Ben Hodson's Caterham 7 build page

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I built this car in the summer of '93 and sold it in May 96. My new seven a 1.6K series arrived early November 96 and took about 4 weeks to complete. Build diary to follow....

Thanks to Steve and his Sevens listserver for the space to put this online for the rest of you....

Caterham Build Diary

Well it finally got here. At 3 minutes to 3 on Friday the 20th August '93 she came into my with a yellow band around her nose and a yellow stripe up her bonnet. Father and car are both doing well !

Yeah, my Caterham Seven has arrived !

First job was to help the nice man who drove the lorry on which she arrived to unload. (I've carried the car, next the car carries me !)

After he'd gone I spent 3/4 hour just looking and touching. In some ways I was expecting an anti-climax, after all the waiting. But no-way this was it.

Friday evening :

Checked the entire kit contents - three nylocs missing from a contents list a meter long (sack the lot of them :-) I was impressed. The front top wishbones were out of stock at the factory so I was advised that they would be sent on.

Saturday and Sunday:

Fitted the diff to the propshaft.

This resulted in a heavy lump of bits of metal. The build video says 'Fitting the diff and propshaft is a tricky business, so we're not going to give you the satisfaction of watching us struggle !'. The suggested method is to lie under the car and 'bench press' the assembly, while someone else slides in the top bolt...........Not a chance. I didn't fancy heavy lumps of metal above my chest. I thought, I pondered, I used the engine hoist :-)

The rear de-dion tube went in next along with the rear suspension, brakes and hand brake cable.

Monday :

Rang up Caterham and asked about the front wishbones. Any minute now they said. I also ordered a 41mm socket for the rear hub nuts.

Tuesday :

The wishbones turned up ! Along with four nylocs ! This is good stuff. Tuesday evening I fitted the front suspension and uprights. What has impressed me most about the whole car is the way it fits together. Everything is the right length, the right size or the right thickness.

Wednesday :

Fitted the steering, the whole impression of a car is starting to happen. The 41mm socket also turned up.

Thursday :

The car had had its suspension fitted along with the steering rack and front uprights. Thursday evening after getting back from work, Juliet (my girlfriend at the time) asked me who I was - I took the hint. I spent the evening with her.

Friday :

Got home from work with a whole week of shworking (smiley happy working) to look forward to. I torqued up the rear suspension after lifting up the rear end of the car with the engine hoist to get the bushes in the right places. I fidded around with various bits. Ate a large pizza with lots of beer :-)

Saturday :

Put the wheels on the car :-) Took the car off the trestles and put it on the ground, yeaahh. Wheeled it back and forth steering and making vroom vroom noises. Assembled the gearbox - bellhousing - engine lump. Went to a party.

Sunday :

After much thinking and planning decided to put the engine IN THE CAR ! I got the engine and gearbox nicely angled on the hoist. Juliet was manning the hoist, Alastair was guiding the gearbow output shaft onto the prop shaft and I was running around directing the whole campaign.

Ben : "Down a bit..."

Juliet : " OK."


At this point I decided that turning knurled knobs a LITTLE bit was not Juliet's strong point. I therefore apointed her chief-assistant-engine-hoist-pusher-and-puller-but-not-up-and-down-person.

After a bit of gentle "down-a-bit" and "forward-a-bit" Alastair reported sighting the gearbox from his observation point halfway along the transmission tunnel. All was going nicely carried on going nicely ! The engine took all of about 15 minutes to get into the car and the gearbox and engine mounts tightened up ! I started the engine bay wiring. All the wires coming out from the loom were even the same colour as the build manual thought they should be. This took about an hour. I then decided to call it a day and cleared up.

Monday :

Finished the engine bay wiring and started the lighting. This involved fitting the front wings ! After a couple of hours of this I had green and mauve, red and orange wires all over the place. But the front lighting was finished !

Tuesday :

Started the rear lighting. This involved fitting the rear wings and the rear light clusters. By now I was getting pretty bored of wiring !

Wednesday :

Finised the wiring and all the lights WORKED. By now the car was really starting to look and feel like a car.

Thursday :

Bought the necessary fluids, oils, in order to get the car going. Filled the diff, gearbox, engine. Bled the brakes and adjusted the handbrake. Finally I fitted the exhaust. Put the battery on charge. Went to bed knackered.

Friday :

Checked the car over and put a gallon of petrol in the petrol tank. crudely adjusted the twin DCOE webers according to the recommendations in the build manual. I disconnected the electronic ignition put a small bit of oil in the cylinders and turned the engine over until the oil pressure came up.

Reconnected the ignition and turned the engine over. Nothing happened but a slight smell of petrol. I took out a spark plug and smelt for petrol - nothing. I decided to turn the engine over a look for petrol. It fired - WOW - it fired. I put the sparkplug back in and turned her over - whrir - whir - bang - whir - bang - whir - bang - bang - whir - VROOOOOMMMMMMMM. YESSSSS. IT WORKS. Wow what a feeling from nuts and bolts and lots of cardboard boxes this wonderfull object had emerged. I watched the tempreture and started to tinker with the carbs. I soon had the car running quite nicely, ticking over at about 900 rpm and idling nicely. I REVERSED the car back into the garage and we all went out for a meal.

Saturday :

Installed the interior, and colour-tuned the carbs. The engine is really humming now. I then tried to fit the roll-over bar. With the gentle help of a six-foot scafold pole it fitted.

Monday : Got the car registered and it ran fine for the two and a half years I was using it, it never even missed a beat.... From delivery to vroom in three weeks !

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31 Oct 1996