The UK has all the time been house to a number of the greatest sports activities vehicles the world has ever seen. However one, particularly, has a protracted historical past bringing it to what it’s right now, the Caterham 7. In 1948 Colin Chapman, Lotus founder engineer, and inventor, designed the Lotus MK1 and constructed it from an Austin Seven whereas nonetheless a pupil at College Faculty London.

He would then enter non-public races, and when he received, he designed and constructed the Lotus MK2. He then made the Lotus MK3 in 1951, which he would tackle street races nonetheless on the Austin 7 chassis required to cross necessities. The MK3 had a extra highly effective engine and lighter chassis. By means of its success, Chapman went on to design the Lotus MKVI, which was Lotus’ first manufacturing automobile. 

The Lotus used a 1172cc engine within the MKVI, however the engine bay had mounting factors for a number of engines. Thus, clients may buy it with out an engine and put in an engine of their selection, offered it match the manufacturing facility mounts. Solely 110 items had been constructed, and the Lotus Seven was unveiled in 1957 to exchange the Lotus MKVI. 

Caterham Seven

The identify Lotus Seven got here from the primary automobile Chapman had constructed, the MK1 from the Austin Seven. Chapman designed the Lotus Seven based mostly on the Lotus Eleven and used the identical 1172cc engine from the MKVI. There have been possibilities of failure when producing the Lotus Eleven as a result of a scarcity of funds as Lotus directed most funds to prep the Lotus Eleven for Le mans.  

Lotus Produced the Lotus Seven till 1973 and offered it by way of dealerships throughout the UK, considered one of which is Caterham, established by Graham Nearn in 1959. Graham observed a decline in Lotus gross sales and determined to strategy Chapman with a proposal. Lotus had tried a number of measures to decrease manufacturing prices however failed. 

After Lotus offered manufacturing rights to Graham, Caterham Vehicles was based as an car non-public restricted firm in 1973 and got down to make the Caterham 7 their first official manufacturing automobile. Graham liked the Lotus Seven however, as an engineer himself, had some concepts to enhance it. 

1973 Caterham Super Seven

Graham turned the Caterham 7 into some of the liked British sports activities vehicles. It was frequent on race tracks and city roads because it was safer to drive and extra thrilling than the Lotus Seven. The Caterham 7 has been produced in numerous variants with varied engine choices, such because the Tremendous Seven SV, constructed for taller drivers who like extra inside house and a little bit consolation. 

Caterham Seven SV

Because the Caterham 7’s design is simple to duplicate, firms comparable to Australia-based Elfin and Fraser in New Zealand have made their variations of the Seven. Caterham has tried combating infringement points with some producers, comparable to Birkin, who made the Birkin Seven however failed. Nonetheless, this didn’t deter their progress, as they’re nonetheless making the Caterham 7. 

Fashions and Specs

1957-1960 Lotus Seven (S1)

Caterham Seven

Lotus unveiled the primary Lotus Seven in 1957, which was obtainable for buy later that yr. Just like the Lotus VI, Chapman offered the Lotus Seven as a whole automobile. It’s because it couldn’t be offered as a disassembled automobile, which might appeal to British buy taxes imposed on disassembled vehicles. Because the buy tax legal guidelines acknowledged {that a} automobile couldn’t be offered with meeting directions, Lotus offered the Seven S1 with disassembly directions for purchasers to customise their Sevens.  

On the time of manufacturing, Lotus was additionally constructing the Lotus Eleven, in order that they used the identical 1.2-liter engine from the Lotus VI to chop manufacturing prices. Early manufacturing items additionally used the identical chassis because the Lotus Eleven, which is a bonus because it’s mild because the Eleven was constructed primarily for racing. In consequence, the Lotus Seven S1 has a barely shorter nostril than its predecessors, which have a special chassis. 

At this time’s requirements would possibly deem the engine underpowered, however based on Britain’s Motor Journal, the Lotus Seven S1 may do 0-60 in below 6.5 seconds. Who even knew they measured 0-60 occasions within the Nineteen Fifties? The Seven’s high pace is round 90mph, however good luck attending to 70mph if you happen to’re driving one right now. 

