I finally bought my first 7 in October 2004. Friends had banned me from talking about them unless I bought one, a work colleague commented that I'd been talking about them when she joined my team (which was about 5 years previously!) so I figured the timing was right.
I think it was a short ride in a Xflow 7 at the Haynes museum about 5,6 years before that had made me realise that there was a sports car that I might be able to afford one day. Buying a house and a couple of expensive holidays along with my hifi urges had taken away the money that could have bought one and I never seriously looked into it. It didn't stop me talking about it however! In 2002 I had to make the choice between cheap company car and a 7, or a more expensive car. My head won, but I still had thoughts of getting a 7 at some point.
At the end of 2003 I started looking at adverts and decided to join the Lotus 7 club and hire a 7 for a day or two. I then discovered the for sale adverts on BlatChat in the early part of the summer and mentally shifted my "saving for a rainy day" fund into a "7" fund. A couple of short passenger blats at a Lotus 7 club meeting in the summer and the offer from some of the guys to help me look over cars that showed promise helped, and I arranged a test drive of a 7 at a local garage.
The test drive was short and my shoes were too wide to drive the car without clattering all the pedals. However the feel of the car from the driver's seat made me want to buy one. The dream had been tarnished, but I still wanted a 7 despite the test drive!
Over the next few months I read through every for sale advert on BlatChat, PistonHeads.com along with the Caterham Cars website and the other major Caterham specialists. A couple of cars showed promise but one was damaged racing at the Caterham Festival and others sold too quickly. Then one day I spotted an advert, less than 30 minutes old. I emailed the owner asking for more details and called him that evening, but I'd been beaten to it and someone else was planning to look at the car the next morning. Fortunately for me they turned the car down on a minor point and a week later I was the owner of a 7 after a couple of rapid trips up the M1 to investigate further.
Driving a 7 for the second time in my life, on its original, wet-weather-hating tyres for 200 miles in the rain was an "interesting" experience. I got soaked, the hood stayed in the boot and there was one moment when my entire insurance policy passed before my eyes! However I did actually emerge from the cockpit in my garage with a grin across my face - just before changing out of my wet clothes.
I bought this car on the basis that I'd try it for a year. If I didn't like it, I would sell it and hopefully not lose too much financially. I would be able to say that I'd fulfilled my dream rather than regretting never buying one. All my costing was based on a limited mileage policy (3000 miles) and selling it on after a year. Well, that didn't happen...