This time last year I was well into my build, and likely very frustrated with some of the issues I was facing. I don't mind admitting I was rather disappointed. To be writing a blog post about the collection of my second Seven seems a little weird. Yet, purchasing a second Seven, or rather swapping my beloved Lotus Exige for another seems the most logical decisions I've made in years, well when it comes to cars anyway. Nevertheless, I don't want to wax lyrical about the Seven, and why I made the choice. Instead let's talk about the adventure that was picking up the new Seven, an S3 620R !
If you recall I'd announced the purchase in a blog post during early November, following a track day and visit to Oakmere Motor Group. The Seven I'd selected was in stock but needed a couple of personal touches before collection. That personalisation process, a shortage of free time on my part and also the registration of the vehicle meant it was a good few weeks before I could consider collecting the new Seven. As I waited I was becoming increasingly concerned about the late November weather. Wet, cold and windy weather seemed to be fairly consistent, not ideal when collecting a 311 BHP Seven fitted with Avon ZZR tyres. I'd posted my concerns on BlatChat and received a consistent response regarding the challenges of ZZR tyres. In addition, I was warned about the dangers of salt corrosion too. I'm told Sevens suffer very badly in this area.
I did receive a gracious offer of support from a fellow Lotus 7 club member in the form of trailering the car to the ferry port in Heysham Lancashire. Oakmere had also offered a similar service, but only during weekdays which I just couldn't align easily with my free time. I also wanted to experience the collection, taking ownership in a ferry terminal car park just didn't seem the same.
I eventually spotted a break in the weather, the weekend of the 30th November was looking good, no rain, no high winds and it didn't look too cold, well not on the 5-day forecast. I contacted Oakmere and asked them to prepare the car, it was time to pick up the beast.
The process of picking up the car started the night before with a FlyBe flight from Ronaldsway Airport in the Isle of Man to Liverpool.
The reason for this was simple, there are only two return sailings per day to the Isle of Man during November, a 2 am and 2 pm sailing from Heysham. I'd be crackers to drive the new car to the ferry terminal for 2 am in the morning. That would be asking for more difficult road conditions, maybe freezing temperatures possibly even fog. The 2 pm sailing was clearly the better option. Accounting for check-in time, and the journey time from Oakmere to the ferry, I needed to leave Oakmere no later than 10:30 am. Considering Oakmere opened at 9 am, I'd need to be there as they opened. It was thus logical to go the night before.
So the wife and I grabbed a flight and flew into Liverpool the night before. We pre-booked a taxi from Tarporley Cheshire, which transferred us from the airport to our hotel for the night. We'd picked the McDonald Portal hotel and spa in Tarporley. My wife has been threatening a visit to the spa each time we goto Cheshire for a track day or car service, this seemed like a good opportunity to try the place out. One night was a safe bet. Without turning into a travel blog, it's a reasonable hotel, the beds are very comfortable, rooms are clean, bathroom was modern plus clean, and wifi excellent. During late evening we ate in the bar, the food was pretty good. It's worth noting the drinks were very expensive. Anyway that's enough of that.....
In the morning we awoke to a very wintery scene. It had been a clear night, with no cloud cover, conditions which continued into the morning. The lack of cloud cover meant temperatures dropped, and a hard frost had developed. It was still below 0c at about 7:30 am. This was not the best of conditions. No matter, we had to deal with the it, so continued as planned. After breakfast, we grabbed another taxi and arrived at Oakmere Motorgroup.
We were slightly early arriving at Oakmere, around 8:30 am, and found one of the Mazda staff unable to remove the security posts on the pitch as they'd frozen. This gives you an idea of the temperatures. We waited patiently outside until we could eventually go inside. Shortly after Simon Clough arrived, in shorts I might add, nutter! I have to thank Simon for coming into the office, it was his day off but he came into the office specifically to do the hand-over. His efforts are greatly appreciated.
We had a quick brew with Simon, and got a little warmer, whilst chatting about the rather cold conditions. As we chatted I could see the rather distracting shape of a Seven at the front of the showroom under a presentation car cover.
Simon knew we didn't have a lot of time, but even so, still managed to perform the big reveal. The cover was gradually pulled away to reveal a bright red 620R with gold decals. It looked absolutely stunning, everything I'd expected and wanted from the colour combination. The personalisation I'd requested which Oakmere themselves carried out looked amazing too. Matching painted roll bar and headlight bowls, all finished to an amazingly deep and glossy glow. The body had been polished and waxed too, it shone brightly under the showroom lights. Oakmere really had taken their time to prepare the car to a very high standard. I'm a bit obsessive when it comes to car detailing, so to see such a high standard was a real highlight. The Seven had also received PPF to the nose and carbon arches, it was now ready for its new adventure!
