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Where else to monitor for Cats 4 sale in CA?

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  • Where else to monitor for Cats 4 sale in CA?

    Oddly enough, while posting on the MINI Cooper boards, I came across LeftyS7 who sold his 7 a little while ago. He has a thread here, below...

    He convinced me to go the previously-owned route. That being the case, it would be most ideal to get one that's already registered here in CA :wink: .

    I was hoping this forum would have a feature where one can get an email notification whenever someone starts a new thread, namely here, in the For Sale/Wanted section. I can do that on one of the MINI forums, but I don't see that option here. If it is possible, kindly let me know...

    Are there other places that I can look to find available Caterhams here in CA?

    And one last question, is there a book that one can recommend so I can really educate myself on this wonderful car, and it's many options, particulary over the past 5 or so years? I realize that there are often improvements over time, and other times not... I just don't want to jump on the first available 7, but rather get one that best suits my needs...

    Thanks a bunch!

  • #2
    TonyB: A few items below your entry on this topic a book is highly recommended. You could also ask the question on They will know best.

    Hemmings usually has a bunch of 7s for sale, some in CA.

    The best thing for you to do would be join all of us @ Streets of Willow on April 9 & 10. If you can only make one day then saturday is best. You will get to see fifteen or more cars and talk to all of us at length. Bring a helmet and you will get a bunch of rides around the track. This immersion in 7s will clear a lot of the fog on the subject. You will get a number of opinions on HP and different types of cars from Ford engines to Suzuki bike engines. That should help you make up your mind!!


    • #3
      Hi Tony,
      I think your best bet for finding a California seven is just what your doing here, getting the word out to enthusiasts that you are in the market. Most guys on these boards know several other seven owners, and they would probably hear first when someone might be interested in selling. Brad "Roll a 7" gave me several leads, and Gert "Slomove" gave me the one lead that lead to my seven purchase last summer. The car I bought had not officially been advertised for sale yet.

      I agree that a used seven has the potential to be your best value, if you can find one that suits your needs. Not having to deal with getting a SB100 exemption is worth a lot!

      When I was looking, I regularly checked ebay and Also the official Caterham importer in Colorado has a used seven section on their web site, but most of those cars have been listed for nearly a year since I started looking, so I don't know how up-to-date it is (

      My favorite Lotus/Caterham book is "The Magnificent 7" by Chris Rees. It chronicles all the changes from the first seven up till about 2 years ago. I got mine at

      Good luck in your search :!:

      Stan Sadorf


      • #4
        Roll a 7, I actually saw that book recommendation after I posted. Thank you. And, I just bookmarked Hemmings :wink: . In doing so, I found just one, but a sharp one! In NH though...

        soareyes, thanks for the link to, and reminding me of eBay. Nothing on collectorcar, but two on eBay though...

        Man, I wish I could have made Infineon happen last Fall :( Making it down to LA will take some planning. A MINI tuner/friend of mine is down that way, so maybe I can make a multi-purpose trip out of it...

        I had a couple offers from local Cat guys here in the Bay Area to see their 7's. I will do that first. When the weather improves, I'll PM them to see if I can have an hour of their time one weekend to check-out their cars, and probably ask too many questions...

        In the meantime, I will periodically check this forum and the links provided. I really would prefer a CA 7, and to be honest, I'm not in a position to buy now anyways. Namely, I'm too ignorant! While I get-up-to-speed, I'll be selling a dune buggy and and uncompleted kit car also... proceeds going toward the Cat...

        I appreciate the feeback!


        • #5
          There are one or two NorCal 7ers coming down for the event. Perhaps one would enjoy some "company" for the trip(?).

          I do occasionally try to hook up the 7less with cars. You mention your "needs" in reference to buying a 7. So the follow up question has to be, "What are your needs"? Are you 5' 6" or 6' 6"? It makes a big difference in what car will fit. Do you like cars that are not overpowered, or are you power mad and wanting 200+ HP? Will this be your only car? Are you mainly interested in cruising the mountain roads; or are you mostly looking for a track day car, or both? Would you buy something that had to be trailered and could not be driven on the street? What is the budget?

          I agree with your idea to buy a car with an existing CA title; it's the only way I'd go now unless it were a track only car. An out of state title just isn't worth the aggravation and expense. An SB 100 car or older existing registration are by far the best options. Any other story should get a big price discount if you are buying the car with your hard earned $$$!! Perhaps you have heard the phrase: "CAVEAT EMPTOR".

