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Discussion Starter #1
While I'm not giving up my Elise, I do think the Lotus Sevens are pretty slick. I'm just curious which company makes a better Seven? Any thoughts? I know of Caterham, Birkin and Westfield, and I'm pretty sure there are a couple other manufacturers out there. Who makes the best? (Handling, Looks, Power, Price, etc.)

Cade
 

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Now this is a can of worms and I'm sure everyone will give you an opinion, but....

If you are looking for something in the "original" vein with more performance, then the Caterham is the one to get. It is an evolution from the Lotus Seven with a stiffer chassis and the ability to take a modern drivetrain. The others, except the early Westfields**, try to keep the spirit of the car. Some do this better than others and in my opinion is a personal choice. I think most of the others got the look wrong.

** I exclude the early Westfields because they were once sued successfully by Caterham for infringement.

I see that you are in Virginia. Give GT Classics a call and ask for a drive in a Caterham.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Jim,

Thanks! beautiful car you've got, by the way.

So basically, only Caterham has the real deal?

I notice you're in Portland. I have a lot of family out that way. Does everyone assume that you're a 'gang green' fan with the traditional Lotus colors on your Seven?

Cade
 

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If by "the real deal" you mean a Seven, then yes. Caterham is the only company** allowed to call the car a Seven. The lawsuit with Westfield settled that.

There are several Caterhams, Westfields and Birkins in the area and all are very fast and handle great. The westy has a swoopy fiberglass body and the Birkin is taller at the cowl. These changes (again in my opinion) make the car look wrong. All this is hard to describe, if you saw them in person you would conclude I am right :D

No one has accused me of being a "gang green" fan because of the colors of my car. There is a story why Lotus sold this color combination, but that is for another post.

** Prior to selling the rights to the Seven to Caterham, Chapman sold the rights in South Africa to Birkin. Last I looked, Birkin can call thier car a Seven in SA and is involved in some other litigation regarding the name.
 

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Autoweek had a story about the Caterham SuperSeven in a recent issue. It mentioned that the chassis has grown over the years (mostly in width, I think). So, when comparing different models, this is something to take into consideration. The Super Seven from Caterham sounded like a great evolution of that car, that's probably the one I'd choose if in the market for one.
 

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The autoweek article was on the Caterham Roadsport SV, aka Fat Boy. It is bigger in every dimension that the Caterham Super Seven.

Have a look at the Caterham USA website to see the model range you can get in the US or the UK Website for the model range in England. The main difference is what engines Caterham USA is willing to try and get to pass emissions.
 

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I have a Caterham 7 SV as I am 6'-4" and need the additional leg and foot room. I think a number of the 7 clones are very good and certainly equal to the Caterham. The reason I bought the Caterham 7 is a availablity of aftermarket modifications. There is a lot availiable and a lot of knowledgable poeple who have sorted out the different mods. Take a look at this forum: www.blatchat.com/default.asp this is a terrific group of real enthusiasts who have tried it all. Also Caterham have a range of cars from the Super Light R to the SV to suit different needs.
Caterham also has a terrific technical help desk that has answers and parts to mod the car. Final thing, Caterham USA is run by Jon Nelson a prince of a guy who knows the cars. Go to their web site a take a look at the parts section you'll see what I mean about availability of spares: www.uscaterham.com
It's funny but one of my biggest concerns about the Elise is that after driving and competing in 7 the Elise will be a real let down, we shall see.
 

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HI James,
The only downside I experienced with Caterham ownership (this was in the late 90s) Dealerships would come and go at the drop of a hat. At that time Frank Bolton was distributor for the US, it seems he's out of the picture now, I think he's dealing with Apollos now?

Chris
 

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Your right Chris a lot of dealers and even the importer have changed over time. Right now things seem somewhat stable as most of the dealers and the importer have been around for a while. Since I travel to the UK a lot I have visited the factory and the main sales office in Caterham England. Caterham cars seems stable and as long as they are around I feel comfortable with all the US turn over as I know I can buy directly from Caterham cars.
 
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