Thursday, 24 October 2013

Caterham 7

Caterham 7

The Caterham 7 (or Caterham Seven) is a super-lightweight sports car produced by Caterham Cars in the United Kingdom. It is based on the Lotus Seven, a lightweight sports car sold in kit and factory-built form by Lotus Cars, from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. After Lotus ended production of the Lotus Seven, in 1972, Caterham bought the rights to the design, and today make both kits and fully assembled cars. 2007 marked the 50th year of production of the Lotus/Caterham 7.
The Caterham 7 is a small, lightweight, two-seater sports car renowned for its performance and handling. Various other manufacturers offer a sports car in a similar basic configuration, but Caterham owns various legal rights to the Lotus Seven design and name. The company has taken legal action in the past in order to protect those rights. In South Africa, it lost its case against Birkin (a competitor) on the basis that it never obtained the rights from Lotus that it claimed it had. The modern Seven is based on the Series 3 Lotus Seven, though Caterham have developed it to the point that no part is the same as on the original Lotus.
 oday’s Caterham cars have a blend of traditional styling and modern components. They can trace their lineage directly to an original 1950s-era Colin Chapman design. Chapman, a Royal Air Force pilot, studied structural engineering and went on to become one of the great innovators in motorsports design.
After the war, Chapman became a highly successful race driver and then founded Lotus Engineering Ltd. in 1952. Chapman’s vision of light, powerful cars and performance suspensions guided much of his development work with the basic design philosophy of, "Simplify, then add lightness".
The Lotus 7 originally debut was at the 1957 Earl’s Court Motor Show in London

The first Lotus 7s were priced at £1,036 including purchase tax but it cost only £536 in kit form as no purchase tax was required. It weighed only 725 lb (329 kg). Fast and responsive, the Lotus 7 was one of Chapman’s masterworks, an advanced machine that surpassed the earlier Lotus 6 as a vehicle that could perform beautifully on the track and be driven legally on the road. The 7’s basic (and much copied) design was to stand the test of time, continuing in its popularity for the ensuing 56 years.
The 7’s evolution continued when, in 1973, Caterham Cars obtained manufacturing rights from Lotus to enable Lotus to move away from 'kit cars' and produce more up-market sports cars. Caterham renamed the car the "Super 7" – an apt name, as it was becoming clear that the car’s fundamental design was nearly impossible to improve having the right balance of strength and handling with a very light weight. Caterham's original offering was the Series 4, since that was the current production car at the time of the handover from Lotus. Unfortunately Caterham suffered numerous supply problems with the Series 4 and by the middle of 1974 they had reverted to the Series 3, which was perceived to have better sales potential. The modern day Roadsports and Superlights (in "narrow-bodied chassis" form) are the direct descendants of this car and therefore of the original Lotus 7.

Early cars used the Lotus Twin Cam engine (subsequently manufactured by Vegantune), followed by Ford cross flow engines. The first Cosworth BDRs appeared around 1983, in 1600 cc 140 bhp (104 kW) form, followed by 1700 cc 150 bhp (112 kW) versions three years later. By 1990 the top of the range engine had become the 2 litre Vauxhall HPC, as fitted to the Vauxhall Calibra, putting out 165—175 bhp. A few HPC "Evolution" models were built with engines developed by Swindon Race Engines producing between 218 bhp (163 kW) and 235 bhp (175 kW). In 1993 Caterham created the JPE special edition (named for Formula 1 driver Jonathan Palmer) by using a 2 litre Vauxhall Touring Car engine, putting out around 250 bhp (186 kW) and reducing weight to around 530 kg (1,168 lb) by such measures as removing the windscreen in favour of an aeroscreen. The JPE was quoted at 0-60 mph times of around 3.5 seconds and, with Jonathan Palmer at the wheel, set a 0-100 mph-0 record of 12.6 seconds. Around 1997 the cross flow range was replaced by 8v and 16v Vauxhall units which, in various guises lived on until the end of the VX-powered Caterham Classic, in 2002.
The Rover K-series made its appearance in 1991, initially as the 1.4 litre engine from the Metro GTi. This engine became the backbone of the range for the next 15 years. The 1.6 litre k-series appeared in 1996 and the 1.8 litre a year later. 1996 also saw the addition of the 'Superlight' range, a range that successfully focussed initially on reducing weight and subsequently on bespoke tuning of the k-series to ever-higher outputs. Weight was saved by removing the spare wheel (and carrier), carpets, heater and often the windscreen (replaced with an aeroscreen), hood and doors. Lightweight "Tillet" GRP seats were usually fitted along with carbon-fibre front wings and nosecone (note however that items such as heaters and windscreens could still be specified by the Superlight customer if they so wanted). Wide-track suspension was added to the superlight, increasing the track at the front to match that at the back. The later Superlight-R offered the dry-sumped VHPD (Very High Performance Derivative) variant on the 1.8 litre k-series. Output was now up to around 180 bhp (134 kW), in a car that now weighed as little as 490 kg (1,080 lb). Three years later Caterham took the same concept to a new level and created the iconic Superlight R500, still based on the Rover 1.8 litre k-series but now tuned (by Minister Racing Engines) to around 230 bhp (172 kW) at 8,600 rpm in a car weighing just 460 kg (1,014 lb). The R500 was initially available in kit-form, but quickly became a factory-build only item. Quoted performance figures still make impressive reading; 0-100 mph in 8.2 seconds (although EVO magazine quotes 8.8 seconds). Perhaps unsurprisingly, such a stressed engine required frequent "refreshing" in order to keep it on the road and a series of engine revisions was undertaken throughout the R500's life in order to increase reliability. This culminated in 2004 with perhaps the most extreme production Caterham of all; the R500 EVO was bored out by Minister to 1,998 cc and delivered 250 bhp (186 kW). At £42,000, the R500 EVO was hardly a sales success - it is widely believed that just three examples were sold. It did however succeed in setting a series of performance car benchmarks several of which last to this day; the 0-100 mph-0 record was set at 10.73 seconds (in second place was a Ferrari Enzo costing ten times as much) and, until the end of 2006 it remained the fastest production car timed by EVO magazine around the Bedford Autodrome West Circuit, ahead of a Porsche Carrera GT. Only the Radical SR3 1300 has subsequently posted a faster time than the R500 EVO.


Caterham Cars has opened the UK order book for the Caterham Seven 160 - its new entry-level variant of the iconic sportscar, powered by a super-compact, turbocharged Suzuki engine.
Priced from £14,995 in component form, the car's live-axle rear suspension, compact engine and low weight embody the pioneering spirit of early Sevens and represent a new entry-point to the Seven range.
The Caterham Seven 160 - EU customers will get an altered version, called 165 - produces 80hp from its 660cc, three-cylinder, turbocharged engine, enabling it to accelerate to 60mph in a brisk 6.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 100mph.

 

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