I’ll get the bad news out of the way early: sadly the little Seven’s time on my fleet was short. In fact soon after completing the build, I put a deposit down on my first house, knowing that the car would have to go to free up the funds. Goes to show how much can change in the six-month wait for a build slot!
While I wipe away the tears, let me reflect on all the positives of my short-lived Caterham ownership. Other than a hefty black eye and a few shortages, the build process was a truly rewarding experience and something I won’t forget. In fact, I still owned the car for as long as most cars stay on the PH Fleet, and I made sure I took that epic Wales trip that was in the back of my mind throughout the whole build. I haven’t had any children yet, but I imagine the feeling you get starting your freshly built Caterham for the first time is the mechanical equivalent of holding your newborn after birth. Well, depending on how the build went, you might feel more like Sigourney Weaver in Alien.
The first 500 miles were racked up quickly to bed the engine in, with a few trips to the office so that I could properly enjoy revving out the sprightly 1.6-litre Ford Sigma engine. And while cruising around the M25 is by no means the best place for a Seven, it’s surprisingly comfortable and highly capable of being sat on the motorway. Even in cold conditions, with the roof up a Seven is a warm, cosy place to be.
My weekend in Wales is the most memorable drive that I can take away from ownership. The route was planned and the sunshine booked, so I set off from Kent to Shropshire. Having spent my youth lapping the Elan Valley in Rhayader, it’s my testing ground for any car I buy and a breathtaking drive. With my brother riding shotgun we made our way to Aberystwyth, dodging sheep along the way and enjoying the fantastic roads in beautiful sunshine.
The 270 R is the perfect balance of performance and comfort for the road. You can rev all 135hp out of the engine in each gear without doing silly speeds, and the limited slip-differential allows the back end to be more playful through corners. Throttle response is really sharp with a lightweight flywheel, too. As with all Sevens, the pedal spacing is ideal for heel and toe (it’s harder not to really), making you feel like a hero as you blip the throttle on downshifts.
Grasping the small Momo steering wheel you feel plumbed into the car, with every minor input transmitted directly to the front wheels. I’ve never driven another car that I’ve felt so connected to. I went for the uprated brake master cylinder and four-piston calipers on the front, which allow you to have much more confidence braking into a corner. It’s definitely an option that’s aimed at track use, but still noticeable on the road.
As I finally arrived home a bit dehydrated, rather sweaty and a little windswept, I knew I’d had a sensational journey. You don’t own a Caterham as a means of getting from A to B, you own one for a world where A and B don’t even exist. I’m truly sad to see GN15 LZT go, but you can’t live in a Seven sadly. Hopefully Brexit won’t have a detrimental affect on house values, and some appreciation will allow me to buy another in the future – my affair with the little two-seater is far from over. But until that day, toodle pip old chum!
Car: 2015 Caterham Seven 270 R
Run by: Ben Lowden
On fleet since: April 2015