Nonetheless, clients in the USA didn’t discover the Lotus Seven as enjoyable to drive and fast as clients in Britain. For that reason, they swapped out the Ford 1.2-liter engine and changed it with a 948cc BMC engine. It had solely three horsepower greater than the Ford engine, which made 40 horsepower, nevertheless it was the one most popular engine by American clients. 

1961-1967 Lotus Seven (S2)

1962 Lotus Seven Series 2

In 1961 Lotus launched the Seven Collection 2 with a Cosworth-tuned 1.3-liter Ford engine and a brand new lighter chassis. This meant a rise in efficiency which most clients needed. Two extra Cosworth-tuned Ford engines had been launched in later manufacturing years, a 1.5-liter and 1.6-liter engine used within the Lotus Seven 1500 and Lotus Tremendous Seven. 

A brand new 4-speed guide transmission was launched for all Seven S2s with Cosworth-tuned ford engines to deal with the additional energy. Lotus additionally elevated the Gas tank dimension, and because it was mounted on the again, the battery was moved to the entrance for a greater weight ratio. The elevated nostril dimension additionally enabled the battery to suit on the entrance. 

Nonetheless, introducing a lighter chassis with fewer tubes to decrease manufacturing prices wasn’t sufficient. The Lotus Seven S2 has a fiberglass entrance nostril cone, changing the costlier aluminum one on the S1. Early Lotus S2 mannequin years additionally had all-around drum brakes, which Lotus changed with entrance disc brakes after elevated gross sales. 

Decreasing the manufacturing prices enabled Lotus to make earnings with out lowering the automobile’s market value to make extra gross sales. A less expensive Seven S2 was made obtainable with the 1.2-liter engine from the Seven S1 mated to a 3-speed guide transmission to maintain clients blissful.  

1968-1969 Lotus Seven (S3)

1969 Lotus Seven S3

For the third era, Lotus changed the De Dion rear suspension with a broader Ford Triumph-sourced rear axle; thus, the Seven S3 is wider than the S2. The brand new suspension was heavier, nevertheless it needed to be modified because the outdated one was vulnerable to breaking, particularly on track-driven Sevens. 

The spare tire needed to be eliminated to stability the load. However, on the upside, you will get a Seven S3 with a retractable roof and removable doorways, unavailable within the S1 and S2. 

Lotus had developed a relationship with ford; thus, the manufacturing prices of the Seven S3 had been decrease than its predecessors. Ford offered the rear suspension and a 1.6-liter Crossflow engine, making 85 horsepower. The engine, mixed with the light-weight chassis, made the Lotus Seven S3 one of many quickest vehicles within the UK on the manufacturing time. 

However some clients anticipated extra from the Lotus Seven and had been keen to pay extra. For that motive, Lotus slapped the 1.5-liter Twin Cam engine from the Lotus Elan right into a Lotus Seven S4. Solely 13 items had been fitted with this engine and had been offered because the Lotus Seven Twin Cam SS. The 1.5-liter engine made 125 horsepower, and on condition that the Seven S4 was mild and nimble, it was faster than the Elan and did 0-60 in simply over 6 seconds.

1970-1973 Lotus Seven (S4)

Lotus Seven S4

By 1970, Lotus had moved away from utilizing aluminum and metal physique panels because of the enchancment of fiberglass development know-how when making the Lotus Elan, amongst different manufacturing autos. Thus, once they unveiled the Lotus Seven S4, it had a fiberglass unibody with curved strains. Due to this fact, it was lighter than its predecessors. The entrance grill can be boxier as a result of Lotus’ makes an attempt to make the Seven extra interesting to the Nineteen Seventies period.  

Lotus nonetheless used a number of ford parts, together with the 4-speed guide transmission and the rear axle. Additionally they nonetheless used the Ford 1.3-liter engine. However clients most popular the 1.5-liter and 1.7-liter engines as they made extra energy.  

To cut back weight, Lotus offered the Seven S4 with metal alloy wheels, which had been light-weight and regarded higher than the metal wheels utilized in earlier generations. They’re additionally simpler to take care of as they don’t want a lot sprucing, which turns out to be useful for house owners who love exhibiting off at automobile exhibits. 

