View Full Version : South Bay 7's?

September 16th, 2004, 04:49 PM
Hi guys,

While new here, I've already shared a couple emails with Magnus and Brad who were most helpful! I don't have a Caterham, but I can see myself getting one in the not so distant future...

I saw a yellow Catherham last Thu or Fri in San Jose, I think going north on San Thomas Exwy if I recall correctly. It was beautiful, and reminded me of this fantastic car, and after some internet searches, I found this forum...

I am aware of the event at Infineon later in October, but I would love to see a Caterham before that. That's a long wait! :)

Is there anyone in the SJ area open to meeting me somewhere to show me their 7?

As I shared with Magnus and Brad, I want to spend the next year or two getting to know these cars, and the various options available. I want to make sure that I order the one best-suited to my needs, including the multitude of options. Heck, I might even get an engine (Duratec, who knows...) and work on that as a winter project... Hard to say as this is my first year being married, and time for projects is not what it once was, but I gladly accept that trade-off...

San Jose 7's, please let me know if I can see your ride! Thanks a bunch.

Steve Stephens
September 16th, 2004, 07:39 PM
Hey Tony,
Welcome to the world of a great car. I did basically what you are wanting to do; check out a lot of cars and figure out what exactly I wanted. It arrived last month as a Caterham kit (Superlight R) but I am just looking at it sit in my garage (have another important project that comes first). I'm looking to get it registered in January. If you want to come take a look that would be fine. I don't live in San Jose, but San Anselmo 15 miles north of the GG Bridge. Be gone from this Sunday until the first of the month but anytime other than that would be fine. I highly recomment trying to make the Sevens Festival. If you have a helmet bring it with you as there will be rides on the track available at racing speeds. The local Caterham dealer, Golden Gate Sevens, is right there at Sears Pt. Rich has several cars and would be glad to have you come up for a look. Call him in advance to be sure he is there and, if there is an event (most weekends) call for sure to see how to get to see him without having to pay to enter the event. Buy some books on Sevens. I got four or five and read them cover to cover. Frequent this and other forums. It you end up wanting a Caterham be sure to plan its order in time so you will have the car well before the first of the year so you can get your SB100 sequence number to register the car. You don't want the car arriving in late February and, then, having to wait until the next January to register it. Be glad to talk to you anytime or come up for a visit. I know there are several Caterhams in your area and you will probably be hearing from some of them.
Steve Stephens

Roll a 7
September 16th, 2004, 07:52 PM
TonyB: The Lotus 7 Club of Great Britain (www.blatchat.com) has the best 7 internet forum on the planet. There are around 3500 members and many of them are active on the forum. They own a myriad of differently equipped cars (mostly Caterhams) and just about whatever you can contemplate doing to a 7 a bunch of them have already done and will debate the best method before your eyes on their forum. Ya want launch control, two bike engines with a common crank to make a lightweight 2 liter 320 HP V8, a hillclimb setup, a single motorcycle engine, aerodynamic mods, adjustable suspension; well, you have but to ask and the info will spew forth. The forum was really useful to me when I ordered my car and had little idea what to do. It's a great resource that you should check out and sign up for in order to get the best car you can! 8)

September 16th, 2004, 08:04 PM
Blatchat is dead right now.... having technical probs :(

There is another budding forum here (http://www.seventorque.com/forum/index.php)

It may (or may not) be the Blatchat successor, because Blatchat will allow post only from paying club members soon. At least that is what they are saying for a few months....


Roll a 7
September 16th, 2004, 08:26 PM
Gert, Well now, that's a new 7 site, to me. It appears to be a lot of BC UK regulars posting on a new thread. Do you know if it has been around very long? Can't have too many... 8)

TonyB: This will be another excellent spot to ask experienced 7ers about how to spec your car and how best to build it. 8)

September 16th, 2004, 08:55 PM
Wow, for a fourm with so few folks, I'm surprised to come home to several replies already. Thank you! Steve, I will gladly take you up on that offer. I actually read several of your threads that one evening that gave me much insight into the whole process, and all that's involved...

The next few weekends are tied-up preparing for our (wife and I) US wedding party on 10/10. So, I might not be able to make it up your way until after then. I will give you a ring - much appreicated!

