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My Z3C has the spirit of a 7 (M-coupe=SUPER 7)... (archive)

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Posted by David on August 06, 2000 at 08:43:11:

In Reply to: Great shot - I do love those 7s. posted by Mike S on August 05, 2000 at 15:42:32:

The first series of 7s was made from late '57 to '59 (mine's the 14th one made). Many were sold as kits, and most of the others (only about 250 were made) had 1172 Ford sidevalve engines and 3-speed boxes. The folk tale says that 5 of the early ones were made with Coventry Climax engines and 4-wheel disc brakes (I assume the same ATEs used on the Jag XK-150, as there wasn't a whole lot of choice in 1958). These were the original "Super 7"s. There were other Climax-powered series 1 7s, but apparently only 5 were factory-built Super 7 series ones with disc brakes. Also of interest is the frame construction - they were "braze-welded" with a torch and special brazing rod, so modern welding ruins the joints (you have to remove all the filler and completely redo them, rather than just re-weld cracks, unless you use the original technique).

Because there were so many kits, it's impossible to know now whether a Climax-powered series 1 is original, but the odds are heavily against it (despite that fact, the would-be sellers of such cars all believe theirs are original!). I restored #414, which would have been made in Hornsey and originally had floor-mounted pedals - yet the chassis plate is a later one (it says "Made in Cheshunt") and the car has swing pedals. They didn't even USE chassis plates on the first batch - Colin Chapman used a bed frame as the welding and assembly jig!

This car and most others like it today use BMC power (948cc, MG Midget / AH Sprite). Almost all series 1 7s have cycle fenders. There were a few late 1959 series ones called "Seven Americas" that used 948 BMC engines and had beautiful aluminum clamshell fenders hand made by Williams and Pritchard. These were the prototypes for the 'glass-fendered cars starting with series 2.

Later "supers" used either Climax or Cosworth power, and a variety of "lesser" engines power the not-so-super 7s. There's even a modern limb of the family tree that uses Mazda Wankels, Mike.

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