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Caterham Seven 1600 Super Sport

Oct 2007 - First Report

Caterham Seven 1600 Super Sport Caterham Seven 1600 Super Sport Caterham Seven 1600 Super Sport Caterham Seven 1600 Super Sport Caterham Seven 1600 Super Sport

This is a tough call...how do you review something and at the same time remain objective when, lets face it, it’s in the top 3 of the most important things in my life. No I am not prepared to be any more specific on the rankings than that.

I bought my first Caterham Seven back in 1991. It was a 1700 Super Spring Cross Flow, classic colours (British Racing Green, yellow nose) and I’ve owned one ever since. I built the current Seven, a 1600 K series engined Super Sport, 10 years ago and have been taking bits off and adding bits ever since.

You’ve all read the reports about the Seven being the "4 wheeled motorbike", "nothing gets you closer to a race car on the road", "goes like stink" blah blah blah, but the thing is, the Seven is all these and more. In fact it has taken over my life. My wardrobe is influenced by the car, what I spend on non-Seven things is set against "possible Seven expenditure". I get frustrated on holidays when I come across a great driving road and I’m in a tin top...oh the agony of a twisty road and a fully laden family car!

I suppose the easiest way to describe the Seven is - if you like driving, this is the ultimate tool to achieve your kicks. You don’t need the latest 260bhp CSR either. The most modest 1600 seven will put you in touch with the driver in your soul and to be quite honest the illicit thrill you get from spanking some hot hatch or super car through the twistys is even better when you tell the owner "oh it’s just a 1600".

It’s not the speed that makes it so good, aerodynamics see to that and any modern hot hatch will see it off much over 70. No, it’s not speed, it’s the feel, the totally-connected-to-what’s-going-on feel. Yes, the Lotus Elise has slightly better steering but it’s the overall assault on your senses that raises it to another place. Nothing, and I mean nothing, makes you feel so wired as an all-out, full-on blat (Seven speak for a drive) in a Seven on a twisty challenging road. The air rushing over your head, up your nose or into your mouth makes the smells and tastes so intense you tingle. I know you’re thinking any convertible does that but it’s different in the Seven. I think it’s because you’re hyper-alert. You move your hand the car moves, you squeeze the throttle it darts forward, brush the brake you slow down instantly, you are part of the machine.

If you love driving you will love the Seven but you have to make compromises. They are difficult to get into even before you get the roof on and it’s not comfortable...even the fat boy SV is cramped by Fiesta standards. The same overload of sensations that make it fun can be wearing. It’s very noisy and 200 miles in the Seven is equal to 600 in my Audi. You have to have a certain amount of mechanical knowledge to keep it in fine fettle. MOT’s can be a nightmare, as you have to know your way round the regs to get a pass. They can be tricky in the wet (it’s not a case of if it slides, it’s when), there’s no traction control or ABS you see.

They are cheap to run though. MPG on a Cross flow is around 18 but a 1600k like mine will return 30 plus. Insurance for me (43 & 3 points) is £250. Road Tax is £190. It’s a good time to buy as prices have dropped a little and now a good, sound Cross flow will set you back as little as £7,500 and very very quick R400 will cost around £18,000. For that you will get a car that will worry all but an Enzo & Veryon in a straight line and kill them in a corner or on the track.

There is another big upside to this car, people love Sevens. You can measure it in grins per mile. Little kids to grandparents will smile and wave, older kids will beg you to "give it some". Other motorists let you out at junctions, bikers nod their approval and owners of supercars acknowledge you with a respectful raise of their hand.

I beg you to go out and try this drug whilst it’s still legal but I warn you, it’s addictive. It will lead to sleepless nights brought on by working out how you can get one. It doesn’t stop when you buy it either...upgradeitus (up grade disease) sets in. How do I make it, quicker and handle better. You try to justify carbon-fibre as a valid purchase. Oh the list is endless. Don’t prevaricate or procrastinate you can’t justify it as a rational purchase just go and buy one. As my friend’s wife says JFDI (Just F**king Do It). If you love driving you will never regret it.

Nick.

Feb 08 - Second Report...More

Apr 09 - Third Report...More

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