Caterham

How did a Lotus become a Caterham (Kay ter em) The story of the Lotus morphing into the Caterham is one of success born out of failure and, perhaps fortunately (for who would have known if the car would still be available today had it remained in Lotus' hands), the poor humor of the Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs Service (aka the HMRC or more descriptively, the Taxman). The Seven was born from Colin Chapman's fertile mind in 1957 as a small light road car that could also be used in the British 'Clubman' racing championship. From the beginning the car embodied Chapman's philosophy of "adding lightness"; clearly needed as  the original Series 1 featured a 1700 cc side valve Ford cross flow engine making all of 40 HP. The car was sold as a kit, which made it exempt from purchase tax at the time, and thus enjoyed a loyal following, including, of course, the late Patrick McGoohan. The Series 2 arrived in 1960 and the Series 3 in 1968 followed, ultimately, by the Series 4 in 1970. Unfortunately for Lotus the Series 4 was, at least at the time, universally disliked for its abandonment of the aluminium panels in favor of glass fiber and a much boxier look. The Series 4 sold at a lower rate than the previous models and, when Britain adopted the Value Added Tax in 1973 which, because of a somewhat arbitrary and short sighted decision by the HMRC, ended the tax free status of the kit car, sales plummeted. Lotus decided to end production of the Seven and instead focus on their more modern models. Thankfully along came Caterham, at the time the largest dealer of the Seven, who purchased the rights to the car from Lotus and immediately abandoned the boxy Series 4 in favor of resurrecting the Series 3. For the last 40 years Caterham have developed the Seven Series 3 to the car it is today. With multiple variants covering the horsepower range from 170 to 300+, turbo and supercharged, with chassis upgrades to match. But, at the end of the day, the spirit of ACB Chapman lives on, light weight wins, and at 525 Kilo's, (1300 lbs) the Seven is light and 175 BHP goes a long way. The rest, as they say, is history ...

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