Caterham Is Going Electric And Dropping The Iconic Lotus Seven Design

Electric Vehicles / 6 Comments

Say goodbye to that long hood.

Caterham will soon make a massive break from tradition as it prepares to unveil its first electric two-seat sports car. The announcement comes via Autocar, who sat down for an exclusive interview with Caterham's new chief of the design department.

According to Anthony Jannarelly, the unnamed car was "just an idea in people's heads" last September, and now it's mere months away from unveiling an actual vehicle. No date has been set, but it will likely coincide with Caterham's 50th birthday.

Caterham Cars started as a dealership, but after Colin Chapman discontinued the beloved Lotus Seven, Caterham bought the rights to the car in 1973, which is precisely what it has been building since.

While the names and engines may change, the basic recipe remains unchanged.


How will people react to a Caterham that doesn't look like a Lotus Seven? Part of Caterham's charm is its simplicity and iconic design. Even the nimble Mazda MX-5 Miata looks fat parked beside a Caterham Seven 620.

"We're trying to make it as light as possible. So the performance which we will [get] out of it will be just great. And the driving pleasure is a consequence of this lightness. The keywords are always simplicity, lightness, and driving joy," said Jannarelly.

So Caterham already has one-half of the formula sorted but what about the design?

According to Jannarelly, the Caterham Seven "has no styling." He makes a good point, because there isn't a single piece of the Seven purely for aesthetic reasons, yet it has become a design icon. If you remove the badges, any car nerd could identify the outlines as a Caterham/Lotus Seven.


Jannarelly supplied an answer for this design challenge.

"The next car we're going to make is the first car where we can really apply what could be the 'Caterham styling,' which was not a fact of the Seven, which came from the Lotus [7]," Jannarelly said.

He confirmed that it wouldn't have a long hood and that it wouldn't be bulky. Other than that, he's keeping quiet. "I would say at the end, it's an exciting moment. My main hope is people will understand the message coming from Caterham," he explained. Jannarelly does have an impressive CV. He was the principal designer behind the Lykan Hypersport, which was a bit of a fail, but at least looked good.

Interestingly, Caterham tried building a modern car once before, and it was a complete flop. It was called the Caterham 21 (pictured below) and was stuck in production hell for a long time. Eventually, the company called it quits after only 48 were made.

But that was 1994, and this is now, and the competition in the EV roadster segment is hotter than ever.

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