SUBJECT: Lotus Super Seven 1957-1973/ Caterham Super Seven 1973 on
MANUFACTURER: Anson [Ontrade Industrial Ltd] Ref no.30317-W
MATERIALS: Die Cast and other materials eg.resin
APPROXIMATE DIMENSIONS: model 200 X75 X50 mm approx.; plus original box [320x145x110 mm approx.]
APPROXIMATE YEAR OF MANUFACTURE: Not known
The above item has entered the archive and the editors feel that their quality and importance is worthy of review. Their design content is significant and they provide benchmarking and assist the study of comparative aesthetics.
Some model reviews include technical detail of the original model. Here the editors concentrate on the models inherent qualities and their contribution to aesthetic analysis with the belief that our subscribers will be totally familiar with the specifications. All models reviewed are considered to have direct or indirect links with Lotus through competition and/or aesthetics.
Please see editors drawing representing this item.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MODEL
Anson appears to be a brand name of Ontrade, the manufacturer but details are not available. They market a series of models in 1/18th. Including BMW, the 246 GT Dino and Porsche 911 [google Anson metal models] there are several versions of Caterham Seven with minor differences of appearance. This item recalls the 35th anniversary model with its green body and yellow stripe [see Tipler’s book –reference below]. The model is therefore presented with a Caterham emphasis which extends to the exhaust protector, high-back seats and Minilite wheels. Made in China they appear made on modern equipment and to a high standard.
First impressions of the Seven /Caterham are excellent. It’s a real gem. It combines a tactile quality with a real authenticity that real enthusiasts will love and students of aesthetics and coach building can readily explore. This piece radiates a soul and communicates in the main an essence of the original.
This model invites being held, examined from all angles and savoured.
It is made from several materials and these all coexist and are made to consistent scale. As a consequence the model is thoroughly integrated and heterogeneous.
The Seven/Caterham is known to be iconic and its powerful aesthetic is readily and recognisable interpreted in this handsome piece.
It’s a real cracker and very good value for money.
AESTHETIC ANALYSIS-see editor’s drawings
Manwaring in “Automobiles” observes of the Seven [Seven & Super Seven 1500] appearance:-
“Small, stark two seater of very low build. Small almost rectangular radiator intake, thrust forward of front wheels, Front suspension fully exposed, small high-set headlamps. ”Strip” mudguards at front, [long flowing front wings] those at rear are integrated with body. Flat one piece windscreen and cut away body sides at cockpit. Flat tail with externally mounted spare wheel .Exhaust projects from nearside of body. Simple disc wheels [with simple hubcaps]
Please also see A&R dedicated article on the Lotus Seven and drawings which will assist in the comprehension of the design.
This model is approved by Caterham Cars Ltd. Although labelled as Lotus 1957 enthusiasts will note the slight inaccuracy .The model is closer to that of the Caterham.
However it does have considerable scope for customisation. Many owners are likely to acquire this model for the purpose of recasting it as a Lotus Seven Series II or III which might be done relatively easily.
This model is produced in the attractive scale of 1:18.
The editors feel there is much to commend it and would note:-
- The attractive consistent body colour. Evident quality – achieved through combination of metal and plastic parts and empathy with subject. . The model captures the era. Quality of the casting is mainly excellent
- “Presence/ ambience” and tactile quality and weight.
- Nicely proportioned with loads of presence , readily recognisable
- Appropriate scale throughout in the main
- The realism and capturing of the real cars personality and character
- Nicely detailed cockpit and realistic steering wheel
- All the lights are nicely detailed with chrome and not over done
- The windscreen not an easy piece to scale has the finesse of the original
- Even the rear view mirror appears correct
- This particular model is provided with the extra accessories of tonneau and roll bar or fixed hood
- Nicely packaged the container has three transparent sides and it comes with a base announcing it as Caterham Super Seven.
