Caterham shows its might at SMMT

21 March 2014 #SMMT News
Caterham AeroSeven and Seven 160 at SMMT

Caterham AeroSeven and Seven 160 at SMMT

Caterham is showing the strength of its sports car arm in a two week exhibition at SMMT’s headquarters in Westminster. Featuring the AeroSeven concept, as well as the Seven 160 and Supersport SV, the display highlights the rapid pace of development taking place among the group.

Caterham employs more than 600 people in the UK, with 130 employed by its sports car facility in Dartford, Kent, and a further 100 at its specialist engineering wing, Caterham Technology and Innovation in Hingham, Norfolk.

Caterham: a history

Caterham Supersport SVFounded in 1959 by Graham Nearn, Caterham was originally a distributor of the then-Lotus Seven, which was designed by British motor racing pioneer, Colin Chapman. A design that Chapman himself remarked he could “dash off in a weekend,” the Seven was the epitome of the minimalist design for which Lotus was famed.

The first production version, which went on sale in 1957, was powered by a pre-war 40bhp Ford Side-valve engine and featured a live axle and drum brakes. The result was a car that could be built and competitively raced for a price of just £526 – less than £10,500 in today’s money.

In 1973, with Lotus asserting its dominance in Formula 1 and planning to take on the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini in the supercar stakes, the humble Seven was dropped. Luckily, Nearn secured rights to build the car, and so the Caterham Seven was born.

Current Caterhams

Caterham Seven 160

Caterham Seven 160 at SMMT

The new Caterham Seven 160 is arguably the car closest to Chapman’s original idea of a simple, affordable sports car. Fitted with a 660cc three-cylinder engine, developing 80bhp and mated through a five-speed gearbox to a live rear axle, the 160 will manage a 0-62mph sprint in 6.5 seconds, while delivering 57.6mpg. Currently on display at SMMT, the Seven 160 is stripped bare to reveal its aluminium spaceframe chassis and bespoke powertrain.


Caterham Supersport SV

Caterham Supersport SV at SMMT

True to the Seven’s road-racing heritage the Supersport, also shown at SMMT, is derived directly from the cars racing in the Caterham Supersport Championship. A 1.6-litre 140bhp engine propels the 520kg Supersport to 62mph in just 4.5 seconds and on to 120mph. A close-ratio ‘sprint’ gearbox, race-ready suspension and limited-slip differential all promise to deliver a sensational driving experience on road and on track.

Caterham AeroSeven at SMMT

Caterham AeroSeven at SMMT

The AeroSeven Concept shows the future of Caterham, which since Tony Fernandes took ownership in 2011, includes Caterham Technology and Innovation, Caterham Composites, Caterham F1 and Caterham bikes, as well as Caterham Cars.

Planned for production in 2015, the AeroSeven is heavily influenced by Caterham’s Formula 1 team. This is clearly visible from its striking aerodynamic design, composite construction, onboard pushrod suspension and steering-wheel mounted controls. It also hints at the styling expected of Caterham’s all new sports car, which is in joint development with Renault and due in 2016.

Caterham is one of eight major specialist and premium manufacturers in the UK, to find out more about the country’s vibrant automotive industry, take a look at SMMT’s Motor Industry Facts 2014.

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