Caterham 310R: PH Fleet


The Easter weekend is typically one for relaxing, gorging on chocolate and enduring the company of certain family members. Seven PHers were excused from their obligations this Easter though for a far more important task: building our Caterham Seven!

Team well fuelled at least...
Team well fuelled at least...
The antics began early on Saturday, where our group of three eager builders arrived at the Crawley HQ for a day of Caterham construction. Jan Hatton, Ben Nicholls and Ben Hanford were introduced to Caterham by Head of Marketing Dave Ridley and, with tea prepared and professionals (thanks Grant and Becky) on hand, the build could commence!

Even when indirectly involved with the build - I can barely build a sandwich, let alone a Seven - what faced all of us at 9am was distinctly daunting. Though much of the wiring and more tedious jobs had already been done, what sat there was a Miami Blue tub and plenty of boxes with all the parts that needed to be fitted. Over to the guys...

"Before long my hands were covered in copper slip and I was as happy as a pig in a doughnut shop", said Ben H, who was working with Ben N on the front of the car. So that's steering rack, brakes, suspension and so on. In no time at all the Seven became more recognisable - "our car had a face", as Ben H put it - and, with the array of hammers serving us well, progress looked good. Well, apart from that particularly awkward anti-roll bar...

Getting there...
Getting there...
Jan was struggling a little with the back of the car, the big jobs like the propshaft and the limited-slip diff proving tricky. "The prop shaft was wider at the universal joints than the transmission tunnel, whichever way it was aligned or offered up; there was no escaping the fact that we needed a hammer." Told you they were handy... As for the LSD, it required adding the oil, taping the shafts and holding the diff in place while it was secured. "Quite fiddly but rewarding to torque the last nut", is how Jan described it.

Ben and Ben were working fast elsewhere, with the next task installing the rear wings and seals: "It wasn't rocket science but it was very fiddly and required a good eye for craftsmanship, something I lack!"said Mr Nicholls, then we were onto the big jobs before lunch: gearbox and engine.

With those in "surprisingly simply" according to Jan - I was making more tea at this point - the afternoon of the first day could be spent on more minor but equally important jobs. "The boot carpet was a sod to get right and straight" said Ben N, although that could just be the glue talking. Indeed Ben H was expecting bare metal on an R-spec Caterham, so perhaps it can be eliminated for weight-saving purposes...

Ah yes, engine. We'll need one of those
Ah yes, engine. We'll need one of those
On Monday the time was shorter and so the manpower greater, James and Ben from PH joined by readers Chris Reeves, Stephen Charlesworth, Martyn Banham and James McCartney. The jobs for Bank Holiday Monday? "Some fiddly plumbing, some fiddly electrics and other assorted fiddly jobs", according to Stephen.

Despite that, there was plenty of enthusiasm from the group: "I assembled all the rear suspension components, which included special permission to use the hammer!" said Chris. Those hammers again... "I mostly wrestled with coolant hoses and a mountain of jubilee clips, some more recalcitrant than others" added Martyn, who was very pleased to see the coolant stay in the car when fired up! Having described working on the rear suspension as a "pleasure" - no really, it says so here - James was tasked with fitting the silencer. Over to him: "Having been shown a trick for fitting the exhaust retaining springs using cable ties, I tried with all my might to get the thing to hook in place but failed dismally. Becky [Caterham staff] then took over and, with seemingly zero effort, pulled the spring over its hook." Don't worry James, could have been worse!

Predictably enough time began to get away with the guys, though it sounds like a great deal of fun was still had as the build progressed. "Very satisfying!" is how Chris described using an air powered rivet gun, while Stephen "could definitely see myself coping with a Caterham build in my single garage." Very keen!

Well done everyone!
Well done everyone!
Soon it was time for the moment of truth... and it wouldn't start. In Stephen's words the starter motor "vainly turned the engine over, not even hinting that it would catch and run." However, just 10 minutes of fiddling later and things were sorted. "Relief and smiles all round" is how Martin put it, even with the steering rack not actually yet attached. With the wheels and nose cone on nobody can really tell, right?

To read through the reactions to the build is heartening: "a great day out", "I can't wait to be reunited with the car", "when can I come back?" and so on. Thanks all! We would have loved to feature more of your insight on the weekend but we would be here for dozens more paragraphs. Now it's time for the IVA...


FACT SHEET
Car
: Caterham Seven 310R
Run by: Whoever gets it first
On fleet since: April 2017
Mileage: None as yet, but it runs!
List price new: TBC, c. £33K kit
Last month at a glance: It's built, now to get it on the road!

Previous updates:
We need help building 'our' 310R

 

 

 

 

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Comments (19) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Fresh Prince 20 Apr 2017

    Brilliant! I enjoyed seeing it in the flesh on Monday and talking to you guys, I can't believe you've completed it so quickly!

  • Scottie - NW 20 Apr 2017


    I enjoyed reading about the EVO magazine one as well.

    Hope you have more luck than them, their engine only lasted a short time before blowing up and they appeared to treat it very nonchantly and as a disposable item!!

    Guess that is the issue when people review cars and don't have to spend their own money on them, it put me right off a Caterham as no reason was given, might be worth you checking for your peace of mind.

  • GregorFuk 21 Apr 2017

    Scottie - NW said:
    I enjoyed reading about the EVO magazine one as well.

    Hope you have more luck than them, their engine only lasted a short time before blowing up and they appeared to treat it very nonchantly and as a disposable item!!

    Guess that is the issue when people review cars and don't have to spend their own money on them, it put me right off a Caterham as no reason was given, might be worth you checking for your peace of mind.
    I agree. EVO just shrugged off the engine failure and even more rediculously didn't even list the cost of replacement and repair under the final running costs despite stating that track failures would not be covered under warrantee! I have a friend who did a year in the Academy series so have a vague idea of what Caterham would relieve you off to do such work and it wouldn't have been peanuts. I found the whole thing a complete joke to be honest. La la la, nothing to see here, move along now.

  • James Drake 21 Apr 2017

    Scottie - NW said:
    I enjoyed reading about the EVO magazine one as well.

    Hope you have more luck than them, their engine only lasted a short time before blowing up and they appeared to treat it very nonchantly and as a disposable item!!

    Guess that is the issue when people review cars and don't have to spend their own money on them, it put me right off a Caterham as no reason was given, might be worth you checking for your peace of mind.
    Before going into this, there are two things to point out:

    1) We (PistonHeads) obviously don't know any details of the car in question, have never seen it, driven it and we are not commenting on what went on - that's entirely between Caterham and Evo.

    2) It should be noted that "our" car uses a different engine (so even if there was a problem, it would be unlikely to cause issues with our car)

    Anyway... We have asked Caterham if they would like to comment, and their spokesperson said this:

    "When the Evo car was returned for inspection following the engine damage, it showed all the classic signs of oil starvation. It was not considered to be a manufacturing fault."


  • jaykay42 21 Apr 2017

    Hi!
    I'm a long time subscriber to evo + (still) a fan of the magazine + I'm a little embarrassed at my own "unprofessionality",
    but their Caterham capers did raise a hair (or 2) with me, too.
    Hope you guys keep your feet firmly on the ground considering how much value the cars you review (and we dream of) represent!
    Keep up the good work!


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