1996 Caterham Seven 1400 Supersport (became a 1600 Supersport). Owned 2007 to
Where to start....I love it!
Performance (all round)
Handling, nicely balanced and a challenge
to drive at the limit
Costs - almost no depreciation, £250
insurance, low tax, tyre wear and fuel.
Image and everyone seems to like it, with
waves and friendly comments from many people
Brilliant race car, even up against
competition with more power.
The novelty can wear off with too much
daily driving in all weathers
Not quick to get in and out of
Limited space for touring (although it can fit a fair bit in if you pack
After buying N473 ONJ, I bought a VHS
video from Caterham showing the 1997 season of the 'K series Challenge',
with my car finishing a creditable 6th overall in the hands of driver Damon
Dance. I have been in touch with Damon, who now lives in Cyprus and he has
provided me with some useful information including that our car was built
and run in 1996 by Chas Berger Motorsport and was regarded by many who drove
it as one of the best handling Sevens on the grid. I only found out in 2013
that my car originally raced with the number 77 back in 1996! Some
coincidence as this is the only number I have ever raced with.
decided that he couldn't really share a car so in the close season together
with his friend Doug Newman they commissioned three new cars from ProSportif
near Brighton, a new firm to racing but Caterham experts who looked after
Chris Rea's Caterhams !
Damon says the photo above was taken
first competitive race Silverstone. All 3 new cars are there,
he first drove the car home. His son who is
Jasons is the black one, we had consecutive plates.
pictured in the car is 28 now!
personalised one on his.
I have edited a
compilation taken from the 1997 Caterham VHS, full copies are available from
the Caterham Cars shop website.
I have wanted a Caterham since my teens.
Memories of gazing at the Lotus 7 on the Chris Rea album covers and watching Caterhams on Grandstand on the BBC
are still strong.
I went onto the excellent forum
http://www.blatchat.com/ in 2003 and
a local trackday at Keevil. I attended as a spectator and ended up with a
couple of people giving me passenger rides
including the well known 'Angus' from
http://www.mycaterham.com/. That experience
stayed with me, and I went to the showroom in Caterham and test drove a 1600
Roadsport. It was so much more involving than the Fiat Coupe.
A few years passed, then a friend
from the the Coupe forum (Roy Howard) let me know about a Caterham 1400
sale in France. It was known as 'batteredoldsupersport' which was a little
off putting, but knowing it was an ex Class C race car (and so in a high
spec), a colour I like BS538 post office red, and just within my budget I
couldn't turn it down.
I embarked on a weeks begging, borrowing and
selling and finally had the cash to drive to Hull, pay the owner and then
fly over to France to drive it back. This was probably the most excited I'd
been about virtually anything! To cut a long story short, the car broke on
my drive home, which was a nightmare as I didn't have breakdown cover! Thanks to some luck and the fact the car was
interesting to the French I got some great support, made some friends and
got the car taken to
Norman kindly fixed the car for me. The following week I went back out to France and
at last got the car home.
Since then I have enjoyed many trackdays
and social meets, then in 2009 I started racing, read more in the racing
This is the first car I have owned where
I am actually satisfied and not scouring the ads on Pistonheads every few
weeks to see what to change my car for! Racing did show that I needed more
performance than my 1400, 5 speed could provide. In 2010 I sold my motorbike
and bought a 1600 Supersport engine and 6 speed box and fitted it myself
over two weeks. Caterhams are easy cars to work on yourself which adds to
the ownership experience. The new engine and gearbox have transformed the
straight line performance of the car. A full 'tall' cage, aeroscreens, half doors, extinguisher and transponder completed the
transformation back to race car.
In 2011 I had an Emerald programmable ECU
fitted and mapped to try to cure a problem with missing power, however this
only brought 1 extra horse power, plus a little torque!
My Caterham 'Colin' has been driven at
many different race circuits in Europe with near perfect reliability,
only an exhaust weld and then a broken gearbox bringing two different track sessions to an early halt.
The 'missing' performance was simply
traced to the 1600 engine having mild or possibly even standard camshafts
fitted. In January 2013 I had the engine rebuilt by the
premier K series expert in the UK, Dave Andrews of DVA Power where we fitted
the old supersport cams and R500 lifters from my 1400 engine, together with
stronger pistons from an 1800 Trophy engine helping to give me a stronger
1600cc, 140BHP engine that should go on to complete many more races and trackdays
without issue. During the summer of 2013 the rear and rear-sides of the
bodywork were replaced at The Seven Workshop, along with front and rear
wings, really freshening up the appearance. In September 2013 the
gearbox was rebuilt by Caterham specialists Road and Race.
Since starting work for the
Classic Sports Car Club I have been able to find out more information about
my car including from Peter French, Gold Arts Magnificent Sevens driver
representative, who worked on my car in the 1990s and Doug Newman who has
raced my car in 1998 before it was sold on. Damon Dance, the original
owner and racer has also been helpful in providing more information about
the cars history and performance along with photos.