Prospects may get the Lotus S4 with consolation choices comparable to a radio, windscreen washers, seat belts, and AC which solely had a heating possibility because it drew scorching air from the engine. It was additionally the primary time the Lotus Seven was offered with framed doorways and a roll cage to carry the roof. The roll cage wasn’t efficient by way of security, however not less than it had the doorways, home windows, and a gentle high for long-distance journeys, which had been slowly changing into a tradition within the Nineteen Seventies. 

In 1972 Chapman determined that Lotus would not make “equipment vehicles” and may as an alternative give attention to high-end sports activities vehicles for a extra unique viewers. Lotus then made the Espirit idea and unveiled it on the 1972 Geneva Motor present. Manufacturing of the Lotus Seven S4 led to 1973, and Lotus offered copyrights to 2 firms, Caterham based mostly in Britain and Metal Brothers in New Zealand. 

The Metal Brothers tried to make the Lotus Seven for the American Market, however their enterprise companion, who was to import the vehicles to the USA, ran out of funds. They solely managed to make roughly 51 items, all of which carried the Lotus badge. However, Caterham was profitable within the early levels of producing the Seven even after the S3 and S4 shells offered to them by Lotus acquired depleted. 

1973-Current Caterham 7

Caterham Seven Super Sprint

The primary modifications Caterham undertook on the Seven included eliminating the entrance wings and re-introducing the De Dion rear suspension. Graham believed that downforce was higher than elevate which Chapman believed in, thus eradicating the entrance wings and changing them with bicycle-like mudguards. He additionally knew that the De Dion rear suspension dealt with higher than the Ford rear axle and was vulnerable to untimely put on and tear; thus, it was revised earlier than getting used on the Caterham 7. 

Manufacturing of the Seven kicked off by first utilizing Lotus Seven S3 and S4 shells, and Caterham nonetheless retained the “Seven” identify, which they nonetheless use to this point. Engines used within the early years of manufacturing embrace 1.3-liter and 1.6-liter Ford Crossflow engines and the 1.5-liter Lotus Twin Cam engine utilized in Collection three. 

Not like Lotus, Caterham didn’t produce the Seven in any particular generational order. Nonetheless, some fashions, such because the Dash, Supersprint, GT sequence, BDR, Superlight, and Roadsport, had been produced extra ceaselessly than others. 

The Dash, Supersprint, and GT sequence have the 1.3-liter and 1.6-liter Ford Crossflow engines, however the 1700 Supersprint has a 1.7-liter Caterham-tuned Crossflow engine constructed from the 1.6-liter engine. Most early manufacturing Caterham 7 had been recognized based on their engines. For instance, the Seven 1600 Dash, 1600 GT, and 1300 GT.

Cosworth developed particular engines for the Caterham 7, which Ford offered. These had been used within the Caterham 71600 BDR, 1700 BDR, and HPC (Excessive Efficiency Membership) 1700, which had been track-focused vehicles. The HPC 1700 was the primary Seven to have an LSD; thus, it was costlier than every other Seven and required a particular efficiency driving take a look at for any buyer. 

The Caterham 7 Superlight was designed for drivers who most popular spending most of their time on the observe and thus stripped of all pointless weight. Relying on the yr of manufacture, you get the Superlight with a Rover Okay-series, Cosworth/Caterham Ford Duratec, or a Ford Sigma engine. However, the Roadsport is designed for consolation however has comparable engine choices to the Superlight. 

Caterham has additionally used bike engines such because the Honda Blackbird, Suzuki Hayabusa, and Honda Fireblade engines utilized in items made within the early 2000s. Nonetheless, they’re a number of the rarest Caterham 7 produced, as manufacturing didn’t attain 30 items for every mannequin. 

Currently, Caterham offers nine variants of the Caterham 7. Base fashions, the Caterham Seven 170 and Seven 600 have a 660cc turbocharged Suzuki Kei engine, whereas the remainder have Ford Duratec and Sigma engines tuned to completely different energy ranges. The Caterham Seven 620 is probably the most highly effective, with a 2.0-liter turbocharged Ford Duratec engine that makes roughly 310 horsepower. 

Which Seven Ought to You Purchase?

1958 Lotus Seven Coventry Climax For Sale | Automotive Restorations, Inc. —  Automotive Restorations, Inc.

The Lotus Seven is an iconic automobile that many would like to have of their storage, and because of it, we acquired the Caterham 7, a blistering fast sports activities automobile able to shaming supercars and high-end sports activities vehicles. You may get one for a fraction of what most sports activities vehicles and supercars are value. It’s fascinating to have each, however if you happen to solely have the chance of shopping for one, which one do you have to go for?