          When you know better what you are looking for just post it and we'll help as much as possible. There are always some good cars around that come onto the market. Not knowing what would suit you it's not productive to start recommending cars at this time.

          The very best thing for you to do is show up at @ the Streets and meet the guys, see the cars and ride in them; and then you'll quickly know if you really want a 7 and you'll have a good idea of what you want and why. At that point we can probably help get you into a car. And it's a low cost method to find out just what you may be getting into. For most of us it's an absolute pleasure passion. Hope it becomes that way for you too!! 8)


          • #6
            Roll a 7, you make plenty of sense to me!

            First, I live in canyon just south of SJ. To be honest, part of the reason I live there is for the roads :D . I love the twisties! My MINI Cooper S is my first new car purchase, and at 36 (at the time), that is a bit odd to some. I had more to spend, but it fit the bill beautifully. In the tight corners, she's a blast. Really. Much better than my previous 2.0 914...

            It's FWD, and quite portly, especially by Mini standards of old. I've set a goal for her of a 10:1 weight to hp ratio. At about 2,400 pounds (striptease still in progress), I'm not far off already, and I'm seeing the end of this project as being near (a year or so). I can keep-up with the M3's and many of the Porsches along the straights before the twisty canyon roads begin. I'm very happy with the transformation, and the fun delivered. There are guys already getting well over 300 hp with the addition of a turbo (twincharging), but again, it's FWD, and given the wheel base and all, not the route I want to take the car. She's a hoot to drive now, and I don't want any of that character lost with too much power that cannot be controlled properly on such a platform...

            The plan is to have the MINI for my Fall/Winter commute car (wet roads), and the 7 for the Spring/Summer months. My dune buggy now serves that purpose, so I'm used to rather bare-bone ammenities.

            Power? Sure! I guess all that have or want a 7 lust for it. But, I think there is a deeper understanding here... weight to power :wink: . Ideally, I'd want a 5:1 weight to hp ratio. From what I've seen with my minimal research, it seems like a resonable request. Something like 1,200 pounds, and 240 hp. That would be the same power as my MINI, and at half the weight... :shock:

            Yes, I'm married, but I just got my wife a Pontiac Vibe (back seats for a kids, when they come :wink: ), so she's content. I sold my MINI rear seats shortly after I got the car, and fabricated a carpeted aluminum deck in its place.

            I'm just over 5'9", and proportionally more leg than torso. That is good as I believe some have to look over the windscreen. My weight fluctuates from 140 to 155 depending if I'm running or mtn climbing. I'm about 140 now...

            I was just checking-out the Birkin USA website. I see that Slomove has one. They appear to be a bit smaller or shorter... I really want to learn the pros and cons of the various options out there, not just Cats. Chassis rigidity is huge. If the foundation is not there, I've learned that doing power-enchancing mods comes at cost that I don't find wothwhile. This year's Cat is said to be even more rigid, I think due to how they tied-in the dash area. Much to learn!

            Thanks for the input. I need to leave the office and get my butt home...


            • #7
              Tony, did you ever talk with Woody of MSI Motorsports in Vacaville? Pretty close to you and he may give you one or the other hint. He used to be the US Birkin Importer for the last few years but is serving Sevens of all brand religion now. There is no official Birkin importer at the time but you can get cars and spare parts easily from various companies. There are also a few Birkins for sale all the time, just ask at

              I do have a Birkin and I am happy. I would not dare to say that Birkins are better than Caterhams or vice versa. At the end of the day the car is as good as you make it. The chassis is almost identical to the standard size Caterham (little longer footwell but shorter cockpit) but was so far only available as live axle. You can order an IRS version now but I have not seen one in the flesh. Actually, comparing the live axle with DeDions I did not see much difference, even on somewhat bumpy roads. On the track it is anyway even, see Team Birkinsport's results in the NASA Enduro racing series last year. Their live axle Birkins made first and second place and creamed a few other teams with 10 times more expensive equipment.

              There are detail differences. The Birkins are known to have pretty shitty seats but then you can install aftermarket seats if you like. On the other hand the pedal/master cyl. plumbing is much better and the standard equipment on the last few year's models is very complete: aluminum radiator, 4-pot calipers, nice suspension hardware, oh well....I think you just need to look around what is available, judge what is important for you and what you can pay. Generally, you can save a buck or two going Birkin. Alternatively you can spend the same money and get a little more oomph or other goodies.

