by Patrick Vogt
You can't tell the story of the LSOS without also mentioning the story of Roger Savarè. Roger was the driving force to establish the association for Lotus and Caterham Seven owners in Switzerland. The other founding members were Elisabeth and Fredy Kumschick, as well as James Gerspacher with his future wife Daniela Piguet. To this end, a letter was written to all known Seven owners in Switzerland on February 17th, 1981, stating that a club had been founded and that one could become a member for 30 francs. By April 21st, 1981, the new club had 30 members.
May 23, 1971 at the Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo
by Roger Savarè († December 16, 2015), published in the 25th anniversary edition of "SWISS SEVEN":
The Gold Leaf Lotus Ford 72 DV 8 by Emerson Fittipaldi and Reine Wisell are subjected to the final check at the Lotus Box. Two Lotus racing mechanics drive a Lotus SIV with a Gold Leaf look on the closed-off streets of Monte Carlo. They are doing a lap of the circuit to my delight, as I knew this crazy car from Caterham, Surrey, England. At that time, Caterham was a representative of Lotus, whose job it was to cover the southern English region. In Caterham, the Lotus F Fords and the F3 racing cars for Brands Hatch were spruced up. In addition to the many formula cars that I was occasionally allowed to drive at Lotus, I never really noticed the Lotus Sevens. On a normal street in the middle of the city, in the middle of Monte Carlo - what a picture!. There it drove, the ‘only formula car with road approval’, as Franco Rainoni once put it. Now I knew what I absolutely had to have. Colin Chapman was standing only ten feet in front of me however, he certainly had something else on his mind than talking to me about the Lotus Seven, but he kindly referred me to David Wakefield. On February 3rd , 1972, I drove down Caterham Hill in my new Lotus Seven S IV 3041 GT. Back then, the Lotus racing mechanics assembled Lotus Sevens in their downtime. The person who built my car gave me the ignition key personally. I am still proud of the chassis sign from Norwich to this day. I drove towards Dover with the Lucerne license plate, which was valid for three days and which I quickly attached to the English HLH 491 K license plate. With full concentration I listened to every little noise that my Lotus Seven made and it made many of them. With the anxious question in my head whether the car would get as far as Switzerland, I drove to the docks. On the Dover-Calais ferry, my Lotus Seven was wedged between huge trucks; I would have loved to stay with my new car, but I was kicked off deck in a typically English friendly, but firm manner. No sooner had I reached the European mainland than a sneering, typically French customs official greeted me with the words: “Bonjour, Monsieur James Bond". The face darkened suddenly and sullenly pointed to my two license plates. He meant what I would to be on the road with this strange vehicle, an Englishman or as a Swiss man? After about four hours I resumed my trip to Switzerland and arrived in Lucerne happy without any further incidents.
There were various reasons why we wanted to have a Seven Club in Switzerland. On the one hand, a few Seven drivers had met every month between spring and autumn in a restaurant in Winikon to get together. They agreed to meet there for joint trips, although these meetings were rarely attended due to the low level of awareness. On the other hand, there was the possibility of being a member of a bigger “Swiss Lotus Team” club, but the relatively luxurious vehicles like Elan or Elite were cut from a different cloth.
In addition, Roger was planning an international get-together on the first weekend of July 1981, and wanted not only to invite the well-known Swiss seven drivers, but above all his sevening friends in the UK, who were grouped around David Mirylees.
The first meeting in St. Moritz was a resounding success. This event was firmly planned for decades to come, and at peak years well over 200 Sevens from all over the world came together. David Mirylees was so enthusiastic about the idea that later in 1983 he himself organized an international meeting in Baulieu (Hampshire, England).
Of course, Elisabeth and Fredy Kumschick with their company Kumschick Sports Cars also played a very important role in the history of the club. For decades up to the present day, the car garage has supported the interests of the association. As early as June 14, 1978, the 23-year-old Fredy founded the forerunner company "Fredy Kumschick Automobile" together with his girlfriend and later wife Elisabeth in their parents' garage in Nebikon to restore and sell sports cars. From 1979 the young company assembled Caterham kits for its customers. Soon, especially with the move to Schötz, this company developed quickly and has been the Swiss specialist for Lotus and Caterham ever since. Around 600 Caterham Sevens have since been sold in Switzerland.
