Not quite ready to grow up? Us neither. From playing with toy cars to sitting behind the wheel, the Caterham Seven is the grown-up Scalextric without the need for a race track. Here’s what makes the number one sports car so attractive.
Peter Pan once said, “All children, except one, grow up.”, and we’d put money on that one exception owning the keys to a shiny, classic Caterham Seven (with the wind in their hair and a big old grin on their face).
The thing is, it doesn’t matter how old we are; some cars are designed for play, for adventure; for recreational purposes without any hidden agendas. And right at the top of that list sits the Caterham. Rated 8/10 by Top Gear and featured in The Grand Tour Madagascar special (slap on the wrist for placing them both in the same sentence), we wanted to know more about these feisty engines and what makes them drive.
Who better to ask than the experts? We had a chat with Andy Noble from Sevens & Classics, the Caterham specialists based at Brands Hatch, to get the low-down on all things Caterhams and other classics, too.
Tell us about Caterham Sevens? What are the different models and specs?
While there are things that the Caterham can’t do, it’s certainly the best car in the world at doing what it can, and that’s providing an unrivalled driving experience. For the driving enthusiast, there’s simply no better car out there! Whether it’s driving around the tracks of the UK, or roaring down Britain’s beautiful country roads, the Caterham is simply a blast! Used models range from 100bhp to 260 bhp, from £10k to £50k with 0-60mph figures as low as 3 seconds, so there really is a car for all tastes, budgets and use.
What makes Caterham cars so exciting?
Being so close to the ground, driving fast in a Caterham feels completely different from any other car, giving an exhilarating and adrenaline-inducing drive. The acceleration is unmatched, as are the road manners of this little pocket rocket.
Who are the cars made for?
It’s the perfect choice for track day warriors, classic car enthusiasts, tourers, adventure drivers and everyone in between (just make sure you choose the right specification for your use when buying a Caterham). We have customers from 18 years old, to 83 years old, so it’s definitely a car that appeals to all ages.
Do you think this isolation period will effect car enthusiasts?
I think, and hope, that some good may come out of the COVID-19 situation. People are now realising the benefits of having time, and more so having time to do the fun things in life. Certainly, one consideration, especially for the petrol heads amongst us, is to get on the road in that car that they’ve promised themselves for all those years.
Top Gear gave Caterhams an 8/10 rating, describing them as the ‘purist driving experience, old school charm meets new age ability’. Do you pride yourselves on these relationships?
Of course! We have a great relationship with the Top Gear team. Indeed, Top Gear awarded the Caterham R500 “Car of the Year” back in 2008 and current presenter, Chris Harris spent many formative years driving and racing a Caterham while he was a road tester at Autocar Magazine. Jeremy Clarkson’s wife of the time, Frances, also bought and drove a Caterham – probably because she needed some peace and quiet and Jeremy was too big to fit in it!
Have you worked with any other memorable names before?
Chris Rea [Driving Home For Chirstmas] has been a customer for a long time and even had a Caterham in his Looking For The Summer video as well as on the cover of his Auberge album. He also featured a life-size Caterham on his Auberge tour stage set. Other owners over the years include Rowan Atkinson, Sir Chris Hoy, Eddie Irvine, Simon Cowell and footballer Lee Dixon. Even ‘Nasty Nick’ from the first series of Big Brother bought one!
What other cars/bikes, classic or current, are you loving right now, and what do you currently have in stock?
At Sevens & Classics, we’re great Lotus fans, and if pushed, we’d single out the original Elan and the Elise Series 1; they’re both lightweight, performance cars that deliver the driving experience in bucketfuls.
Currently in stock, we also have a TVR Chimaera, with its brute force V8 engine, a 1950’s MG TD ideal for the classic enthusiast, a Porsche 911 and an E Type Jaguar, arguably one of the most beautiful cars ever made. My personal favourite cars would be the Caterham R500, the Series 1 Lotus Elise and the TVR Chimaera. Our Porsche 911 Carrera Targa also looks stunning in its Guards Red livery. My favourite bikes we have in are the Mike Hailwood Ducati and an 80’s Yamaha RD350.
What else do you guys do at Sevens & Classics?
We do the day to day stuff, like servicing, MoT’s, maintenance and repair work, but we also do the longer-term jobs, such as restoration projects. We’re currently restoring an original Lotus Elan for a customer. It will be beautiful when we’ve finished with it! Any questions, please do come and visit our website or showroom. The kettle is on.
Check out Sevens & Classic’s website and online showroom here.