I'm looking forward to seeing the chassis, and all of the various components as much as I want to see a finished 7. Did the chassis or tubular frame change over the past few years? It would seem that with the move to larger displacement engine options, the need for more rigidity wouuld be in order. I ask out of curiousty, and also because if I see a 7 for sale, but with a powerplant that I might want to change, I'd like to know if the frame could handle the extra torque...

Roll a 7, I had no idea guys were using such power plants! From my brief readings here I thought it was just the benchmark Crossflow, then the newer Ztech and lighter Duratec. I will check-out that website now! One more to add to my Caterham favorites folder :wink:

Gert, thank you as well. I'm going to be a spoonge, and this all helps!

Well, I've got pass a test for work tomorrow morning, so I need to get studying. Thanks again for the hospitality!

September 16th, 2004, 10:04 PM
Hi Brad,

I think the Seventorque Forum has been around for 3 or 4 months now. My guess it was mostly initiated by people ticked off by the officially announced new posting policy on Blatchat. Let's see if the gurus on Blatchat are moving over.

May be a moot point, since I read that Blatchat lost all their data due to a hard drive crash that may be non-recoverable. That would mean all the collected knowledge is gone :cry: Oh well, who will care in 20 years from now....


P.S.: Welcome Tony! Make sure to come to Infineon in October. I'll be there.

Steve Stephens
September 17th, 2004, 10:13 AM
Do come up to see my car after the end of the month. I think Caterham frames have been pretty much the same for many years now and should be able to take almost all the power you can fit into it.

What engine(s) have you been considering? I chose "just" a Zetec but the SVT version that gives 185-90 HP which is just about all one can use on the street. It will probably remain totally stock and I will have a lot of reliable fun with it and not always have to be tinkering and fixing this and that. But some people like that sort of thing. Take your time to study, look, and get some rides and you will slowly come to understand what will best suit you.


September 17th, 2004, 01:03 PM
The whole concept of weight to hp is what makes these guys so impressive. It's not a 500hp Viper, and doesn't need to be. So, I too don't feel the need for a monster engine, especially at the expense of added weight, not to mention to the disruption of the F/R weight balance...

I would prefer one of the larger displacement Ford engines so she'll have a more fat bottom-end. I have a 1.6 liter now in my MINI, and the torque is just ok, even with the roots supercharger. Granted that it's heavier of course at 2,350 lbs, and that's after a fair amount of lightening!

Are there other popular 4-banger options other than the two Fords? How about GM's Ecotec? That little guy has been impressive, at least so I've read... From my browsing here, the Duratec seems to have some negative criticism... that it's not as it's name implies - durable. Searches on the internet have revealed otherwise, so I will need to do my homework indeed!

I love to tinker, but not because of need, but want, if that makes any sense. So, I want something realiable and proven for my powerplant, and something that is tunable because I will want play with it, as well as other areas of the car...

With my MINI now, I've relocated the battery box making room for a straight shot exhaust system that I fabricated by using SuperSprint and Borla components. I removed the rear seats and fabricated a carpeted aluminum deck in it's place. One of the MINI tuners provides me with parts to evaluate as I live in a canyon where I can test things and with my data-logger, I can capture intake air temps, manifold pressure, timing, coolant temp and several other criteria that help in ascertaining performance and safety concerns. SO, if I'm willing to rip into a new car, Lord knows I would be all over the Cat :lol:

I'm almost done with my MINI. My goal was to get her to a 10:1 weight to hp ratio, I'm in the low 11's now. With a couple more power-enchancing mods I'll be around 250bhp, and I think that's where I'll call it quits. For a FWD ride, I really wouldn't want to go with much more... sort of becomes pointless and even with a LSD, I'm starting to hear that it's hard to get that power down to the ground. There will be an aftermkt turbo to work with the stock supercharger which should be available soon. This twincharged set-up will get up to 300hp, or more apparently. Ah, then the tranny becomes an issue as well. I know where to draw the line as I can see the point of diminishing returns...

That brings-up a question. What are the power ratings for the Caterham 5 and 6-speed boxes, torque being the biggest concern? These larger displacement options are going to be more punishing...