- The bonnet lifts away reveals and engine that seems to be fitted with a twin carburettor set up and in many respects is ideal to be presented in this form
- The model is pleasing to handle and extremely attractive from all angles
- The tyres are older style and of narrow section contributing to authenticity
- The model is easily detached from its base and can therefore be exhibited or interpreted in various backgrounds
- Cockpit is attractively detailed and worthy of view / examination
- The quality of the base invites customisation or modification to specific Seven
As noted from remarks the editors found this an exciting, reasonably accurate and attractive model to own. There seems to be no obvious faults. The editor’s only minor criticism are that the item is more Caterham than Lotus As standard it has a Minilite wheels and a protector over the exhaust and high backed seats with head restraints, but with the volume of Caterham sold many owners will welcome /expect this feature.
Not every detail is totally accurate but this can be understood as a commercial consideration of standardisation and economics. This model might be inexpensive and unviable otherwise. They do not distract from the overall quality and appearance. They can be forgiven and many enthusiastic models are capable of rectifying these small failings. All of these might be customised relatively easily to create authenticity. The model offers considerable potential .The larger scale makes this easier and indeed more detail can be include.
Obviously in a model of this price the space frame cannot be highly detailed; however such is the quality of the external package many model enthusiasts might be tempted to create a scale space frame chassis just to reinforce the relationship of form and function and display them side by side. As mentioned with a little extra care and detailing around the engine bay this would be truly inspiring piece.
Model manufacturers find the all-enveloping bodies easier to model so it’s particularly welcome to have this piece at this larger scale.
The editors warmly commend it and feel it value for money
At approximately 8inches [205mm] long the model is comfortably handled. This elevation emphasises the long low and aggressively functional compactness. The distinctive cockpit cut out being a practical compromise in relation to a space frame chassis enabling relative ease of entry by stepping over and voiding doors which would tend to remove structural rigidity. Fitted with the clamshell wings for the American market [with regard to H&S issues] along with improved driver passenger comfort they harmonise well and in fact complement the overall concept.
Of course the model can easily be viewed from near and offside and it will be noted the traditional external low level side exit exhaust in this case with a protector with credit to the makers the perforations in the sheet look about right]
The wheels are the Minilite type. They are ok and correct for some Caterham’s and possibly easily modified or exchanged for a pressed steel disc type.
The rake of the windscreen appears accurate and the frame and supports delicate and to scale.
In side elevation form and function are easily read and weight distribution self-evident. The driver and passenger within the sprung mass and providing weight close to the rear axle.
This model is particularly attractive inside elevation displayed with the bonnet removed
In this elevation all the essential visual clues, characteristics and canon of the Seven are present and very evident.
Visually the viewer’s eye is immediately drawn to the “chrome” effect grill bars. This sits low in the nose cone flanked symmetrically by the clamshell wings over skinny tyres and the nice high perched Lucas headlamps and pre-war torpedo sidelights. As mentioned this model possesses a windscreen with a delicate frame and run your finger along this and pick out the pop fasteners for the hood. Even the windscreen wipers are included and the scuttle mounted rear view mirror.
The rear elevation again picks up on the Seven’s major distinguishing features of the exposed rear wheel and number plate carrier.
The rear mudguards are slim line and suggest the Series Two when the Seven was still on relatively narrow tyres. Set in the wings are the stop and indicator lamps again correctly positioned, to scale and appropriately coloured plastic –in fact attractively realistic and sympathetic . A nice cameo detail
PLAN VIEW AND UNDERSIDE
The plan view clearly demonstrates the compact two seater, dictated by the minimum cockpit width for two people. Very evident is the relatively long bonnet and nose cone extending beyond the front wheels. The suitcase size rectangular storage space is demarcated behind the seats .Students of motor design will possibly detect in plan view the communality with pre-war sports car design .All the canon are present- the clamshell front wings, the open cockpit, small boot /petrol tank and external spare wheel mounted at the extremity [ not just practicality but also assisting handling]. This plan view is redolent of pre-war MG, Jaguar. Morgan and Squire sports cars.
