After a decade and a half, we all knew that Ford Sigma-engined Caterhams weren't long for this world. The supply had to dry up as Ford just weren't building the old 1.6s anymore. Even with prior knowledge, however, it didn't make news of their demise any more palatable; for many people, the Sigma-engined models - the 270, 310 and Super 1600 - were as much Caterham as they'd ever need. A replacement will be sourced (because such popular models can't disappear forever) but the next engine, whatever it may be, has some big boots to fill.
Which was probably said about the Sigma when it replaced the K Series, because people are like that. In the end the Ford 1.6 did everything that was required of it and probably a bit more, keeping the Seven light, keen to rev, and delivering just enough power to make it fun.
More knowledgeable Caterham fans than us will know all the Sigma models produced since 2006; it seems that the factory knew it was onto a good thing, and took full advantage. Perhaps the best one, however, didn't arrive until a decade after first using it. When the Caterham Seven 310 was launched in 2016, every cliché imaginable was used to describe it: the sweet spot, the Goldilocks Seven, the best of both worlds and so on. We probably used a few of them, in truth. But in fitting racier cams, a new air filter and tinkering with the ECU, Caterham created a brilliant Seven in the 310 - powerful enough to feel properly fast, while keeping the lovely balance of the 1.6-litre cars. When PH came to speccing a long termer way back when, there was only one choice...
That five 310s currently sit on PH attests to the popularity, as there will be plenty more with contented owners, nestled up now for the winter. Which might make now the best time to buy, especially in a spec as good as this one. A 2019 Seven 310 in Audi Nardo Grey, it has all the options you'd look for: the track focused R pack, which brings a limited-slip diff, firmer suspension and a bigger brake master cylinder, a lighter flywheel, shift lights, carbon dash, harnesses, a removable steering wheel, carbon front wings and the small wheels.
Anyone who's wasted a happy hour on the Caterham configurator will know there are lots of tough decisions to be made and plenty that can go wrong - even without the lairy paint and stripes that can seem mandatory, this one looks great. As a result, this is not the most affordable way into the best Sigma-engined Seven. Offered at Williams Caterham with the long list of options and just 1,000 miles, this 310R is for sale at £38,995. Which isn't actually the most expensive 310 out there, but higher mileage cars are available for closer to £30k.
Even factoring in glacial depreciation, paying nearer £30k than £40k for a 1.6-litre Caterham feels a little more agreeable. Nevertheless, as such a nice example of one of the best modern Caterhams, the Nardo Grey Seven will surely find a home soon enough. And we'll eagerly await news of the Sigma replacement; the Seven range is looking a little bare without it.
SPECIFICATION | CATERHAM SEVEN 310R
Engine: 1,598cc, four-cylinder
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 154@7,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 124@5,600rpm
Year registered: 2019
Recorded mileage: 1,000
Price new: from £32,385 (factory build)
Yours for: £38,995
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