How do you improve on a classic?
The Lotus Seven was such an iconic car that, when Lotus itself decided to end production, Caterham Cars stepped in to keep the flame burning. You can still buy one of these diminutive sports cars today; not bad for a design from 1957.
Everyone needs to move on eventually, though. That’s what the Caterham AeroSeven is all about. Caterham says this all-new concept previews a future production model.
The styling looks decidedly Tron-esque, but still has the familiar proportions of the Seven. The separate fenders are gone, but front and side air intakes reference them. The traditional Seven grille juts out of the black maw that makes up the front end.
The bodywork is made of carbon fiber and was developed by the Caterham Formula One team. Caterham’s other subsidiaries, Caterham Composites and Caterham Technology & Innovation, also contributed to different aspects of the car’s design.
Caterham says the AeroSeven’s styling hints at the looks of the sports car it’s co-developing with Renault. Hopefully that car will be a little less brutally functional and little more beautiful.
The interior of the AeroSeven looks ready for a track day; it’s basically just a steering wheel and a center screen with digital gauges. There are also carbon fiber bucket seats that are probably very supportive in high-g cornering, but likely not very comfortable.
Powering the AeroSeven is a 2.0-liter Ford Duratec four-cylinder engine, with 237 horsepower and 152 pound-feet of torque. Linked to a six-speed manual transmission, Caterham says the eager four-cylinder will get the AeroSeven to 62 mph from naught in “under four seconds.”
To cope with the corners, the AeroSeven has F1-style pushrod suspension at the front, along with a fully-independent rear. Aside from a Bosch-designed ABS and traction and launch controls, there are no electronic driver aids.
Unlike many concept cars, the AeroSeven is actually destined for production.
Caterham says it will start building this futuristic track toy in 2014 at its factory in Dartford, England. It will likely function as a more exclusive halo model fro the brand, while production of the tried-and-true Seven continues.
While the AeroSeven is exciting, we’re far more intrigued to see what sort of road-going, all-weather coupe it has in its production pipeline.