30 Years Of Caterham Fun | Part Two

By preserving the external dimensions and shape of Chapman’s original design, and religiously applying his doctrine of engineering out unnecessary weight, the modern day Seven remains a breathe of fresh air and world beater.

The current flagship Superlight R500, which was first seen in 1999, is still the fastest production car on the planet with an astonishing 0 to 60mph time of 3.4 seconds and the ability to complete 0-100-0mph in just 11.44 seconds.

The fastest growing model is the Roadsport SV - accounting for thirty per cent of all sales.

As the latest new Seven, the SV was launched in 2001 with an extra few inches in the leg and the side to improve comfort for the 21st Century driver. This was a widely applauded move given the original Seven was built around Chapman’s 5’ 6" frame.

Although there are ten official versions in the current Seven family, no one Caterham is the same. "Every customer is different so why should they each have the same car?", explains Simon Nearn, Graham’s son and now managing director. "That is the spirit of the Seven – individuality."

Graham Hill, Derek Bell, Emerson Fittipaldi and Francois Cevert all cut their teeth behind the wheel of a Seven, so it’s no surprise to hear that motorsport continues to play a central role in the continued success of Caterham.

In Japan, US and Europe, over 600 racers compete annually in the 12 one make championships dotted across six countries to make the Seven the most raced car in the world.

"Bearing in mind that the Seven was designed by Chapman as he sought a fresh injection of cash, its longevity and continued appeal is testimony to his genius," concludes Nearn.

Published 17 June 2003 Melanie Carter

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