When it comes to cars that deliver pure driving pleasure, the Caterham Seven is tough to beat. Maybe this is why the roadster has used the same recipe for more than 50 years. Caterham has been working to improve it since 1973, but we mustn’t forget that Colin Chapman, who built the first Lotus 7 in 1957, penned the Seven. It’s true that the technology behind it has changed over the decades, but Chapman’s iconic "simplify, then add lightness" philosophy remained printed in the Seven’s DNA. Caterham sells a host of iterations nowadays, ranging from the bone-stock 165 model to the lightning-fast 620 R, but, from time to time, it also releases special-edition models that become prized collectibles.
For instance, the Brits created quite a stir with the Seven JPE, a Vauxhall -powered Seven developed with input from F1 driver Jonathan Palmer and launched in 1993. More than 20 years have passed since then, and Caterham turned to another Formula One driver to create a new limited edition track rocket. This time it was Kamui Kobayashi’s turn, a Caterham F1 Team ace that has five Grand Prix seasons to his name.
As with most Caterham special editions, the Kobayashi Seven is gifted with a unique appearance and the latest tricks in carbon-fiber embellishment. It packs the same no-nonsense attitude present in all Caterham -badged vehicles and it has everything it needs to make a petrol-head grovel at its wheels. There is a catch though; the possibility that we may never see one blow past us on the highway is very low. But you’ll have to join us in our in-depth trip to find out why.
Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Caterham Seven Kamui Kobayashi Special Edition.
The special-edition Caterham is primarily distinguished by its high-gloss black paint and matte-black stripes with "Kamui" lettering on the simple, boxy rear fascia and by the lack of a proper windshield.
Based on the Seven 250 R model, this special edition Caterham is primarily distinguished by its high-gloss black paint and matte black stripes with "Kamui" lettering on the simple, boxy rear fascia and by the lack of a proper windshield. Adding to its unique looks are the front wings and the rear wing shields that are crafted from carbon-fiber and finished in a bespoke Caterham Green lacquer. The hue is somewhat similar to the one dressing the Group’s Formula One car, but the automaker claims the Kobayashi special edition is the sole recipient of this color.
Underneath the wings, and wrapped in tires that are suited for a fun-filled, track weekend, lies a set of 13-inch, multi-spoke wheels that carry a unique design and a glossy black/silver color combo. And speaking of track entertainment, the Kobayashi Seven also comes equipped with an aluminum tonneau placed over the passenger area and a single-sided rollover hoop. When viewed from the drivers’ side, the vehicle’s sporty nature is further enhanced by a polished chrome exhaust that would make a Shelby Cobra owner tip his hat at the sight of it.
The carbon-fiber dashboard carries Kamui Kobayashi’s signature, while the carbon-fiber sports seat comes with green contrast stitching and a Kamui logo embroidered in the headrest
The no-nonsense cockpit is packed with carbon-fiber and accented by the same Caterham Green lacquer adorning the wings. The carbon-fiber dashboard carries Kamui Kobayashi’s signature, while the carbon-fiber sports seat comes with green contrast stitching and a Kamui logo embroidered in the headrest. The gauge inlays, the anodized green gear knob, and the green key have also been specifically crafted for the special-edition sports car . The lucky and deep-pocketed owners will be kept in their seats by a four-point harness developed by Takata.
With all that carbon-fiber stuffed in the cockpit, we can see why Caterham decided to ditch the windshield on this model too. We would recommend a pair of glasses though, you don’t want any flies poking your eyeballs while taking a tight turn.
The 1.6-liter Ford engine generates 128 horsepower
The nimble sports car uses the same 1.6-liter, Ford Sigma engine fitted in the Caterham Seven 250 R. The four-pot generates 128 horsepower and uses six-speed manual transmission and a limited-slip differential to spin the tiny wheels. Although 128 ponies might not seem like a lot, the low curb weight — around 500 kg (1,102 pounds) — enables the vehicle to accelerate from naught to 62 mph in just 5.9 seconds before reaching a top speed of 122 mph.
