Nostalgia is a powerful tool, Volkswagen and MINI have been riding on that gravy train for decades, albeit with a modern interpretation of an old recipe. Caterham, another carmaker on that same train, has reheated the Super Seven from the ‘70s and repacked it for 2020 as the Super Seven 1600.
The exterior styling is undoubtedly retro, as with all Caterham’s, taking cues from the Lotus 57 platform! The long hood, short deck design isn’t the most practical layout, but hey if you want practicality, get an SUV.
Underneath those ‘clamshell’ front fenders lies the exposed double-wishbone suspension, attached to 14-inch Minilite-style wheels wrapped with skinny road-oriented Avon tires. Along with the exposed exhaust muffler along the side, door-less open cockpit, and the wood-rimmed steering wheel, the Super Seven certainly looks the part of a ‘70s throwback.
The Super Seven 1600 is powered by a four-cylinder 1.6-litre Ford Sigma engine producing 135hp and 166Nm of torque. Caterham has taken the liberty and fitted it with twin Jenvey DCOE throttle bodies to the four-banger, to give the feel of a carburetted engine, without sacrificing the benefit of fuel injection. The twin K&N air filters peering out of the hood complete the old school retro look, adding to the character of the car.
135 horsepowers isn’t a lot by today’s standards, but it is light. And we all know what lightness can do to a car. Caterham sticks to the tried and tested British way of keeping their sports cars featherweight, maintaining superior speed and handling prowess. Weighing in at a mere 540kg, the Super Seven is almost 600kg lighter than the Mazda MX-5. With 250hp per tonne and a better power-to-weight ratio than the BMW M4 Competition, 0-100kph sprint is done in a mere five seconds and has a top speed of almost 200kph.
Caterham has cracked open the old paint tin to offer retro-colours such as British Green, Tuscany Red, Caribbean Blue, Saxony Grey, Oxford White and Serengeti Orange. Caterham offers the Super Seven 1600 with an option of either a standard or broader chassis. Although the wider chassis option adds some weight, we think the tradeoff is worth it as it gets you a larger cabin, more luggage space and a larger fuel tank. As with all Caterhams, the Super Seven 1600 comes either as a kit or fully assembled from the factory.
But, let’s be real here — with a starting price of £33,450 (RM181,840) without any options, the Super Seven 1600 is very pricey for an impractical weekend toy. However, if you desire raw and unadulterated driving pleasure with oodles of nostalgia, no other car on the road does it better.