Skip advert
Advertisement

'The Seven was a winning formula in 1957 – thanks to Caterham, it's still astonishing today'

Caterham claimed the rights for the Seven in 1973, and the platform has gone from strength to strength ever since

Caterham Seven evo Edition

I first drove a Caterham in 1987. It had a Ford 1.7-litre Kent engine on twin-choke carburettors and flowing front wings that acted like umbrellas, but the intensity of the driving experience was extraordinary.

It was raw and loud and exhilarating like it should have been illegal, yet once I’d acclimatised to the noise, the buffeting and the explosive performance, I realised that the Seven was brilliantly responsive, agile and controllable. And so small that you could thread it down lanes and still play with power oversteer. The Seven of today is no different, just better finished and, if you want, even more potent.

Caterham got the rights from Lotus in 1973 and developed the Seven first out of necessity to keep it in production and then to improve it. For me, the Rover K-series cars remain the high spot, with the original Superlight the pinnacle – six-speed ’box, limited- slip diff and 135bhp. The R300, R400 and R500 Evo were brilliant, but in a 400kg car, 135bhp is as much as you need.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Yet Caterham was stalked by the fear that the Seven would go out of fashion or be legislated out of existence and created the 21 and, later, the wide-bodied, independently suspended CSR. We covered the CSR’s development extensively in evo and it was a great car, tangibly more capable. We had an amazing time racing one at Spa. But the 103bhp K-series that I raced for a season back in ’92 was just as absorbing and entertaining and every Seven long-termer we’ve run has had the standard chassis. It’s simply more exciting, more challenging, more visceral.

That’s why the ‘original’ Seven hasn’t just survived, it still thrives, selling in the hundreds each year and providing thrilling one-make racing for racers and spectators around the world. The Seven was a winning formula when Colin Chapman created it in 1957, and an astonishing 67 years later, thanks to Caterham, it still is.

Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

New BMW M4 CS: faster, sharper coupe has the Porsche 911 in its sights
G82 BMW M4 CS
News

New BMW M4 CS: faster, sharper coupe has the Porsche 911 in its sights

BMW has applied the CS treatment to the G82-generation M4, consisting of carbon parts, unique chassis tuning and more power for its twin-turbo straigh…
16 May 2024
The Morgan Midsummer is a six-cylinder Pininfarina barchetta, with teak
Morgan Midsummer
News

The Morgan Midsummer is a six-cylinder Pininfarina barchetta, with teak

British sports car maker joins forces with Italian design house for a limited-run coachbuilt special
16 May 2024
The new Porsche 911 (992.2) hybrid will arrive this month
Porsche 911 992.2 hybrid – front
News

The new Porsche 911 (992.2) hybrid will arrive this month

Development of the hybrid-powered Porsche 911 (992.2) is now complete, and it'll be unveiled on 28 May
13 May 2024
The new Caterham Seven 485 Final Edition is the last naturally-aspirated Seven for Europe
Caterham Seven 485 Final Edition – front
News

The new Caterham Seven 485 Final Edition is the last naturally-aspirated Seven for Europe

Caterham will build just 85 examples of the Seven 485 Final Edition, marking the end of the model line in the European market
9 May 2024
Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

Toyota GR Supra Fast Fleet test – 11 months in Japan's Porsche Cayman
evo Fast Fleet Toyota Supra
Long term tests

Toyota GR Supra Fast Fleet test – 11 months in Japan's Porsche Cayman

With a 335bhp straight-six and rear-wheel drive, the Supra should be very much our sort of car. But after nearly a year on our fleet, did this prove t…
17 May 2024
Mandatory speed limiters to be fitted to all new UK cars in 2024
80mph motorway speed limit
News

Mandatory speed limiters to be fitted to all new UK cars in 2024

The use of mandatory speed limiters on all new cars was approved by the European Parliament in 2019, and they're set to come into force later this yea…
8 May 2024
The new Porsche 911 (992.2) hybrid will arrive this month
Porsche 911 992.2 hybrid – front
News

The new Porsche 911 (992.2) hybrid will arrive this month

Development of the hybrid-powered Porsche 911 (992.2) is now complete, and it'll be unveiled on 28 May
13 May 2024