The Seven was an anachronism, a throwback to British motoring from decades earlier: small engine, phenomenally light, and an almost open-wheel styling.
A company called Caterham still saw some life in the vehicle, and purchased the rights to continue producing it. Whereas before it had been primarily marketed as a low-budget kit car, Caterham decided to take things up-market yet stay true to the heritage of the automobile.
Over the last 3 decades they have used their production line and modern components to hone the Seven into a seriously lethal sports package – all the while retaining an almost identical weight, styling and driving feel in comparison to the original Lotus.
The Caterham Seven Roadsport is a version of the Seven that retains the lightweight, sporting flavor of the roadster and combines it with a more modern interior, spare tire, and creature comforts like a heater.
In an aim to make the Seven more accessible to people over 5’10” tall, the Roadsport edition is also available on the SV chassis, which gives 4.3 inches more width and 3.2 inches more length of the wheelbase.
Power can be generated from a base 4 cylinder, 100 horsepower Ford motor, all the way up to a 170 horsepower turbocharged Zetec engine. While these might not seem like particularly impressive numbers, the Seven Roadsport weighs less than 1500 lbs – an incredible achievement in engineering that propels it to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds.
This kind of performance is a full second faster than a Honda S2000, and encroaches dangerously close to Porsche territory.
But while a Porsche might coddle you with leather seats and air conditioning, in the Caterham you are lucky to have that heater to keep you warm on cold nights with the top down.
The Caterham is definitely not a vehicle for everyone. It has often been described as a street-legal race car, and previous generations had a reputation for bone-jarring suspension and loud engine noise that made it difficult to use as a daily driver – in addition to the aforementioned issues for anyone above a certain height.
But the modern Caterham Seven Roadsport keeps the driver connected to the road without teeth-jarring suspension setups, steering response is direct, and braking is authoritative, as to be expected in a car of this size.
If you are looking for retro styling that stands out in a crowd, then the Catherham Seven is your automotive time machine to an age when real drivers wore goggles and scarves.