The Caterham 7 is the epitome of what a sports car should be. In the car crazed era that began after World War II, a sports car was defined as a vehicle that had absolutely nothing attached to it that did not help it go faster. Windshield wipers? A heater? Windows? Fugedabowdit. Lots of MG’s and Triumphs and Austin Healeys came off the assembly lines in Jolly Olde England without any of those items, which were considered useless in a real sports car.
Colin Chapman was an RAF pilot during the war and a trained structural engineer. He started building sports cars after the war and founded Lotus Cars in 1952. Chapman had one overarching principle that affected all his designs — “Simplify, then add lightness.” In 1957, he introduced the Lotus 7, a car that was the very essence of a true sports car. It was constructed on an ultra-light spaceframe chassis. It had an engine, a gearbox, a rear axle, brakes, and very little else.
The Lotus 7 lives on, at least in spirit, as the Caterham 7. Although it shares no parts with the original, it continues the design philosophy that Chapman lived by. It is simple, light, and goes like a scaled cat when you tromp on the loud pedal. It can still be purchased in kit form, which means it has been fitted with just about every internal combustion engine in history at one point or another. Hundreds if not thousands of them have been built by shade tree mechanics over the years. It continues to be a favorite of sports car racers around the world.
LEGO has a very interesting program called LEGO Ideas. It allows anyone to propose a new LEGO product on the company website. If it gets 10,000 likes within a year, the company will consider putting it into production. A little over a year ago, Carl Greatrix submitted an idea for a LEGO version of the Caterham 7. His idea got 10,000 supporters within the required time. Now the company has decided to make it into an official LEGO kit.
According to Aut0Blog, the company will now choose the precise color scheme and level of detail it wants for the model. Marketing plays a role here. The more pieces the kit has, the more expensive it is to manufacture. But if LEGO can find a way to keep the level of detail in the proposal, including those adorable sidedraft carburetors, this design will become a true collector’s item. With luck, the final kit will be in stores later this year. You can see more details about the design concept at Carl’s Flickr page.