              I understand that for many people the heritage/legacy aspect is more important than price-performance-apperance comparisons. In such cases I think Caterham or classic Lotus is the way to go.

              I have no real opinion about Westfields. I guess they are good cars, have surely their advantages and the ones I have seen were very nice but they just don't look like a Lotus Seven.


              See my car here.


              • #8
                Ten days ago I saw a Westy for the first time, live. The IRS suspension is a better peice of kit than Caterham has yet sold on the rear of a 7, it just ain't traditional. The look from the front is much racier with the headlamps lower and more alongside the bodywork; which really emphasizes the open nose race car look of the car to optimum effect. I may do something like that to my 7 one of these days just to make it look racier and nastier.

                I also agree with Dr. Gert that a Birkin is one good way to go. After selling the rights to manufacture the 7 to Caterham, Lotus then sold the rights to Birkin in South Africa. Caterham lost the ensuing lawsuit in the South African courts. The result is that the Birkin frame may be more true to the original Lotus Series 3 than a Caterham is today.

                An original Lotus is certainly the classic choice; but many of the cars had a hard and long life so caveat emptor applies more than ever. The point with those cars is do you want to be totally original; or are you willing to enhance preformance with modern motors, gearboxes, brakes, suspensions, etc. You get to decide that one.

                Caterham does claim the legacy. Thier competitors are offering some very well engineered alternatives at sometimes much better prices. Another decision for you!

                On the track the name on the car does not always matter. And, in the end, every one of these cars is an absolute blast to drive; just different ways to skin the 7 style cat!! Start skinning @ the Streets with us!! 8)


                • #9
                  Gert, thanks for your honest input here on what can be a touchy subject for some. Having owned a dune buggy and Aquila kit cars, I can really appreciate quality, design, fit and finish. I really need to see these cars up close and personal, and take my camera so I can study the photos once I get home...

                  Oh, I have your website alright! I actually shared your cool corner-weighting in the MINI forum :lol: Very clever! Won't work with the MINI, at least not with your scales, but I love the ingenuity :wink: .

                  I have not contacted Woody, but I did see that he was in Vacaville which isn't too far away at all. Indeed, the availability of parts and support is certainly part of equation also. There is so much to factor-in here. I keep my cars for a VERY long time. My previous and current cars include:

                  68 Manx-like dune buggy
                  69 Aquila kit car
                  73 Porsche 914
                  75 Toyota Landcruiser
                  79 F-250

                  There were others, but you get the idea... Considering my age of 38, I've been keeping cars alive almost my age :lol:

                  The Birkins seem to weigh about the same as the Cats also. If you are aware of anyone supercharing a Birkin, please share! Oh, thanks for the link. One more just filed away :wink:


                  • #10
                    I have not heard about a supercharger (or a turbo) in a Birkin. But, as far as I am aware Magnus is anyway the first Seven owner I heard of bolting on a charger. There have been of course several Sevens in Europe with turbo and oodle power but it never became popular.

                    One of the reasons may be the possibility to get 250+ hp even without any charging, especially since Duratec engines are available. And I heard some people don't like chargers on the track because of the tricky response/delay behavior. But what do I know.....

                    A nice alternative seems to be a bike engine like Hyabusa. Superlight and ample power. But more engaged in terms of installation.

                    You got to test drive a few.



                    • #11
                      I'm certainly no mechanic, but I feel reasonably comfortable wreching on cars... A bike enine just scares me as I have zip experience with one. But, I'll keep an open mind. If they are easy and cheap to maintain/service, I'd be very interested! Oh, I just remembered, I think their torque curves are not so fat though. I might be wrong though...

                      I'm not a turbo fan. Too jumpy for me. For the dragstrip maybe, but going into turns, if the turbo decides to kick-in, it becomes not so fun... A SC, by being belt-driven, is controlled by throttle inputs, so very predictable.

                      If I can get 240 to 250 NA hp out of a Duratec, then maybe a SC would not be needed. I have seen a website where they said the Duratec can achieve such... At what cost (not just money), I don't know. I guess I'd like to have the space to SC if NA is seen as not desriable...

                      A Westy? Ah, a Westfield! I couldn't find their website, and not much at all actually... I did find this:

                      They do indeed look different, espeically that scoop on the top, the roll bar in the back...

                      The research continues. Thanks much folks. One way or another, soon or later, we shall meet!


