The old-school yet brand-new Caterham Seven is nothing new nowadays. We’ve had both the Sprint and Super Sprint, with the 660cc engine, which sold out very quickly, as well as the brilliant little Super 1600 with the Sigma 1.6. Now the retro Seven is back (again), with new Super 600 and Super 2000 models.
The 2000 is of most interest here, as it's the first time the retro look has been paired with proper performance. Based on the Seven 360, it has the 2.0-litre Ford Duratec with 180hp, meaning 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds and 130mph. It makes for a riotous experience in a regular Seven, so there’s little reason for that to change now it’s painted brown.
Unsurprisingly given the success of previous retro-themed models, the Super 2000 doesn’t meddle with a proven formula underneath - the focus is on a cosmetic refresh. So it can be uprated with the sports suspension, better brakes and wider chassis offered to 360 buyers, but the more important choices will surely be between Bourbon, Ashdown Green, Windsor Blue or Fawn paint, as well as Deep Red, Cream, Birch White, Burgundy, Ginger, Admirability Blue or Biscuit Beige for the interior. Even the 14-inch wheel colour can be chosen, including gold, body coloured or, actually, any colour you want, all with a diamond cut lip. Both 600 and 2000 come with the flared front wings seen on previous Sprint models, chrome filler cap, Avon ZT7 tyres and a Moto-Lita wheel. A limited-slip diff is also on the options list.
The Super 600 is powered by the familiar 660cc Suzuki turbo triple with 84hp, meaning a more leisurely (by Caterham standards) 6.9-second sprint to 62mph and 105mph flat out. “Super Seven 600 is an accessible, pure, simple, driving experience but at a lower speed”, says Caterham. That’s in obvious contrast to the 2000, although the 600 has the same standard equipment and an identical array of colour and trim options as well, meaning it and the 2000 can look pretty similar. Needless to say, the gulf in power output will ensure very different driving experiences, especially with the 2.0-litre car’s De Dion suspension (the 600 still gets the rear live axle).
New Caterham CEO Bob Laishley said of the new models: “We’ve taken what was great about Sevens of yesteryear, the design, look and feel, and reimagined them for today… Super Seven 600 and Super Seven 2000 will offer two very distinct driving experiences, appealing to a wide range of driving enthusiasts who want a taste of a modern Seven but with the charm and retro-styling of our vehicles from the 70s and 80s.”
Shame they don’t have retro pricing as well. The three-cylinder car costs £29,990 as a kit; the four-cylinder from £39,990. Bear in mind that a factory build adds £2,595 to the price of a Caterham, and that the larger chassis is £2,500 and the brake upgrade is £800 for a regular 360, and it’s easy to see how the new models could get really pricey. Still, that hasn’t impacted their popularity in the past, so why would it now? It isn’t hard to see the appeal, especially with the big power now on offer with the pricier option. Both models are on sale now, ahead of Caterham celebrating 50 years of business in 2023. Wonder what they’ll come up with for that anniversary…
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