The Caterham design philosophy

Welcome to the wonderful world of the Caterham Seven (7) driving experience.

A car unlike any other, designed purely for the fun of unadulterated driving pleasure in its purest form.

True to the design philosophy of Colin Chapman, the Caterham Seven’s original designer, less truly is more in this case.

Less weight, more performance!

It is a simple philosophy really and still very true, but hard to find in other cars in this era of obese car design.

Are you a keen driver?

  • Do you really love your driving?

  • Do you get pleasure from a perfectly executed “heel-and-toe” downshift under brakes as a challenging corner looms?

  • Do you appreciate superb steering feedback on a winding road?

  • Does it give you pleasure to see your front suspension at work from the driver’s seat?

  • Do you enjoy seeing the steering angle of the front wheels as you negotiate a corner, open wheel race car style?

  • Do you enjoy a touch of opposite lock under power?

  • Do you appreciate the pure driving pleasure that only a properly designed rear wheel chassis can naturally provide?

  • Do you love using a slick short throw gearbox?

  • Do you appreciate an engine designed to rev?

If you answer no to these questions, then a Caterham is probably not the car for you.

If on the other hand you answer yes, then you really do need to involve yourself more fully in the Caterham experience.

A bit of history about the “clubman” market

Colin Chapman designed the Lotus Seven in 1957 and thereby invented what is now generally referred to as the “clubman” car. It also kick-started Lotus as a manufacturer and formed the backbone of the financial structure of the young company during its formative years.

This ingenious design has now withstood the test of time and with Caterham Cars officially taking over the manufacturing rights of the Seven in 1973, it is now 53-years since the original concept first entered production.

If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, then the Caterham Seven is doing well. Over the years, many (unauthorised) other “clubman” style cars have copied the basic design of the timeless (Lotus) Caterham Seven.

The simplicity of the “clubman” design has also encouraged many enthusiasts to home build a car from a “kit”. Whilst always easier said than done, the idea of building your own “clubman” is certainly an idea which has been popular with enthusiasts since the first Lotus Sevens entered production.

The possibility of some “savings” was an added attraction, albeit somewhat “hidden” behind the time cost it takes to actually complete a car.

Times change

In most developed countries, “kit” cars are now frowned upon by authorities. The strict rules imposed on car design and the emphasis on safety and emissions by authorities has meant the gradual decline of the “kit” market.

With the demise of the MG Rover group in 2004, Caterham found itself without an engine supplier, as all models were at that time powered by MG Rover K-Series engines.

Fortunately the new “flagship” Cosworth powered CSR models were just then entering production, to usher in a new era of sophisticated ultra high performance Caterhams.

To replace the “entry level” models in the range, Caterham selected Ford as its new partner. Not only did Ford have a new low weight, affordable and Euro 5 emissions compliant Sigma engine coming on stream, but it revived a longstanding tradition of Ford powered Caterhams, indeed dating back to the very first Lotus Sevens.

In 2010, three new models joined the range. These are powered by the new 2.0 litre Caterham-Ford engine, which replaces the previous Cosworth engined models.

So, what about the Australian market?

With the new Ford powered models about to become available, Caterham decided to enter the Australian market in its own right as a manufacturer in 2006.

In former times, various importers had represented the brand in Australia, some building up kits supplied by Caterham from the UK and others bringing in factory built cars.

However, with Australian Design Rules (ADRs) becoming ever more strict and with the Australian Government discouraging “kit” cars, it has become extremely difficult to register a car built from a “kit”.

Consequently, a decision was taken to only import factory built Caterhams that comply with Australian Design Rules.

It should be noted that the Australian cars are in fact based on European Type Approved cars and that none of the cars as sold under the SVA registration system in the UK are eligible for ADR compliance.

What are the effects of this policy?

As always, there is good and bad.

Firstly the bad news:

European Type Approval is an expensive process. Hence more production cost.

Secondly, Australian Compliance is another expensive process. Hence even more cost.

