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Thread: Rotus on Bringatrailer

  1. #1
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    Default Rotus on Bringatrailer

    I don't know if people here are following along to this auction of a Rotus here:
    https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1994-rotus-7/

    However, some fascinating posts have emerged from the gentleman with forum ID "redcloud1728" on the back history to Rotus, their emergence and chassis design.


    A few words to set the record straight on Rotus cars, and Chris Custer. I was there from the beginning until Chris’s lying cheating and general dishonesty made it impossible to remain. I am in fact the person who designed the car in its entirety. Chris had no design knowledge, and hence no meaningful input. The final straw was when Chris took a deposit for 20 cars that couldn’t possibly be built, from a multi dealership owner from Japan, who later successfully sued him.

    Firstly the name. It has nothing to do with rotary engines as the first rotary powered car came much later. It was in fact Chris’s rather insulting take on the limited ability of Japanese to pronounce an L, as there is no L in their language. The car was a “Lotus 7 based on Japanese components, hence a Rotus”, his words not mine.

    The first car started with a 2TC Toyota engine, and was later fitted with a Rover V8. The second car was built for Ralph who’s last name I no longer remember, and had a 2TG (Toyota’s version of a Lotus twin cam). I built those two cars with a bit of help from an employee we called Moose.

    To the seller, if your chassis was there at the time it’s one of the chassis I skinned, and the SCCA car you saw would have been Pete LoBianco’s. I left after that and Chris hired some seriously unqualified individuals to continue building cars. They started ‘improving’ the car, redesigning the Panhard rod configuration which raised the rear roll center by about 5 or 6 inches, making the cars rather tail happy. Then they eliminated my custom gear set in the Toyota steering rack, screwed up the steering geometry to the point where the steering wheel would not self center when you let go, and for added measure threw in some bump steer, on what had been a 0 bump steer arrangement. Along with that they had no idea how to create a cowl, which is the one relatively difficult bit in the skinning of a 7. All the cowls had insufficient joggle, since they didn’t know anything about metal shrinking, so none of the hoods could be fitted flush. The reason for the front rocker arm and inboard shocks was to achieve a shock travel ratio of greater than one, resulting in excellent wheel control and an much improved ride. I designed a rocker scheme for the rear that did the same thing, but it was to expensive to produce. That same design was later independently created by someone else and sold to Suzuki, where it became the “Full Floater” rear end on their MX bikes. Even without it, both of the first two cars circulated the BF Goodrich skid pad at better than one G in 1985 on street (not auto cross special) tires. It was the first time they had ever seen it. That was with the original suspension design, with no sway bars, (which only make the good end stick worse) but with correct geometry.

    By the way nothing like 70 cars were built, by my best guess it was closer to 30, maybe 35.


    If you are interested in Rotus cars then it is worth read of the full thread and all the comments.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration - engine and dry sump install time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A
    1982 Ferrari 400i
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (fettling after long period of storage)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  2. #2
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    Mike - as you may have noticed, I have been following (I asked about photos of the inboard front suspension) this auction.

    Agree redcloud’s comments are quite interesting. Plus, looking at his BAT history, he owns/owned a Mallock!!

    A little surprised there has been no rebuttal of statements in his post.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by bball7754 View Post
    Mike - as you may have noticed, I have been following (I asked about photos of the inboard front suspension) this auction.

    Agree redcloud’s comments are quite interesting. Plus, looking at his BAT history, he owns/owned a Mallock!!

    A little surprised there has been no rebuttal of statements in his post.
    I agree. Croc thanks for sharing, I would have over looked that.

    The "BTS" to the build is quite interesting.
    2001 Caterham Superlight R

  4. #4
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    The most interesting is the later post where he says that this car was built after he left and they screwed up the design. I would have thought bidding come to a grinding halt, but that didn't happen.

    The lack of response is probably because his accusations are true.
    1987 Caterham 1700 Supersprint
    2002 Porsche Boxster
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    1941 Dodge Luxury Liner
    2009 Mercedes CLK 350 Cabriolet
    2017 Chevrolet Volt

  5. #5
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    I would take it the other way, there are only a couple of people that know the true story, maybe non left. It's just an open letter maybe with nobody to respond it. Dan on the site has owned/built a couple there was one sitting in his shop the last time I was there. Maybe he know more. He is not a fan on the front suspension design so the original design was not as perfect as the poster thinks.

