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Thirty years ago this month, Caterham Cars struck a unique and historic deal with Lotus.

Having been involved in the sale and development of Colin Chapman’s celebrated Seven since 1959 (including its involvement in the 60s cult television series, The Prisoner), the Surrey based firm now became its saviour.

Against a backdrop of power cuts, rampant inflation, the advent of VAT and the three-day week, Lotus was looking to end production of the Seven as it began to turn its attentions elsewhere.

Caterham promptly stepped in.

In June 1973, the company agreed to take on the manufacturing rights of the Seven, and in doing so, secured its long-term future. Chapman said at the time: "As one of the original Lotus centres, Caterham have an exemplary record for servicing and selling the Lotus Seven, so I am pleased to be able to hand over the rights to them."

The move was an historic one, as Graham Nearn, Chairman and the driving force behind Caterham since the fifties, said a few years later: "Caterham became custodians of the legend."

Three decades, and ten thousand sales later, Caterham has spawned an incredible forty different interpretations or limited editions of the Seven including the Cosworth BDR-powered 1600 from 1983, the 250bhp JPE from 1992 and the Superlight R in 1997.

continues... | Part Two

Published : 17/06/03 Author : Melanie Carter

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