Here’s a sweet-running Seven with an appealing spec that’s immediately ready for summer action, says Rob Scorah
Caterhams come in a wide variety of flavours, but a popular spec would read, ‘1.6-litre engine with around 120-135bhp, de Dion rear axle, Momo steering wheel, leather seats, four-point harnesses, five-speed gearbox and the beefier Msa-approved roll bar’. All of which this car has, plus a heated windscreen. Further, it has had only four owners and its just-over 26,000 miles are documented in a good history file.
Walking around the car you’ll notice that the rear spats are a little gravel-chipped, while the nose is very clean. It was replaced after being knocked in a car park and remains very shiny. Almost everything else looks pretty good too. The front cycle wings retain their lustre, though there is some slight corrosion/oxidation in their retaining bolts and washers.
Looking through the ‘7’ grille, the low-down radiator looks undamaged by incoming stones. Elsewhere there are small scuffs to the paint – one on the bonnet recess on the passenger side and one near the tonneau stud below the windscreen on the driver’s side. There is also a small, protruding dent where something probably shifted in the rear tub and hit the rear panel. All these are small and no detriment to the overall impression of the car.
Taking the engine cover off (springs and hooks are in good shape) the engine bay is clean and tidy. No DIY kit-car fixes here. The history bears this out with proper and well-known Lotus names on invoices and regular pre-emptive servicing throughout the car’s life. It had a full belt service in August 2016, around the 22,000-mile mark, and new filters and fluids in October 2017.
Looking through the engine bay and around the frame, there are no signs of corrosion and the chassis appears solid. The exposed suspension parts are in good order – the slightest weathering but no real pitting or surface corrosion. The wheels are 16in ‘Prisoner’ style, all very clean and wearing new Avon tyres.
The cockpit has only the gentlest patina to the seats. The minimal instrumentation and switching all works as it should.
The Caterham fires immediately and settles to a smoke-free idle. The stubby gearstick slots into first without hesitation and the motorised breadbin is away. Everything feels taut and responsive, with immediate and precise steering and pedal responses. The car takes a relaxed attitude at lower revs, but for proper Caterham shove you need to spin beyond 4000rpm when everything gets rather lively.
Keep the revs up and the car remains alert, poised, quick and rattle-free. The engine makes all the right noises while the temperature gauges say the mechanicals are behaving nicely.
The price is up with the nice ones as the dealer intends giving this Seven a light cosmetic refresh – cycle guard bolts, stone chips, etc. However, he may be open to a deal on the car as-is.
As-basic-as-it-gets body is in fine fettle with a shiny new nose
Not a lot inside, but it all works as it should
Lively 1588cc fourpot had a full belt service in 2016