Today a super-leightweight sports car: the Caterham Super 7 or the car that's "Too Fast to Race...".
It's based on the Lotus Seven but produced by Caterham Cars, in the UK. From the late 1950s to the early 1970s they were sold in kit and pre-built form by Lotus.
After they ended the production in 1972 Caterham bought the rights to the design and the name and still produces kits and fully assembled cars and celebrated the 50th year of production in 2007.
The original design came from Colin Chapman, a former Royal Air Force pilot. After the war he bacame a very successful race driver and in 1952 he founded Lotus Engineering. His vision was a light but powerful car - which debuted at the 1957 Earl's Court Motor Show in London.
The first Lotus 7 looked very similar to todays ones and costs about £1,036 including purchase tax, fully assambled, and only £536 in kit form. They had a 1.4 litre engine is 0-60 in 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 110 mph (180 km/h).
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 (725 lb / 329 kg).
Caterham have had something of a tentative relationship with the installation of motorbike engines into their cars. Since 2000, a Canadian firm has been selling Caterham 7 models using the GSXR1300 engine used in the Suzuki Hayabusa. It reportedly does 0-62 in under 3 seconds.
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.
As Colin Chapmans former successes as a race driver he wanted his 7'S to be raced. Whilst still a prototype, in September 1957, it was raced at the Brighton Speed Trials and by the end of 1958 Graham Hill was winning races. The car has had a strong racing history throughout its life under both Lotus and Caterham stewardship.
For £17,995 (2009 price), entrants get a modified Roadsport kit (although a factory-built option is available for extra cost) with a sealed 120 bhp (89 kW) engine and 5-speed gearbox.
The car was banned from racing in the USA in the 1960s, as being "Too fast to race" and again in the UK in the 1970s for the same reasons, which prompted Caterham Cars boss Graham Nearn to produce 'T' shirts with "Caterham Seven, the car that's "Too Fast to Race...". Both bans were later lifted.
I've added this cookie (yes, its a cookie . . filled with chocolate) to demonstrate that almost everyone (over probably 1.80m height) feels like canned sardines inside this sportscar ;)
You can find me also on Facebook, Flickr, twitter, Bloglovin and of course on YouTube.
Me Blogging for the Bahn Blog