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New 7 Owner Initial Questions


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Posted (edited)

 

I started a thread a few weeks back when I was deciding whether to buy a 7.  I did buy it and I received the title of my 7 today!   See the thread from a few weeks ago here (with pics and specs of the car)

 

 

Shipping is being arranged at the moment.  I will no doubt have more questions once I get some seat time but I do have some questions right now as well.  Thanks ahead of time for the advice! 

 

1) Shoes:  I wanted to try the Puma/Sparco Speedcats, but they don't have my size/color right now (maybe I can find them somewhere other than from Puma?).  I suppose I will have to use my bare feet until I can find some shoes that will work.  I am wanting a shoe that feels very soft like a moccasin but firm enough for the pedals, not something that feels clunky or hard like a boot.  Note that I do have somewhat wide feet.

 

What shoes would yall recommend given my description of what I am wanting?   What do yall use?

 

2) Ground clearance:  I have heard of 7 drivers hitting potholes or even going slowly over a speed bump and breaking something underneath. 

 

How do yall avoid hitting anything underneath and what should I watch for/be aware of about the clearance?

 

3) Safety:  I will drive it like a motorcycle, staying out of blind spots, assuming no one sees me with my hand on the horn button when passing vehicles and slowing down and looking both ways when crossing 4 ways.  I was even thinking of taking a right turn and then a U-turn and another right turn at the bigger 4 ways.  I will keep it on country roads near Eugene Oregon most of the time as it is far less likely that I will be hit on the side or the rear on those kinds of roads (plus way more fun and beautiful!).  If I get hit from the front on a 2 lane road by a car coming the other way, it won't matter whether I was in the Miata or the 7 I would guess.  The bigger concern on the country roads is a deer popping out suddenly before I can slow down. 

 

Any advice for how yall drive the 7 to be as safe as possible?  

 

4) Theft:  When leaving the car in any public place I am wanting to fold the side curtains up and put them into the boot.  I will eventually get a tonneau cover and then I am wanting to put on the tonneau and also leave the side curtains in the boot when leaving it outside or in a public place.  However, with the side curtains being so easy to take I am wary of leaving the car someplace like a trail head where they know you are gone for a bit, or in a parking garage in downtown Eugene, etc.  They wouldn’t be able to sell the tonneau for anything and they wouldn’t know what to do with the side curtains either, but it still concerns me.  No one ever messed with my tonneau cover when I had my 1960s English sport cars and I left them lots of places, so wondering if I am overthinking it.

 

You can fold the side curtains and put them into the boot, right?  If you did that, I am assuming that would leave no room for anything else in the boot though, right?

 

What do yall do about leaving your car in public places and the security of things like the side curtains and the tonneau cover?

 

How hard is it to get a new set of side curtains if you suddenly needed a new set and how much does a new set of side curtains cost?

 

5) Headlights:  I have heard that the standard headlights are pretty terrible at night, and Josh said this one has standard headlights. I will definitely be driving some at night.

 

Do you even need to improve the standard headlights?

 

Wondering what are some simple and not expensive ways to improve the headlights?

 

6) Preventing muffler burns:  Sometimes I will drive my autistic daughter in it.  When driving with her, I will always keep the side curtain in place so she can't touch the exhaust, I will give her earplugs and I will help her in and out to get over the exhaust.

 

Is there anything that I could drape over a hot muffler while someone is getting in or out?  Some sort of cloth that won't burn up or cause any issues with the muffler itself but that will prevent someone from being burned?

 

7) Cleaning: Due to some unique things like aluminum, the exposed front suspension, etc, I am wondering about cleaning methods yall use.

 

How do yall keep the outside, engine bay and especially the exposed front suspension looking great when driving the car 3000 miles per year? 

 

8) Any other things a new owner of a 7 should keep in mind as we are getting the car ready to drive (after shipment) and learning how to drive the car?

 

Thanks!
Randy

Edited by Randy Flowers
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Congrats, the learning begins. 
 

