A New Lease of Life for the Caterham 7

The quintessentially British lightweight track day car known as the Caterham 7 has been granted a cash injection from Euro banking giant, Santandar, in the form of US$1.5 million funding to upgrade its production capacity.

The announcement came direct from the Santandar Corporate and Commercial department, which said the investment was designed to help support the firms long-term ambition to expand into fast-growing international markets, as well as to help develop Caterham’s UK manufacturing abilities.

Caterham is based in Kent and Sussex, South of London, and has dealers throughout the UK. The company basically has but the one model, albeit in various versions, which is essentially a version of the Colin Chapman-designed Lotus 7, a car that became iconic from almost the first day it was unveiled. The Caterham 7 has been around since 1973 when the company acquired the rights to manufacture the car from Lotus.

The current Caterham 7 is much loved by the weekend track day crowd and can be ordered in one of seven different models, from a cheerful but slightly wheezy Seven 160 that has a meagre 80 bhp all the way up to the Seven 620R, which with 310 bhp on tap is probably fast enough to rip the skin off your face.

Image source: uk.caterhamcars.com

Traditionally, all Sevens are available as kit cars. But in the days of instant gratification, most customers now opt for the factory-completed model and it is in this sector where the business has continued to grow, with demand outstripping the factory capacity to manufacture.

Trevor Steel, Caterham’s CFO, stated that the business is growing strongly and the new relationship with Santandar will help the company capitalise on new markets, particularly in Taiwan and Columbia, which does feel a little random.

The Caterham is, of course, a very recognisable British car that can trace its heritage all the way back to the 50s and 60s and, to a greater extent, the company has remained true to the Lotus heritage. The car is short on creature comforts but long on drivability.

The marque has developed a very loyal fan base and it is said that the only problem an owner has is knowing how to wipe the stupid grin off his face after the race—that is how much fun they are to drive. For now, the expansion is only related to producing more Caterham 7s. But if they have continued success, then there will be pressure to look for another model line to add the slightly ageing but still great 7, although it will be a tough act to follow.

What can a Caterham do with an Olympic Gold Medalist behind its wheel? Read about the record-breaking feat here.

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