Jonny tests 1960s icons with a modern twist
Priced at around £30,000 each, the Caterham Super Seven 600 and Mini Moke certainly aren’t cheap toys. But, as Jonny Smith discovers, these reimagined classics are hilariously good fun.
It’s a rare two-for-one special on this week’s installment of The Late Brake Show, as Jonny takes to the curious seaside town of Portmeirion in North Wales for a twin test of some equally unusual metal.
Strangely, neither machine is related — other than by association with hit ‘60s show, The Prisoner — but, with their modernised underpinnings, both offer a similarly intriguing blend of old meets new.
Starting with the Caterham, Jonny explains what makes this Seven unique: under the heritage styling beats a miniscule 660cc turbocharged 3-cylinder borrowed for a Japanese Kei car. Underwhelming on face value, but when you’ve only got 460kg to push around it makes for a lively driving experience.
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Cobbled together with bits from Suzuki’s parts bin — the 5-speed gearbox and live rear axle are borrowed from a Jimny — the Super Seven 600 shouldn’t work on paper, although the reality is quite different.
If you exercise the industrious little Kei engine hard, 60 mph can be achieved in a respectable 6.9 seconds – and will likely feel much quicker when you’re hurtling along inches from the tarmac in a car the size of a fridge freezer. Perhaps more amazingly, the Seven achieves this spritely performance whilst delivering nearly 60 mpg.
As always, numbers tell only part of the story. On the road Jonny quickly falls in love with the Caterham’s raw feel and tractable engine (complete with charismatic chuffs and whistles from the tiny turbocharger). Slightly compromised ergonomics aside, he finds little to criticize about the Super Seven.
Like all Caterhams, if you’re handy with a spanner you can even elect to build it yourself. Although if it’s anything like most kit car projects, it’ll probably wind up in a partially assembled state in your shed for future generations to inherit. Probably best to pay the extra and get the experts to do the oily bits then.
Swapping pistons for plug and performance for, erm… well the total absence of any, the reimagined EV Moke offers a different kind of fun. We can’t provide any performance stats, chiefly because the Moke fails to achieve 60 mph. Nevertheless, Jonny enjoys the punchy power delivery at town speeds (where the Moke excels) and the circa 54-mile range should be plenty for most urban journeys.
The lack of a heater and doors means that you’ll be limited to fair weather driving only, although if you are in the mood for a drive in the drizzle, at least the radio is waterproof!
So which of these quirky pair would Jonny chose for some impractical summer fun? Click the video above to find out.