The Caterham 7 is a super-lightweight sports car produced by Caterham Cars in the United Kingdom. It is based on the Lotus Seven, a lightweight sports car sold in kit and factory-built form by Lotus Cars. Between 1986 and 1995 a limited edition HPC version fitted with a BDR1700 engine and limited slip differential was available.
The name “HPC” derived from the fact that owners were required to take part in a High Performance driving Course before taking delivery of their new car, such was the performance available. HPC made use of the 1700 Cosworth BDR engine, which produced 170bhp. But the HPC isn’t just about the grunt; it’s such a finely honed, beautifully balanced expression of the Lotus Seven genre that Autocar called it “possibly the best all-purpose Seven there has been.”
This Super-7, finished in black with black interior was produced in 1987 and not only is it one of the 62 ever produced with the 1700 Cosworth BDR engine, it’s previous keeper was none other than Rowan Atkinson. Available as proof of provenance, documentation includes its original UK registration log book signed by Mr. Atkinson, photographs of Mr. Atkinson with the car at a photo-shoot in Oxfordshire,original cutting from TV Times advertising the “The Driven Man”, showing Mr. Atkinson in the car as well as a letter from Mr. Atkinson’s agent.
Mr Atkinson is believed to have owned the car until August 1989, when the current owners made a visit to the Caterham factory. Having been interested in purchasing a Caterham Super-7 for a while but mainly interested in one with a BDR engine, they were promptly told that whilst a new one was not be available, there did happen to be a second-hand example which was at the time being sold on behalf of Mr Atkinson.
In 1990 the car was featured in a television programme called ‘The Driven Man’ which detailed Rowans interest in cars, and aimed to get as many of his previous cars together. After several years of use, the car underwent extensive restoration by Super-7 specialists Partridge Green Motorsport Ltd., returning to the road in April 2017.
Alone the Super-7 HPC-BDR represents the pinnacle of Caterham in this period, however with a recent restoration by marque specialists, 28 years of current ownership and being previously owned by one of Britain’s best loved comedians and all-round petrolhead, this particular example is truly unique.