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

Lotus Emira First Edition priced from £75,995 – production to commence in 2022
Lotus Emira
Lotus

Lotus Emira First Edition priced from £75,995 – production to commence in 2022

First examples of the new Lotus Emira will roll off the production line early next year, with the entry-level four-cylinder to follow
20 Sep 2021
Is this a BMW M4 CSL? New hardcore M Division model ready to take on the 911 GT3
BMW M4 CSL spy 2021 – nose
BMW M4 coupe

Is this a BMW M4 CSL? New hardcore M Division model ready to take on the 911 GT3

It doesn’t matter what this hardcore M4 will be called, because it’s going to hit hard when it arrives next year
15 Sep 2021
New 992 Porsche 911 GT3 RS spied testing with new details
992 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 2021
Porsche 911 GT3 RS coupe

New 992 Porsche 911 GT3 RS spied testing with new details

Porsche’s GT division is prepping the new 992 GT3 RS and our spy photographers have spotted it on track
15 Sep 2021
2022 Nissan GT-R model year update revealed
MY22 Nissan GT-R T-spec – front quarter
Nissan GT-R

2022 Nissan GT-R model year update revealed

Two new special editions and the return of some iconic colours are the highlights of the Nissan GT-R’s MY22 update
14 Sep 2021

Most Popular

2022 Nissan GT-R model year update revealed
MY22 Nissan GT-R T-spec – front quarter
Nissan GT-R

2022 Nissan GT-R model year update revealed

Two new special editions and the return of some iconic colours are the highlights of the Nissan GT-R’s MY22 update
14 Sep 2021
A dead Ferrari F40 in Switzerland – evo Archive
Ferrari F40
Ferrari F40

A dead Ferrari F40 in Switzerland – evo Archive

The story of a Ferrari F40, a flat battery, Swiss chocolate and sex toys…
7 Sep 2021
Tesla Model S Plaid breaks EV Nürburgring record – beats Porsche Taycan Turbo
Tesla Model S Plaid
Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S Plaid breaks EV Nürburgring record – beats Porsche Taycan Turbo

Tesla has now recorded a Nürburgring lap time with its Model S Plaid, if that matters
10 Sep 2021