Journal: This Is What It's Like To Drive The Caterham 270R

This Is What It’s Like To Drive The Caterham 270R

Ted Gushue By Ted Gushue
June 28, 2016
8 comments

Photograpby by Ted Gushue

We all grew up with the Lotus 7, at least visually. It’s a bonafide icon. A simple coffin with a couple wheels strapped to the front, two more bolted on the back, and a stupid wide grin slapped on the face of the driver. (I even had a photo of one for the desktop of my first laptop, it was a crappy Sony Vaio that my Dad handed down to me when it couldn’t keep up with him.)

The mere fact that a brand like Caterham exists to keep that legend alive warms my heart in so many ways. It’s the embodiment of a plucky English company doing the right thing by its community. Sure, it has skunkworks carbon fibre divisions that make waves in big boy racing, but truly what lies at its  heart are weekend enthusiasts who are pinching pennies to buy extra rubber, hiding receipts from their wives, and just driving like mad on Saturday and Sunday.

I pulled up to Derek Bell’s house for dinner while I had the 270R, and immediately he and his son Justin ran out to fiddle with it. “I had one of these! It nearly killed me, most fun I’ve ever had in a car!” Exclaimed Justin, who had at one point quite literally been compensated for racing by being handed the keys to a Caterham.

I put about 200 miles on this 270R, all around Sussex and into Goodwood. I slid sideways. I screamed down back roads. I banged through gears with great gusto. I felt at once invincible and entirely on the brink of death. I was truly driving in a way that I hadn’t in so long, in a way I don’t imagine you feel when you are behind the wheel of a space age Ariel Atom, or a BAC Mono from the future.

Are those cars incredible? Yes, absolutely—I’d give a pinky toe just to own one. But there’s just something so timeless about throttling a Caterham around a corner at speed that I don’t think they will ever be able to capture.

I’m more than half tempted to build my own, but I don’t think I could look my mother in the eye if I was to be found out to be driving a car I’d hand-assembled. But at £21,000 or so, and with this whole Brexit nightmare devaluing the pound, I’m unusually motivated to source one of these Stateside.

I encourage any living human being to drive a Caterham of any model, they will not be disappointed.


Thanks to Caterham Cars for lending me the car to enjoy a few days of Driving Tastefully.

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moosesport
moosesport

Build your own with real IRS!!! No deDion rear for me!

Steve M Ross
Steve M Ross

I recently purchased an ’84 Caterham Sprint for half the money you guys are talking about. Nice used Sevens are available in the US for $25-30k and, because they’re used as weekend drivers, they tend to have low miles. I’m 61 and I’ve lusted after a Seven for years. I figured I had better pull the trigger on one before I couldn’t extricate my fat ass out of the damn thing. It’s the best automotive move I’ve ever made. It’s a Formula Ford with two seats and lights. I recently went for a drive in the Seven and then took… Read more »

marty922
marty922

I have a Westfield SEi in yellow, and whilst not of the quality of a Caterham, the driving experience would be very similar. No power anything (brakes, steering), the only electonic things on it are the ignition and gauges. No air bags, traction control, abs… It’s a go-kart for the road, and the closest thing to riding a motorcycle on 4 wheels that I’ve ever experienced. If you want a pure driving experience for the road, I don’t believe you can beat it. You taste every bug and feel every bump. Wind in your hair motoring. Oh yeah, the waves,… Read more »

Douglas Anderson
Douglas Anderson

I have lusted over these cars for as long as I was aware something this pure existed. Sadly here in the USA we were never really able to have access to them and now they have become stupid expensive as toys or weekend playthings.
Now as a senior citizen with stroke induced limitations , I will never be able to own or drive one unless I could hire someone to build it with an automatic transmission, and that just would sadden the experience I think.

David Lale
David Lale

Automatic maybe, but what about the ones with bike engines and run paddle shifters instead?

FW Brit
FW Brit

Absolutely love these – But they have become crazy expensive in the US.
There are no electronic aids, and they provide an unbelievable visceral driving experience…. I love them (and want one as a weekend toy). But at $50k-$60k in the US – you are talking Cayman / Elise money.

David Lale
David Lale

Maybe you need to speak to a company that can export the earlier ones to you 😉

Pierre Papoose Robitaille
Pierre Papoose Robitaille

You can get a good used caterham for $25-$30k easy, if you’re patient enough. Ask me how I know. 🙂