Held in the hands and rotated the owner can perform a type of CAD and appreciate the form function and 3d interaction of the design. This Anson version invites and encourages this form of learning/ appreciation.
With the bonnet removed the engine is readily available [it displays the characteristic of a Ford 109E or possibly Cosworth fitted with possibly twin Webber carburettors. Also evident are the gearbox, bell housing, hydraulic master cylinders, battery and firewall.
Turned over and examined from the underside the model is reasonably accurate accept for the chassis [manufacture/assembly economics as mentioned] it does capture the essentials of the engine, sump gearbox and bell housing.
The manufactures attempt to detail the suspension front and rear but this suffers a little bit. Although the rigid rear axle is present.
As mentioned the strength of this item is the detachable pieces and the various permutations of interpretation this permits. There is a tonneau /roll bar option and a fixed hood. The bonnet can be removed and the editors believe the model is very powerful in this mode and with minor additional detailing might resemble a scratch made item.
Wheels and tyres
Although the Minilite type these have nice fine detail. They are clean and sharp. The tyres are slim and tall and sit correctly with a tread pattern they appear the correct width and sunk slightly into the wheel arches. The model seems to have the right ride height. It’s easy to forget that the aesthetic of the cars of the 1950’s was particularly determined by the tall wheel/tyre diameters.
The model is given an exhaust system fixed to the body externally and providing the well documented danger for passengers existing on the originals. They are in chrome effect with a modern protector which might be altered to increase accuracy / authenticity.
The body of the Seven is nicely executed and it retains all the simple straightforward self-expressive proportions of the original. It captures accurately the intentions of Chapman [see A&R devoted article on the Seven] the paintwork in Green with a yellow stripe down the bonnet and nose cone [other options available in the range] is deep and lustrous and particularly set off by the chrome effect trim. The combination of the two is restrained and understated and particularly bring out or accentuate the sharp angular by necessity proportions of the Seven.
It’s a rewarding exercise to hold this model and rotate it through many angles in order to appreciate the 3D integration and assimilation of form and function.
The bonnet opens to reveal the engine see plan view.
The editors felt that all the trim associated with the Seven is done well and handled in a consistent manner and to scale; over-heavy items would spoil and be an immediate give away. The headlamps appear accurate and the plastic nicely resembles the period glass mouldings. These suggest the larger Lucas that replaced the smaller items and became more practical for night driving and consistent with the speed the car provided. Equally the screen wiper blades are about right.
The editors have commented on the consistency of the product and there appears to be very strict discipline throughout. Small details like the manufacturer’s badges and bonnet louvers are just about right within economic reason for this range.
The cockpit and dash suggests the Series 2 Lotus Seven with the revcounter positioned on the passenger side. The prop shaft tunnel is about the correct width and runs through the car into the backrest. The gear change level only just protrudes and is extremely close to the steering wheel as on the original. The seats included are a modern high back with inbuilt head restraints but these might be easily removed and substituted with bench type. The steering wheel appears close to the correct scale and the dashboard although totally the wrong colour has rocker switches which are raised from the surface. Anson provide foot wells with this model and certain modellers might wish and easily insert scale driver, for the purpose of creating extra realism etc.
The editors have seen many models ruined by over large frames possibly introduced as commercial compromises but this piece is perfect in the overall feeling of minimalist delicacy, weight and size. When one considers just how slim the original frame and rubbers are then translate this to 1/18th the true care and skill can be appreciated. What could so easily and visibly detract from the whole experience has been executed with real refinement…… and it shows. The plastic looks gives the right degree of transparency and passes fairly convincingly for glass. Really without saying the wiper blades are correct too. Good visibility is evident accept perhaps for the rear view mirror that might struggle to clear the spare wheel!
