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Help for a newbie

So, my first post! I'm looking for some help and advice please.  I've decided a Caterham is No 1 priority on my bucket list, although as to yet I haven't sat in one, let alone turned a wheel.  I know I need/want an SV (girth rather than height, 14st/5f 6in) and am tempted by a new 270 or 310.  But the wait will be agonising (Sept 2021 and that's if I order now, 'blind' without a try, which I wouldn't do).  So, I've seen a 2014/15 SuperSeven Supersport for sale, good nick and apparent low mileage etc.

My question is about the reliability of the LSD and 'sprint' gearbox, and any drawbacks with the sprint gearbox (ratios etc) given I'll use it almost exclusively for road use. Any advice greatly appreciated. Many thanks.  

Jonathan Kay
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Wrightpayne's picture
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Re LSD - depends on what type fitted. There has been a recent lengthy discussion about the (un) reliability of Titan differentials and some owners needing them rebuilt in 2 to 4 years (depending on usage). Having an alternative fitted can be £800-1200 depending on type. A quaife ATB is not a true LSD but is suited to road driving and occasional track days. Sprinting or hard core track driving then owners recommend the tracsport LSD.

Re gearbox - could be either a ford sierra or mazda MX5 gearbox - both are designed for much heavier cars and are usually fine. The normal first ratio in the ford box isnt ideal and can be changed. Not sure about the mazda box ratios. Also could be Caterhams own 6 speed which again is good and shares some parts of the ford box.



Tazio's picture
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I not sure why you think you need an SV, I'm a similar height and weight and fit snugly in my Tillet seat, so with ordinary seats, I'd be rolling around !.

Not sure what you mean by Sprint gearbox, but both the 5 speed and 6 speed boxes have a good reliability record, I've never had any problems with any of the 5 speeds in the 7s I've had. 

LSDs, there's much been said on these pages regrading carbon plates in the later BMW diffs, but this was I believe caused by a change in materials BMW implemented, and subsequently changed again.  The Titan lsd has come in for some stick recently, mine lasted 17 years before it was rebuilt, it's like most things, people will always talk about problems, but the silent majority rarely talk about their boring experience. 

Go to a local club meet and kick tyres , go and sit in a few,and have a few rides, you don't need to spend loads on a new car, all Caterhams put a smile on your face.

John Vine
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Welcome, Alan.

SV vs S3:  Well, I'm 14st too, but taller @ 5' 10", and I find the S3 is a very snug and comfy fit with the standard leather seats.  I think it will depend on just how broad in the beam you are, and whether you plan to carry a passenger regularly.  I very rarely carry a passenger (Mrs V claims the car is too noisy, but I can't see the problem), so touring luggage space is not at a premium.

Do you have more details of the Supersport -- trade/private? -- a link to an ad, perhaps?  If so, we could check over the spec for you. 

Whereabouts are you?  I'm sure there'll be members near you, or even a local Club meet (post pandemic).


Last seen: 1 day 4 hours ago
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Here's the ad.  https://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C1265591  Yes any comments would help please.  I'm inclined to give them a call but appreciate lockdown will be restrictive.  I'm in Hertfordshire.

I've veered towards SV mainly cos I'm likely to carry a passenger who would appreciate a little extra space, plus the drivers footwell space (although only size 9 shoes).  I appreciate that once we sit in a car many of my questions and apprehensions will fade.  Cheers

Toughie's picture
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Welcome, Alan.

I wish I'd had the sense to do what you have done, and joined the club to help me hone my choice, before I'd bought my first 7.

Had we not been in lockdown, I'm sure a few of the local owners would have been happy to take you for a trial flight, where ever you are.

But as Tazio says, they're all great cars.


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I would try sitting in an S3, I think you could be surprised.  

7 wonders of th...
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An S3 should be fine, if you need a tad more hip width the leathr seats afford this as the Tillets have sides on them

If your buying new it will be a 5 speed Mazda box, ratios are better though not perfect, go for the open diff and have a Tracsport LSD fitted - a proper piece of kit, the Titan has design flaws and the Quaife ATB offers little performance over an open diff.

Where are you in the country..?

If your looking for used cars well worth calling Jon Vickers @ Millwood Motors in Dursley.


Last seen: 4 hours 30 min ago
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Again, not sure what is meant by ‘sprint’ gearbox. Presumably the 6 speed which would have been available as well as the Mazda in 2015. If it is the six, it’s only weakness is high revs on long cruises. 

As far as the LSD is concerned, it will be the suspect carbon plated era.

IME and the experience of several friends and club members, if you have a 270, or equivalent, it’ll probably be fine. So that car shouldn’t be bad. 

If you have a 310 it may well be fine. 

If you have over 200bhp it may well not work for that long. 

If you have over 210bhp it most likely won’t last too long.

Just my experience and opinion. 

Golf Juliet Tango
Last seen: 4 hours 42 min ago
Joined: 17/04/2014

Welcome Alan.

I can't answer your specific questions but, if you can afford to purchase straight away, I would do it.  As well as Caterham Cars themsevles,  there are several well established dealers, well known within the Club and long term advertisers (i.e. supporters): Jon Vicker at Millwood, UK Sportscars, GP Sevens & Sevens & Classics.

They will all have established ways for you to view and assess cars remotely over the past year.


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