I know that this in not a MINI forum, but I do love my MINI. It's my first new car, so that's probably part of it. Please forgive me. I guess nothing ever compelled me to drop my money until I knew she was coming to market. I guess living in a canyon has a lot to do with it also. She just loves the twisties :) . I'll be installing some Leda coilovers on Monday, so I'm quite excited about that. My plan is to have her as my Fall/Winter ride, and the 7 for the Spring/Summer jaunts. With only a couple posts under my belt, I don't feel that I can use THE word yet (blat) :wink: .

So, what power goal would I want for my 7? Since 10:1 worked for my MINI, I'd like to half that for the Caterham - being that it's about half the weight. Seems realistic... At 1,100 lbs (an SLR) with a 220bhp, that would be 5 flat. It seems that 220 to 240bhp is quite doable for the Zetec and Duratec engines without even approacing their limits, which I like...

This has been a long lunch break! Thanks for listening, and for your input and welcomes. A good weekend to everyone.

September 17th, 2004, 01:57 PM
Hi Tony,

I suspect the seven you saw was Slartybartfast (check the member list). He has a Yellow crossflow powered seven and lives in Los Gatos.

Rod is another member in Sunnyvale. He has a green zetec powered seven.

I have an ali/yellow seven and live in San Jose. I'll be happy to meet up with you. Send me a PM or email.

There is also Rich Kamp at Golden Gate Sevens at Infinion Raceway who is not too far away.



September 17th, 2004, 02:01 PM

If you are going serious on power, I would recommend a Caterham 6 speeder with a 3:38 ZF LSD. I just upgraded my Ford Type 9 box (standard five speeder) and 3:92 non LSD to this configuration together with a race clutch and lightened flywheel.

The Caterham box is a close ratio joy to drive. The final drive's 1:1 ratio can be compensated, with a high torque engine, by using a 3:38 diff. (My engine is supercharged). Downside: Almost $4000.

The Ford box can take up to 230-250 HP (yes I know that it is torque that you should go by, but this is the number I got from Caterham USA), but has absolutely horrendous ratios. It also hates high revs.

You can, however, purchase a Ford box (like my old one for example, hint hint, nudge nudge, $600), and jog over to Quaife and buy one of their upgrade kits for it. They sell everything from upgraded gearkits ($1500) to complete 6 speed sequential shift monsters ($8000). All are plug and play with Caterhams.

When it comes to powerplants people are starting to use the Duratec, which is a better platform, while old-schoolers (like me) prefer to play with Zetecs and their bigger support base when it comes to parts and knowledge.

If you are into superchargers, I would grab an SVT engine and install a jackson racing kit on it together with an upgraded ECU allowing for additional boost (by retarding the ignition).

And this kind of sums up what I love about the Caterham: its configurability and modification friendliness. The car is open for anything when it comes to ECUs, powerplants, drivetrains, seats etc.

Engine out? 1.5 hours, and I will beat that this time with a new procedure with the exhaust system.
New ECU? No problem. Wiring harnesses and maps are readily available.
Mazda RX7 rotary engine, or a Honda S2000? Bring them on.

It is all at your fingertip, and it is a never ending story of eyeing out the next set of upgrades.

And these upgrades, mind you, are NOT bling bling for the masses. They all enhance performance in a very real way.

My next steps (after I get the Caterham box and race clutch in) are new wheels and a set of SPAX adjustable dampers with springs, and replacing the dash board with a computer screen of my own design. I have a blank dash in the garage waiting for this.

(Oh BTW, Brad, a new set of Kumho V710 ECSTA slicks (apart from two groves) will be on my car for the Streets. Let's swap wheels when we are there and feel the difference).

To summarise: When it comes to handling, acceleration, tweakability and driver prescence, nothing beats a Caterham. They may be expensive, impractical, uncomfortable and noisy, but it is worth it.

/Magnus F.

September 17th, 2004, 03:09 PM
Tom, thanks for chiming-in! I will indeed PM you after I wrap-up some of this wedding party mumbo-jumbo... Hey, what do you mean by "ali" as is ali/yellow? I'm guessing alulminum...

Magnus, the whine of a SC is nice to hear! Not having seen a 7 in-person, I would bet that there is room upfront for a FMIC to cool the charged air. I'd be curious to know if you are using an intercooler though...

I see now that the options are many! The Duratec still has the majority of the attention, at the moment at least. Are they not the same as the Mazda offering? As a side benefit, it would be nice to use metric tools on both of my autos...