                      • #12
                        If you want to learn more about bike engined cars and/or the Westfield, check out this site:
                        Once there, click on "Past", then on the Megabusa Westfield. Scott "Thagmaster" now owns the car and hopefully I'll get to see it at Willow in April.

                        The guy who built the BEC Westfield seems to be a true car fanatic, and I enjoy checking the web site periodically to see how his own-design track car is coming along. Looks like he will be selling them next year.



                        • #13
                          Ideally, I'd want a 5:1 weight to hp ratio.
                          I believe the ratio is properly expressed as 'BHP per tonne".

                          Please note the spelling of the word "tonne". That's the English English. Over here we don't do that. The only time we (Murican English) put an 'e' at the end of a word is when we want to convey a (always false or otherwise Disneyesque) sense of class or "betterness", as in 'Landfill Vista Pointe Homes' or 'Chicken a la Kinge'.

                          If one is going to be Se7ening (note the spelling - this is required), or if one is going to play w/ English things, it is important to remember that one must (at least pretend to) be Anglophylic, or otherwise (pretend to actually) like the Anglish-e. Doesn't one?
                          A day you don't go a hundred is a day wasted


                          • #14
                            As the founding -- and only -- member of the Pacific Northwest Westfield Chapter of the California Caterham Club, I feel it is my duty to jump in and add some perspective on the Westfield. :)

                            • Buying - There were very few Westfields ever sold in the US, so they are much tougher to find than a Caterham or Birkin. In fact the only reason I have one is that I used to work for my car's former owner and so had an inside line when he put it up for sale.

                            • Quality -- The quality of Westfields seems to vary more than Caterhams or Birkins. I've seen some that were extremely well put together (e.g. DP's old Megabusa that Brad refers to above) and I’ve seen others that...well, that looked like kit cars. My car was assembled by the then US distributor and was featured in a Road & Track road test written by Peter Egan for the March '96 issue. Although Peter is my favorite automotive writer and someone for whom I have a great deal of automotive respect, he was being rather generous when he stated “construction quality and attention to detail seem excellent.â€‌ He should have looked a little closer. During my rebuild (new body, new interior, upgraded suspension & brakes, xflow to Duratec conversion, etc) I’ve made an effort to fix all the glaring errors and think I’ve succeeded, but it does go to show that because Westfield puts more of the cosmetics in the hand of the builder than Caterham, you really need to look at a second hand example closely. Go here to see some before & after photos of my car (the before photos are at the bottom).

                            • Bonnet scoops – Most Westfields don’t come with a bonnet scoop. Some of the older cars run Pinto engines which required an offset scoop to clear the carburetor, and both the V8 (SEight) and Hyabusa (MegaBusa) powered cars use a center scoop. All others use a flat bonnet.

                            • Evolution – Westfields have changed a lot over the years. The early cars, which are referred to as “pre-litâ€‌ are dead ringers for Caterhams of the era. In fact Caterham thought they were so close that they successfully sued Westfield (hence the “litâ€‌ part of the nickname) and forced them to redesign the car. The result was the distinctive Westfield look, in part made possible by the all fiberglass construction, and nice additions like a locking boot box and IRS. Later, Westfield developed the widebody version which adds some shoulder and foot room to the cockpit and is now the standard offering.

                            • Driving – I’ve never had the pleasure of driving a Caterham, but I have been chauffeured in Brad’s car on a couple of occasions. From a passenger’s perspective, the Caterham (non-SV) is a lot smaller in the cockpit and the ride felt more refined. To be fair though, that was before rebuilding my car, so the changes I’ve made may have closed the refinement gap. Based on feedback I’ve heard from people who have driven both cars, the Caterham seems to have the edge in steering feel, but the handling is fairly close when both cars are properly setup (apparently a lot of Westfield owners don't bother to have the car properly aligned and corner balanced)

                            Westfield SEiW
                            2.0L Duratec
                            Throttle Steer


                            • #15
                              Wow, very informative link Stan! Nicely chronicled...

                              Zero to 60 in 3.2 is amazing. The weight with this engine is just over 1,000 pounds. And the pricing of these engines is not so bad either. As I said before, I'll want to learn what working on them is like (pros/cons)...

                              The Westie also looks good, and the chassis appears to be equally well-conceived. I'm sure there must be differences though in design and materials possibly...

                              I just saw two more replies! I'll get to those a bit later... running late to work...