Caterham pays tribute to the original Lotus Seven with vintage-looking limited-edition

While most automobile nameplates are usually split into generations, it’s impossible to do the same with the Caterham Seven. Ever since the British firm bought the rights to the Seven marque in 1973, the lightweight roadster has changed very little design-wise, with its most important upgrades lying underneath the bodywork. And, while the current model is definitely a big step forward technology wise, it’s difficult to describe it as being part of a certain generation. What we do know for a fact is that the Seven has become a full-fledged family of cars in recent years, being available in six different versions, not including the race-spec models. In 2017, Caterham celebrates 60 years since Lotus first introduced the nameplate with a limited-edition variant called the Seven Sprint.

Based on the entry-level Seven 160, the Sprint is described as a variant of the Seven that "was seemingly planned in the mid-1960s but never launched." Caterham is likely referring to the Sprint being part of Lotus’ plans for the sports car, but cancelled for various reasons. What’s important here to know for historical reasons, is that the Sprint celebrates 60 years since Lotus introduced the Seven nameplate in 1957. For those of you who aren’t very familiar with the Seven’s history, Caterham bought the rights to the sports car from Lotus in 1973, when it started making its own version. Some 44 years have passed, and Caterham looked back upon the original Seven and created a vintage-looking, limited-edition model for die-hard enthusiasts.

"We have always prided ourselves on continually developing the Seven during the 44 years we have been custodian of the model. But we never wished to dismiss our heritage either and I know there are plenty of Seven purists and aficionados out there who will really appreciate the level of detail we’ve gone to with the Sprint to resurrect the spirit of those early cars," said Graham Macdonald, Caterham Cars CEO.

Continue reading to learn more about the Caterham Seven Sprint.

  • 2017 Caterham Seven Sprint
  • Year:
    2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-3
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    80
  • Torque @ RPM:
    79
  • Displacement:
    660 cc
  • 0-60 time:
    6.9 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    100 mph
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2017 Caterham Seven Sprint High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Caterham Seven Sprint High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Caterham Seven Sprint High Resolution Exterior
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The exterior of the Seven Sprint is loosely based on the classic Lotus Seven, sporting a few details that Caterham phased out decades ago. Up front, there are flared wings instead of the current clamshell fenders, and the familiar "7" grille has been replaced by a vintage unit with horizontal and vertical slats. Around back, the most notable addition are the round, individual lights, the reverse and fog lights mounted below the body work, and vintage-style fuel cap. The rear fascia also features a classic "Caterham" logo and a "Seven Sprint" lettering on the right fender, also in vintage script.

The exterior of the Seven Sprint is loosely based on the classic Lotus Seven, sporting a few details that Caterham phased out decades ago.

The wheels seem to be identical to those on the Seven 160, but on this model will be painted cream and finished with polished hubcaps. These will be complemented by six specially selected colors from the car’s 1960s color palette. Choices include Cream, Mellow Yellow, Regency Red, Camberwick Green, British Racing Green, and Misty Blue.

Underneath, the chassis is powder-coated grey, making it period-accurate for a Series 2 Lotus 7, while the suspension and rollover bar are also reminiscent of Colin Chapman’s original design.

Interior

2017 Caterham Seven Sprint High Resolution Interior
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2017 Caterham Seven Sprint High Resolution Interior
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2017 Caterham Seven Sprint High Resolution Interior
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Inside the cockpit, the Seven Sprint is different than any other Seven model available from Caterham right now. Beyond the generally similar dashboard and center tunnel, everything else has been reworked to give the Sprint its vintage looks. There’s a larger steering wheel with a wooden rim and polished metal spokes, a classic four-gauge instrument cluster, and a passenger-side dash with a simple, six-switch layout. Retro-inspired details also include a rev counter with red and yellow sectors, hard-stitched, Scarlet Red dashboard and seats, and a fully carpeted floor and luggage space. The 1960s-inspired cockpit is finished off by a numbered plaque showing that the Sprint is limited to only 60 units.

Drivetrain

2017 Caterham Seven Sprint High Resolution Exterior
- image 688247

Under the hood, the Seven Sprint is actually a Seven 160, Caterham’s entry-level model, meaning that motivation comes from a tiny 660cc, three-cylinder Suzuki engine rated at 80 horsepower and 79 pound-feet of torque. This output enables the Seven Sprint to hit 60 mph from a standing start in 6.9 seconds, toward a top speed of 100 mph. While it’s definitely not as a quick as the range-topping Seven models, the Sprint is fast enough to be considered beyond mundane and better suited for daily driving duties. It’s also in line with its vintage appeal, as Sevens weren’t exactly powerful back in the 1960s.

Three-cylinder Suzuki engine rated at 80 horsepower and 79 pound-feet of torque.

Its fuel economy should also be pretty impressive given that the Seven 160 is rated at 57.6 mpg combined on the British cycle. That’s around 48 U.S. mpg and about 4.9 liters per km on the European cycle. The three-cylinder engine mates to a five-speed gearbox, while other standard drivetrain features include a live axle rear suspension, front solid disc brakes with twin-piston calipers, and rear drum brakes.