Shoes:  

 

I had a good experience with piloti endurance ( no longer made), the current icona is a similar shape. Rule of the internet is to get a 1/2 size down as the run large. Size 11.5 fitted snug for my size feet with my orthotics insoles, no hot spots and all day comfortable including walking. 

 

Muffler burns:

 

Very real concern. My wife got a significant one. Long pants became the required attire. To buy her a few seconds so as not repeat I removed the heat shield, this reduced the chance of contact because she had more clearance to her leg. Wrapped the muffler and covered the band clamps with heat tube. 
 

There are a number of companies making heat mats, I have used heat shield products and a possible drape over solution might be their stealth floor shield mat, it comes in some larger sizes. 


love the color choice. Enjoy. 

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Posted (edited)

I'm 1 year into my ownership so take this for what it's worth.

 

1. I mostly drive in Piloti Shift shoes. Super comfy, the sole is nice and grippy: https://piloti.com/collections/all/products/shift-midnight and I wear them often even when I'm not driving. Since they don't look like racing shoes I don't feel like a douche walking around or going out for dinner in them. 

 

2. Keep your eye on the road! I haven't hit anything.

 

3. Constantly scan your mirrors and surroundings. Enter intersections slowly. Keep the revs up so you are loud. In traffic I sometimes keep a finger on the horn button

 

4. It never even occurred to me to remove them when I park, so I don't. I don't think that the average person even knows they are removable. 

 

5. I'm going to order a set of these: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B08VD7LBLZ (also avail in the USA). They should fit. I would upgrade the rear lights to LEDs if you are going to drive at night a lot. Either LED bulbs or replace the entire unit with the new LED tail light that now comes standard from Caterham. 

 

6. Just tell her not to get out of the car until you are on that side but that might not be enough depending on her spectrum level ? 

 

7. Normal cash wash stuff.

 

8. You might want to mount the mirrors to the doors so you can open them fully. Right now they'll only open 90deg which isn't always as convenient. There are a few solutions on the market which are better than the stock solution so you can keep your mirrors. I use these: https://parts.dpr-motorsport.com/contents/en-uk/d30  there is also a guy on the UK forum making them from aluminum. Or if you want to get them 3D printed the files are available online for free if you search for "Eccles mounts"

 

Unsolicited advice: don't overthink this! :)

 

Edited by das76
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Posted (edited)

1. Look for minimalist ultra-lightweight sneakers. I have a pair of Merrell trail running shoes that hug my feet like gloves, provide great traction on pedals or planet, and are all-day comfortable. I got them because I didn't want to look like some kind of poseur d**khead wearing "driving shoes", which at the time were all pretty outlandish looking. There a quite a few calmer colors and styles now, so maybe it's not so much of a problem.

 

2. Can't help you. I've wrecked two oil pans. Skid plate is in my future.

 

3. I drive with lights on at all times. I avoid anything remotely resembling a major road, and if I absolutely have to go there I get it over with as quickly as I can.

 

4. Hahahahahaha! Who in their right mind would steal a Caterham?!? Do of course keep any small valuables on your person.

 

5. Can't help you. But yes I assume my incandescent 7" headlights provide abysmal light, possibly aimed at treetops.

 

6. Oog. "Prevent" is likely not possible. Just be physically present when ingress and egress is taking place.

 

7. I'm afraid mine's a bit shabby looking. I am equipped to refinish the bare aluminum but have not started on it.

 

8. Yes! Stop fretting over so many little things. Get in it, set the mirrors, and go. The rest will just happen.

 

 

Edited by wdb
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1 - I generally wear a pair of Gokey moccasins - just a leather bottom with no outsole.  Works well, looks pretty normal otherwise.  Soft soles are thick/firm enough for comfortable pedal work - just don't walk a mile on gravel in them.

 

6 - there are fiberglass sleeves out there that work for this purpose, just Google for them.  Not the best looking things in the world but available in different sizes so you can find something that works and slip it on when taking your daughter.

