Had Colin Chapman been alive today he would undoubtedly find it hard to believe that a car closely based on the Lotus Seven he designed over half a century ago was still in production. However, when Chapman decided that in order to secure the future of his company it was necessary to move the Lotus brand upmarket and concentrate on more sophisticated sports cars, this was regarded as a logical move. From a strictly financial point of view, abandoning the less profitable kit car sector must have seemed a sensible and straightforward decision and nobody back then could possibly have predicted how things would turn out.
Therefore, in 1973, when Graham Nearn of Caterham Cars bought the manufacturing rights to the Lotus Seven it can be assumed that Chapman was more than happy to do the deal. Nearn, on the other hand, was aware that there was a healthy demand for the Series 3 Seven and he was sure it could form the basis of a successful long term business. To begin with, Caterham built Sevens that were virtually identical to the Lotus, but changes were gradually required as engines and various components had to be sourced from different suppliers. Caterham also very quickly realised that the unattractive Series 4 wasn't worth persevering with, so it was quietly dropped.
With the changes cme improvements and Caterham constantly upgraded the Seven's specification. In 1982 a long-cockpit model was introduced to make life easier for taller drivers, then the original Ford live rear axle (and subsequent Morris Ital axle) was replaced by a De Dion design on the high performance models, the original Ford engines gave way to the Rover K-Series and so on. At one time alterations were introduced so frequently that Caterham was accused of offering a new model almost every month!
In a curious twist of fate, while Lotus struggled to survive in the late 1980s and early '90s, Caterham never lost its appeal. The range gradually evolved and, in addition to the classic Seven, ultra high-performance versions were introduced that could out-accelerate and out-manoeuvre many far more expensive cars. This book covers the first twenty five years of the remarkable Caterham Seven story and proves just how timeless Colin Chapman's original design was.
This book is a compilation of road & comparison tests, technical & performance data plus an invaluable buyers guide. Models covered: Super 7, Super Sprint, JPE, SPR, HPC, K Series, Supersport, VVC, Classic, Superlight, R, R500 & the Prisoner.