With an NA engine I can get the kind of power I would seek without having to go with forced induction. That could be a fun project down the road if I so choose. So I would want an engine that has a proven SC aftermkt option, and a tranny that can handle the added power.

You say that you would recommend a Caterham 6 Speedster. Looking at the Caterham USA website I see:

Super Seven Classic Live-Axle
Super Seven Club Sport
Super Seven De Dion
Super Seven Roadster SV
Superlight R

What is a Caterham 6 Speedster? If you have a photo to share, please do....

September 17th, 2004, 03:41 PM

The Caterham 6 speeder is just the gearbox manufactured by Caterham specifically for the Seven.

/Magnus F.

September 17th, 2004, 04:32 PM
I feel like a bone-head! I actually read that somewhere, but I guess it got lost in the masses of info... Thanks for follow-up.

September 17th, 2004, 06:29 PM
BTW, Blatchat is running again. Looks like they could recover everything!

Steve Stephens
September 17th, 2004, 06:56 PM
Tony, you say "I want something realiable and proven for my powerplant, and something that is tunable because I will want play with it, as well as other areas of the car... "
Sounds like a Zetec to me. I did look into getting a Duratec but was told it was early in its developement for the Caterham. More has been done now but you still may not be able to buy one ready to build from Caterham. I didn't want to get any more involved than putting the kit together. I feel the jury is still out on the long term durability of the Duratec. But the Zetec is bulletproof and very available. Good for an easy 200-220 HP and more if you want. The SVT Zetec will be a hard engine to get as even Caterham USA was not able to get any more at a competitive cost as of last month. Hopefully that will change and the remaining very small supply of the engines will find their way into Caterhams. I was planning to get the 6 speed with my Superlight but ended up with a BGH (Modified Sierra) 5 speed with long first gear. The Ze- and Dura- Techs have a wide torque band for which the 6 speed is not necessarily the best choice. Check it out carefully before you opt for either box. Of course everything I say is theoretical because all I have is a kit in my garage. Things will change after I get it on the road and track and find out if my choices were the wise ones. Learning about the Seven and picking a spec is half the fun. Don't miss the Sevens Festival in October and get up there to see Rich Kamp, our local Caterham dealer.

September 17th, 2004, 07:20 PM
Hi Tony,

My car is polished aluminum and yellow fiberglass. You can see pics here: http://pierats.com/gallery/sevenbuild

Oh, and I happen to be in the Duratec camp...As other folks have said, it is fairly expensive, although probably in the ball park of a zetec. For me a huge plus is that the exhaust is on the other side of the car. My passenger can burn their leg...but not me :!: :wink:

If I was shopping for a car, I would go with a duratec again. Things are _much_ easier than when I built my car. Today Catherham offers a chassis specifically for the duratec. Of course they don't sell the engine, so you have to source it elsewhere...


September 17th, 2004, 08:48 PM
My two cents; I have a 2L Vauxhall close to 235 hp. If I was to buy another, and still keep this one, I would buy the CaterBusa. Fun for the track and still streetable. I would keep the HPC for trips and convience drives.

September 17th, 2004, 11:46 PM
Steve, thanks for the input. I guess the Duratec has not been around long enough to really see if it can live-up to expectations. With the Zetec pedigree, coupled with the lighter weight, the appeal is there. I suppose a benefit of me not getting a 7 until another year or so is that I'll get to see how things pan-out... And if the SVT ever becomes plentiful, that would be another consideration...

I appreciate your objectivity and the sharing of your thought processes. I'm taking careful note of everything, and when I can finally go for a spin in a few 7's, then I can better discern what powerplant and box combo I might go with. As you said, this is half the fun!

Tom, I don't know where to start. Wow, 365 photos - one for each day of the year! The polish job on the aluminum is spectacular. The undercoating under the fenders is a great idea, and if yours, a novel one at that. That expanding foam stuff let me down on my MINI also, so don't feel bad. It's a pain in the you know what to remove also!

Your 7 looks great. Good to know there's a Duratec guy here in SJ to share notes with, if I do indeed go that route :wink: I too like the exhaust on the passenger side, and for two other reasons: less noise for the driver (I would tend to think) and better weight distribution when driving solo...

