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The real difference between Caterham, Birkin and Westfield

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  • The real difference between Caterham, Birkin and Westfield

    Hi to everyone. I am wondering is there anyone out there that knows the difference between the Caterham, Birkin and Westfield Lotus 7 clones. I am looking at several options and I am seeing major differences in price. Honestly, I am not seeing any quality issues with any of the cars that I have seen. The only difference that I am seeing is 200 pound due to the lack of carbon fiber options (might be wrong on this). Please inbox me if the difference is political.

    Thanks again for your help

    Scott Spiess
    Soon to be driving a 7

  • #2
    Whew, this is a touchy subject :shock: There have been flaming wars on other forums to no end.

    At the end, it is all a matter of personal preference. Here a few clues:

    Disclaimer: this is all my very humble opinion and should in no way be construed to slander any brand or misrepresent typical features 8)

    - if you just must have the original, buy a classic Lotus Seven.
    Usually a little - ahem - unreliable and engine-wise outdated,
    but the one and only Real Seven

    - if you want the market leader and/or value the legacy/heritage
    aspect, go for a Caterham. You will usually pay a premium but I
    believe it has come down.

    - If you want a quality car that is very similar to a Lotus Series 3 but
    with more modern suspension and good engine options, go for a Birkin.
    I have one and I am very satisfied.

    - If you don't care about a little appearance difference and want a
    bigger car the Westfield may be good. I have seen some but
    don't know much about them.

    The Caterhams and Birkins are very similar. Some differences:

    - Caterhams have better stock seats, DeDion rear axle and a wide-body option.
    - Birkins have better stock brakes (dual cylinders/separate reservoirs) and vented disks, nicer front suspension hardware, and a life rear axle.

    Except the rear axle you can put anyway anything on either car if you want. The DeDion is said to run better on rough roads but I have yet to notice that when driving. On the track it does not make a difference, anyway.

    The weight is about equal for Caterham and Birkin given same stuff inside.

    Hope that helps, if you are interested I can mail you a lengthy comparison by Dave Harris who has owned a Caterham as well as a Birkin.



    • #3
      In about 1973 Lotus sold the rights to manufacture the 7 to Caterham, the primary distributor. Part of the agreement was the cars could no longer be called "Lotus", but could continue to use the # 7. A few cosmetic changes were also mandated, I think. In the 80's Caterham had the frame CADCAMed at a university in the UK and discovered that the frame could be made around 4-5 times torsionally stiffer by moving/changing some of the tubes in the frame, according to legend. This was done, so: Is the current car true to the original? In my view it's likely an improvement because it's stronger. But, you get to have an opinion too!!

      Sometime in the early 80's, in the spirit of fair play, Lotus again sold the rights to manufacture the series 3 cars, this time to Birkin in South Africa. Caterham naturally sued, and lost in a South African court. This has possibly been viewed, by some, as a hometown decision.

      Which car is "true" to the Lotus heritage? I don't know, you decide!!

      I do know that I much prefer having an LSD to a live axle. On the other hand, saving a lot of money looks pretty good too..... 8)


      • #4
        Thank you for the info. This confirms what I was thinking and please consider this thread as closed. Please inbox me if there is something further. I do not want to start a flame war or step in deep doo doo as to some issues I was not aware of.

        Again...thank you everyone who has inboxed me and posted. The information is helping me make my decision.



        • #5
          The formation of this site occurred with the purpose of being agnostic about what sort of 7 one drives/owns. Anyone that is off the wall enough to show up in a 7 is hearing the same music that all of us crave. Our kind of people!


          • #6

            Also be advised that there are _many_ more seven clones than the ones described above. Locost, WCM Ultralite, and Striker are just a few...

            Someone was working on a webpage that lists all of the various clones, but I could not find it this morning. Here is what I was able to dig up:

            Robin Hood Engineering
            Tiger Sports Cars
            Quantum Sports Cars Ltd
            Formula 27
            Vindicator Cars
            PRB Australia
            Dare Donkervoort automobielen
            Chevron Sports Cars
            Dax Kitcars
            SENS auto
            Racetech Ltd
            Elfin Sports Cars
            Leitch Cars
            Bomac Engineering
            The Diva Roadster
            PRB Australia (mitteametlik)

            Finally it really comes down to what it is that you are looking for in a seven and what your budget will allow. One thing for sure, the car is just the starting point. It does not take long for "upgrade-itus" to set in! :shock: :D
            Tom "ELV15" Jones


            • #7
              MK Indy.


              • #8