Prices

2017 Caterham Seven Sprint High Resolution Exterior
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Pricing for the Seven Sprint starts from £27,995 (about $36,935 as of September 2016), making it a whopping £12,000 (around $15,830) more expensive than the Seven 160 it is based on. It’s also £1,000 (some $1,320) more expensive than the 210-horsepower, more track-oriented Seven 420, but the high sticker is far from surprising given that production is limited to just 60 units. The Sprint went on sale on September 9, 2016, when the car was launched at the Goodwood Revival. Also, the Caterham Seven Sprint will be available as a factory-built car only, unlike other Sevens.

Competition

Morgan 3-Wheeler

2013 Morgan Three-Wheeler Gulf Edition Exterior
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When it comes to most Caterham Sevens we usually look at cars such as the Ariel Atom or KTM X-Bow for competitors, but the Seven Sprint’s vintage character makes the Morgan 3-Wheeler more suitable for this comparison. Based on the classic V-Twin cars that Morgan launched in the 1910, the 3-Wheeler still carries most of its ancestor’s styling. However, much like the Seven Sprint, its underpinnings and engine are pretty much fresh in terms of technology. The 3-Wheeler is powered by a 2.0-liter SS that generates 82 horsepower. Paired to a five-speed manual transmission, the mill is powerful enough to propel the 1,157-pound vehicle from 0 to 62 mph in six seconds and onto a top speed of 115 mph. It’s a bit quicker than the Seven Sprint, but not by much. It’s also in the same bracket pricing-wise, starting from £25,950 in Britain, which converts to around $34,240.

Find out more about the Morgan 3-Wheeler here.

Conclusion

2017 Caterham Seven Sprint High Resolution Exterior
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The vintage-looking Sprint is a fantastic way to celebrate the Seven’s 60th anniversary, and it’s great that the British firm is looking back to the first years of the original Lotus model, which was built in an era when Caterham didn’t even exist. Granted, the Sprint is awfully expensive given its small engine and limited performance, but this new model isn’t about going fast around the track, but giving enthusiasts a glimpse at the original Lotus Seven through a car that mimics the styling cues of the Chapman’s first design, but rides on modern underpinnings. Despite being as expensive as the significantly quicker and more powerful Seven 420, I have no doubt that the Sprint will sell like hot cakes. I know I’d buy one, but all 60 example are likely already spoken for as of this writing.

  • Leave it
    • * Very expensive for its performance
    • * You’re better of with a Seven 420 pricing- and performance-wise

Press Release

Caterham Cars has built a variant of its iconic Seven that was seemingly planned in the mid-1960s but never launched – the Caterham Seven Sprint.

As though dug up in a time capsule, the retro detailing of the Caterham Seven Sprint will delight Seven purists and provides the perfect scene-setter to the brand’s ‘60 Years of the Seven’ anniversary, which will be celebrated next year.

The Sprint, priced from £27,995, will finally be available to order from September 9, when the car will be launched at the Goodwood Revival, a fittingly retro setting for a car with one wheel firmly planted in the ‘60s.

Powered by the same 80hp, three-cylinder Suzuki engine installed in Caterham’s entry-level Seven 160 model, the Sprint features a host of nostalgia-soaked features, including a choice of six paint colours that were original British manufacturer colours available in 1966/67.

2017 Caterham Seven Sprint High Resolution Exterior
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Caterham Cars CEO, Graham Macdonald, said: “We have always prided ourselves on continually developing the Seven during the 44 years we have been custodian of the model.”

“But we never wished to dismiss our heritage either and I know there are plenty of Seven purists and aficionados out there who will really appreciate the level of detail we’ve gone to with the Sprint to resurrect the spirit of those early cars.”

“It’s a car that has been built today, with all the benefits that modern engineering brings with it, but the essence of the swinging ‘60s and is the perfect precursor to our 60th-anniversary celebration in 2017.”

The launch of the Sprint heralds the start of Caterham’s ‘60 years of the Seven’ celebrations, which will culminate with a spectacular Caterham festival at Donington Park next summer. To reflect the anniversary further, only 60 Sprints will be destined for the UK and European markets.

2017 Caterham Seven Sprint High Resolution Exterior
- image 688245

The Sprint chassis is powder-coated grey, making it period-accurate for a Series 2 Lotus 7, while the suspension and rollover bar are also reminiscent of Colin Chapman’s original.

With flared front wings, polished exhaust silencer and uniquely retro-styled, individual rear lights, the Sprint harks back to the early days of the Seven and the choice of paint colours completes the exterior effect.

Wheels will be painted cream and finished with polished hubcaps, while the main bodywork, emblazoned with retro Caterham branding and Sprint logo, is available in original British colours, named by Caterham to reflect their heritage – Cream, Mellow Yellow, Regency Red, Camberwick Green, British Racing Green and Misty Blue.

Inside the cockpit, the sepia-toned impression continues, with a wooden-rimmed sports steering wheel and dashboard in wood effect, complete with a classic oOOo instrument layout. The tacho even features red and yellow sectors, in true ‘60s style.

Meanwhile, the interior panels and Muirhead Scottish seat upholstery is hand-stitched in the period style and finished in striking scarlet red.

The interior and luggage space are fully carpeted, as befits a ‘60s connoisseur and there are very few concessions to modern life, the main one being the three-pot Suzuki engine, which generates performance good enough to be considered beyond mundane but perfectly capable of a more leisurely application.

The Caterham Seven Sprint will be available as a factory-built car only.

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