Unfinished business: revisiting the Caterham Seven Car News

It’s 1986. Your correspondent is both 20 years old and an idiot. An idiot on a racetrack for only the second time in his life. Three things point to impending disaster: the track is Goodwood’s, then and now one of the least tolerant in the country; the car is a Caterham Super Sprint, over which its left, inexperienced limbs have rough control at best; and, inevitably, he has a bunch of friends watching from the stands.

So when he gets to the chicane at the end of his very first lap, he decides to show them what he and his car can do. Which is like backing up in a bank of dirt at high speed, with terminal consequences for the car. And if it hadn’t been for the helmet that he had been forced to wedge over his head before leaving, no doubt terminal for him too.

In this case, it is the said helmet and not the skull below that splits in two because it impacts the old low rollover bar and potentially fatal (in these circumstances) of the Caterham.

It was 35 years ago; 35 years in which nothing – not owning another Caterham, building a third, piloting a fourth and driving a few hundred more – could get this unfinished business out of my head.

Then last summer, as we came out of the first lockdown, I drove the new Super Seven, with its classic appearance, 135bhp output, and Jenvey throttle bodies resembling the pair of Weber carburettors that proudly protruded. offside of my old Seven. cap.

I loved this car, not least because it was a powerful reminder that when a car looks good, sounds good and behaves the right way, I don’t care how fast it is.

But they took it back, and I hated it. If this and more recent lockups had taught me anything about myself, it was only to confirm that what I love most about cars is a simple, honest machine that knows what it’s for. and does this job better than anything else. So the only way to make sure no one ever took a Caterham away from me was to go out and buy one.

It couldn’t be just any old Caterham, though. He had to be the one who would end the case that had been so violently put on hold at Goodwood all those years ago. Which only meant one thing: it needed a Crossflow engine.

For a certain type of enthusiast (probably older) the word ‘Crossflow’ produces sighs of pleasure, for others empty expressions. At the risk of annoying the first to inform the second, the Crossflow was a version of the old Ford Kent engine where the mixture was sucked on one side and then spat out on the other. You would have thought that was still the obvious way to do it, but apparently not.

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This notice was published: 2021-07-03 05:01:23

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