The Magnificent Seven is a remake of Kurosawa's violent classic The Seven Samurai. In a similar vein, today's Vauxhall-poweredNice Price or Crack Pipe Caterham is a remake of an iconic Lotus, but it too may be magnificently violent.
Yesterday's Testarossa was at one time magnificent, but to this day it remains far from pretty. That's okay, because in certain supercars the brutality of their performance should be matched with looks that demand you don't stare too long lest their form be considered more memorable than their function. Imagine if Mike Tyson looked like Halle Berry? Opponents would stand there, slack-jawed in awe of the perfection, leaving Mike open to one-punch their spines into the cheap seats. Ouch. Despite rocking a bigger ‘80s vibe than a The Facts of Life marathon, that homely Maranello matron also rocked your world to the tune of a 60% Nice Price win.
You may be singing a different tune today as we have a car that, while priced in the same neighborhood of yesterday's Testarossa, has performance that will leave the redhead in a different ZIP Code.
This 1993 Caterham 7 HPC has had the legendary Vauxhall C20XE wedged under its narrow bonnet, and backing that up is a beefy Ford T-9. That five speed should get plenty of action as the Red Top (where have I heard that before?) Vauxhall is notoriously peaky. The reason for that is partly due to the big-throated 45DCOEs feeding the 1,998-cc four. The 218-bhp claimed by the seller leaves the gearbox via the world's shortest driveshaft and then to Caterham's track-proven de Dion rear suspension.
More track car than street machine, the seats are gymkhana wedgie-kings and a cut-down windscreen only serves to deflect the cicadas directly into your mouth rather than over your head. Those changes, along with the Caterham's inherent factory-installed lightness means that those 218 ponies only have to push 1,120 lbs down the road. Of course you'll add 20% to that, but still, even at, say 1,500 lbs, that's less than 7 pounds per pony. Yee-freakin'-haw, if a ride in a car like this doesn't have you coming back grinning ear to ear despite a mouth full of cicadas, you better check for a pulse, and you might want to start scoping out caskets.
Despite this Caterham leaning heavily on parking lot cone dodging, it looks to be street legal. Now, that may not be the case where you live, but at least it is the Motor City, where it can legally dodge potholes too.
It should be pointed out that this is not a car with universal appeal. Harsh and uncompromising, it would probably kill you on a long drive if the organ-dislocating acceleration hasn't done so first. But we're not interested in appealing to the masses, if we were, we'd probably shower more frequently and stop scratching our privates while in the produce section of the Super Market. No, this car lives in that nether region (no, not that one, pervs!) between street and track, and while it's biased toward the latter, it can make the former a whole lot more entertaining too. Have you ever wanted to draft a semi trailer, from underneath? You can in a Seven. Want to avoid parking tolls? This'll limbo under the arm without touching, cheapskate.
Of course, while the Caterham does have a larger cabin than the ancestral Lotus Seven, it's still a tight fit. If you're thinking about buying this, or any Caterham for that matter, you might want to first consider your feet. If looking at your walk-upons elicits the thought I wonder if the ballet is in town? then you stand a good chance of fitting in a Caterham. If, however, a glance southward makes you think of complimentary red noses and squirting boutonnieres, then maybe you should just keep walking there, bozo.
In a similar context does $35,000 for this Caterham mean that you would keep walking too? Or, does that price make for a weighty decision for this lightweight roadster?
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