Caterham’s only marketing tactic is appealing to the nostalgia centers of our dumb lizard brains. Each of its models is a throwback to a simpler era of sports car when Lotus could get away with selling a coffin on four wheels as a new car on the merit of its simplicity. Decades later, the British kit-car maker has continued to play up the throwback simplicity of its Seven model. But occasionally it cranks up the nostalgia levels a bit, to great success.
You may remember a limited run of sixty 70s-themed Caterham Seven Sprint with fixed wings from back in 2016. It sold out in a week.
A similarly throwback-themed Caterham Super Seven 1600 has been devised, which takes much of what was on offer in the Sprint and turns it into a regular member of Caterham’s lineup. With 135 horsepower from a 1600cc Ford Sigma engine with twin throttle bodies and a whole bevvy of vintage-look accouterments, the Super Seven 1600 is minimalism on four wheels.
It’s not as quick or frightening as the mega Seven 620R, but it’s got more than enough shove to be a fun time. I’ll take fun over frightening any day.
Of course, none of this comes cheap. The base kit starts at about $41,000, which isn’t Caterham’s least expensive model, but it’s certainly not its most expensive either. Using Caterham’s configurator, I built this delightful Super Seven 1600 in a gorgeous deep Bordeaux Red with a pop of Firecracker Yellow around the nose cone. I’m enamored.
Of course, when I fitted the car with a limited slip differential, sport suspension, uprated brakes, a rear anti-roll bar, a longer chassis to accomodate my large human shape, a wood steering wheel, gold wheels, LED lighting, and a tonneau cover, the price ballooned even higher. To over $52,000! That’s Porsche Cayman money!
I have never been partial to the cycle-fendered Caterhams, preferring the oddly proportioned fixed pontoons that Lotus used from Mk2 through Mk4. Sure the big ears make the car look a bit like Jar Jar Binks, and I know the cycle fenders offer improved aerodynamics, but who truly cares about aerodynamics when you’re shooting around in a Super Seven?
This car rips. Do you think you can beat the spec I built? Go give it a shot.