Caterham Cars is a British manufacturer of specialist lightweight sports cars established in Caterham, Surrey, with their headquarters in Crawley, Sussex. Their current model, the Caterham 7 (or Seven), originally launched in 1973, is a direct evolution of the Series 3 Lotus Seven designed by Colin Chapman. In the 1990s the company made the Caterham 21, a two-seater soft top alternative to the MGF and Lotus Elise, (which both sold many more units). A track-only car, the SP/300.R, a joint project with Lola was released for customer testing in 2010 and was scheduled for release in 2013. On 27 April 2011, Team Lotus owner Tony Fernandes announced that he had purchased Caterham.
With a line-up of models that range in power from 125bhp to 310bhp, each car weighing just over 500kg, Caterham’s seven Seven variants features something for every taste, every level of driving experience. Production of Caterham’s unique British cars is exclusively from within the UK- from start to finish, with the end goal, still being, to reduce weight and increase power.
Colin Chapman's Lotus Cars launched the Series 1 Lotus Seven in 1957. The car was immediately embraced by enthusiasts as a low-cost, lightweight sports car and successful race car. Revised Series 2, Series 3 and Series 4 versions were subsequently launched in 1960, 1968 and 1970 respectively.
Caterham Cars had been a major Lotus 7 dealer during the 1960s, and its founder, Graham Nearn, purchased the rights to continue manufacture of the Seven design from Chapman in 1973, after Lotus announced its intention to discontinue the model. Caterham initially restarted manufacture of the Lotus Seven Series 4; however, when this proved unpopular, production switched to a Series 3 model in 1974.
In 1974, under the name of Seven Cars Limited, Caterham built 20 production cars with chassis numbers 1–20 and one prototype, with chassis number 0 (CS3 3550 – CS3 3570). Of the 21 cars produced in the first year, all were fitted with the Ford Lotus Twin Cam 1557cc engine, with the exception of chassis number 7 which, intended for racing, was fitted with a 1962cc twin cam engine sourced from Alfa Romeo.
The Lotus/Caterham 7 is widely regarded by car enthusiasts and the media as one of the signature sports cars of the 20th century. With 2007 marking the 50th year of continuous production, the Seven still enjoys strong support and success in clubman-style racing.
Since 2006 Caterham Cars has been run by an ex-Lotus management team led by Ansar Ali (CEO) and Mark Edwards (COO). In June 2012 Ansar Ali announced he was to leave Caterham Cars and Graham Mcdonald (the company's former CFO) became the new CEO.
Did you know:
- Caterham have created more than 1,000 brand new racing drivers through their Caterham Academy programme