    Graham

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by fastg View Post
    I would take it the other way, there are only a couple of people that know the true story, maybe non left. It's just an open letter maybe with nobody to respond it. Dan on the site has owned/built a couple there was one sitting in his shop the last time I was there. Maybe he know more. He is not a fan on the front suspension design so the original design was not as perfect as the poster thinks.

    Graham
    Of course he thinks the original was perfect. It was his baby. Maybe it should be taken with a bit of salt. Chapman probably thought each design was perfect, but then he would change it, and change it again.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by panamericano View Post
    Of course he thinks the original was perfect. It was his baby. Maybe it should be taken with a bit of salt. Chapman probably thought each design was perfect, but then he would change it, and change it again.
    As an anecdotal data point, I reached Hunter, one of Hayes' sons at Wirewheel yesterday and alerted them to our thread and the family was aware of the critical posting on BAT. Hunter who has extensive sports car experience and likely some limited seven experience reported that he had driven the Rotus and it seemed to handle appropriately. The folks at Wirewheel have very extensive experience buying, rehabbing and selling Lotus cars, especially Elises. They also have personally raced a bunch of different high performance race cars that constantly flow through their inventory.

  8. #8
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    I have a rotus chassis with a sort-of 60 lola mk1 body clone. And a superformance to compare. Rotus rides entirely too hard for me (but may be that it has Carrillo coil-overs rather than the original- too much spring?. The chassis is of comparable workmanship and uses stock toyota bushings in the suspension. Also both were of a 50 or total run and I would expect design changes for both during the run. And, even I cannot build the perfect car the first time and doubt that the complainer or even Chapman could. john

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Astro Bob View Post
    As an anecdotal data point, I reached Hunter, one of Hayes' sons at Wirewheel yesterday and alerted them to our thread and the family was aware of the critical posting on BAT. Hunter who has extensive sports car experience and likely some limited seven experience reported that he had driven the Rotus and it seemed to handle appropriately.

    I would hope Wirewheel know about the posting - they are the ones selling the car!

    I am sure it handled as nicely as expected.



    Quote Originally Posted by speedwagon View Post
    Rotus rides entirely too hard for me (but may be that it has Carrillo coil-overs rather than the original- too much spring?.
    I would expect these are later replacements and not the originals. Shocks for our cars need re-valving to be calibrated for the lighter weight. The springs may have been saloon car spec too instead of a correctly calculated weighting. You cannot just buy suspension stuff off the shelf - it all needs some level of customization to work right on a seven to.



    Quote Originally Posted by speedwagon View Post
    ...even I cannot build the perfect car the first time and doubt that the complainer or even Chapman could. john
    Well said. I can pick faults in every brand of sevens' suspension. As Panamericano notes, every creator is proud of their creation and so not inclined to want to hear about perceived flaws by others. Even the Caterham CSR, which is probably the most advanced design or recent years and was tuned by Multimatic, got it wrong (too soft in rear end/roll center too high thanks to use of 1990 VW Passat uprights). Further, a lot of suspension design issues come back to compromises from packaging everything within a small sized chassis. There is not an unlimited budget either. I suspect the Rotus rear end was likely re-designed for some specific reasons at the time (probably cost) but may never be known.


    Dan on the site has owned/built a couple there was one sitting in his shop the last time I was there. Maybe he know more. He is not a fan on the front suspension design so the original design was not as perfect as the poster thinks.


    Graham - is the Dan you refer to, the same one referred to by another poster in that Bringatrailer thread? He is mentioned as being hired to build Rotus cars.


    Last edited by Croc; 05-21-2020 at 09:59 AM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration - engine and dry sump install time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A
    1982 Ferrari 400i
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (fettling after long period of storage)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  10. #10
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    Yes, Dan uses the same user name on both sites w650gb500 I think. He built my roll cage, amazing workmanship.

    Graham

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