Caterham Super Seven 1600 review: Analogue wonderland

In a world controlled by modern gadgetry, is there still room for the humble Caterham Seven? Andrew Frankel says... absolutely!

Caterham Super Seven on the road

While the limited-edition SuperSprint sold out in hours, this Super Seven is a full production model

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Just before I got a job driving cars, I bought a Caterham Seven. In retrospect it would have been better if I’d waited and actually learned how to drive the bloody thing. This was about 1987 and the car was a red Super  Sprint with a 135bhp four-cylinder Ford engine breathing air through two K&N air filters that stuck out of the side of the bonnet. I loved that car even though I didn’t know how to drive it, as I found out when I reversed it into the bank at the exit of the Goodwood chicane on my first ever track day.

It wasn’t quite written off (which was more than could be said for my helmet which split wide open on the little roll bar) but I couldn’t afford to repair it so sold the wreck back to Caterham for buttons. Wind forward 33 years and I’m back in another little Caterham, also powered by a 135bhp four-cylinder Ford engine, with those filters still standing proud of the bonnet. But this is not some classic car intended to fling me down memory lane, it’s a brand-new product.

It’s called the Super Seven and like 2017’s SuperSprint, is designed to recall Caterhams of yore. Unlike the SuperSprint which existed to celebrate the Seven’s 60th birthday and which was therefore limited to just 60 units that sold out in seven hours flat, the Super Seven is a standard production model. But it comes with those lovely touring wings, a rear- mounted spare wheel, Smiths instruments and a Moto-Lita wood-rimmed wheel. And in the place of my old 1.7-litre pushrod Kent crossflow motor sits a new twin-cam 1.6-litre Sigma unit (though its design has been knocking about in one form or another for the last 25 years), its K&Ns attached not to twin Weber carbs as per my old car, but Jenvey throttle bodies instead.