The Lotus Seven Series IV
press materials and story as told by John Robinson
Lotus Seven Series IV Press Kit, 11 March 1970
The designer for the Series IV was a gentleman called David Baldwin. Alan Barrett made the moulds for the bodywork and then the bodywork itself, and I was involved with the mechanical side. Arch Motors made the chassis for the Lotus Seven Series IV.
Note: Sometime after publishing this article from John Robinson, I was in contact with David Baldwin. He advised that Peter Lucas was the designer of the Lotus Seven Series IV. Peter Lucas was also responsible for designing the extra triangulation required for the Series 3 Twin-Cam SS cars.
We worked in a large lock-up garage across the road from the main factory and we started with a Series 3 in the first place.
With known problems with the suspension on the Series 3, we first looked at the front suspension, as the bump steer was very bad i.e. 3/4″ toe out on full droop of the suspension, going to 1″ toe-in on full bump. This was almost all removed by raising the rack and pinion up by around 2″ and at the ball joint end replacing the joints with a racing type adjustable joint.
The rear suspension was a different matter and I can remember quite clearly the day I re-learned how to weld. On the Series 3 there was an ‘A’ frame that located the axle, this David had re-designed for the Series 4 to the 2-piece system i.e. a small “A” and a separate link. I made up the required jig for these frames and proceeded to make the frames. I went and fitted them on the car and checked that the suspension worked, and called David to check that it was installed how he had designed it. He promptly jumped into the car and took the car to the test track with me as passenger, where he proceeded to drive the car far quicker than I had ever been before.
When we finally arrived back at the workshop with me still shaking at the thought of the welds on the suspension that I had made. I rang across to the fabrication workshop where I made immediate plans for later that day to learn how to weld properly, as that was the first time I had ever made anything that complicated!
Other modifications were tried on the Series 3 and my wife and I would go off with the car most nights and drive for 100 miles to test the mods. My aunt in Bournemouth (Dorset, U.K.) was not surprised to see us drop in for a cup of tea before returning home, some 300 miles round trip on a Sunday.
As mentioned previously, the fabrication of the Series 4 took about 2 years to complete and I was involved in setting up the production in the main factory. This was when I was approached by Tim Goss.
John Robinson on the Series IV production line with a Twin Cam, photos courtesy Lotus Press Office, Stewart White, and Eastern Daily Press.
Motor Sport Magazine Article on Lotus Components.
Reprinted with the kind permission of the Editor of Motor Sport Magazine (2021).
Lotus Seven enthusiast Martyn Heesom, kindly sent me an article from Motor Sport Magazine dated April 1970. It featured a visit to Lotus Components Limited by Mike Doodson also known as M.G.D.
Following is an abridged version of the full article, featuring Mike Warner as the driving force behind ‘Components’ as it was known. Many of Components’ accomplishments with other Lotus racing cars were documented in the article, but I have geared this page more towards Mike Warner and his association with the Series 4 or IV Seven.
“Colin Chapman has supplied the vehicles for club drivers to use since the Lotus 6 was announced and today there is a separate Lotus company to continue in the tradition. It is called Lotus Components and it has its own factory, which is part of the huge new complex which houses Lotus Cars and Team Lotus. The first duty of its thrusting 31-year-old Managing Director Mike Warner is to make a profit, and Warner in turn is able to keep down costs because he is a properly trained production engineer.”
“Chapman has never interfered with the day-to-day running of his company’s individual parts: apart from anything else, the Lotus empire is now far too big for one man to control. Mike Warner is typical of the new breed of young professional men who have taken over from the the traditional greasy-overalled genius in a one horse garage who has plenty of good ideas, but not enough capital to put them into practice.”
“A Lotus employee for ten years (with one short break), Warner briefly raced a 750 Special which he racedhimself. Admitting that he felt that he would never make the grade as a driver, he moved to Lotus, becoming a mechanic and ultimately in charge of the Lotus-Cortina project before it was taken over entirely by Ford. He is very conscious that he represents the Lotus image to customers, and is always approachable, for instance, on the telephone.”
The article was followed by:
The New Lotus Seven Sports Car
“The most interesting Components project at present is the Lotus 7, Series 4, several of which were in the course of construction to be ready in time for last month’s announcement. The old 7 had simply become far too expensive to manufacture: there were too many tubes and a lot of unnecessary aluminium panelling. In fact, the 7 was costing as much to make as a high performance racing model. Warner believed passionately that there was still a market for a car in the Lotus 7 idiom and despite a certain amount of disagreement from the top, he got the go-ahead to create a replacement which retained the character of its predecessor as well as upholding the Lotus tradition of good handling.
The result is an amusing exercise which will probably be taken very seriously by a large number of young people who are looking fo a car which is cheap, light and different. The styling, such as it is, is entirely in the 7 tradition and there is the bonus of increased weather protection and a larger boot space. The basis of is a pair of double ladder-section side members joined together by fabricated bulkheads, notable at the instrument panel. Reinforcement down the sides is by steel sheet and the bodywork is entirely in glass-fibre. Lotus 7 owners will not be sorry to learn that the footwell and sides of the passenger’s compartment are of one-piece “bathtub” type which guarantees freedom from draughts in the nether regions, although a baler will probably be required on rainy days. Nevertheless, weather protection is improved: sliding sidescreens become a feature for the 7 for the first time ever. The bonnet folds forward in one piece and there are flared wings of the type which first became popular on the Lotus Super 7. There is a considerable weight saving, although rear suspension continues to be by rigid axle (Escort) and coil springs. Front suspension utilises Europa wishbones and a prototype car has survived a hammering on the pave section at MIRA.
Although there is a new one-off Lotus 7 being successfully raced in Clubman’s Formula events at the present time, customers will be offered a racing version of the 7 S4, probably with a de Dion rear suspension, and this will be reasonably priced at around £650. Warner feels that Clubman’s racing is still worthwhile, despite the introduction of such expensive new forms of club racing as the Formula F100 two-seater Formula Ford.
Although the major part of Lotus’ income will continue to come from Elans and Europas which surround the Wymondham factory in such colourful profusion, it is appropriate that Lotus Components continues to supply the young man with a real wind-in-the-face motor car at a reasonable price. With such a full range of racing cars-and racing engines too nowadays-available, Lotus Components is assuredly the most professional of all the racing companies. And its products are once again in a position to give the customer what he wants: a competi- tive car with spares available at short notice, which is capable of winning races. —M. G. D.”