News : Caterham introduces new entry-level Seven

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

John Slavin

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Caterham has opened the order books for its latest take on the classic Seven sports car. Powered by a 660cc three-cylinder Suzuki turbo engine with 79bhp, the emphasis with the new Caterham Seven 160 is on handling prowess and driver enjoyment rather than outright power. However, it’s no slouch – thanks to featherweight construction, the 160 can get from 0-60mph in just 6.5 seconds, with a top speed of 100mph.

Prices start at £14,995 in component form, but you’ll need to be nifty with the spanners. Caterham puts in 20 hours of construction and a further 50-70 hours is required by a reasonably capable home mechanic to get the car finished – or it can be fully constructed at the factory for an extra £3000.

The new entry-level Seven is mechanically simple, with a live rear axle and little in the way of fanciful creature comforts – even a 12v charging socket is an optional extra. Steel wheels are standard and the engine is more frequently seen in small Japanese town cars. However, Caterham has tuned it up a little, raising power from 63 to 79bhp while reducing emissions and improving fuel economy.

Those who wish to increase the usability of their Seven 160 can specify such embellishments as carpets and a heater, along with leather seats and a tonneau cover. The Caterham Seven 160 is available to order now, but production won’t begin until January 2014, with deliveries due in Spring.

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Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

23 Comments

  1. I’m slightly concerned Caterham might be biting off more than they can chew, with their drive upmarket (e.g. their Renault JV) but this is exactly the sort of car they should be producing.

    I do find it odd that a small team in garage can take an engine made by a major manufacturer, play with it cna produce more BHP, better economy and fewer emissions – sounds too good to be true!

  2. Nice little car and like the colour too. However it is rather expensive in pre-built form (£17995). Guess it’s niche market though and will be fairly rare on our roads.

    At least it’s British too – Good luck.

  3. I think the £18k price for a finished car is very reasonable. The used market for Caterhams and Westfields is exceptionally strong, indicating how much demand there is for cars like this. You’ll pay £9-10k for a 15-20 year old car with a 1.4 K-series under the bonnet.

  4. It would be nice to build one of these, but I’m not sure the price differential between semi-kit and fully built is enough to warrent it. I wonder does the used market differentiate between factory and DIY cars?

  5. @5 that’s a good point….if I was buying one and the seller proudly said “I built it myself” it might actually put me off the thing……would love a Morgan 3W if it was near the same price bracket

  6. @ 5 The best kit car i ever saw was a Triking built by an engineer who built Jet Engines at Rolls Royce when he was not in his shed. Every single component had been improved including the battery box because he did not like the the way the rivet heads rubbed against the battery. So I wpuld say if its built by someone who is used to working at the highest levels eg Rolls Royce or McLaren I thing it would add to the value.

  7. All being well, other carmakers will follow suit and produce lightweight coupes / convertible sportscars powered by downsized sub-1.0 engines.

  8. @7 I couldn’t agree more. That was the beauty of Bristol cars in the days of old. They were more or less handmade by aircraft engineers and therefore to a very high standard.

  9. Seems a bit strong for a niche car to me,its a weekend special after all isnt it? Maybe its just me prefeering to build it from scratch-just to make it really your “own” – that little ballache filing something that sort of thing, a labour of love.

  10. I believe the kit version can be purchased in installments,spreading the cost as you go.
    Maybe,when the house is finished……

  11. I like the concept of taking a tiny, lightweight car engine, and pairing it up with a very simple and featherweight chassis. I also like that it is not over-embellished- those skinny steel wheels are pretty and should give a good compromise between grip and slidability. No doubt it will feel a great deal quicker than it’s performance figures suggest.

    And not overpriced in my opinion- indeed given what it is, I’d say it is a bargain.

  12. It’s a bit of an insult to car makers to say that aerospace engineers can make better products than they can. I remember when British Aerospace bought Rover Group, it was the car company which taught the aerospace company how to implement quality, not the other way around.

  13. @17 Not an insult at all. Nothing to do with BAe/Rover, totally different subject. They were intermediate owners only. Zero engineering input. Bristol cars on the other hand were aircraft craftsmen hand building cars. Not knocking together Austin 7’s on a production line.

  14. One reads some far-fetched observations on this site, but the suggestion that Rover group engineering quality and quality control was superior to that of the aviation divisions of Bae goes well beyond what is reasonable . Perhaps the writer of 17 can give us some examples to back up his rather extraordinary assertion

  15. @19 it is not without precedent, Ford taught Rolls Royce a lot about quality and consistency when producing the Merlin engine by the thousand

  16. When Packard started to make Merlins they started with a 2 piece Merlin block before any UK factories had retooled for it.

  17. I mentioned that it was Rover Group who showed BAe how to implement quality. Just-in-time and quality circles were motor industry innovations. BAe was able to practice these manufacturing methods with Rover’s assistance. I studied this at the time. There was an article about this matter in Management Today or The Economist newspaper, I forget which. I am sorry, I no longer have the reference. As an example; BAe 146 airframes were manufactured to about 90% completion before the engines were leased/purchased and installed. On a lighter note, what is your favourite aircraft? My favourite is the Spitfire, probably the PRXIX.

  18. @22 a very difficult question for me as I am an aircraft anorak by profession and personal interest. Modern aircraft would have to be the Sukhoi Su34M, WW2….crikey, I just can’t commit to one, maybe the Me262…….maybe lol

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