During the process of handover, we made the decision to leave without the full hood fitted. As we chatted we got onto the topic of hoods and Simon mentioned that Caterham Cars now sell a half hood with zip out sections to make entry and exit easier. I decided to immediately purchase one so as to use it on the journey home . Simon and I fitted the half hood in the showroom and inserted the full hood into the supplied case. We were ready to leave! Simon graciously pulled the new Seven out of the showroom and onto the pitch ready for its departure. We said our goodbyes and gingerly pulled onto Manchester Road, ready for our journey home.
The planned route was simple. Straight to the M6 and to The North! The ferry terminal is located down a short by-pass just off the M6. The M6 was therefore likely the most challenging part of the trip. The journey from Oakmere to the M6 is about 5 miles and fairly straight forward with no overly complex junctions. There are a couple of junctions with traffic lights, these presented an opportunity to practice pulling away with the Sadev sequential box. I quickly got to grips with the gearbox, once in 1st moving up and down the gears is simple. Feeling the clutch bite point in 1st was also much easier than I'd anticipated. Having seen Youtubers testing the 620R I thought the clutch was going to be a pig, but it wasn't, it was pretty easy. Getting reverse or neutral can be a pain, but that's fine.
What I did find shocking or alarming was the low down torque with the slightest of throttle movement. My 420R is docile at low RPM, and doesn't feel torquey, it needs 4k plus before you really feel it's up on its feet and going some. The 620R is totally different, the slightest of input at low rpm and the supercharger wants to spear you down the road. Between Oakmere and the M6 I was driving 'Miss Daisy', no more than 2k rpm, driving to the road conditions, but I still had my eyes opened! It's a beast alright!
Once onto the M6 the road conditions were pretty good. The road surface was dry, there was no sign of salt and it was a glorious sunny winters day, still cold, but with a clear blue sky! As a bonus, the traffic was very light for a Saturday. I really couldn't complain, plus we were nice and cosy under the half hood.
We arrived at Heysham in good time, checked in and waited to board the ferry. We'd both layered our clothes for the trip, and since it was around lunchtime with the sun at its zenith we unzipped the half hood and let the sun into the cabin. It was quite pleasant.
As expected the ferry arrived in the Isle of Man around 6 pm. We disembarked and made the short journey to Onchan where we live. Before putting the new 620R into the garage alongside its 420R stablemate I gave it a thorough hose down, making sure to remove all road film or salt from the notorious locations.
The Seven was then dried using my Airforce Blaster, and moved into the garage.
We'd made it, safe and sound.
Since getting the car home the weather has limited its use, I've only driven it twice, both times to see BC regular 'Derek', and both times failed to receive a mince pie! Sorry, that's a little insider joke, Derek will know what I mean. The 620 is amazing, and it's certainly a different driving experience to my 420R. I'm not saying one is better than the other, just that they feel quite different due to the power delivery. Now I could start to offer a review, but I think it's better to wait until the weather improves and I can get both 7s out back to back and offer a real comparison.
I've also been unable to photograph the car too, but hopefully you've seen sufficient images on my Instagram. I'm sure there will be ample opportunity going forward.
I did however produce a daft video of the collection which I hope you'll enjoy!
Lastly thanks to the team at Oakmere for a fantastic experience, every step of the way was a real pleasure. Their efforts are truly second to none.
If I don't post again before Christmas, have a great one, and I'll see you in the New Year. Keep blatting!
Caterham Seven 620R Specification
Standard Factory built Standard Chassis size (S3) Composite nosecone – with carbon winglets Dry sump oil system 6-speed sequential gearbox Rear-exit exhaust system Lightweight flywheel Limited-slip differential Race suspension package Rear - anti-roll bar Front - aerofoil wishbone 13” Apollo alloy wheels with ZZR tyres Ventilated brake discs with quad piston calipers Uprated brake master cylinder Carbon-fibre dashboard Bespoke instruments & switchgear Tunnel top – carbon-vinyl Steering wheel- Momo quick release Seats- carbon with padding 4-point race harnesses Black pack Clear lens pack
Exocet Red Paint Lowered Floors Battery Cut Off Track Day Roll Bar Sequential Shift Lights Heated Screen Full Weather Gear Carbon Print Luggage Tonneau Heater