as told by Barry Flegg and Dave Walden
with Restoration Updates by current owner Richard McArthur
The Lotus 7Y, Constructed and Raced by Barry Flegg (and written by)
We shortened the chassis length by 4 inches and lowered the height by 2″. The under tray was a sheet of mag. alloy to help rigidity of the chassis. All other panels were of very thin aluminium. The top rail of the tail of the chassis was inclined to create a wedge shaped effect, with a tonneau cover causing good downward force at speed (acting like a rear wing).
Independent with Triumph Herald uprights. We manufactured front hubs from a billet of aluminum. My father did all the machining, as he was a fitter and turner. He made me saw the ‘billet’ into two pieces. I think it took me about a week!! Much lighter than the original Herald cast iron ones. There was nothing else available in those days. The Upper Wishbone was my own design and was attached on the under-side of the upright. This was achieved by reversing the taper on the upper ball-joint. Machined the taper off to parallel (straight). Then manufacturing a taper with a slot, this was placed in from the top and the ball-joint from underneath (I could probably send a sketch). This achieved to compensate taking 2″ out of the chassis height, making the car lower in height. A10 Armstrong shock absorbers fully adjustable. Lower Wishbone using a ball-joint from a Rover 2000, removing the taper manufacturing an internal acme thread to suit Triumph Herald Upright (adjustable rose joint) on a conventional wishbone.
Lotus Elan diff., Lotus ’61 uprights. 4 trailing link rods, all adjustable. Drive shafts manufactured from Rover 80 tail-shafts (no donuts). A10 fully adjustable Armstrong shocks.
Triumph Herald fronts. DS11 pads (Ferodo). Elan rears inboard standard pads. Brake balance system of my own design (tandem adjustable front to rear balance adjustment). Did fail once at Castle Combe causing a crash and a DNF!!
Front mounted two row, mounted at 45 degrees inclined forward. The front nose cone was modified with a drooped snout i.e. pointed downwards. The area between the engine and radiator then had an alloy panel fitted at approx. 45 degrees rearwards to force the air up and outwards (acting as downforce to the front end). No air passed through the engine bay.
1000 c.c. Broadspeed. Was originally built by Ralph Broad. I purchased from him after the BOAC 500 at Brands Hatch ’69 (Laurie Hickman drove the 1 litre Escort) I used the Engine in my old Lotus 7 Series 1 to win the 1969 Lotus 7 Championship (sponsored by Lotus). We used the Engine just the once in the last round. The Engine had originally had fuel injection (not eligible in Clubmans!). We manufactured inlet manifolds to suit 40 IDF Webber Carbs. The Engine was canted over to 45 degrees to lower the Engine and the centre of gravity. The carbs protruded vertically from a shaped cut-out formed in the aluminium bonnet. The Engine produced approx. 127 BHP and revved to 7,500 RMP. Dry Sump (modified by myself) as the Engine, when in the Escort, was upright. It had a double plate sintered bronze clutch (hydraulic). A.8 Cosworth Camshaft, gear driven. Ignition was Lucas. 10 m spark plugs. All other Engine parts were Cosworth. All good stuff in those days!
We used Dunlop Green Spots and Firestone YB11’s.
Were from a Brabham Formula 3. Size (from memory) 7″ fronts and 9″ rears by 13 dia.
They were very controversial at the time. They were manufactured by a Team member and made from fibreglass. We had many heated discussions with Scrutineers regarding legality meeting regulations (We won the day!).
Ford Bullet Box. 4 speed close ratio. All magnesium casings, bellhousing and tailshaft.In 1970 we had 15 races. We won 12. One Second. Two DNF’s. In one of the DNF’s we held the outright lead for 2 laps, in front of the 7 X at Castle Coombe (that is when we had brake failure or engine??). We did put the 7Y alongside the 7X on the front row at Ford Sports Day at Brands.