In the early 1980s, the Kumschick company also took over the representation of the Dutch brand Donkervoort for a few years. In the small Swiss market, this meant that LSOS, as an association, accepted the owners of Donkervoort cars as members. That went well at first, but the ‘hardcore’ Seven enthusiasts were increasingly bothered by it. In 1995 some members founded a separate club called "Lotus Seven Society Switzerland", which also led to intensive discussions. This new club only allowed Lotus and Caterham Sevens, and was seen as competition by many LSOS members. When, a good 10 years later, the Kumschick company had given up the representation of Donkervoort and there were almost no "Donkys" left in LSOS either, the two clubs merged.
It is important to know that a very tough system of government was in place in Switzerland even before the EU standardization of technical regulations. Registration and the regular technical examinations were very tough compared to England. In combination with the small Swiss market, no other manufacturers of sevens had an agency in the country. To this day, this has meant that apart from the models from Caterham or the old Lotus you can hardly find any other seven brands on the road.
As everywhere else, the structure of the members has changed massively in the last 41 years. By the 1980s, repairing and fixing the Sevens was the order of the day at every meeting. No meeting without at least 2-3 mishaps. The average age was between 25 and 45, and you met bold guys who all only wanted to drive hard. Since then, the club structure and activity has settled a bit. The cars have a lot more horsepower than they did back then, but for the most part you stick to the traffic regulations. This is also because the sanctions for violations have been massively tightened. While people used to go camping together, today it must be good hotels with garages for the cars. This structural change could also be observed at the traditional meeting in St. Moritz. For many years, the journey was accompanied by activities along the way. But at some point, people lost interest and you drove to St. Moritz individually, glad to have covered the distance quickly, ready to sit comfortably together at the hotel bar. When the club's founder, Roger, died in 2015, the “International” took place in 2016 and 2018, and has not been held since.
In 1990 the British clubs donated 500 francs to the Swiss club so that it could create its own club magazine. The then President Roger appointed two volunteers who took on this project: Oliver Gysin from the German border town of Lörrach was responsible for the postage, and Patrick Vogt took over the editing. After two years after a dispute over the editorial content, Gysin and Vogt resigned, and Roger and his daughter Vanessa took over. In the mid-2010s, 25 years after it was first published, it was decided that the magazine would merge with the Lotus 7 Seven Club Germany. Since then, the magazine “SEVENEWS” has been published jointly every three months in Switzerland and Germany.
The annual programme for 2022 is as diverse as ever. The year usually starts with the Annual General Meeting. The season starts in April with a driving course, which is completed in May with a karting event. The traditional joint club (LSOS and Lotus 7 Club Germany) meeting in the Black Forest takes place at the end of May. Two meetings will take place in June: in France and in Ticino. And after the summer vacation it's off to Sardinia. More about this on the LSOS event page.
Regular meetings take place twice a month in the evening: every second Thursday of a month in the «Chommle» restaurant in Gunzwil high above Lake Sempach, and every last Friday of the month in the Tobel restaurant in the Zurich Oberland near Tann. Information on the contact page of the LSOS.
Motorsport ekes out a wallflower existence in Switzerland. The reason for this is that, on the one hand, after the serious accident at Le Mans in 1955, all circuit races were banned in Switzerland, and on the other hand, because you cannot insure your Seven for it in Switzerland. In 2003, then National Councilor Ulrich Giezendanner made an attempt to overturn the existing ban, but failed. On April 1, 2016, the Swiss government approved circuit racing again, but only for electric vehicles. So, if you still want to race, you must go abroad. No more than five people from the association do this on a regular basis. The LSOS is thus a «Blat» association.
The LSOS is traditionally very open. All interested parties have access to the events and the regular monthly meetings. Only the AGM is reserved for members. The annual membership fee is 80 francs, or 100 francs for a couple membership.
Patrick Vogt has been a member since 1986 and an honorary member of the LSOS since AGM 2020. From 1990 to 1992 he was editor of the «SWISS SEVEN» magazine and chairman for six years. Every year he organized various national and international meetings, was a member of the organizing committee for the "60 Years Lotus Seven" celebrations in Donington, and as a founding member of the International 7 Network is its current secretary (until March 2022).