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1974 CATERHAM S3

Guide Price: £17,000 - £23,000

Highlights


﹒Second car manufactured by Seven Cars Ltd
﹒Every piece of paperwork from 1974
﹒Factory assembled 
﹒260 miles in the last six years 


The Background 


It was Lotus that kicked things off with the then Lotus Seven, designed by Colin Chapman who was the founder of British car manufacturer Lotus Cars. The Lotus Seven was first launched in 1957 to replace the Mark VI as an entry level Lotus and it was designed to be used on the road and for club racing. It was a similar design to Mr Chapman's earlier Lotus Mark VI but with a different tubular frame chassis, quite similar to the one used in the Lotus Eleven and powered with a 40bhp 1,172 cc four-cylinder engine. 

In 1960 Lotus were losing money and so the decision was made to introduce the Seven Series 2, with the aim to keep the costs lower. The Series 2 tubular frame chassis was redesigned with less tubes to reduce production costs, and soon to be quickly improved again with the Lotus Super Seven in 1961. The Super Seven initially used the 1,340 cc Ford engine which was tweaked by the tuning company Cosworth. Lotus then again improved things and the owners were given the choice of either 1,498 cc or 1,599 cc.

The Super Seven was replaced in 1968 when Lotus released the Series 3. One of the main changes for the S3 was the replacement rear axle, which had become no longer available, so one from the Ford Escort Mexico was used. Along with this was the introduction of the Ford Cortina OHV 1,600 cc engine pushing the power up to 83 bhp. Wanting to keep the Lotus a budget priced sports car, but yet still having customers who wanted to invest in their car, in 1969 Lotus fitted the Twin Cam from the more upmarket Elan. This engine produced an impressive 125 bhp.

1970 arrived and the Series 4 was introduced. Lotus decided to move away from the aluminium construction, to fibreglass like the Elite and Elan. This had given the Series 4 slightly more room with fibreglass monocoque and a steel space-frame chassis. Sadly the appeal to Lotus buyers did not have the intended outcome that Lotus expected and in 1973 the decision was made to cease production of the Series 4.

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The History


When Lotus announced that they were discontinuing the model it was Caterham Cars who were a major Lotus 7 dealer during the 1960’s. At the time Caterham were building the Series four cars on behalf of Lotus, but when the announcement was made, Caterham stepped in and purchased the rights to continue the manufacture of Colin Chapman’s Seven design. It was then that the decision was made to stop producing the S4 as it was proving to be unpopular, and production was switched back to the more visually pleasing shape of the S3. 

Now this Caterham is really something quite special. This particular car is the second ever S3 car produced by the then named Seven Cars Ltd with chassis number CS3 3552 TCR, using the remaining Lotus 7 stock chassis that were made by Arch Motors. The order for the car was initially a Series 4, but this was right at the time that Caterham were finishing production and moving back to the S3 and so a letter was sent to Mr Iain Macleod (the original buyer) explaining this and a new order for a Series 3 was placed. Caterham usually sold in kit format to avoid purchase tax. This didn't go to plan when the kit was ready there was a component shortage that delayed the delivery and the build of the Seven. After a complaint was made by Mr Macleod, Caterham felt obliged to complete the build for the new owner. This was the only UK supplied car at the time to be built by the factory. 

The Seven was registered on 8th August 1974 and was owned by Iain from 1974 though to 1999 where he would quite often use the car daily. He then parted with it to a mechanic in Norfolk who carried out some light restoration to the Caterham and the car was off the road for some time. In 1999 the mileage was reading 61,000 and now fast forward 22 years and the mileage is just 66,273.

The current seller purchased the car on 24th August 2018. Since then it's safe to say he's spent more time fettling with the Seven than driving it, as he has only covered just over an astonishing 100 miles. The seller has carried out a few jobs to bring the Seven up to scratch. These include a new windscreen, new tyres, gearbox mount and bushes, gearbox gasket and bearing, anti-roll bar bushes, ignition switch, timing chain adjusted and new cam cover gasket. Doing these jobs and then the dreaded Covid-19 has resulted in such minimal use of the car. This is the reason for the parting with the lovely Caterham.

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The Paperwork


This is truly amazing! The Caterham comes with everything and we mean everything!

To start us off we have the original enquiry from Mr Iain Macload that was sent to Caterham and then all the correspondence to and from Caterham and Mr Macload which started in 1973 to the completion of the order in 1974.

To compliment this rare correspondence we have the original bill of sale, every single MOT certificate, invoices and receipts for work carried out, which is all documented and in order. There are some old photographs of when one owner gave the Seven a colour change to silver, you’ll be glad to know the car is now back to the original colour scheme. 

