About the Caterham 21

The Caterham 21 began development by Caterham Cars in the early 1990's, with the original specification to develop a car similar to the Lotus 11 with an Aluminium body.

This area will be being updated over the next few months with a potted history of the car and its development over the years, including how it evolved into the GRP bodied car that it is now and the lesson learned by Caterham in the intervening period, carried forward into cars including Top Gear's 2008 car of the year, the R500.

The Beginning

Having joined Caterham in 1983, by the early 1990's Jez Coates was Technical Director and was set a mission to create Caterham's first completely new model (the 7 being an evolution of an inherited design).  With Reg Price, they set to with pen and paper.

The original concept was for a mid engined car with a composite monocoque (a concept that was mirrored by Lotus' eventual development of the Elise), but the practicality of creating a 2nd model using the existing infrastructure of the business was that they wanted to design a "new suit" for the current successful model.

Iain Roberts worked for Autocar as a designer and was asked by the development team to pen the design for the new car - creating sketches and artists' impressions.  Jez and Reg then (along with their team) put together some balsa prototypes for the car, increasing the width of the front over the 7 but maintaining a structurally common rear end.

3 days before Christmas in 1993, the team presented 4 proposals to a panel of Mssrs Noble, Wakefield and Nearn.  It was the first of the proposals, using Iain Roberts design that was chosen.

The very first stage of the car was for Jez to drive around the M25 with the crew, looking at car rear lights that would help define the rear of the car.  The Ford Mondeo had the perfect shape and it was from these items that the rest of the car was spawned.

There was insufficient space at Caterham's factory at Dartford at the time, so the work on the car began in a barn hidden deep in the countryside.  There was a supplier of large blocks of foam nearby to Dartford and the team set to with a chassis, a large block of foam and a chainsaw....

More to follow....

Latest News
Sep 1, 2010
Posted by: scotch33
On the 11th September 2010, two intrepid 21's will be making the long journey west and across the border into Wales to drive and Llandow Circuit
May 15, 2010
Posted by: scotch33
Caterham Cars have finally located the last of the tooling for the 21's meaning that the 21's OC can now take custody of them all.
May 15, 2010
Posted by: scotch33

Caterham 21's have featured in 2 magazine articles this month, both with favourable reviews and some lovely pictures.  We have also taken part in a filming shoot for Top Gear and there will be an article in the Lotus 7 Club magazine (with whom the C21OC are loosely affiliated).

Look out for June's Classic & Sportscar Magazine and Stuff Magazine for the articles.

May 7, 2009
Posted by: scotch33
In September 2008, Classic & Sportscar Magazine reviewed the 21, comparing it to the Lotus Elise, Vauxhall VX220 and Renault Sport Spyder.  It didn't fail to impress and a copy of a separate private interview with the deputy editor is included here...  For the original article, you will have to buy a back issue of the magazine.