A brief history of the Lotus and Caterham 7
The Caterham 7 was originally designed by Colin Chapman as the Lotus 7 in 1956. The 7 was launched as a lightweight sportscar in 1957 at a cost of £ 1036.00 fully built including purchase tax. But most customers bought the car as a kit for £ 526 which was still expensive for the time. The original cars had between 28 and 75bhp from a Ford sidevalve BMC A-Series engine or the Coventry Climax unit.
In its time with Lotus the 7 went through a number of modifications and different series and had changed radically by the time it reached the series 4, which had a very square body shell that was in production between 1969-72. But the traditional shape of the previous series 3 continued to be the more popular of the model. Eventually Colin Chapman seemed to get bored of the 7 and wanted to move on to newer, more modern designs and racing projects.
In July 1971 Colin Chapman stopped production of the 7. However, a distributor of the 7 called Graham Nearn of Caterham Cars stepped into the breach and secured Chapman's agreement to take over production of the 7 in 1973. Caterham Cars could not use the Lotus name or logo to continue selling the cars. The Lotus 7 then became known as a Caterham 7.The Caterham Logo is a reversal of the basic Lotus Logo.
Under the control of Graham Nearn the 7 continued to be developed, to take greater power out-puts and better handling. The first Caterham 7's had either the 1300cc Ford Crossflow engine or the Lotus Twin Cam and a maximum BHP of 115.
After decades of yet further development the Caterham 7 is now in the hands of Ansar Ali (Formerly of Lotus) and is a far cry from Chapmans original 7. I doubt that Colin Chapman would have thought that his lightweight sportscar would still be selling over half a century later and still be considered the benchmark for performance and handling that all other sportscars are measured by.
Today a top of the range Caterham 7 CSR260 or R500 can cost upto about £40.000, with a power outputs of approximately 260bhp and a staggering 0-60mph time of 3.1 seconds with a top speed of 155mph.
This is Caterham Cars latest version of the Superlight R500, famed for its appearance on the BBC TV Topgear programe for its supercar slaying performance. The Stig recorded a fast lap time on the test circuit of (1m 17.9sec) in the Caterham, knocking 1/2 second of the £1m Bugatti Veyron (1m 18.3sec), and almost matching the £1m Pagani Zonda C12-F Clubsport's time of (1m 17.8sec).
Other supercar manufacture's producing road car like the Ferrari Enzo, Lamborghini Gallardo & Murclelago, Maseratti MC12, Porsche GT3, Ford GT, Aston Martin DBS, Ascari A10, Corvette and TVR Sagaris all saw there cars lap times smashed by the R500 which in many cases costs lest than some of the manufactures full upgrade and accessories options.
Caterham Seven Superlight R500
Engine: 2.0-litre Caterham Powertrain (CPT) Ford Duratec
Max Power (bhp/rpm) 263bhp @ 8500rpm
Max Torque (lbs ft/rpm) 177 lbsft @ 7200rpm
Weight 506kg (516kg sequential gearbox)
0-60mph 2.88 seconds
Top Speed 150mph
Costing from £ 37,995 (Details from the Caterham Cars website)
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