It was designed bi Lotus foonder Colin Chapman an haes been considered the embodiment of the Lotus philosophy o performance through low weight an simplicity. The original model wis highly successful with more than 2,500 caurs sold,
Efter Lotus ended production o the Seven, Caterham bought the rights to it, an today make both kits an fully assembled caurs based on the original design.
The Lotus Seven design haes spawned a host o imitations on the kit caur market, generally called Sevens or sevenesque roadsters. Many o those caurs ar still produced to this day. Along with manufacturer supplied kits, there ar entirely self-built sevenesque caurs ar referred to as Locosts
The Lotus Seven wis launched in 1957, efter the Lotus Eleven wis in limited production. The Seven name wis left over, due to a model that wis abandoned bi Lotus; a caur that would hae seen Lotus entering Formula Two with a Riley-engined single-seater in 1952 or 1953. However, the caur wis completed around Chapman's chassis as a sports caur bi its backers an christened the Clairmonte Special.
Based on Chapman's first series-produced Lotus Mark VI, the Seven wis pouered bi a Template:Convert/bhp Ford Side-valve 1,172 cc engine. It wis mainly for lower budget club racin on short tracks (750 motor club).
The Lotus Seven Series 2 (S2) followed in 1960, an the Series 3 (S3) in 1968. In 1970, Lotus radically changed the shape o the caur to create the slightly more conventional sized Series 4 (S4), with a squarer fibreglass shell replacing maist o the aluminium bodywork. It also offered some "luxuries" as standard, such as an internal heater matrix. The S4 model wis not widely welcomed, an Lotus sold few caurs. What is believed to be the auldest o these Series 4's survives to this day, an can be seen maist weekends aroond Sussex an Kent. A familiar face at Lotus events up an down the kintra, this wis the seicont Series 4 ever built, and haes proved critics o the S4 wrong; it's looks aging better than many predicted, an its performance an reliability unsurpassed bi any o the original Seven's.
The Breetish tax system o the time (Purchase Tax) meant the caur 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 o lateral thinkin, there wis no rule coverin the inclusion o disassembly instructions. Hence all the enthusiast haed to do wis to follow these in reverse.
Haein joined the EEC on 1 January 1973, the UK haed to abolish Purchase Tax an adopt VAT instead. VAT does not allou for concessions such as "CKD", so the tax advantage o the kit-built Lotus Seven came to an end. (Note that VAT does allou for variable ratin an even zero-ratin o certain goods an services; but the Government still opted not tae indulge the kit-builder).
In 1973, Lotus decided to shed fully its "Breetish tax system"-inspired kit caur image an concentrate on limited series motor racin caurs. As part o this plan, it sold the rights to the Seven to its anly remaining agents Caterham Cars. After a brief period producing the Series 4, including assembly o the last "kits" supplied by Lotus, Caterham introduced their version o the Series 3, an hae been manufacturing an refining this caur ever since as the Caterham Seven.