If efficiency is a non-issue for you, get the Lotus Seven however don’t let its age idiot you that it’s an outdated grandpa’s roadster with a loud exhaust and Polished aluminum panels and wheels only for the seems. The Lotus Seven is not any slouch, nevertheless it’s not faster than the Caterham 7, which is extra refined. Shopping for one ensures enjoyable weekend drives on again roads, and with some engine restoration and tuning, a Lotus Seven is simply as fast because it was when new.

The one vital downsides with the Lotus Seven are that there’s no engine cooling and an inefficient braking system. This can be a attribute of most sports activities vehicles from the Nineteen Fifties and Sixties, however you’ll want higher brakes and engine cooling measures when doing lengthy drives or observe weekends. Additionally, enthusiastic drivers may not benefit from the 3-speed guide transmission, however some items have a 4-speed guide transmission which is extra partaking. 

When Caterham obtained the rights to fabricate the Seven, they got down to make it higher than Lotus. In fact, there’s no distinction between the early mannequin years Caterham 7 and the Lotus Seven Since Caterham used Lotus Seven shells and the identical engines that Lotus used on the Seven. However later mannequin years are faster, deal with higher, and not less than have some load house. 

Autoblog 2015 Caterham Seven 620 R | Hillbank Motor Sports

Fixed years of manufacturing have enabled Caterham to make probably the greatest sports activities vehicles within the motoring world, with one mannequin yr being higher than the earlier. There’s a variety to select from relying in your favourite engine possibility, amongst different preferences.

As a consequence of rarity, the Lotus Seven is extra highly-priced than some Caterham 7 Fashions, together with model new ones. For instance, a 1961 Lotus Tremendous Seven with 4-speed guide transmission prices simply as a lot as a brand-new Caterham 7 170 with the 660cc turbocharged Suzuki Kei engine, which outperforms the Lotus. Each are strong sports activities vehicles, however you get a little bit extra grunt with the Caterham 7. 

Some would possibly say that new vehicles are boring, however the Caterham 7 is the alternative. It carries DNA from the unique Lotus Seven and is every little thing the Lotus isn’t. If efficiency is a precedence, get the extra trendy Caterham 7. The Lotus is engaging to personal and solely appeals to collectors and basic automobile fanatics. You’ll by no means discover one being thrown round as a lot as a Caterham 7. 

Caterham For Sale

You possibly can nonetheless discover Caterhams on the market once in a while in our market

View Caterham Ads For Sale


Why did Lotus cease making the Lotus 7?

As a consequence of manufacturing strains, Lotus needed to discontinue the Lotus Seven in 1973. It was in Colin Chapman’s curiosity to give attention to higher sports activities vehicles such because the Lotus Eleven and Formulation one Lotus vehicles and engines. 

What number of Lotus 7 had been made?

As per the Lotus Seven Register, Lotus constructed 1959 Lotus Seve items between September 1957 and August 1973.

Is the Caterham 7 the identical because the Lotus 7?

No, the Lotus Seven was constructed by Lotus from 1957 to 1973, and Caterham took over manufacturing from September 1973, and the Seven remains to be below manufacturing by Caterham.

What’s the distinction between a Caterham 7 and Lotus 7?

There’s no notable distinction between the Lotus Seven and the early manufacturing Caterham Sevens. Nonetheless, the Caterham Seven has Bicycle mudguards, and the tail lights are flush with the rear bumper, in contrast to the Lotus Seven, which has entrance wings, and the taillights protrude from the rear bumper.

Can I purchase a Caterham 7 in the USA?

The one method to purchase a Caterham Seven in the USA is by shopping for an imported and assembled automobile. United States legal guidelines prohibit the importation of equipment vehicles such because the Caterham Seven if absolutely assembled. 

Who invented the Caterham 7?

In 1973 Caterham, owned by Graham Nearn, purchased manufacturing rights from Lotus’ proprietor Colin Chapman, who initially designed the Lotus Seven. 

Christopher Weydert
Newest posts by Christopher Weydert (see all)

Add comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.