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Auto NewsCracking Caterham 7 for the Wheeler Dealers

Cracking Caterham 7 for the Wheeler Dealers

Mike and Elvis bag a brilliant two-seater

Enthusiasts love the Caterham 7 but this bargain example needed a lot of work. Would it end up breaking the bank? Let’s find out…

The last Caterham to appear on Wheeler Dealers got plenty of tasty upgrades, but this one would need a whole lot more work to make it perfect again. But Marc ‘Elvis’ Priestley had plenty of experience with the racy two-seater so it was a great project.

Owner, John, wanted just £4000 for the 1984 example that had been off the road for eighteen months and Mike Brewer was quick to do the deal. It looked okay and with a new battery and fresh fuel the engine ran, so with the brake issue fixed it was ready for Elvis to turn it into his ultimate Caterham.

That would start by removing the engine and gearbox, and as well as a gear linkage problem he also discovered the transmission was worn and the casing damaged. A second-hand unit solved that but there was still a huge amount of work ahead. A visit to MK Sportcars saw Mike choose a great colour – Porsche Riviera Blue – and spend more than two thousand pounds on parts including seats, carbon-fibre mud guards and modern LED headlamps.

In the meantime Elvis set about fitting a limited-slip differential, but there was a problem. It wasn’t the rear axle he was expected which meant spending £150 on a replacement Ford item, and then plenty of time swapping over parts such as suspension pick-up points; a home-made jig did its job perfectly, and while it wasn’t an easy job the result would make a big difference to the way it performed.

£2000 was spent on getting the body painted and it looked great, so the next job was designing and making a new exhaust system that would give more power and performance. Some clever maths was needed to ensure the pipes were of the optimum length, but with that sorted it was back to the engine.

The 1700cc Ford crossflow unit got a full rebuild so it would be good for many miles, and Elvis made sure that the special rubber mounts for the twin carburettors were fitted correctly. The little sports car was looking awesome but there was still one more important job to do.

The test drive would be at the challenging Cadwell Park circuit – and Mike had a special surprise lined-up – so plenty of time was spent setting up the suspension. Fine tuning of the spring and damper settings and getting the corner weights just right would pay dividends on the track.

The ace mechanic couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel, and while the Caterham performed brilliantly the day was made even better when he was helped out by some former teammates. It was the perfect end to the project and the car was ready for its new owner.

The boys had spent more than ten thousand pounds making the car better than ever, and all it needed was that new owner. The successful auction bidder paid £17,500, so not only was there a healthy profit but this cracking two-seater was going to provide lots of entertainment for many years to come.

Mike said: “It was always going to be inevitable that I would get Elvis a Caterham on Wheeler Dealers! He started his race career with these little cars and has been dropping hints that he’d like to get his hands on one. So after a little searching I went and found the worst one I could!

“What’s funny about that is Elvis didn’t give a hoot. He was giddy with excitement just to get back on the spanners with one. Making it the best, fastest, latest version as possible was also his wheelhouse. The results were fantastic and to let him loose on the circuit where I surprised him with an old pit crew was a treat.”

Find more info:
Wheeler Dealers

Join the club:
Caterham & Lotus Seven Club


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