From Lotus Seven to Caterham Seven - the lightweight legend turns 60 - Caterham Seven Prisoner

We drive a range of Sevens, from an early Series 1 Lotus to modern Caterhams

Caterham Seven Prisoner

Compared to the Lotus Twin Cam, this Seven feels like a luxury car. It's taller, with deeply padded red leather seats and a squishy steering wheel. The engine is quiet at idle and the gearbox is easy to engage.

A little chuff from the engine as soon as you touch the throttle makes it sound as though it’s being fed by some twin-side draft carbs, but this 1989 actually has a fuel injected K-series engine.

If you’ve read much about Caterhams over the past 20 years or so, you’ll be aware the 1.8-litre 16-valve twin-cam Rover engine is a fan favourite. Well, after experiencing the rorty Lotus motor in the SS it’s decidedly underwhelming.

It’s quiet and tame below 4500rpm, like any modern fuel injected engine. Stretch it into the higher revs and at full throttle you eventually get a hint of that distinctive straight-four bark, but it’s just not aggressive or as spine-tingling as the Lotus Twin Cam.

The lack of drama from the engine makes it feel slower than the SS, even though its engine has 10bhp more. What feels like a higher centre of gravity and softer ride makes it a more relaxed drive, too. There’s plenty of turn in agility, but mid corner, as you try to use the throttle to adjust your trajectory, you long for a limited slip diff. Thanks to its semi-independent De Dion rear axle, the Caterham certainly has more grip over-all than the older Lotus has, but when it does break away, it’s just the inside wheel that spins disappointingly.

Dressed in green and yellow ­– this car is a special edition to commemorate the car’s appearance in the 1960s TV series, the Prisoner – it certainly looks neat, but it just doesn’t have the same ballistic aggression that makes the SS so appealing to drive.

Recommended

Manthey Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 RS laps the Nürburgring on video
Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS Nurburgring
Porsche 911 GT3 RS coupe

Manthey Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 RS laps the Nürburgring on video

Porsche’s skunkworks motorsport department scores a 6:50 Ring lap time with its modified 991.2 GT3 RS
5 May 2021
New 2021 BMW 2-series spied in M240i form
2021 BMW 2-series set 2 spy – front quarter
BMW 2 Series coupe

New 2021 BMW 2-series spied in M240i form

The all-new BMW 2-series Coupe to remain rear-wheel drive for its next generation
28 Apr 2021
All-new Lotus Emira to be revealed July 6 – part of bold future roadmap
Lotus Emira teaser – front
Lotus

All-new Lotus Emira to be revealed July 6 – part of bold future roadmap

The new Lotus Emira will feature a range of combustion engines and will be one of 4 new architectures in development at Lotus
27 Apr 2021
BMW M3 Competition and M4 Competition xDrive models detailed
BMW M3/4 Competition xDrive tracking
BMW M3 saloon

BMW M3 Competition and M4 Competition xDrive models detailed

All-wheel-drive M3/M4 Competitions to arrive in late summer
18 Apr 2021

Most Popular

Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm 2021 review – if Porsche built a four-door 911 GT3 RS
Alfa Giulia GTAm header
Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm 2021 review – if Porsche built a four-door 911 GT3 RS

Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm is the most extreme modern Alfa to date. It’s also one of its very best.
12 May 2021
Sub-T.50 Gordon Murray Automotive Project Two supercar confirmed
GMA T.50 XP2
Supercars

Sub-T.50 Gordon Murray Automotive Project Two supercar confirmed

Two-seater retains Cosworth V12 and manual gearbox, but loses ground-effect fan
10 May 2021
Audi RS6 v Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo v Mercedes-AMG E63 S Estate – super-estates go head-to-head
Audi RS6 v Porsche Panamera v Mercedes-AMG
Features

Audi RS6 v Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo v Mercedes-AMG E63 S Estate – super-estates go head-to-head

Which 600bhp wagon is the current super-estate king? It‘s time to find out as the Audi RS6 Avant takes on Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turi…
8 May 2021