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Caterham Seven 1600 Super Sport - 19th October 2007

Quick Drive

Caterham Seven 1600 Super Sport Caterham Seven 1600 Super Sport Caterham Seven 1600 Super Sport

You will get the full glory of this pocket rocket in the "our cars" section, but it’s only fair that someone else attempts an unbiased review, so here goes...

I am blessed with having a mate as trusting as Nick, I’m on his insurance and get to borrow the keys to his pride and joy whenever it’s free. I’m not a natural disciple to this kind of car though, but I can understand just how easily one’s head is turned and fully expect to hear that many Seven owners got theirs after an introduction such as mine.

There is something you all should know first - this car would not make the perfect getaway car. Simply climbing in, strapping on the 5 point harness and firing her up is an event. In fact the whole process adds to the delightful anticipation of a run out. And the sound generated by pushing the starter is the icing on an already sweet cake.

All your senses are engaged once you are within it’s womb; seeing everything in sharp detail from very close to the tarmac; hearing the exhaust roaring beyond acceptable limits; feeling the small, tactile bespoke suede Mota-lita wheel and the round pedal beneath your right foot; tasting the mix of exhaust and adrenaline; and smelling the fresh air - did I mention its running with only an aero-screen to make the flies swerve before impact?

So rolling away at last and its easy does it while I get the feel for response and grip. The clutch has a very short zone at the very top of the pedal but the pixie boots let me feel it all, so no embarrassing stalls or jolts. The steering does catch me out a little though, with the shortest rack available and such a small steering wheel the response is vicious. Add that to the low profile of the soft compound Yokohama’s and It’s less than steady away.

The gearbox is as satisfying as mechanical engineering can get with short, accurate travel and I can already see Nick laughing as he notices me fall for the same trick every other novice falls for - each gear change is joined by a slight turn of the steering wheel. Thanks for noticing.

It is a natural driving experience though and I’m into the flow within a few junctions, although I don’t think I’ll ever get used to being held so firmly in my seat by the harness, preventing the forward lean so useful for looking out of side roads.

I expect there is little difference between taking the Seven out and piloting a small plane. It must be the purest form of driving I have ever experienced, every move and reaction happens the instant you command it, almost as though your synapses were linked to the car. I’m only sorry that the waving onlookers can’t see my growing grin behind the face mask (the only barrier between my teeth and the occasional small rock playfully spun at me by the Yoko’s).

After several acclimatising miles I feel confident enough to take the Seven up to the red-line, and by coincidence also at the start of a long, clear stretch of dual carriageway. Nick has fitted a little set of change up lights for this purpose and I hadn’t realised they were even on up to now, but again, physical instinct kicked in at the same time as they lit up for my first flooring from a rolling second gear start. So this is why he’s got a Seven - it makes you feel like the fifth horseman. Of course, there is still a legal speed limit so the rush for glory only lasts a few seconds, but now I know and I’ve started saving up.

Sorry - maybe not as unbiased as I’d hoped!

Mike.

Caterham Seven 1600 Super Sport
Caterham Seven 1600 Super Sport

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