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C7 Owl
C7 Owl's picture
Last seen: 2 weeks 3 days ago
Joined: 10/01/2020
Buying Checklist

Hi.  New member here.  I am seriously considering taking the plunge and buying a Seven.  Been researching and considering for a while.  Have finally got the funds free to do so.  Im going to test drive and view one in a couple of weeks.  I normally like to put together a list of common issues on cars to look out for and how to spot them.  I have searched the forum here and online and cant find a 2nd hand Caterham buying checklist.  So thought I would put one together for the spec of Caterham Im going to be looking at.  It would be very handy if people who know the car well could give me a steer as to what need to look out for and techniques for identifying if the car suffers from these issues.  So far I havent got a very long list.  The car Ive been looking for is an original special edition Superlight.  The one im looking at is a year 2000 1.6 K series 135bhp unmodified example.  6 Speed gearbox, LSD, Dedion suspension, 4 pot brakes, Full wet weather gear, Heater.  It has quite low miles of 3200.  

So far on the list to look out for is:  

Head Gasket failure - White smoke from exhaust, overheating engine, white milky oil, 

Corrosion where chassis meets body work - I've been told sometimes rust occurs under the sills if you get your head or hands under and feel it is possible to spot.  Is there anywhere else that can easily be reached without jack or tools to identify corrosion.  

Incorrect mileage - Other than checking the history etc best sign of this appears to be whether the car has wear on the steering wheel, gear stick, seats, pedals that would not match the advertised mileage.  

Any other things to look out for would be most useful.  I of course will post the completed list back on to the forum for others starting out on the Caterham journey to use.  




SM25T's picture
Last seen: 20 min 57 sec ago
Joined: 17/04/2014
The corrosion can be on the chassis tubes if the powder coating is damaged or flaking off. There can also be corrosion of the aluminium side panels through electrolysis action with salty water and the steel chassis ... this shows as bubbling under the paintwork usually along the outside of the lower part of the side bodywork.
Wrightpayne's picture
Last seen: 30 min 8 sec ago
Joined: 17/04/2014

Just prior to 2000 there were a few chassis powdercoating issues - flaking off / bubbling from underneath. It will be obvious by looking at the exposed chassis tubes if it is a problem.

Post up some pics if you like - we're happy to critique it!

Also, I have a scanned copy of the original superlight launch article from a magazine. If you want a copy send me a private message with your email and I'll send it.

And welcome to the club!



Golf Juliet Tango
Last seen: 13 min 23 sec ago
Joined: 17/04/2014


My suggestion is to go to your local meeting and talk to members and owners. There is no substitute for face to face conversations and looking directly at cars.  Area Meetings

Go to a dealer or two: those regularly advertising with us are:





You will get endless variation of opinion but from this diversity your own view will form.


Democratic dissent is not disloyalty, it is a positive civic duty

Geoff Brown
Geoff Brown's picture
Last seen: 20 hours 22 min ago
Joined: 17/04/2014

The main issue for a person purchasing a Seven is as discussed above the chassis condition but also the condition of all the suspension components.

Obviously these two factors are contingent on the vehicle age BUT you could view a three year old Seven that has been continually driven in the rain or on salt covered roads & it could be an utter disaster if the exposed structure has not been lovingly cleaned, dried & at least had a wipe of WD40.

The main chassis issues are:

  • at the back end where the exposed lower longitudinal chassis rails pass through the inside of the rear arch.  The underneath of the attached looms are a grot trap.
  •  the joins to the rear longitudinal chassis tube below the fuel tank.
  • basically any exposed chassis members where the powder coating could be affected. 
  •  the grot trap at the rear lower corners of the engine bay where the lower chassis rails disappear behind the skin.

Otherwise it is just the usual 'buyer beware' mantra - engine bay condition, overall cleanliness/condition for age, obvious signs of wear & tear to suspension & running gear/engine. Complete service history/receipts etc. 

Nick Chan
Nick Chan's picture
Last seen: 10 min 24 sec ago
Joined: 17/04/2014

Also see if a local member is happy to go and view the car with you.  An experienced owner will be useful to point out problems and what you should expect to see

K7 VCT's picture
Last seen: 11 hours 15 min ago
Joined: 17/04/2014
Welcome, drive and inspection on many , hopefully buying just the right one

Orange is my new black

Ballistic orange 310s
brianjhall31's picture
Last seen: 51 min 8 sec ago
Joined: 10/06/2017

I agree on the advice given re attending your local monthly meeting and having face to face with current owners.  I helped a prospective local buyer, who is now a proud owner, by introducing him to some local members who were able to show a variation in models and age plus provide hands on details of where to look, and what for.  Remember there is always a big difference in the way a car is presented when for sale, and the person selling it, rather than a chat with an existing owner.  If you are located in the South West we can help!

Using the gov.uk website to check MoT history is always a good indicator of the cars history.

Brian J Hall

AnkerB-S's picture
Last seen: 1 hour 45 min ago
Joined: 14/11/2019

My advice for purchasing collector cars is:

  1. If there is any deferred maintenance or unrepaired problems, walk. It is a sign that the owner didn't look after the car. There will be more problems than the ones you see.
  2. Have an expert on the particular brand, model and vintage take a look at a car. Every combination has its own quirks and the experts know exactly where to look. This is normally called a PPI.
  3. Take your time.
  4. Do as much research as you can before purchasing. Join the clubs, read the forums, check prices.
  5. Make sure that there is a vibrant and enthusiastic owner community. True for Porsche, Lotus 7/Caterham and many other brands. Not so much for others.
  6. Look at repair prices. Ideally you will want to DIY.
  7. How is parts availability and prices
  8. Very rarely are cars investments. They are objects of enjoyment

Anker Berg-Sonne
Stow, Massachusetts

Old fart pretending that age is just a number

1987 Caterham Super 7 1700 Supersprint
2004 Porsche Boxster S
2009 Mercedes CLK 350 Cabriolet

C7 Owl
C7 Owl's picture
Last seen: 2 weeks 3 days ago
Joined: 10/01/2020

Thanks all.  Really helpful.  Will collate and take with me when I go and take a look.  Is there any tell tale signs of suspension issues on a caterham?  Ie bushes groaning or suspension arms clicking / knocking?  Can anyone recommend any checks for dampers / springs when car stationary?  


Andrew Gilbert
Andrew Gilbert's picture
Last seen: 13 hours 53 min ago
Joined: 05/06/2015

you'd feel the looseness of the car when driven if the bushes have started to fail, plus you'd get the clonks and knocks from the rear when on-off the power that gives an idea on the condition of the A frame bush. Not sure if worn bushes will be heard when stationary considering most are pretty hard to push up and down to judge any movement

Most have seen some track use as well so bear that in mind as well.

But regardless, for me, I would look, inspect, buy then take it to someone to change all the fluids and give it another once over, that would have saved me a small fortune 3 to 4 years ago.

love a HPC

1992 HPC vx2.0 c20xe goodness....