There is a new baby at home. And she’s beautiful.
I had another baby but she was a complete pain in the arse to look after, apart from which she was utterly useless when cornered.
So, a 10 year old Lotus 7 has taken the place of my Harley-Davidson which needed hours and hours of maintenance to keep the chrome shining and some hard work to keep the rust at bay. But, my main reason for getting shot of her was because she had no idea of how to go around corners.
You see, corners are my new passion. I am now an official corner-fetishist and have come out, so to speak, of the corner closet. I am too long in the tooth to go cruising the countryside on motorbikes but there is this fabulous hill climb right close to my home that was just screaming out for something that could take corners.
It didn’t take too much research to find out that the ideal hill climb vehicle is Alonso’s F1 Ferrari.
Unfortunately the good folk at Ferrari HQ said they couldn’t sell it because having won two Grands Prix this year they still needed it. Actually they told me to piss off.
So, I reckoned that the closest I could get to doing a hill climb in a F1 Ferrari was a Lotus 7 (or Caterham as they are now called).
I couldn’t afford a new Caterham so I opted for a second hand Lotus 7 which I found in Johannesburg – in pretty much perfect condition . All aluminium bodywork, British racing green fenders and nose cone with its telltale yellow stripe and proud Lotus badge.
It is a remarkable car when you consider that it was designed by the legendary Colin Chapman way back in 1953.
Mine has a four-cylinder 1400 cm3 motor and it goes like the clappers.
I don’t think I have ever driven a car that can corner like this baby – hardly surprising because it is so low that when you sit in the driver’s seat you can put the palm of your hand flat on the tarmac. Your arse is little more than about 10cm from the road.
What I find quite remarkable is the close ratio four speed gearbox and engine so beautifully matched and just perfect for high revving quick change hillclimbing.
My baby was built about a decade ago by a fellow who actually worked at the Lotus plant in the UK and I must say he did a superb job.
But, what is most appealing is that this is basic motoring the way I remember it being half a century ago.
Just an engine, gearbox and brakes. Nothing else.
That beautiful roar of the exhaust and when you park it back in the garage, the smell of pure motorsport nostalgia.
She’s a beautiful baby.
Tags: Lotus 7