1994-1999 Caterham 21

We all know Caterham as the company which has prided itself on the manufacture of the cute, quirky, and painstakingly quick Seven roadster. However, back in the 90s, they decided to set their sights on making a more civilized version of the Seven for the public. That decision brought us to this: the Caterham 21.

The 21 was nearly mechanically identical to the already existing Seven, using the same chassis and most of the same internals. However, Caterham employed the use of a different suspension tune to make the car extra rigid to match its new body, as well as slightly softer and more comfortable for the British roads. Power came from a 133 bhp Rover K-Series I4, mated to the Ford Type-9 transmission from the Ford Sierra.


Keeping with the more voluptuous styling of the outside, the interior was far more luxurious than the contemporary Seven, featuring leather seating surfaces and a dual-cowl dash design a-la C2 Corvette. However, it lacked a lot of basic features, such as wind-up windows, which drew criticism due to the door sills already being very tall and wide. In other areas, a lot the finer details were borrowed from already existing cars from other manufacturers, such as the door mirrors, which were borrowed from the Rover 200, and the front indicators, borrowed from the Suzuki Cappuccino.

Caterham also chose to enter the 21 into racing via the 21 GT, a purpose-built variant featuring the 230 hp engine from the Caterham Seven R500, as well as the one-off GTO model which never saw the race track. It is rumored that some racing leagues still have at least one 21 GT in use, and the GTO model is currently stored in Caterham Great Lakes in Michigan, where it received a Rover RST-V8 engine swap.


Caterham intended for 200 cars to be produced per year, but only 50 actually made its way into production due to unknown reasons. The car was killed in 1999, and since, Caterham has mostly stuck to producing Seven variants with no interest in returning to the 21's market.