You say that now Caterham offers a chassis specifically for the Duratec. Do you know how it's different? Maybe its just the mounts, but maybe there are other differences...

venom7, thanks for the link. I'm getting a little confused here. Is a CaterBusa a Caterham? It appears that Super7 is a distinct company from Caterham. Heck, maybe I'm wrong. I think I'm going to need to sort this all out somehow. Caterhams, Westfields, Birkins... :shock: I knew it as Lotus many years ago when I was kid, and then I thought the Seven (the name) was purchased by Caterham. If there is a really good and informative link that clearly states what's what, I would appreciate that information...

The CaterBusa is powered by a motorcycle engine that gets 185hp? Gosh, 102mph in reverse! The link says that it's road legal in Canada. Are there any of these in the States? I don't know squat about working on bike engines, and reliability and all...

I see where some of these cars (7's and the like) are now being made bigger (longer, taller and wider) to accomodate larger folks, and just for comfort purposes I guess. I think it was Tom who mentioned in a thread that he actually sees over the windshield. Wow! I guess a few guys are looking to lower their floors or rails that seats are mounted to. I suppose such a larger 7 will appeal to some then. I'm nearly 5'10" and have the legs of someone quite a bit taller - so a short torso. And with also being quite thin, I'm guessing that the original size will be fine for me. I'll need to sit in one to see of course...

While the added weight of a larger ride is not desirable, I'm guessing that the wider wheel base is a plus though. I guess this option is relatively new, so there are probably not many to see.

It's getting late and I'm actually meeting some MINI guys tomorrow who want reduced size supercharger pullies. We call these pulley parties. I'm sure Magnus knows what that does to boost!!!

A good weekend to all. Thanks for the knowledge.

September 18th, 2004, 06:43 AM
I guess the Duratec has not been around long enough to really see if it can live-up to expectations.

Mine has been, and boy does it. :D

And when it gets built to Phase II, it'll be :shock: ing

Steve Stephens
September 18th, 2004, 08:39 AM
I don't hear Duratec owners complaining about their cars so it might just be working out very well. I think we will see Caterham beginning to offer the Duratec in the near future. The chassis for the Duratec is probably just specific engine mounts and the exhaust cutout on the right side. All the frames are pretty much the same but for little things that allow different engines to fit.

The Zetec is out of production including the SVT so I would expect the availability of the SVT to go from next to none to about the same. I hear that there is a small batch of them still new but don't know if you can buy one. Zetec is heavier than the Duratec. My SVT with 5 speed, dry, with light flywheel, weighs 370 lbs plus or minus my antique bathroom scale's errors.

Super 7 refers to ALL models of Caterhams. No other manufacturer is allowed to use that name. CaterBusa would be a Caterham with a Hayabusa Suzuki engine/trans unit. Caterham doesn't offer it or, currently, any bike engined Sevens but you can DIY or have someone do for you. There was a Birkin earlier this year (may still be there) being built up at Sears Pt. with a Hayabusa in it. As far as the Caterham SV, you will probably fit just fine in a standard narrow car. The Superlight has the same wide track (I am pretty sure) that the SV does but the SV is about 4 inches wider and longer, too. If you are going to do some track time you will probaby feel better in the little car since it fits you snugly and you won't be rattling around. Rich Kamp has an SV demo car at Sears so a trip up to see him will allow you to check the fit on both. There is a guy in Richmond who took delivery of an SV kit the same time I got mine last month.

Want to learn about all the different Seven type cars made over the years? A new book is just out and I bought a copy. See my post here:

If you order a Caterham give yourself anywhere from 4-6 months to get it. You should try to time it so you can take delivery and build it and have it ready to register on Jan 1 of the next year. Or you can get a car built to order from your dealer. What I'm saying is, if you time things so you get the kit at the end of a Feburary, you will probably have to wait until the following January to begin to register it. Get up to the Sevens Festival, look at a few cars, websites (lots of info on Sevens all over the web), maybe buy a few books and, in maybe 3-4 months you should know what you want.


Roll a 7
September 18th, 2004, 05:55 PM
The Caterham frame has been modified a few times, according to legend. About 20 years ago the design was subjected to a CADCAM analysis at a UK University which suggested some changes. These supposedly amounted to taking out a couple of tubes here, adding tubes there, and changing some directions and thicknesses of varios tubes, all without changing the track and wheelbase dimensions. The new product alledgedly weighed the same as the original and was 4-5 times torsionally stiffer. This was considered a good thing.