The result is that the manufacturing costs of Caterhams for Australia are significantly higher than for apparently similar cars sold in the UK under the SVA system, which is unique to the UK.

The higher factory price is then compounded by the freight cost to Australia (being a specialized product, all cars are containerised) and upon arrival, face a barrage of Australian Federal Taxes:

  • 5% Import Duty

  • 10% GST

  • 33% Luxury Car Tax

The final result is that our factory build, Euro Type Approved and ADR certified cars cost more than was the case in the past. By only using premium new components, they also cost more to build than cheaper imitations.

Now the good news

Better resale value:

Within the “clubman” genre that it founded, the Seven (7) has over the years typically had the best resale value of “clubman” type cars. Furthermore factory built cars have usually commanded higher resale values than “kit” cars.

Only new components:

Another key reason for Caterham’s good reputation and higher resale value is that Caterhams have always used new components, whereas some other “kit” cars have used components to keep the price down.

Better quality control:

Only by factory building a car can a manufacturer control quality. This is a key reason why the Australian Government is encouraging only factory built cars. All Australian Caterham are now factory built in England in compliance with ADR requirements.

High quality components:

Caterham sources parts from well respected high quality suppliers such as Cosworth, Ford, Bilstein, Eibach, Quaiffe and Avon. Key components are not compromised to enable savings.

Better reliability:

Being factory built under a quality control procedures, also means that a Caterham is more likely to provide reliable and trouble free long term motoring.

Continuing the tradition:

A Caterham is the original and we believe is still the best of its genre.

By becoming a Caterham driver, you are becoming part of a proud history and heritage enjoyed and appreciated by true motoring enthusiasts.

It is the original and it is the best!

So, what’s available?

It has taken quite a lot of work to obtain Australian Compliance for the Caterham and to the end of 2008, we have only had one “flagship” model on offer, the Cosworth powered SVR 200 model.

This has changed.

New lower priced 2011 model year Caterham Seven range for the Australian market

A dramatically lower priced range of Caterham Seven sports cars is now available to the Australian market.

This has been made possible by the introduction of a new Caterham-Ford 2.0 litre engine, which replaces the previous very nice, but also very expensive, hand built Cosworth 2.3 litre engine.

Developed in close collaboration with Ford in the UK, Australia receives a Euro 4 Type Approved version of the new 4-cylinder power plant.

To cater for different customer expectations, the new Caterham-Ford engine is available in three different models. These are the:

  • Roadsport SV 175
  • Superlight SV R300
  • CSR 175

The Caterham Seven Roadsport SV 175

Caterham SVR 200 right side low blue sky

Based on the outgoing SVR 200 model, the new Roadsport SV 175 model is powered by the new 129 kW, 1999 cc, DOHC, 16-valve engine.

Priced at $73 510 (plus on-road costs), the Roadsport SV 175 model is now very competitively priced for the performance it delivers.

As the name suggests, the Roadsport model is primarily intended for road use and its standard specification therefore includes items such as full weather protection.

Nonetheless, it is still a very focused lightweight sports car, aimed at the true enthusiast, as are all Caterhams.

It is the very tactile driving experience that makes driving and owning a Caterham so special. The joy of seeing the front suspension and steering at work from the driver’s seat is not something most motorists will appreciate, but for the Caterham enthusiast, this is part of the magic.

As is the delightful short-throw manual gearbox, the unassisted direct steering and the unassisted brakes. These are all aspects that make driving a Caterham such an involving experience, compared to the anesthetized feel of many other modern cars.

Standard specifications include:

  • 5-speed gearbox

  • 14” alloy wheels, fitted with 185/60x14 HR Avon ZV3 tyres

  • De Dion rear suspension

  • Electrically heated windscreen

  • Heater

  • Padded armrests in the sidescreens

  • Cloth seat trim

  • Roll-over bar

  • Black pack - headlights, windscreen and exhaust finished in Black

  • Carbon fibre fascia, sills and rear guard protectors

The Caterham Seven Superlight SV R300

Caterham SVR 175

The R300 model badge conjures up a lot of respect and admiration amongst Caterham enthusiasts. In fact, Australian enthusiasts have never before had access to the track oriented R300 model.

