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Caterham




The picture shows the first car built by Colin Chapman and his friends as a handmade conversion. His son later searched for the original. It probably dates from 1947, the year Chapman drove the first races. Some of these races were off-road, which increased the chances of the car, an Austin Seven from the thirties, which was allegedly not for sale, had become lighter and therefore more raceworthy by limiting it to the bare essentials and using a lot of aluminium.


This is the Mark II, built apparently after Chapman sold the Mk I in 1950. Other sources say he built this car for a friend who was successful with it in racings. That's when the interest of the buyers began. After all, the car already had 16 kW (22 PS) with an empty weight of 445 kg. Obviously the power-to-weight ratio is the decisive advantage here.

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110 copies of this Mark IV are said to have been sold, especially often as a kit. Besides the fact that the price was lower, the very high sales tax was saved compared to a complete delivery. The Seven financed Lotus the racing activities and for example the development of the Elan. By the way, if you take a closer look you will notice the double brake cylinders in addition to the hydraulic brakes. In this area we are now at the state of the art.



Which is not what you can say about the engine installed until 1960. The really successful bodywork suggests a much more powerful one. After all, the Lotus Seven had long had its own tubular frame, which was produced by Arch Motors. The company Caterham was the first Lotus dealer in 1959 and has been producing parts for Lotus since 1962.


Since 1967, all Lotus Seven have been sold only through the Caterham company. So it was only logical that they took over the production from 1973 onwards, when Colin Chapman lost interest in the project. Just look above at how cleverly the Lotus-Signe was transformed into one of its own. The company was of course based in Caterham Hill, a town of the same name.


And as if one had only waited for it, now a thorough change comes into the car. It was made partly of fiberglass-reinforced plastic. They were putting a DeDion axle in the back. Of course, this required a new final drive, together with the transmission in an aluminum casing. The engine made several development steps (see box below).



In the meantime the logo has changed, but the basic concept has remained the same. A small engine still drives a lightweight body. Getting started is still difficult, with roof almost impossible. There is no airbag. The side 'windows' flutter when the car is moving, which makes them fit in with the overall driving experience.










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