Caterham has been building the iconic Seven sports car for more than 40 years. With the car’s 60th anniversary looming next year - it started life as a Lotus - the British brand wants to broaden its horizons.
According to Autocar, Caterham is currently searching for another automaker to partner with in creating a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive, full-bodied sports car to sit alongside the Seven.
Speaking to the magazine, Caterham boss Graham MacDonald said: “The Seven is 60 years old next year. While we love and cherish that, we have to think about the future. It’s important to get the right engine and product for our customers. It has to have Caterham DNA. We are talking to Ford and a number of other manufacturers. While the 620 is supercharged, we like naturally aspirated engines.”
Back in 2011, Caterham entered into a joint venture with Renault that sired the mid-engined C120 concept (pictured here). The partnership dissolved in 2014 as a result of funding issues, though Renault carried the work through to the new Alpine A120.
Being a small company without the resources to develop a car from scratch by itself, Caterham needs to find another partner.
MacDonald said: “The best thing for Caterham now is probably a joint venture. Any new product is a big investment for a small business like us. We’re more than happy to sit and talk to anyone.
“What we’re unlikely to do is just stick a roof and doors on a Seven. We want a bit more ease of access and more creature comforts inside. We’d love to have a full-bodied sports, because when we take the Seven to some of the new emerging markets, they don’t recognise it as a car because of the way it looks.”
Caterham has taken a few diversions from the Seven in the past. In the mid-1990s it produced the short-lived 21, essentially a Seven chassis with a full body. Less than 50 were built. More recently, there has been the prototype-like SP/300.R track car, and a misbegotten venture into Formula 1.
MacDonald did not give a time frame for the launch of the new car.