As its name suggests, everything that is not absolutely necessary is not included in the R300 specification.

Therefore, the standard specification deletes items that add weight, such as the heater, the windscreen and the weather equipment. These are not things that the Track Day enthusiast requires.

For more normal use, these items can however be included at additional cost.

Other standard features on the R300 include:

  • Bespoke Caterham designed 6-speed ultra close ratio gearbox

  • Adjustable suspension platforms

  • Track day roll-over bar

  • 15” Anthracite finish alloy wheels

  • Bespoke Avon CR500 tyres in 195/45 x 15 VR size

  • Carbon fibre wind deflector

  • Carbon fibre front guards

  • Limited slip differential

  • Dry sump lubrication system

  • Tonneau cover

  • Aero whisker

  • Battery isolation switch

The recommended retail price for the R300 is $85 355.

The Caterham Seven CSR 175

Caterham SVR 175

The CSR model is the newest evolution of the venerable Seven design.

Also based on the longer and wider SV chassis, the CSR features inboard front suspension and a fully independent rear suspension.

As with the R300, the coil over spring damper units are adjustable and an adjustable front anti-roll bar is also included on the CSR.

The CSR shares the 254 mm ventilated front disc brakes with the SV 175 and the SV R300, but adds larger 254 mm solid rear discs, as opposed to the 230 mm solid discs used on the De Dion rear suspension models.

Wider 9" rear wheels and 245/40 section rear tyres are also now standard fitment for the 2011 model-year CSR 175 model.

The recommended retail price for the CSR 175 model is $85 435.

The Caterham Seven Roadsport SV 120

Caterham SVR 120 Brooklands

For the more budget conscious enthusiast, the 1.6 litre Ford Sigma engined SV 120 model still provides the thrill of Caterham motoring, but at a more affordable price.

Priced at only $54 480, the SV 120 model comes as standard with a 5-speed manual gearbox, de Dion rear suspension and the same 14” wheel and Avon ZV3 tyre combination as fitted to the higher powered SV 175 model.

Features such as full weather protection equipment, an electrically heated windscreen and cloth trim are part of the standard specifications.

In summary

Caterham enthusiasts in Australia now have the largest range of Caterham Sevens ever from which to choose a bespoke, fun to drive sports car.

Caterham Racing cars

Caterham Racing Car

Caterham racing cars can be ordered, fully built or in kit form. Cars are individually quoted on price, depending on customer specifications.

Caterham Options

Caterham offers an extensive list of options, particularly for cars intended for use in competition.

However, for road cars, it is useful to bear the following in mind:

  • In the spirit of the original Seven, body paint is optional on a Caterham Seven, The standard car is built with an unpainted aluminium body and the choice of 6 colours for the fiberglass nosecone and guards. The Caterham colours from which to choose are Orange, Black, Green (BRG), Blue, Yellow and Red.

  • Painted bodies cost extra, metallic paint the more so.

  • Contrast colour striping and nosecone banding is optional

  • Charcoal coloured Cloth trim is standard, Black and Red Leather trim being optional

  • A “track day” roll over hoop with extra diagonal bracing is optional and recommended for cars intended for motorsport use.

  • A spare wheel carrier and a spare wheel is optional (not available on the CSR R300)

Deposit Policy

As all Caterhams for Australia are custom built exactly to customer requirements, orders are only accepted in conjunction with a deposit.

For more information, please contact:

Chris van Wyk at Caterham Cars Australia

Please note that Morgan Cars Australia Pty Ltd trades as Caterham Cars Australia and is associated with the Zagame Automotive Group Pty Ltd, from whose premises it operates.

Address and contact details are as follows:

Level 1, 362 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne, Victoria 3121.

Telephone: 03 9329 0344 (Zagame Switchboard) 03 9329 0344 (Direct) 0417 370 224 (Mobile)

Fax: 03 9329 5166