Hi! If you’re getting to this page it’s probably because you scanned the QR code on the car while it’s sitting at a car show or in a parking lot somewhere… hopefully it wasn’t while you were in close proximity to me while driving. This site is the build diary highlighting my adventures of buying, building, and driving the car you’re looking at – feel free to explore as much as you’d like or bookmark the site for later. Enjoy!
What is a ‘Caterham Seven’?
The Caterham Seven got its start in 1963 when the Lotus dealer in Caterham, England purchased the rights to the ‘Type Seven’ design from Lotus. The ‘Type Seven’, or ‘Lotus Seven’, had been the flagship car for Lotus since 1957. The Lotus Seven was an enthusiast’s car – light, nimble, cheap to produce, and easy to maintain. Most important of all though was it was fast! In fact, the Lotus Seven was banned from racing in the US during the 1960’s, and later in the UK during the 1970’s, because it was, and I quote, “too fast to race”.
Despite the Lotus Seven’s success, Lotus’ innovative and legendary founder, Colin Chapman, wanted to bring a new model to market, and to make room for it, meant the ‘Type Seven’ had to go. After striking an agreement with Caterham’s then owner, Graham Nearn, Caterham resumed building the Lotus Seven design under a new badge – the Caterham Super Seven.
Since Caterham began producing the cars in 1963 very little has changed. The chassis design remains the same as well as the overall dimensions of the car. Over the years the engines and ancillary systems, brakes and wheels, have been upgraded to use modern components, but for all purposes the driving experience which enthralled race drivers from the late 1950’s remains true to this day.
Caterham uses different model names in the UK and the US for each series of car, and to complicate matters further, those names change every few years. This model is technically a ‘2013 Caterham Seven Roadsport’ according to the order form, but has all the options of the more track minded 360R model found in the UK. The reason for choosing the Roadsport was singular – I wanted the option to carry a spare wheel on long cross country trips and the Roadsport was the only model in 2013 that had that option. I did not, however, want to give up the performance of the faster variants so optioned a number of upgrades to yield the same performance and handling of the faster and more serious 360R variant. The engine chosen was the 4-cylinder Duratec 2.0 Liter which can later be upgraded at a minimal cost to achieve similar performance to the 420R model.
- Caterham S3 chassis
- Weight: 1234 lbs / 560kg
- Power-to-weight: 321bhp-per-tonne
- Duratec 2L 1999cc inline 4 cylinder engine
- Max Power (bhp/rpm): 180 @ 7,300rpm
- Max Torque (Nm/rpm): 194 @ 6,100rpm
- 6-speed transmission with limited slip differential
- DeDion rear suspension with Watts links and anti-rollbar
- Superlight wide-track front suspension
- 15″ wheels finished in anthracite grey with Avon CR500 tires
- Interchangeable carbon aeroscreen and weather equipment
- Black pack
- Aero filler cap (black)
- Spare wheel and carrier
- Push button start
- 12V power socket
- Trackday rollover bar
- 4-point race harnesses
- Ventilated front brake discs with 4-piston calipers
- Standard rear brake discs and calipers
- Metallic British Racing Green paint matched to the 2013 Caterham F1 Team cars
- Yellow painted bonnet stripe and nose band
- Carpet package
- Motolita steering wheel
So this is a kit car?
Well… sorta. The only way to get one in the US prior to the end of 2014 was to have all the parts shipped over from England then put it together yourself (or pay someone to build it for you). It’s therefore a ‘kit car’ in the US so long as you get the parts, the transmission, and the engine from different sources. However, Caterham is producing a ready-to-drive vehicle in England straight out of their factory with the exact same parts, transmission, and engine. If it wasn’t for Federal crash regulations you could probably get one factory built here too.