Somewhere during it's life, the original 950CC BMC motor was replaced with a very similar looking 1275CC engine. This 1275 engine was poorly disguised as a 950CC motor. Someone had cheated by attaching 950 side covers with epoxy. They had also gone through the trouble of making an epoxy casting of the 950 engine stampings. The side covers came off with a whack of my hammer. The casting came off in the hot tank at the machine shop. Quite an elaborate "cheater" motor. Since the 1275 is a "proper" engine for the Seven and does put out a lot more power than the original 950, I did a standard rebuild on the 1275 motor, which was in surprisingly good shape.
Bill Truesdale at APEX in Bensenville Illinois did the machine shop work including hot tanking, a valve job, clean up cut for the head and block and polishing the crank. I re-used the pistons but installed new bearings, rings, water pump and gaskets. The car came with a single Weber 45 carb but it was butt ugly, sticking out the side of the bonnet so far that a huge hole had to be cut out for clearance. Instead, I hunted down a pair of original SU carbs and an original manifold. I had them bead blasted and rebuilt. Looks good. Looks original. Runs great.
The header was surprisingly good so I had it sand blasted and jet-hot coated. The new muffler is a stainless steel super-trapp for a Buell motorcycle. Looks great and sound great!
Web style MOWOG 4-speed transmission was in pretty good shape. I rebuilt it with new bearings, gaskets and trans-mounts. With it all rebuilt and sitting on the bench it was a real challenge trying to figure out why I couldn't shift into reverse. After talking to numerous MOWOG experts, it turned out that the trans had the wrong shifter installed. The one I got with the car being 1/8th inch too short. Don't know how the previous owner ever got into reverse! New/used Austin Healy shifter was procured, cut, bent and welded into place to fit a Seven. Shifts good now.
Early Triumph rear end was actually bent from a racing incident so it had toe out! I disassembled it, straightened it out with the help of a 200-ton press, welded in a reinforcing tube and rebuilt it with new sealed bearings. Ring, pinion and differential are in good shape.
Original radiator re-cored. New Electric fan added. Steering rack re-built. Rebuilt steering u-joint. New front and rear drum brake cylinders. Stainless steel braided front brake lines. Clutch and master cylinder rebuilt. New u-joints. Wiring harness made from scratch. Lucas period correct fuse block added to cut down on future problems. New voltage regulator and a rebuilt generator. New electric fuel pump. New horn. New battery mounted in a small battery box to keep fumes from corroding aluminum. New motor mounts. Original shocks and springs felt OK so they were sandblasted and painted. New Caterham aluminum gas tank.
Aluminum body skins
The junk that came on the car was so covered with multi-covered paint and chunking bondo that I couldn't even re-cycle it at the metal re-cycling plant. Jason Arrigo from Arrigo metal Specialist in Palos Hills Illinois made all new skins including bottom, sides, scuttle and bonnet. Very nice work -- not cheap.
The fiberglass nose, front fenders and rear fenders are not original, probably supplied from Caterham in the early 80's I would guess. They had the usual chips, stress cracks and 4 coats of multi-colored paint. I sanded them all down to raw glass, repaired where necessary, shot everything with feather fill, block sanded till all was smooth and then shot primer. After getting everything all sanded smooth I shot 3 coats of base coat, sanded with 1200 followed by 2000 grit and then shot 3 coats of clear coat. Very nice and smooth, glossy finish. Color is 1991 Lotus Esprit British Racing Green with a bright yellow stripe. The yellow is for a 2003 Saturn but it is a dead match for a 1991 Esprit. A "proper" yellow as my Esprit friends tell me. The combination perfectly matches the green/yellow of the new Lotus nose badge. Rear fenders are 9 inch wide to accommodate decent tires. Not the skinny original size and not the big ugly bulky racing versions.
Interior is done with red vinyl with white piping as per original specs. Brand new seat back and bottoms all done by K'Ns upholstery in Des Plaines, Illinois. Inside panels and dash all done with matching red vinyl and white piping to match. Pair of new, three point street seat belts. New boot cover. New Moto-lita steering wheel is period correct, small diameter and red leather. Looks gorgeous and feels great. Gauges that came with the car were garbage except for the original AC speedometer, which I had rebuilt. I roamed swap meets and the Internet to find the correct AC oil gauge and Amp-meter. I also found the correct Smiths tachometer and had it rebuilt by Mo-Ma with modern guts so the needle doesn't bounce all over the place like the originals did -- not cheap.
New Sumitomo HTR High Performance 205/60/13 rear and 175/70/13 in the front mounted on 13X6 Mini-lite copies from Italy. Best overall hi-performance street tire I could find. Center of hubs are painted yellow to match body stripe.
New Lucas front and rear turn signal lamps as well as a very nice pair of VERY RARE ORIGINAL WINGARD TAILLIGHTS!
The car is quick, nimble and a ball to drive. It drives straight. Sounds great. Runs great. Not a rocket ship by today's standards but this is what British motoring was all about 45 years ago. It is beautiful. Sure to win almost any British Car show anywhere. Take it anywhere and have heads turn and crowds swarm. Great for a Sunday drive or a tour to vintage races. Take it on touring laps at a track day and have a ball. The only little problems with the car are slight oil leaks (it's British -- if it stops leaking it's out of oil) and the Speedometer does not work. The problem with the speedo points to something in the trans as the speedometer cable does not turn. The cable is impossible to remove and replace without pulling the engine and trans and I was not willing to go through that again. Other than those little things it's great.