Caterham Super Seven

(Lotus Seven Replica)


Short F.A.Q.

The Quest

I fell in love for that car when I was 16, on the parking lot of the aeroclub of Geneva where I was going to take flying lessons. I saw my first Seven there. It was mysterious. I didn't know what the hell that was but I could see it was not supposed to go slow. I couldn't see any name, car manufacturer or other marks, and soon after I left the airport this was just an image in my memory, without a name.

Later on, at the annual Geneva Car Show, I saw again the mysterious little bolide. That time, there were names around. "Caterham" and "Donkervoort" were sounding pretty barbarian for my French ears, and I failed to write the name down.

Third round: Two years later, while talking to a mechanics, I drew him a sketch of what was in my memory and on which I was still unable to put a name. He was an old guy who knew his stuff, and he said: "ah, that's a Seven!"

Then he went on and on about how great these cars were supposed to be. When he articulated the prices these little marvels were going for, I decided to start some serious savings... (I was still a student)

The Classic'85 

Several years later, I had saved quite a bunch (about 28,000 CHF --Swiss francs) for that dream, aside of my other expensive hobbies (one hour of Cap-10 was running for the equivalent of around 300 CHF). I spotted a collector car gallery near Bern, told him exactly what I wanted: a green Caterham Seven for about 30K CHF. He got that a couple of months later. I went to his place after collecting all the funds I could (even borrowing 5,000 bucks to a friend) and went there by train. The largest Swiss bank notes are 1000 CHF (the equivalent of about $660). I was impressed to carry 32 of these monsters in a little envelope in my pocket...

The guy wanted 35,000, but I told him I had 32K in cash, here, in my pocket. I got a little nervous when he told me he was going to discuss that with his colleagues, but after 5 minutes he came back, shook my hand and gave me the keys. I don't think it is possible to explain in words the exhilaration of that moment and of the drive that followed, to get back to Geneva. That was just fantastic. The car is amazing. This first car was a Classic (Live Axle) 1985, with some thousands of kilometers on the odometer. The engine, an Xflow 1600, was pulling about 85bhp, but in that 1200 pounds car it was flying!

The De Dion'96

Later on, before I moved to the US, I had to sell the car. I got almost all my money back, and I knew it was going to buy me a new, better Seven, but I couldn't help to feel terribly depressed when I gave the keys. That's how strong you feel when you own a Lotus Seven, or its descendant, a Caterham Super Seven.

Fortunately, as soon as I arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area, I managed to buy a Seven again. This time, with more power and a better chassis, and I wanted it to come new, as a kit that I was going to assemble myself. Two years later, after much irritation trying to cope with the delays and trying to cut the red tape, I managed to register it. I realized then that this was probably the first Seven to be registered in California after a long period where they were all denied (for smog reasons, by the way mine is smog check exempted, because the engine block is pre-1974).

Anyway, I am now the proud owner of a Caterham Super Seven 1996, De Dion chassis, xflow 1600 engine uprated by Tom Rust (Sears Point Raceway), 130bhp for 1248 lbs, and I'm happy to have Vipers (like this one), Porsches (like this one), Ferraris and other muscle cars for breakfast. Their owners are very miffed when I smoke them on twisty roads or on the track, and I find this very amusing.

There is a lot more to say about the assembly, the registration process, how it behaves on the track, about the Virginia City Hillclimb, and about all the great friends this car made me meet. Hopefully this will appear sometime on these pages...

The Build 


Sears Point 


Laguna Seca 


Virginia City Hillclimb 


Supersport 1.4K

Flash-back: a Super Seven I tried in Switzerland while I was waiting for my De Dion to arrive in the US. This is a Caterham Supersport 1.4K. It is pretty swift, but not as much as my current De Dion...



Here are some essential links for Seven enthusiasts ! (Please email me if you are outraged to not find your page mentioned here, or if you find broken or incorrect links)

Sevens FAQ (the absolute essential of most that there is to know about the cars, and also informations about the Sevens mailing-list)
Caterham Cars  (the mother of all, after Lotus of course)
Texas Motor Works  (Caterham dealer in Texas)

Some other replicas...

Tiger 6

Did you say ``power'' ?

VeganTune (Ford xflow and Lotus twin cam, 170bhp or more depending on options...)
Dunnell Engines (Zetec specialist)
Burton Power
about Mazda rotary engines
QED (Quorn Engine Developments) (they have some monsters, like their 2l Vauxhall with all steel internals good for some 280bhp...)

Cool chaps (the ones for whom I have found a web-page, that is)

Brian Poulton's ``The Mad Motorist or Caterham Capers'' (lots of links and great stories and articles)
Dave Andrews' web site (he built a Cosworth naturally aspirated good for 250bhp !)
Micheal Sands'  ``A Nimble Car'' web site
Peter Dunn's web site (he built a ``Locost'': a Seven replica for 250 quids !)

Last modified: July 1998. Return to Pierre's homepage