1959 Lotus Seven - Series One - Rare and with period race history
1959 Lotus 7 Series One
Colin Chapman’s Lotus Seven is a true icon and this exceedingly rare Series One boasts fantastic period competition history.
Exceedingly rare Lotus Seven Series OneOne of 143 built at Lotus’s new Cheshunt factoryPeriod competition historyRecently unearthed pictures and colour footageThe origin of the Lotus and Caterham Seven phenomenonHighly eligible for historic motorsportInfectiously enjoyable as a road car too
Supremely rare and with period competition history, this is a stunning example of Lotus’s diminutive yet indomitable Seven.
The originator of a new and enduring genre of car, the Lotus Seven opened up motorsport to make it a hobby for the many and not just the few. Like the Mini and Jaguar E-Type, the Seven is a Great British icon and a household name, immediately recognisable the world over by everyone from children to their grandparents.
Sevens dominated the 1172cc Championship in 1959 and, no doubt having seen this, J.J. Hall ordered one for himself with the Seven you see here today leaving the Lotus works on 20th November 1959. Likely itching to race the brand new Lotus, the 1960 season must have agonisingly far away. A ‘Series F’ car this Seven was fitted with the ubiquitous and reliable Ford 100E engine, driving the Ford 3-speed gearbox, and its 40bhp was more than enough to make this sub-500kg Lotus a real giant-killer.
Contested by ordinary men and women, who had a penchant for speed yet not necessarily the budget usually required for racing, the 1172cc Championship Chapman Trophy of 1960 was spread over 15 rounds from April to October and thus gave entrants plenty of opportunity to run where possible. In fact we can see from the season’s overview on file that no single entrant was able to compete in every round and, added to the simple points-scoring system, this made championship standings excitingly close.
J.J. Hall’s first race of the series was Round 5 at Brands Hatch in June and, with the Lotus proudly wearing the registration number 787 JJH, reflecting its chassis number and his initials, brilliantly achieved an inaugural top ten finish to score a point.
Hall went one better at the following round at Silverstone, scooping two points from a 9th place finish, before taking 6th at Oulton park three weeks later – his best result of the series. Two 7th places at Rounds 8 & 9, both at Snetterton, gave J.J. Hall enough points to tie for 11th in the championship, just one point short of the top ten.
On-going research is underway to determine more of this Lotus’s early career, and excitingly we’ve just discovered that it is featured in both some rare colour footage as well as Autosport magazine’s report of the 1960 Silverstone 6-hour Relay Race.
From J.J. Hall the Seven was relocated to Scandinavia and was the property of Mr. Per Roxlin in Sweden by 1985. In Roxlin’s care the car was rebuilt and upgraded to the ‘Series A’ specification, which included the celebrated BMC A series 1098cc engine and 4-speed gearbox.
Repatriated in 1995 by classic car dealer and AC Cobra specialist Rod Leach, the Seven was in a private collection for around 20 years before we were able to acquire it.
Hugely eligible for historic motorsport today, the Series One is the purest, prettiest and most coveted of the breed. An immensely fun road car too and, with period competition history to boot, this is a charming example of the iconic Lotus Seven.
1960 Racing Results
26th June 1960Race: Brands Hatch 1172cc ChampionshipDriver: J.J. HallResult: 10th
2nd July 1960Race: Silverstone 1172cc ChampionshipDriver: J.J. HallResult: 9th
23rd July 1960Race: Oulton Park 1172cc ChampionshipDriver: J.J. HallResult: 6th
31st July 1960Race: Snetterton 1172cc ChampionshipDriver: J.J. HallResult: 7th
13th August 1960Race: Silverstone 750 Motor Club Birkett 6 Hour RelayDriver: J.J. HallResult: Unknown
21st August 1960Race: Snetterton 1172cc ChampionshipDriver: J.J. HallResult: 7th