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1.  I have worn Piloti's.  Comfortable enough and can be worn outside the car.  There was a time when you could design your own Puma driving shoe.  Very thin, narrow and comfortable for driving.  Not so much for walking.  So I always keep an extra pair in the boot to change into.

 

2.  I have a Zetec and the sump hunts low.  I can't speak for Duratecs.  Slow and at an angle over speed bumps always.

 

3.  I don't drive at night.  It's hard enough being seen in the daytime.  I always drive like I'm a motorcycle and no one can see me.  My head is constantly watching mirrors, side traffic.  

 

4.  I turn it off.  Take the key and don't worry about.  Very few know how to drive manual shift anymore.

 

5.  Since I don't drive much at night, I can't help you but I've heard conversion to LED headlights are an improvement.

 

6.  Other good advise has been given.

 

7.  Wash and wax as usual.

 

8.  Steering is very quick.  Don't overreact.  Stop's better than anything I have ever driven.  Quicker than anything I have ever driven.

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#3 & #5:

https://www.classiccarleds.co.uk/products/latest-led-headlights-h4-philips-z-es-hi-lo-beam-conversion-9-32v

 

Literally take a screw out and plug them in where the bulb goes. No need to re-wire anything or spend the $200/$300/$400 solution which everyone seems to do.

 

You're right about driving like a motorcycle. Assume no one sees you and always keep your eyes up.

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Sorry for the double post…I posted this to @Randy Flowersfirst thread.

 

Mount a third brake light; the cross on your roll bar looks like a perfect spot.  Super simple to wire up. I went overboard because the number of clueless idiots texting and not paying attention on the road scares the hell out of me. I used an FIA rain light and wired it up so that it flashes when I use the brakes. Super bright and obnoxious, but I’ve had police cars behind me and not been pulled over yet. I got mine from Pegasus. The front markers and tail light bulbs have been replaced by LED’s (cheap). Another thread on here tells about an incredible deal from Toyota on 7” replacement H4 headlights and I got a set of those waiting to go on, but I seldom drive any distance at night so it may take me a while to get around to it.  Just drive really defensively with the assumption that everybody around you is oblivious and doesn’t see you and you’ll be fine.  My heat shield seems to cut down a lot on the temp, but I haven’t tested it with a bare leg. Watch your daughter getting out and she should be fine.  Almost forgot to say, why would you worry about anyone stealing your doors? What would they do with them?  Enjoy!

 

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Try a pair of wrestling shoes.  They're narrow without a bunch of extra sole and thin so you can feel the pedals well.  

 

jim

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FE07 beat me to it.  I also wear wrestling shoes when driving the Birkin.  Got them at a local sporting goods store.  Relatively cheap and no wider than necessary. 

 

Oh, one other detail that hasn't been discussed.  Start exercising your grin muscles now.  If you don't, you will surely get face cramps soon after your first drive.  I've had my Birkin on the road since 2001 and it still puts a silly grin on my face....   :classic_biggrin:

 

Happy Motoring!

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It looks like the 7 will probably be delivered later this week!

 

The main thing I am hearing back from yall is to stop over thinking things and let the process happen.  Good advice.  Now that it is really happening, it will all just unfold and the next step or question will happen in its own time, no stress, just adventure.  :)

 

I looked at all the shoe recommendations and bookmarked a few wrestling shoes and the Piloti Shift shoes.  I still want to try the PUMA Sparco Speedcats, but I can't find them anywhere in my size.  Of the shoes suggested, the ones I like the most are the Piloti Shift shoes.  I can find them in my size/color.  I have never tried to buy shoes online and I imagine that doing it this way I will have to send a few pairs back before I find one that fits. 

 

If my normal shoe size is about 9.5, do I order the Piloti Shift shoes a tad smaller than that (maybe size 9.0)? 

 

It seems yall don't worry much about anyone stealing the side curtains or tonneau, even if doing something like leaving the car at a trail head when you go for a hike.  And that the car itself is not at all likely to be stolen.  That's good to hear.  Does anyone here take the side curtains off, fold them up and store them in the boot or under the tonneau when leaving the car parked in a public place?