– Some Dates are from Auto Sport Magazine and are ‘published’ dates and not necessarily ‘race day’ dates! I will try to find more info. if required?
THRUXTON…………………….7/5/70 and 3/9/70
RUFFORTH (NOW CLOSED)………..Can’t find the date!
Australia.Photos: Lotus Newsletter Pages 1 thru 11 Lotus newsletter approximately 1964
I e-mailed Barry Flegg, and he must have been on the phone the instant he read the e-mail, as I received e-mails in return from two of his old buddies in the U.K.! Dave must be quite a character – attached is his e-mail to Barry…Also, I am trying to determine from Barry if, in fact, the engine was ever canted over at 45 degrees, as it certainly wasn’t in these pics, and Dave does not remember it ever being canted over.
From: dave walden
Date: February 8, 2010
I had a phone call from Barry Flegg in Oz this morning and he told me about the your interest in the 7Y. He thought you might like to see, and maybe use, the attached photos. I helped build the car with Barry – I spent many, mostly happy, hours often long into the night working on the car. I remember in particular working the whole of a Christmas day, apart from a short break for turkey lunch(!) drilling and riveting the floor pan in place. My mother was not best pleased! That’s me in the car with very dirty hands, so we’d obviously been doing something. In the second one that’s Barry standing at the front.
From: dave walden
Date: 24 December 2009
Hi Barry.Rosemary kept her promise then and made you sit down and write to me!! It’s good to hear from you and to see the photo. I’ve attached the only 2 I have of the 7Y. I haven’t any action ones at all. If I had the camera I now have it would have been easier!
Was it that car or the first one I spent most of one Christmas with a template clamping it to the frame, drilling holes and riveting the floor pan on?!! I wouldn’t mind a pound for all the hours we spent working on the cars, but it was great for me as a way of getting involved in a sport I couldn’t afford myself. I still have a laugh about some of the memories – like driving into the paddock at Castle Combe late at night and demolishing a load of oil drums waking up all the campers!
These are photos of the 7Y from a chap in the U.K., and below, verification from Barry Flegg regarding the engine location.
[re 7Y] Yes, you are right about the chassis – it was a Series 2/3 frame which, as you know, I modified by lowering it 2 inches and reducing the overall length. I don’t know whether I mentioned that the under tray was of a mag alloy? You are also correct about the engine being upright, from memory it was probably a later car I built that I carried out that alteration. I did receive a part-picture of the article you sent with myself and David Wakefield in the photo – he actually won the race outright, I finished 2nd and 1st in class. The disappointing thing was that I actually went faster in 2 later races in a sports car and Formula Libra race same day winning both classes. I remember going to the presentation night, David got an enormous rose bowl and myself an egg cup size trophy!!! I still have the receipt from Caterham cars for the purchase of the 7Y before my modifications. It had been previously raced in The Channel Islands, for sand racing.
I chanced across your Website last night whilst trying to find some details about the Lotus 7y. A car I now own, or should I say the remnants of ! as the car was rebuilt as another clubman car after an accident. If you would like some more details on what has happened to the car to date I would be more than happy to let you know.
Many thanks, Richard McArthur
Thank you for your e-mail. If you would like more information on the rebuilt 7Y, and haven’t yet checked other on-line sources, the Autosport Forum has (had?) photographs and contributors messages regarding this version. I have some photos and information on the rebuilt 7Y from when it was first advertised in one of the U.K. magazines and put up for auction a few times (in the mid 2000s possibly?). I even considered purchasing it myself as it went unsold for quite some time, being advertised at a reasonable price. Shipping to Canada however, would have been very expensive, and in my hands it would have received limited racing use. It was finally purchased by a gentleman who successfully raced and, I believe, hill-climbed the car. Paul Matty then advertised the car for sale again.
