The New-Old Caterham Super Seven Is Extremely Brown And Charming And Available In The U.S.

Caterham70s

Caterhams are to driving what a good baguette is to eating; a physical manifestation of the simplest and purest joy that activity can bring. Now Caterham is back with a throwback ’70s-ish Super Seven that I can’t help but entirely fall in love with. This is what you want every car to be.

So Brown

A little history is important. Colin Chapman, the man behind Lotus, is now infamous for his “simplify and add lightness philosophy.” The phrase has been repeated so many times it’s almost meaningless and it would be contradictory to weigh it down with too much explanation. Essentially, the less you have to add (in weight or complexity) to a car to make it perform the better that car will be.

Vintagecaterham

In the ’50s, Lotus decided to build a car that was just that: Light and simple. That’s what the original Lotus 7 is. It’s an amalgamation of parts that could be easily found (mostly Ford, including the motors in most cases) put together with the balance and poise and suspension genius of Chapman. It was a hit and when they stopped making it the Caterham company bought the rights so that they could build it indefinitely.

There are two ways to get a new Caterham: You can buy one they made (easiest if you live in the UK) or they’ll send you a kit and you can do it yourself.

Over the years, the demands of consumers and of the world at large have resulted in a few changes and, more importantly, in wild versions like the Seven 620 with over 300 horsepower and a sub-3.0-second 0-60 time. That’s too much power for a Caterham. I’ve driven a Caterham. I don’t want 300 horsepower.

You want something light and fun and not too fast and, oh, hey, they’ve built new ones that look like Jim Garner if Jim Garner was a car! Would you look at that?

It’s called the Super Seven and it looks like it’s powered by good scotch. It’s so perfectly ’70s it should come with a tweed houndstooth sports coat and Twiggy’s phone number.

Caterhaminterior2

Details are important for a heritage-inspired vehicle (though, a “heritage” edition of a car that looks so fundamentally unchanged for 50 years is silly, but in a good way) and they nailed it. Those big, floating front fenders are stellar and harken back to a bygone era when the UK was ruled by a queen and people thought cigarettes were healthy.

The colors! You have to see the colors. They have the normal stuff, but also Bourbon, Ashdown Green, Windsor Blue, and Fawn.

For the launch, the color they’re showing (or colour in fancy) is Bourbon and you’d be a fool to get select anything else. Get the Bourbon. Get the Bourbon. Get the Bourbon. I know it’s a cliche for me as an online automotive writer to encourage you to get the brown one but… BOURBON.

Caterhaminterior

There are two flavors of Super Seven available right now. The Super Seven 600 gets a 660 cc Suzuki turbo three-cylinder motor, a live-axle suspension, and can scoot to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds. I promise you that 60 mph in a Super Seven is going to feel like 200 mph in just about anything else. If you want more power, the Super Seven 2000 gets a 2.0-liter Ford four-banger with 180 horsepower, the de-Dion setup found on most Caterhams, and can reach 60 mph in just 4.8 second.

Options include a limited-slip differential (yes), gold or body-colored centers for the alloy wheels (yes), and custom colors for just about everything (brown or gold).

The Super Seven 600 is a UK-only offering and can be had for £29,990. The Super Seven 2000 is for sale in the United States as a kit and should be around $45,000 before actually having to build the thing, which, if you’re curious where to start these fine folks can help.

All I can say is: Bourbon. Bourbon. Bourbon. Bourbon. Bourbon.

 

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26 Responses

  1. I’ve test driven them and they would definitely make the list if I had a three car garage to fill. Couple notes:

    Zero assist to anything means that you don’t so much press brake and clutch as kick them. Steering is ok because the car is so light.

    A bit too focused on being track toys. I’d be more interested in a more weekend curvy road demon focused variant.

  2. I’d be fine with the 3-pot motor. These don’t need much power because lightness. And they’re tiny: strapped in to my bil’s, I could touch the road easily, and he ended up selling it because my sister couldn’t comfortably fit in the passenger seat (not that she’s large-quite the contrary-just has child-bearing hips). The ride is exhilarating because you are so exposed. I was always glad for the roll bar & 5-point harness.

