My Seven rounding the Keyhole at Mid-Ohio.
I don't know when I first wanted a Seven, but it was a long time ago. My brother played a big role by introducing me to racing (Can-Am races back in the early 70's) and introducing me to "spirited" driving. (My brother has since reformed himself to thinking station wagons are cool). Or perhaps it was the hours spent watching The Prisoner (who drove a Seven when he wasn't locked up).
The Caterham Factory
Lotus came out with the Seven in 1957, and produced them until 1973 when they sold the rights, jigs, and parts to Caterham, a distributor for Lotus. Caterham resumed production of the Series 3 Seven (Lotus had come out with the Series 4, a fiberglass bodied machine that was just not in the spirit of things). Caterham continued the tradition of selling primarily kits. Although the frame was strengthened, real seats were installed, and they started to put stronger engines in, the Caterham remains very true to the original Seven.
My Seven Arrives Home
I finally ordered one in July, 1992. There are a bunch of options, but I went with the high performance 2.0L carburated Vauxhall engine. It was rated at 218HP, which I figured would be adequate in a 1400lb car. The construction story provides the assembly story. I ordered my car through Chris at Sevens and Elans, working with Chris Tchornicki, who was a godsend over the telephone when I needed to know why this thingamajig didn't fit where I thought it should.
Driving one is hard to describe. At a SCCA solo II event, I
took a friend, Scott, on his first ride - he had owned Ferraris,
a Lotus Esprit Turbo, etc. At the end of the ride, my camcorder
caught him remarking "I had no
concept" (click to hear a .wav of his comment - the
video of the ride is available in the Solo
section). A postscript - Scott now has a Seven.
Car and Driver did a review of the Caterham and came up with the nickname "The Big Wheel for Big Kids". Seems fitting to me.
Some thoughts on the experience:
Part of the joy of driving something like the Seven is that it requires some work to keep it running. Here are some problems that I ran into - some with answers, and some I hope you might have some ideas about. Keep those e-mails coming.
More Pictures of Sevens - including a trip to the Caterham factory.
The OFFICIAL Caterham Site - nicely done, see both the Seven and the Caterham 21
Sevens and Elans - Sevens & Elans, Ltd. is the oldest dealer and the Number 1 volume Caterham Seven dealer in the United States. Founded in 1984 by Christopher Tchorznicki, Sevens & Elans has delivered more Super Sevens to US customers than any other company in North America.
Steve Boffin's page - keeper of the Sevens mailing list (recommended), and currently building a Seven. Steve is posting daily reports on his build progress.
Lotus Super Seven, A Nimble Car - another fanatic's story, great description of autocrossing in a Seven
A look at the Westfield - not a seven (a bit of a religious debate) but quite a bit of fun
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