Engine and boot detail
The engine is attractively detailed [see plan view paragraph] it would certainly benefit from a few extra details easily introduced. The “boot” which in period allowed for a carry cot or suitcase is immediately behind the seats, the same width as the cockpit and possibly 6-8 inches deep. It provides storage for folded hood and side screens also has the possibility of fixing the alternative options mentioned [tonneau /roll bar of fixed hood to front windscreen]
The model is fixed to a plastic plinth on which is an identification label which gives brief information on the engine. The display box has a wrap round piece of acetate cellophane that allows the model to be seen from near & off side and plan view. The Anson logo appear on the box. The specification or dimensions are given as:-
Wheel base: 2250mm
The scale as 1/18th in the top rhs.
SUPPORTING AND RELATED INFORMATION
So much has been written about the Seven the editors would recommend our bibliography contained in our dedicated article .This ought to be useful to enthusiastic modellers intent on modifying this model to more precise and accurate specification
The editors consider the Anson an extremely evocative piece. Its evident quality as measured through weight, attention to detail etc. it immediately chime. It’s also robust.
As a model it has tactile qualities that neither photographs nor drawings can replicate.
It totally captures and importantly communicates the essence and authenticity of the original, invites ownership, benefits from detailed examination and is inspirational.
In this instance it also provides lessons to the engineer designer how a sports car of high specification and performance can be ideally packaged. For the visually literate this piece is an education .For those in the design professions it’s a piece that you might wish to own and display as permanent source of inspiration. It rather reaches out and communicates to all those privileged to study it.
There are few cars as iconic as the Seven. The editors believe this model is a gem and worthy of ownership and study. We often allude to interpretation in the museum context, and we would suggest that this model provides a practical and realistic means of doing so .Its size and cost means that many will be able to comprehend the conceptual ideas through careful examination and cross reference with published material and road tests. There are many routes into a through grasp of the Chapman design methodology/ mantra but the editors would suggest that first hand examination and analysis of a quality model of this scale is one of the finest and most likely to explain that Chapman had a very refined aesthetic sensitivity above mere engineering logic.
The editors would submit that many design professionals /literate ought to experience this model for the intense inspiration it provides. Others may like to display it in order to reinforce and communicate their own design ethos.
Not all will be privileged to own or drive a Seven but this model goes a long way to explain the iconic status and fundamental correctness of the original design. Careful study and analysis will be richly rewarded. The Chapman design manta will be revealed and hopefully absorbed by the connectivity of form and function. Few vehicle designs are so aggressively self-evident. Enjoy
Of course at this scale many owners might easily wish to convert the model into a direct replica of their own car. This item is considered good value for money.
Purpose and Function of Scale Models.
They permit the following with relative ease.
- Affordable and collectable in relative volume
- Easily and attractively stored or displayed
- Provide near infinite groupings by theme or function etc. including benchmarking and peer comparison
- Relative scale permits realism and reliable body shape contour comparison etc.
- The evolution of the marque to be studied and traced
- Value to artist and draftsmen / designers – opportunity for tactile analysis of form and function.
- Value to students of coachwork design
- General value to the automobile enthusiast
- They provide inspiration to child and adult increasing their appreciation of design.
- They offer meaningful learning opportunities integrating design construction, attention to detail, patience and timetabling.
- They are examples of a branch of design and model engineering worthy of study in their own right.
The Proposed CCM&EC
The proposed museum believes that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.
For these reasons our Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period. It’s suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.
In particular it’s intended to have a range of scale models and books/publications supporting model making / detailing for various age groups ranging in complexity and price. These will be consistent/ complementary with exhibitions and permanent displays. Furthermore they might serve to encourage students and visitors to examine exhibits for minute detail that they can incorporate in the construction/ customisation of their models. There are many models and manufactures to choose from and the proposed museum can retail collector’s items alongside contemporary subjects.
The A&R will regularly feature scale models from its collection. We are always pleased to receive reviews from others or recommendations. We are happy to review pieces on behalf of manufacturers or suppliers
Lotus and Caterham Seven.Tipler.Crowood.1995.
The A&R have many books and articles on Seven aesthetics that ought to help the model maker reconstruct the Lotus Seven and subscribers might like to see A&R drawings featuring the Seven in several versions.