  3. Still one of my dream cars, and on many days at the top of the list. I’d love to own one, even more I’d love to build one, but I’d settle for a chance to drive one.

  4. I love those, they’re definitely on my bucket list. However, I just can’t get over their prices. Even second hand they cost over 20k€ in France and that’s a lot of scratch for very little car.

    I know having little car is the whole point but I’d rather spend the money on a welder and tubing and build one from scratch.

      1. The other day I wanted to take the kids to the aquarium. My wife balked at the admission price and reminded me that we could just go to the local aquarium store and see fish for free.

          1. God I love the Monterey Bay Aquarium. As an Atlanta native I love the vast Georgia aquarium but there is something really soulful and cool about the Monterey Bay place.

            Maybe it’s the ocean sunfish. They’re the only aquarium I know of that’s had any success in keeping them.

  5. I have every intention of building a locost one day based on a kei truck. ~650cc, 5 speed, basically correct scale. I used to daily drive a mini 1000 and I can assure you that anything that small is a blast with a small buzzy engine. 60 felt like a race car

  6. I talked to a guy who owned a 7 at a car show. I asked him if he was nervous driving such a small open car.

    He said no, but other drivers would look at him funny when he would crush out his cigarette on the pavement at a stoplight.

  7. Adding 100 lbs or so to the vehicle’s weight by adding a streamlined shell doesn’t detract much from the vehicle’s cornering dynamics and nimble demeanor, but yields a massive improvement in high-speed performance.

    Thus, the Lotus 11 was made. 132 mph on only 72 horsepower. The original Lotus 7 topped out at what, 80 mph, even though it could do 0-60 mph in 6 seconds?

    Unfortunately, everyone seems to make kits for the 7, but not the 11. Replicas of the 11 called Westfield 11s are even going for a lot of coin these days.

  8. I don’t see the bourbon. I do see the root beer. Oh… does that make me a… colonist??

    To be fair the cars do look much more fun than the Subaru 360 I drove as a 17 year old.

  9. These are about as much fun as you can have in a car, no matter which engine is installed.

    I have driven two, one with a Cosworth Ford engine, the other powered by a pretty stock SVT Focus unit. Depending on what you were doing, either was more than quick enough. Quick enough, in fact, to either freeze a permanent grin on your face or scare you silly. I loved ’em. Nothing handles as well as a Caterham; they are nimbler and faster than you are.

    “My” Caterhams were pretty basic versions, as the fancy trim wasn’t available then. All the buyer got was a chassis, somewhat rudimentary body, engine and gearbox. Who needs anything else? The workmanship was superb, though. They felt — and were — as trustworthy as any well sorted-out mass production car.

    Don’t know if the basic, no-frills model is still available, but that’s the way I’d go. I doubt you could own one for 25 years and ever think “I wish it had more power.”

  10. “it looks like it’s powered by good scotch” *swoon*

    In the proud tradition of British roadsters it’s got an absurd steering wheel bolt pattern. Like it’s holding the pressure of the entire sea from pouring out the steering column.

  11. What’s with the brown thing? Brown paint on cars is ugly, had always been ugly and will always be ugly.

    The same applies to the Pontiac Aztec, Acura shield nose, Bangle butt, AMC Pacer and Nissan Murano crosscabriolet. Oh and matte paint on supercars.

    1. It’s a hipster thing of wanting to appear cool by pretending to like things that are not generally liked. It makes people feel unique and interesting to go against the cultural grain.

  12. Old coworker of mine had a Caterham with the Toyota lump. Got hit by a transport truck in it on the freeway.

    He walked away from it with minor scratches. The guy in the transport ended up dying in the crash.

  13. There used to be a Canadian importer on Vancouver Island who would bring in the kits and put any engine you wanted in them. He was famous (infamous?) for his Hayabusa-powered Super 7s. Unfortunately, he died a couple of years ago, and the company shut down. These days, I think you have to go to these guys: https://www.7cars.ca to get a Caterham. Canada seems very fussy about importing kit cars, so you can’t order from the U.K. and I’m not sure if trying to get one from the U.S. is any better.

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