Already annoyed about having to go through a complicated and expensive process to purchase a Caterham Seven in the U.S.? Well, you might as well start crying now. This is where dreaming about this special-edition Caterham Seven needs to stop, because the Brits are building only 10 units before shipping them to Japan. Each vehicle will cost ¥6,000,000 in the "Land of the Rising Sun", which means nearly $59,000 as of 5/27/2014.
KTM is one of the very few automakers that apply similar principles when building its cars. X-Bows rarely blow past the 300-horsepower mark when it comes to output, but their lightness and race-tuned handling make them the perfect track toys. The base X-Bow packs 220 ponies coming from an Audi-sourced, 2.0-liter four-cylinder and uses those horses with input from either a six-speed manual or a DSG transmission. That’s huge power compared to the Seven 250 R, but the Caterham has the heritage and the looks on its side. Not to mention that an X-Bow GT equipped with a roof and doors fetches in excess of $90,000.
Sure, you might be tempted to think that an X-Bow is easier to acquire in the U.S., but bear in mind that Caterhams are now available Stateside via Superformance as well.
The Caterham Seven is a great sports car to own when you already have a daily driver, but this Kamui Kobayashi Special Edition isn’t the one to start with. There are far more affordable Caterhams coming from Britain and, truth be told, Kobayashi is neither Mario Andretti, nor Bobby Unser. Of course, this special-edition sports car is a fine effort from Caterham and it will certainly be a big hit in Japan, but maybe the Brits should think about developing an iteration the much-ignored U.S. enthusiasts can have a shot at buying.
- Unique styling
- Race-inspired, carbon-fiber cockpit
- Awesome power-to-weight ratio
- Japan-only edition
- Costs more than a Corvette Stingray
- Not much of a daily driver
Caterham Cars has taken the wraps off a brand new special edition Seven designed by Caterham F1 Team’s Japanese driver, Kamui Kobayashi.
Just 10 examples of the Kamui Kobayashi special edition go on sale in Kamui’s home country from today, priced at ¥6,000,000 (including local taxes).
Based on the 125bhp Seven 250 R, the distinctive special edition is packed with an array of performance-focused features hand-chosen by the Formula One driver. The Seven 250 R is powered by a 1.6 Ford Sigma engine, achieving 62mph in 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 122 mph. It has six-speed manual transmission with a limited slip differential.
The exterior is finished in high-gloss black paint with matt black sport stripes. Every Kamui Kobayashi edition wears a number 10 badge on its nose – Kamui’s Formula One driver number. The front wings and rear wing protectors are finished in carbon fibre infused with a unique Caterham green lacquer, the first of the Seven models to offer this finish.
In true racing style, the car is a single-seater and features an aluminium tonneau cover over the passenger seat area; to match, there is also a single-sided rollover hoop fixed to the rear bulkhead, with all new 13-inch diamond cut black wheels. There is also a polished chrome rear exit exhaust system to complete the dynamic styling.
Inside, the performance theme continues with a carbon fibre dashboard detailed with the Caterham green lacquer, which will be personally signed by Kamui. The sports seat is also constructed from carbon fibre, with green contrasting stitching, a Kamui logo in the head rest and a green Takata-branded 4-point harness.
Other interior features include special Kamui gauge inlays, an anodised green gear knob with Kamui wordmark and an anodised green key.
Kamui drove a Caterham Seven for the first time earlier this year at Silverstone circuit, speaking about the special edition, he said: “For me, the Caterham Seven is a pure car; when you drive a Seven it feels like you are driving, not like the car is driving you. In my Caterham F1 car, I have electronics that control everything but to drive the Seven is to truly understand the car and to truly understand the enjoyment of driving.I hope my styling of the Seven adds something special to a car that is already awesome to drive.”
David Ridley, Chief Commercial Officer for Caterham Cars commented: “Japan is our second-largest export market and our Japanese Caterham community are huge fans of Kobayashi; I’m delighted to be able to offer our fans in Japan this exclusive model which will, one day, no doubt become a collector’s item. Kamui had great fun customising the design and has even test-driven the first prototype to give his seal of approval.”