From Lotus Seven to Caterham Seven - the lightweight legend turns 60 - Caterham Seven Sprint
We drive a range of Sevens, from an early Series 1 Lotus to modern Caterhams
Caterham Seven Sprint
And finally, the Sprint. If you weren’t familiar with this car you could be forgiven for thinking we’ve gone completely full circle and returned to a proper 1960s Lotus Seven. But we haven’t; the Sprint is Caterham’s newest car and was, confusingly, launched only last year to celebrate this year’s 60th anniversary.
The Sprint is based on the back-to-basics 160 and uses the same 80bhp 660cc turbocharged three-cylinder engine. The only real differences are superficial and include: 60s style paint colours, a red leather interior, the long body-mounted fenders, hubcaps, some retro badges and grey suspension arms. The most significant change is the steering wheel. Gone is the tiny Caterham standard issue 260mm diameter Momo item, in its place is a larger 330mm wood-rimmed Moto Lita one. That might not sound like a huge difference but when space is at a premium, as it is in a Seven, it makes the interior feel too cramped.
The Sprint feels more like the original Series 1 Seven than any other car here, mostly because the engine is a bit gruff, industrial and unwilling to rev. But that makes them odd in this company, as so much of what makes a Seven so engaging is a frantic engine. Whether it produces huge power or makes an evocative noise, truly great Sevens have a memorable motor.
Like every single Seven, the Sprint is demanding to drive quickly. You don’t have to worry about easily locking the rear axle as you change down, avoiding minor bumps or managing snappy oversteer. No, you have to try to conserve and maintain speed because of its modest power, but the attention required is what makes it a typical Seven.