The cheapish’n’cheerful, no-frills, max-thrills Lotus Seven has come a long way since Caterham took on production back in 1972. Modern manifestations may not share a single component with the original Lotus but the principle remains the same — delivering the purest driving experience possible with the best possible performance for the money.
The CSR made its debut in 2005, incorporating everything Caterham learned in over three decades of manufacturing this unique sports car. Three variants were offered — the CSR 200 (200 bhp), the CSR 260 (260 bhp) and the CSR Superlight (also 260 bhp). The difference between models is power output, though the flagship Superlight not only has the most powerful engine but special suspension that adds further precision to handling and cornering ability.
The engine is the new Cosworth-developed 2.3 litre Ford Duratec, an all-alloy twin-cam unit. Gearboxes are five-speed (CSR 200) or six-speed manual (260 and Superlight). The Seven’s tubular spaceframe was revised and stiffened for the CSR generation, whilst aerodynamics were improved with a larger nose cone and reprofiled cycle wings.
The car has aluminium wheels and fat tyres that were engineered by Avon for Formula 3 racing. Although it was never a priority, the interior of the cockpit has been improved with touches like silver dials, fresh-air vents, storage space and a bespoke steering wheel.
This never has been, and never will be a speedster for those looking for a comfortable ride. You only have to look at a Caterham CSR to know that it has lost none of its feisty character, as it sits close to the tarmac just waiting to be driven, with its streamlined body, open top, exposed exhaust pipe and sturdy roll bar. Buy one from the factory or build it at home, then burn some seriously entertaining rubber.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
2,261 cc DOHC Straight Four
CSR Superlight – top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 3.1 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The Caterham CSR’s sporting credentials were underlined by the Caterham Cosworth Masters series in 2006, sponsored by the engine manufacturer. This was a semi endurance formula for the CSR, featuring six double-header events for one- and two-driver teams at some of Europe’s finest circuits.