In the late eighties, I hear, the internal dimensions were changed to accomodate persons larger than the late GREAT Colin Chapman. This provided about 3" more legroom.

In the Zetec VS Duratec debate: I have an excellent example of a strong, tractable really fun zetec. It's a wondrful and reliable motor. If I was starting a new car now I'd definitely go ......DURATEC! Oversquare and 40 punds lighter in the front of the car is just too good to pass up! About 225 HP would be perfect! 8)

All of you who have not yet re-arranged your life to be @ the Streets of Willow next weekend, please do so now :!:

September 18th, 2004, 11:31 PM
Thanks for the link and great information. It's very obvious to me now that I'm saturated with information, which is fantastic! I now need to see these cars, and meet some of you folks. I'm indeed planning to make Infineon happen on 10/24. If regristration or some type of sign-up is needed, please let me know...

Agan, I really appreciate your patience with my seemingly endless questions.

Steve Stephens
September 19th, 2004, 11:09 AM
Last year you could sign up in advance for the festival which got you in free. Remember that the day is also a NASA event which costs so, by registering, you could get in free. I'm not sure how they will do it this year but more details are supposed to follow. Here's the post on the Festival:
As we get closer to the date I'm sure more info will be posted. Unless you are doing a track event that day, no hurry to register. Do bring a helmet if you have one. There may be a small charge for a wristband that allows you to go for a track ride at "racing" speeds. It's not really a race but it seemed like a race to me and was a blast riding in Woody's racing Birkin driven by Dave Harris. That flame belching Porsche Turbo couldn't stay ahead of us.

Roll a 7
September 19th, 2004, 06:13 PM
TonyB: Fire away with the questions whenever you like. One of the objectives of this website is to help us 7ers recruit more playmates (new 7 owners, either sex acceptable). Those who do not belong in a 7 will sort themselves out along the way. Those wishing to join the automotive lunatic fringe get bitten by the ultimate performance bug and realize that a 3200 pound Ferrari is not the ultimate answer to performance driving. Upon realizing that lightness is better than higher HP they are ready for 7 ownership. Mentally you have to shed air conditioning, power brakes & steering, radios, traction control, ABS, metal tops, glove compartments, cup holders and anything else of a practical nature that slows down a race car; then you are on the same page with us 7 owners. Hope to see you swelling our ranks one day soon :!: 8)

September 19th, 2004, 07:05 PM
Roll a 7, I think I'm there already... in the MINI community, I'm known as being overly anal when it comes to weight. My dune buggy is about a 1,000 lbs, but 90 or so hp just does cut it, nor the weak frame and weight distribution. I'm ready for a 7, in my head... I just need to get the particulars ironed-out, and hope to do more of that at Infineon. See some of you guys soon! Ciao.

October 12th, 2004, 05:35 PM
Welcom Tony !!!

I think that Seven you saw on San Tomas was mine. I work on San Tomas and comute in my Seven every day - even in the rain !! And thank you for describing it as beautiful :D

You can check out my build diary here ....


Tom - I *wish* I lived in Los Gatos !! :wink:

October 12th, 2004, 06:54 PM

Thanks for the welcome. I finally know who I saw a month or so ago :D

I spent some time checking-out your diary, and I'm very impressed with the details, even from the very beginning (Monarch rentals).

I'm still planning on joining some of you all in a couple of weekends at Infineon. I almost don't want to because I know that I will fall in love with the 7, and not having a garage constructed yet, I will find it very frustrating...

I can't wait to see these cars up close!

October 22nd, 2004, 04:15 PM
Hey guys,

I'm making plans for a trek to Sear Point this Sunday - and I'm really excited about it! Please understand that if I don't show-up, it will be because I need to pick-up my wife and her family (visiting from Taiwan) who are returning that day from 2-week bus tour of the Western states. I don't know yet what time they are arriving (SJ).

I apologize if this is posted somehwhere, but what time do the festivities begin, and is there an entrance fee, or secret handshake :lol: . Thanks a bunch. If I can make it, I hope you won't mind if I take plenty of photos and ask way too many questions!

EDIT: Nevermind, I just found this in the Events section: http://www.nasaproracing.com/norcal/events/7sannounce.pdf