Millenium 7, the South African replica of the Lotus 7, designed and built by Colin Chapman in England in 1957, will be available to more enthusiasts in the future.So far, about 20 cars have been built or are in the process of being built and Chris Carstens is the main driver of the project.The Millennium 7 may become available for export to Australia, Japan, and the United Kingdom. In Malaysia, maybe Proton can ask Lotus to produce back the updated versions of the original Lotus 7 as a marketing strategies.
In fact, 90 companies from around the world have built some form of replica of the Lotus 7 over the years. A number of these projects have involved South Africans, and many of the locally-made replicas have found homes overseas as exports, a nod to the quality of these local builds.
The Millennium 7 is built on a smallholding just north of Kempton Park in Gauteng, but demand for the Millennium 7 is so great that Carstens is planning to erect a second construction facility to deal with an increased production run.
Alastair Gibson, former chief mechanic at Honda F1, is an enthusiastic supporter of the project and provides Carstens with valuable input. Others involved in the Millennium 7 project include specialists from the Kempton Park area that provide skills such as spray painting, machining, laser cutting and exhaust fabrication.
Foreign interest in the project has been shown too, with a sample car having been sent to Australia for homologation. This is a truly great thing for the local project, and could lead to exports to other markets such as the United Kingdom and Japan in the coming years.
The Millennium 7 makes use of a space frame covered by aluminium to increase stiffness, while bodywork is made of glass fibre and weighs less than 40kg. The cabin is bigger than that of the original 7 to accommodate those of a larger build though, and the complete Millennium 7 weighs 700kg with a Toyota 4-cylinder motor in it, which means that performance is stunning to say the least.
The Millenium 7 can also be supplied in kit form for those who wish to build it up themselves, which would go for about 150 000 Rand or about €13,500.
.A large variety of engines can be fitted to the Millennium 7, although the most popular choices come from Ford and Toyota. Carstens is currently looking at restructuring the company so that a dedicated operation exists for making up the kits and assembling the cars to a standard specification, as spec has been varied up until this point.
The intention is that a 2-litre Ford engine will be the powerplant for the so called standard car and it will be paired with a Ford Type 9 gearbox, which will mean affordable spares as well as the advantage providing scope for modifying the motors for improved performance if desired.