2008

7circa2008-1.jpg

 

circa 2012ish

7circa2013-1.jpg

 

circa 2017

7circa2017-1.jpg

Edited by SENC
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The car has its original frame and engine, a Cosworth 1500 with twin Webers (whose numbers also match the records of how it left the factory). The Serck radiator and gas tank are correct, as are the Armstrong dampers, and lamiplate dash and door panels, so it seems unlikely the car has had major damage or a major renovation at any point, and that many of these parts may be original.

 

smaller1.jpg

 

smaller3.jpg

 

smaller4.jpg

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The car started remarkably easily given its overall lack of use, and when it came up to temp it idled very smoothly. I've only driven it onto and off of my trailer, then partially around the block from my street to alley to garage. One rear brake was dragging, and I didn't trust any of the hydraulics or other mechanicals enough to get out of 1st gear or give it any more gas than it needed to move.

 

I've started on the rear, rebuilding the brakes (shoes, cylinders, springs, flexible line) and replacing the rubber bushings in the a-arm and trailing arms. I've also replaced the brake and clutch master cylinders. Next up will be the clutch slave cylinder and hydraulic line, front suspension bushings, trunnions, and inspection/testing the front brakes.

 

smallbrakes.jpg

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Sounds like a great project. Was it already in the US when you found it, or did you import it from the UK?

 

Thanks,

John

Thanks. No, I found it in the UK (or it found me) and imported it myself.

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  • 2 weeks later...

With rear brakes back together, I started dismantling the front suspension and steering.

 

It is in surprisingly good shape for a 55 year old car. Wishbones and ARB in excellent shape, really don't even need much cleaning and probably won't waste time putting paint on them right now. I'll clean and repaint the vertical links, caliper brackets, steering arms, and dust shields, but they are all solid. Vertical link threads show almost no wear at all!

smallervl.jpg

 

The front brake calipers were visually ok but pistons seized. Not knowing the history, I'm taking the safe road and having them fully reconditioned and rebuilt (or more accurately exchanging them for a set already reconditioned). I debated doing it myself, but reconditioned type 12s are fairly inexpensive and it is worth it for piece of mind.

 

Steering unit likewise looked pretty good on initial disassembly, just tired grease and muck of age but nothing a good cleaning and fresh grease won't handle. I suspect I'll find the same when I pull out the pinion assembly and rack.

 

smallersteering.jpg

 

The car does look a little funny, though, with no front end!

 

smallfrontnosuspension.jpg

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I'm still digging into the history on the car, and have an interesting possible twist (or alternatively nothing), I'll share here on the outside chance someone reading it may have a tip for further research.

 

 

From Andy Graham at Lotus and John Watson, the HLR 7 Registrar, my car left Cheshunt in 1965 - and its unit number (SB2042) fits for mid-65. The frame number, engine number, and carb numbers on the car today all match the Lotus records for SB2042, and the pictures and records I have pieced together from over the years convince me this is the same car recorded in the logs.

 

 

According to those logs, the car was sold to a Mr. Slatter. A couple of the Australian owners since have said that Slatter was an Australian national who lived in London and who worked at Lotus at the time he purchased the car, and who took the car to Melbourne, Victoria, Australia when he emigrated back in 1965 or 1966. (I've found an online record of a Slatter (John D) who was a metallurgist that relocated from London to Melbourne in late 1966, who may have been the same person.)

 

 

Until now, an oddity in the history is that a registration document indicates the car is a 1964, and that is how its various Australian owners have referred to it. The running theory has been that it was either an error or that the owner claimed it a 1964 to avoid being taxed as a new car on import.

 

 

Pursuant to an FOI request, I've received a copy of the original application for registration of the car in Victoria (unfortunately with name and address redacted, as is the custom). According to this application SB 2042 (with matching information to the Lotus logs referenced above) was registered in January 1967.

 

 

An unexpected finding on the application is the previous registration number, which as it turns out is a registration number from England (picture below). Unfortunately the last 2 digits are unclear, but I've asked if vicRoads can identify a clearer copy.

 

 

What I can read is the first five digits, KAR96. The last digit could be a C as one would expect from a 1965, but also looks a bit like a B as one would expect from a 1964.

 

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]16520[/ATTACH]

 

 

I understand the AR in KAR indicates the car was originally registered in Hertfordshire County (Cheshunt?). Can anyone here confirm that is accurate?

 

 

If that is the case, I wonder if the following is a possibility: could the car have been a factory or test car of some sort, registered originally by Lotus in 1964 (with a "B" suffix), known to Slatter and eventually sold to him in 1965, at which point it got its unit number and entered in the logs?

 

 

That all seems highly unlikely to me, but enough pieces fit I thought it an interesting possibility/theory on why the car was eventually registered in Australia as a 1964.

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Sounds like this car (KAR?) found the right home!It is nice that such an original/interesting Seven has an appreciative owner. It is enjoyable to read this disassembly/reassembly thread along with Pokey's build thread of his 55 year newer version of this car.

