Caught in the classifieds: 2014 Caterham Seven 270s
A few weeks ago we featured a Lotus Elise S in our ďCaught in the ClassifiedsĒ section. Although itís an amazing driverís car, the Lotus Elise is a highly compromised vehicle. It isnít a great daily driver because it lacks any sort of creature comforts or practical amenities, but itís decently viable as a weekend toy. The thing is though, if youíre buying an all-out sports car to use on the track or only for the weekends, why not buy something even less practical but designed to fill out the track toy design briefing to a T?
Cue the Caterham Seven. A lightweight sports car originally designed by Lotus in the 1950s and eventually sold to Caterham, the Seven is as pure of a driving experience as you can get for the road. Outside of an actual go-kart or a purpose-built race car, the Seven is undeniably the most unique, raw experience one can have in a car with a number plate. Although we found a few Caterhams listed on our site for under £15,000, this particular car slides in at just under £20,000. For that, you get the Seven 270S, one of the quickest Caterhams ever built, and being a 2014 model with just 3,100 miles, itís practically brand-new.
You donít have to be a massive petrolhead to work out what a Caterham Seven is. People stop to take pictures of it because they just know itís something special. Itís lower than a Lotus Elise but itís actually longer and wider, so it looks far more aggressive from the outside. Because it doesnít have any sort of solid roof structure or actual doors with hinges, you can tell this is a performance-oriented vehicle from the get-go.
The Seven doesnít have a beautiful design, but itís got inherent charm and character because of how functional it is. Everything on the car serves a purpose, from those tiny round headlights to those vents in the hood. This is a clear case of form follows function, and it looks absolutely stunning because of that. You donít realize just how narrow the actual body of the car is until you look at the rear arches and see how far they stick out to cover the wheels.
Finished in deep blue with just 3,100 miles on the clock and a complete rebuild in 2018, this particular example is possibly one of the best Caterhams currently on sale in the UK. Because itís the 270S, itís got unique 8-spoke wheels finished in light grey which match the carís colour perfectly.
If you thought the Elise looked spartan, you should take a look at the Sevenís cabin. Itís about as bare-bones as they come. You get a ton of circular dials and plenty of switches for stuff like the engine and the lights, but not much else. It doesnít even have indicator stalks like most cars do.
Interestingly enough, because the engine is at the front and not in the middle like it is in the Elise, you do get a central gearbox tunnel separating the passenger from the driver. Whereas youíre always touching shoulders or knees in the Elise because of how close the driver and the co-driver sit together, in the Seven, you donít have that issue. Itís still a rather small cabin in comparison to most sports cars, but itís a lot more spacious than an Elise.
The driving position is superb. You sit nice and low, with excellent visibility all-around. The seats arenít as supportive as a full-on race bucket seat as they lack some side bolstering, but theyíre comfortable. Obviously, you wonít want to do lots of miles in a Seven because of how noisy and open it is, but for the occasional trip, itís not terrible.
Engine and Performance
Hereís where the Seven really comes into its stride. The engine is a 1.6-litre four-cylinder naturally-aspirated unit sourced from Ford. In the Seven 270S, it produces 135 horsepower and all of that power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual. A five-speed manual is standard, but most cars come fitted with the optional six-speed manual.
I know 135 horsepower doesnít sound like a lot, but you have to realize than the Seven weighs just 540 kilograms. Do the math and you quickly find out it has over 250 hp/ton. The sprint to 60 mph takes just 5 seconds and itíll go on to 122 mph. As was the case with the Elise, the Caterham isnít all about outright numbers. Itís the way it drives and the way it makes you feel that utterly dominates the experience.
The steering wheel is incredibly precise and full of feedback because itís unassisted. Okay, itís a bit heavy at slower speeds, but how often do you go shopping with a Caterham Seven? The gearbox is a delight to use. Rowing through the gears feels magical because of the bolt-like action of the stick. The pedals are perfectly positioned for heel-and-toe as well. You see what Iím getting at, donít you? The Seven is even more of a joy to use than the Elise because itís that much more precise, that much more immediate.
I know journalists use this analogy a lot, but the Seven does feel like a massive go-kart. On the road, itíll wear you out after an hour or two, so I wouldnít say itís great for long road trips, but as a weekend toy, itís second-to-none.
Model: Caterham Seven
Why you should buy one
Had it not been so expensive, I would not hesitate giving it the full 10/10 rating. I realize £20,000 is a lot of money, but then again, what else can you compare it with? A BAC Mono? Those cost well over £100,000. An Ariel Atom? Theyíre in excess of £30,000. The only other alternative I see is buying an actual racecar and using that, but then youíre limited to the track and canít drive it on the road.
As a road car, the Caterham is sublime. Itís about as compromised as a car as they come, but as a driving experience for the public highway, it trumps even the best Lotus has to offer. Find out for yourself by heading to DesperateSeller.co.uk where we have a great choice of used Caterham Seven cars for sale.
DesperateSeller.co.uk rating: 9 out of 10
View the car here: 2014 Caterham Seven - £19,995