Caterham HQ – Crawley, West Sussex
Our first stop is Caterham’s current sales and service HQ in Crawley, West Sussex, where we have an appointment with these two machines, which will be our mobile homes for the next couple of days. Caterham moved into this large grey building in 2014 after its original premises (more on which later) burst at the seams with the sheer volume of Sevens being produced. The industrial unit is no-nonsense on the outside, but step inside and you’ll discover a spectacular shrine to Caterham.
The reception area is home to the original Duratec-engined R500 press car, the AeroSeven concept from 2013 and the short-lived, slicks-and-spoilers SP/300.R trackday tool. There are more nods to the brand’s history in the vast showroom, where there’s a Caterham 21 (just 49 examples of this badly timed Seven-based, Elise-rivalling roadster were built between ’94 and ’99) and an F1 racer from the marque’s short and ill-fated spell at the top of the motorsport tree.
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We could stay for hours poring over these vibrant machines, but our reverie is shattered by the hard-edged blare of the 620R sprinting from the workshops to the front of the building to meet a waiting 160.