Two long years later I found myself back in France. I was eager to see Christian and catch up with him, though I have to admit seeing the Caterham was never far from my mind! On a chilly Sunday afternoon we headed down to the parking garage to pull the car out. Quite literally, we pulled it out of the garage. At approximately 550 kg (or 1200 pounds), the 7 is easy to drag around by hand. Once it was out of the garage Christian checked the oil and fired it up. The engine makes a lovely growl even at idle, and we looked the car over as it warmed up.
Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus, once famously said that the key to building a proper sports car was "Simplify, then add lightness", which is evident in the 7. The same engine in a heavier car might not be all that impressive, but in the featherweight Caterham 7 it's more than enough. I would find this out quickly enough, as we climbed into the car, buckled our seatbelts, and headed towards the countryside.
Even as a passenger this car is a hoot, but halfway through our chilly but sunny ride Christian pulled over and told me to take the wheel. I was hesitant at first, since the roads were a bit damp, but wasn't going to miss the chance. My first few rows through the gears were pitiful, as I upshifted way too early. Christian kept telling me to hold gears until 5,000, 6,000 or even 7,000 rpms... engine speeds at which my own car would explode! He knows his roadster well, however, because as soon as let the revs climb I found the 7 much more responsive and entertaining to drive.
I didn't dare hit the speeds Christian did, since I wasn't all that familiar with the car or the roads, but thoroughly loved pushing the Caterham 7 through the twists and turns of the quiet country roads we took. The low weight and wide stance means the Caterham holds the road incredibly well. The ride is sharp and choppy, which would be annoying in a family sedan but only adds to the appeal of a sports car like the 7.