Caterham 7 Supersport
Probably the best birthday present I ever got was a day driving this. Boy, it’s quick! And I mean quick. It’s a car that makes you want every traffic light turn red just so you can feel the almighty kick of acceleration as you blast away on green. Even the quickest cars on this list feel like trucks compared to this pared down, no frills monster. The most impressive thing is that in a day’s driving I barely scratched the surface of what this car is capable of, and this is a car designed in the 1950s!
When I say pared down, I mean there is NOTHING on this car that doesn’t need to be there. No radio, no heater, no sat-nav, no power-assisted anything. It’s not the easiest to live with, awkward to get in and out of with fiddly seat belts, minimal luggage space, rather hot when you’ve been driving a while as the heat soaks into the cockpit, and an absolute bitch to park with its manual steering and tiny wheel. But it never fails to put a smile on your face. What’s more, it gives you the impression you’ve been transported to a world where EVERYONE is smiling, and I remember one ten year old in particular giving us a big thumbs-up as we drove past.
This car is extremely light, which caused one problem I hadn’t expected. We took a side road where the surface wasn’t terribly smooth, and the car kept bouncing around all over the place, giving a rather unsettling experience rather like flying a light aircraft in turbulence. The other thing that takes a lot of getting used to is how low down it is. Driving in traffic even a common-or-garden BMW 3 series looks positively enormous.
Not a relaxing car to drive in any way, but such a thrill. Towards the end of the day we found one road that was arrow-straight and empty and I pulled to a stop, and slipped it into first. “Better hold on to something” I said, and blasted up to sixty from a full-on racing start in less time than it takes to read this, just missing the rev limiter on each gear change. So fast. Absolutely magnificent.