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Do you have John Slatter's approximate birth date? It was a required field to be noted on the Oz immigration books. I can pull his record up once I know his approximate age.

 

The date confusion will almost certainly derive from avoiding import taxes. At the time and up until fairly recently, new cars were slugged a hefty import tax as you brought them into Australia unless you could demonstrate you owned it overseas for more than 12 months prior to departing. From vague recollection I think it effectively doubled the car's cost. A little backdating seems to have likely occurred. I remember a certain family member doing the same in the 1970s and 1980s on importing a car from the UK.

 

I know a few sources for old racing photos in Australia. Did he race in period?

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Thank you Mike, I greatly appreciate the offer of assistance. Of course, I don't know for sure that I found the right John Slatter, but the one I found whose return to Victoria from England generally matches the story that goes with this Seven was named John Slatter, born November 1939.

 

The tax situation you describe seems the most plausible explanation, and if I can find someone with access to UK records I suspect I'll find the registration their to end in C (which would indicate 1965) rather than B (1964) regardless of what the Victoria registration actually says.

 

I do not know whether Slatter raced, nor do I know how long he owned the car in Victoria. At some point a Barry Callanan bought the car from him, and he owned it until 2001. Some notes from Callanan that were in the records I got with the car indicate he ran it in a club meet at Sandown and at least once in a hillclimb at Lilydale Lakeland, but condition suggests it was mostly a road car and lightly raced if at all. I have traded notes with Marc Schagen and he does not have any record of it racing - regardless, it introduced me to an interesting guy and his book, which I bought and have fully enjoyed!

Edited by SENC
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Barry is still alive in Sydney if it’s the same one I am thinking of.

 

John Slatter may also be alive. He is not surfacing at all in the databases and that only happens when a person is alive - protects their privacy.

 

More work needed to run this to ground.

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Online archives at Hertfordshire County indicate the KAR1-999 series all end in C (so were all issued in 1965).

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]16547[/ATTACH]

 

This makes the most sense given Lotus records on when it left the works.

 

I've asked the archivist for a copy of the records starting in KAR96, we'll see what (if anything) turns up.

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Henry - Had some people doing some research. Here's what I know so far:

 

There is no record of John D Slatter or variations thereof (i.e. Slater, Slattery, drop the D, etc) on any immigration or passenger manifest in the 1963-1968 window in Melbourne. There is a vaguely similar match in Fremantle Western Australia but not close enough. There is no record of such a person on any of the Australian electoral rolls or passport records. Thats the outcome if he was just a foreign (UK is foreign) tourist with a car for a some touring then left one day after selling the car there and heading home to GB without car? .

 

Its possible the name you have has modified over time with memory. What original source did you have for his name/coming into Melbourne? I can go direct to the year and vessel and search. Its easier than people think. Population of the entire country at the time was only about 6-7 million people and all records have been digitized and made searchable.

 

Now Barry Callanan is a different matter. There are 2 that match him. Contestant one appears to have lived at 49 David Road Lilydale, VIC 3140 Aus. This individual passed in 2017. Was an electrical engineer. No record of classic car club membership.

 

The second Barry Callanan is in Echuca VIC. He competes in the Geelong Revivals (Motoring Festival and Time Trials) and seems to be a past owner of English classic cars. He is currently running a 1962 J&S Hunter (an old Australian kit car that copied a TVR of the same year that he restored starting 2014). He feels like the person who would own a Lotus 7.

 

I have contacts in the VHRR who are based at Sandown and can ask them to open up the archives for old race results if you can give me a year. These are all paper records so need some focus before I have them look.

 

No photos in the searchable archives for Slatter or Callanan racing. Struck out on that one.

Edited by Croc
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Thanks Mike! I found my "suspected" Slatter in one of the Australia National Archive sites. I'll share a screenshot of the paperwork since it is publicly available.

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]16550[/ATTACH]

 

Interesting that he has "disappeared" since. In the same archive there were 3 other Slatters incoming on the same date that I presumed to be wife and 2 sons based on their ages, so seems odd they would have only remained briefly but that is certainly possible.

 

Callanan was definitely at one point at 111 David Road, I have that on both a c2001 registration document in his name and a c2009 letter he wrote. I would have to believe the Callanan at 49 David was a relative if not the same.

 

Unfortunately, I do not know the year he ran at Sandown - Callanan sold the car to Paul Sabine/Brooklands Cars in 2001 (according to letter I referenced above, that was a heartbreaking sale he had to make). I do not know when he bought it from Slatter, but believe it to be fairly early - and possibly Slatter never used it in Victoria but sold it to Callanan shortly after arrival. On my initial FOI request the first two documents received were the original registration and a registration by Brooklands in 2001, nothing in between, so it is certainly possible Callanan was the original registered owner in Victoria. I have asked for some additional information, we'll see if anything else turns up.

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