After Barry Flegg sold the original 7Y back in the 70s, it was raced, crashed and virtually written off. I understand that two gentlemen who worked for BMC purchased the wreckage and re-built the car to its newest form, mainly using the old suspension and drive train components. It has had a couple of Crossflow engines fitted, originally advertised for sale with a 1300 c.c. Crossflow, then later a 1600 c.c. engine. I can scan the items that I found on line if you do not already have them. Barry Flegg advised me that he viewed the new 7Y (possibly last year, as I recall), and said that it has not strayed too much from its original form, but that he thought someone was going to transform it back to the way he originally constructed it. Not sure if this will happen of course, but it would be interesting to follow the story of this car, which although not Lotus factory sponsored, did almost as well as the factory 7X.
I would be very interested in learning of any other information that you have obtained regarding this model.
Regards, Bill Fayers
Yes that someone is me! I purchased the car last year from Paul Matty who was selling it on behalf of John Palmer. I had known about the car for several years before that in various forms of decay but could not afford to buy it at the time! So when I saw it up for sale at Paul Mattys and with the distinct possibility of it being sold abroad, I decided it was now or never. I managed to get in contact with Barry and spoke to him a few times about the car and he seemed a little sceptical about the provenance of what I had purchased. Luckily he was coming over to England for the first time since the 80s to visit old friends and go along to the Goodwood Revival and again as luck would have it he was staying a few miles away from my house. This was too much of an opportunity to be missed so I invited him and another friend of his Alan Collins who used to work on the car around to take a look. Barry went around the car noting what was original, he even recognised the hubs which he machined out of billet alloy all those years ago and gave the car his blessing saying it was indeed his old car albeit now looking slightly different and we were all in agreement that the original body style needed to go back on, this will hopefully start to happen this winter and an original S2 nose cone is now in my garage awaiting modification. Incidentally the guy who I purchased the nose cone from had just finished restoring Piers Courage’s old Lotus 7!
I have written an article about the car which appeared in the Historic Lotus Club magazine and have spoken to a couple of people who have owned the car in the past; I’m always trying to find out some more of its history. Any pictures or history that you have I would be most interested in and if you would like any more details on the car and its current spec please feel free to ask. I have included a picture of what it looks like now.
Thank you for the up-date, and if I may, I will forward this to John Donohoe (SimpleSevens.org), as it was he who advised me that the 7Y was up for sale again at Paul Matty Sports Cars, either last year, or perhaps the year before. John is a great guy, loves anything Lotus 7, and offered a few years ago to put the information that I had gained (from John Robinson, Barry Foley, Barry Flegg etc.) on to his web site. John is still in the midst of re-building the site, which he had to dismantle and then re-build as his firm was allowing him to use parts of their system for his collection of information.
The penny didn’t drop that it was you and not John Palmer who had met Barry Flegg last year. I think Alan Collins e-mailed me also, and I think it was he who sent me some scanned photos of the original 7Y. They came out a bit fuzzy when clicked on – on the Simple Sevens site, but they look good. Barry never mentioned who he had visited, so I assumed it was still Mr. Palmer. Good for you for planning an original re-build and it will look great when it is back in original form. Please keep in touch regarding the progress of the car, and if and when you decide to, perhaps it could be placed on John’s Simple Sevens site as your contribution – not mine – to the continuing story of the Lotus 7 race cars? Coincidentally, last night I found the Historic Lotus Club site, and have inquired regarding the issues you contributed to (15 and 17?) and cost of membership. I would like to read your articles to gain insight into the car.
Best regards, Bill Fayers
Yes I had only owned the car for a few months when Barry came over and had not done much to it. John Palmer sold the car to buy a Lotus 61 and whilst he did not do much in the way of research about the car he certainly spent a lot of money updating and preparing it as the car is mechanically excellent. If you need any more info or pics of the car just ask and I will happily provide them. I have included a picture of Barry reunited with the car when he came over last year. The Historic Lotus club by the way is brilliant and the owner John Oakley is very helpful in all matters Lotus.
Speak to you soon, Richard