Bare Bones

BY Burnpavement

Caterham are known to make some of the most fearsome road legal cars around — even beating a Bugatti Veyron around the Top Gear track! And they all owe their lineage to one model: the Superlight

With a platform as pared-back and pure as the Caterham Seven's, it's hard to imagine anyone calling it a softie or in need of some sharpening. But apparently, there were enough loony speed freaks doing just that, so in 1996, Caterham launched the first ever Superlight, with the focus on hopping-up the Rover K-series engine and reducing weight (what little that could be removed anyway).

Now, nearly 20 years later, the firm from Surrey, England is paying tribute to the landmark model with a special, 20-unit anniversary edition, called the Superlight Twenty.

Similar changes have been made to the car as compared with the original — the windscreen has been replaced with a minimalist carbonfibre 'aero' screen, the nose cone, front cycle wings and rear wings are made of carbonfibre, and the body is finished as standard in bare aluminium; the omission of paint alone saves six kilograms.

Where the game has moved on however, is in the drivetrain. The original Superlight came fitted with Rover's lightweight, compact, high-revving K-series engine, but with the demise of Rover more than a decade ago, this obviously isn't an option today. In its place is a 1.6-litre 'Sigma' engine from Ford that produces 135bhp; hooked up to a close-ratio six-speed gearbox, the combination is enough to get the Superlight Twenty from 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds and hit a top speed just shy of 200km/h. Sports suspension, a limited slip differential and a lightened flywheel are also fitted as standard for extra responsiveness.

Other goodies that help this car stand out from other Sevens include a numbered dash plaque, special gauges, gear knob and key bearing the 'Superlight Twenty' logo, as well as the carbonfibre dashboard and seats from the flagship 620R model.

In keeping with the minimalist spirit, just three options are available: paint, weatherproofing and a heater. Certainly puts to shame the dedication of other so-called stripped-out models with their optional air-con and audio equipment eh?