The Lotus Seven was launched in 1957, after the Lotus Eleven was in limited production. The Seven name was left over, due to a model that was abandoned by Lotus; a car that would have seen Lotus entering Formula Two with a Riley-engined single-seater in 1952 or 1953. However, the car was completed around Chapman's chassis as a sports car by its backers and christened the Clairmonte Special. Based on Chapman's first series-produced Lotus 6, the Seven was powered by a 40 bhp Ford Side-valve 1,172 cc engine. It was mainly for lower budget club racing on short tracks (750 motor club).
The British tax system of the time (Purchase Tax) meant the car could be supplied as a kit (known as "completely knocked down" or CKD) without attracting the tax surcharge that would apply if sold in assembled form. Tax rules specified assembly instructions could not be included, but in a typical Chapman-inspired piece of lateral thinking, there was no rule covering the inclusion of disassembly instructions. Hence all the enthusiast had to do was to follow these in reverse.
Having joined the EEC on 1 January 1973, the UK had to abolish Purchase Tax and adopt VAT instead. VAT does not allow for concessions such as "CKD", so the tax advantage of the kit-built Lotus Seven came to an end. In 1973, Lotus decided to shed fully its "British tax system"-inspired kit car image and concentrate on limited series motor racing cars. As part of this plan, it sold the rights to the Seven to its only remaining agents Caterham Cars. After a brief period producing the Series 4, including assembly of the last "kits" supplied by Lotus, Caterham introduced their version of the Series 3, and have been manufacturing and refining this car ever since as the Caterham Seven.
Since the design of the Lotus Seven is so simple, over 160 companies have offered replicas or Seven-type cars over the years. Such cars are often referred to as "sevenesque" or simply a "seven" or "se7en". Sometimes they are also called clubmans. Some examples are :
- McGregor Motorsport Ltd (New Zealand) Lotus 7 replica kits and manufacturers
- Marc Nordon Racing Vortx RT, RT+ and RT Super
- Luego Sports Cars Velocity and V8 Viento in UK
- Almac a kit car manufacturer in New Zealand
- Caterham owns the rights to reproduce the Lotus Super Seven
- Dax Cars ltd
- Deman Motorsport
- Westfield Sportscars produces several models
- PRB Clubman - manufactured Peter R Bladewell in Strathfield, Sydney Australia.
- Stalker V6 Clubman by Brunton Automotive
- Raptor by Tornado Sports Cars
- Donkervoort from Netherlands with Audi-Turbo-Engines
- HKT from Germany also with Audi-Turbo-Engines
- Hauser from Switzerland with BMW engines
- Tiger Z100, Tiger R6, Tiger B6 & Tiger Cat E1 from Tiger Racing Ltd
- MAC #1
- MK Indy from MK Engineering (using Ford Sierra parts)
- Mitsuoka Zero 1 from Toyama, Japan
- ESTfield from RaceTech (using Lada parts)
- Several models from Robin Hood Engineering Ltd
- Dala7 (a taller and wider design using Volvo parts)
- Rotus, originally built with components from Japan and a Mazda rotary engine
- Superformance S1 Roadster
- Leitch Super Sprint, Leitch Industries, Invercargill, New Zealand
- Fraser Clubman from Fraser Cars Ltd
- Vindicator Sprint and the four seat Vindicator Family by Vindicator Cars
- Irmscher 7
- Elfin, Australian manufacturer of the MS8 (V8 powered) and Type 3 Clubman
- Lucalia Clubman, Lucalia Partnerships, Tasmania, Australia; mostly Japanese mechanicals
- Super Martin from France
- Pegasus Automobile from Germany.
- FM Westfield from Flyin' Miata
- Birkin S3, Lotus 7 replica
Source: Wikipedia Lotus 7 Article