The V5 is present along with copies of the previous V5 certificates for the previous owners. 
Both sets of keys are present with the original key rings from Caterham and Mr Macleod’s clan crested keyring. The Seven has an MOT which expires on 11th August 2021.   

Another nice thing to come with the car is the owner’s manual which shows everything from assembling the car and parts. It shows just how early the car is as the manual is still branded as Lotus.

 In March 2019 the Seven had a feature in Classic Car magazine, where the article has interviews from some of the previous keepers. The car was also mentioned in an article in the Lotus Seven Owners Club magazine “Low Flying”. These magazines are also included in the document folder. 

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The Interior


The inside of the Caterham is all original and shows no real signs of wear to the seats, fitted with seatbelts as an optional extra by Mr Macload. The transmission tunnel does have a few dents in the aluminium where people have levered themselves out of the Caterham over the years, but this is pretty much expected and found on most. 

The steering wheel is the original with the Lotus horn push and shows no real signs of wear. Just in front of you to the right are the oil pressure and water temperature gauge, then the odometer which is showing 66,273, rev counter, amp and fuel gauge, all of which are working correctly as are the switches for the lights and wipers. The seller was keen to point out that the heater has stopped blowing and this would need investigating. 

The luggage area holds the removable roof and tonneau cover which is carpeted and in excellent condition.

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The Exterior


This 1974 Seven is finished in a period Ford colour Pirate Red with an aluminium tub and bonnet. Starting at the front and the front nose cone and leading edges of the wings are, as we could see, stone chip free. The badge to the nose cone is the original Lotus badge which was used before Caterham started to fit their own special badge. The lights and indicators are in excellent condition with the chrome work on the rear of the headlights bright and corrosion free. As mentioned previously a new windscreen has been fitted. 

Moving around to the sides of the Seven and those red wings against the aluminium body look and fit fantastic. The four branch manifold exits through the passenger side of the tub, with the silencer fitted by the door. The body is free from any noticeable dents or damage to the aluminum. The removable doors are in excellent condition with no real scratches on the plastic windows. Also included are the small side windows to put in place when you remove the full size windows. The rear arches don’t have any noticeable chips on the forward facing part that we could see. 
   
On to the rear where there is the spare wheel, fitted with a new tyre. The rear aluminum body does not have any dents. Either side of the spare wheel is the lotus badge and petrol cap. The lights have no cracks or splits. The removable roof is in excellent condition and when fitted is nice and tight with the rear window free from any scratches that we could see.  

The wheels on the Caterham are steel and finished in metallic silver with a domed hubcap to cover the bolts. Recently the seller has replaced the tyres for Avon ZT5 175/70 R13, just because the old ones were starting to perish.

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The Mechanics


The Seven is fitted with a Lotus Twin Cam 1,558 cc Big Valve engine which produces 126 bhp and mated to a 4-speed gearbox. Providing the fueling for the Twin Cam is twin Dell’Orto DHLA40 with some new filters fitted to the trumpets. Compared to nowadays power figures, 126 bhp may not sound a lot….. But in a car that weighs in at around 545kg it's certainly enough to give you the grin factor. 

The car starts up perfect on the button and that classic sound of the Twin 40’s together with the  Lotus Twin Cam sounds amazing. The seller reports that the car drives just as it should, with no unwanted noises coming from the engine or transmission. The car pulls well and smoothly through the gears. Handling is firm and precise just how it should be on such a nimble car, the dampers and springs were replaced in 1999 during the light restoration.

Originally the Caterham came with a rear exit exhaust. This has been replaced at the restoration time for a more appealing looking side exit exhaust from Redline Components who were a group of Caterham guys selling spares out of the old factory. 

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The Appeal 


Well it’s not too often you find a car with all the original correspondence from dealer to buyer all of which took a while (remember when we used to send letters and not emails) together with every MOT and invoice and not forgetting the assembly manual. 

The Caterham is definitely a special one, assembled at the factory and just the second car  produced and built by Seven Cars Ltd, now known as Caterham Cars Ltd. This is your chance to own one of the signature sports cars of the 20th century designed purely to provide unparalleled thrills. 




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Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the sellers discretion.

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1974
  • Make Caterham
  • Model S3
  • Colour Silver
  • Odometer 66,273 Miles
  • Engine size 1558
  • Location Wales
Bidding history
12 bids from 8 bidders
  • christi•••• £18,000 10/04/21
  • graham-•••• £17,750 09/04/21
  • olivier•••• £17,500 09/04/21
  • graham-•••• £17,250 06/04/21
  • atle-ve•••• £17,000 05/04/21
  • Springe•••• £15,000 05/04/21
  • atle-ve•••• £11,000 05/04/21
  • Springe•••• £10,100 05/04/21
  • Avantis•••• £7,500 05/04/21
  • Springe•••• £5,000 05/04/21

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