 

Is it wise to get a skid plate to protect the oil pan?  Any other ways to protect the underside from hitting something?  On those country roads that I drive all the time, a sudden bump or depression is possible but I will be scanning for them as much as possible.  Definitely don't want to wreck an oil pan.

 

If you go over speed bumps sideways and slowly, will the 7 be OK even over a fairly high bump?   With a Sigma engine 310R, what are the main mechanical bits that could be hit if bottoming out or scraping a speed bump? 

 

I will look into all the suggestions for lights, the cheaper alternative (H4) for the front headlight LEDs sounded promising.


My daughter is autistic but also very coordinated and minds really well, so I can have the side curtain on all the time with her in the car and not let her get out until I am helping (and she will wear long pants always).  I will look into the heat shield products for something to possibly drape over the muffler.  Any other suggestions for something to drape over the muffler?  Does anyone know what temp the muffler gets to when hot?  My main concern is that draping something over the hot muffler would discolor it or worse.

 

Thanks!

Randy

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you might look into one of the blankets welders use to protect nearby stuff

don't know what's available as to sizes etc

 

I don't know how hot the muffler gets, but I do know you don't want to find out the hard way

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Posted (edited)

Birkin provided a perforated exhaust shield with the kit.

muffler.JPG.c3bf3d9016b7c7d504f0a8c36badf5de.JPG

 

I later ran without it for a while with the expected result.  Later, I found one at the importer that is a sheet aluminum piece with the Birkin logo stamped in it.  Looks much better IMHO.  Both are mounted with simple home made brackets.  The front mounts to the flange bolts, the rear to tabs welded onto the muffler body.

muffler2.JPG.e962342f5ad5d9823233cfd1bbb683e5.JPG

 

Edit - I should mention - the shield does stay cool to the touch.....

 

 

Edited by BirkinBernie
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I've seen a carbon fiber heat shield before. It's not commonly available but obviously something that can be done. Carbon shouldn't retain heat or be able to transfer is in a bad way (needs to be verified)

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Shoes:I second the wrestling shoes. But walking in them isn't ideal for long.

Oft, just looking for "slim profile" or "minimalist" or "barefoot" running shoes will get you in the right direction. 

 

Side doors:  just try to go without.  Keep them folded with the hood in the boot for rain.  Remove the side mirror to facilitate flatness.  Try earmuffs,  earplugs, goggles and hats.  Hats that strap under your chin.  Erecting a buffet screen in the roll bar hoop may help a lot.

 

Ground clearance:  you must know the hazards of wherever you go.  Don't go anywhere you haven't pre-surveyed for hazards.  

Your muffler is a hook point.  Do what you can to get it up higher and the lower lip above the chassis floor.  Of course this makes it more challenging to step over.  But, 7s aren't made for you to be comfortable.  I think Daughter will accept the challenge.  Bring large band-aids.

 

Visibility:

As you pull up along side of ppl, you will look to see how long it takes for them to see you.  You learn quickly they don't, and half of them are looking at Twitter anyway.  Then when they do see you, they start taking pictures. 

If you can't stay away, keep in front to be seen and at least three car lengths ahead.

When parking,  try to stay visible.  If you have to park between cars, keep your rear or front even with the street side so you are seen.. if you park all the way deep into a space,  a vehicle may careen into the space and flatten you.

 

Stealing your stuff:  I don't think your parts are much of a target.  You are usually attracting enough friendly gawkers that the turds don't try anything.  But if you have a removable steering wheel,  take that with you.

You are a show car exotic, much smaller that can break some rules and fit in tighter places than regular vehicles can so take advantage of those.  Yea, it's narcissistic at times. But sometimes you have to bend some rules to protect your car.  

Since you have a special needs daughter,  you may qualify for front row handicap parking almost everywhere you go.  Get that tag and use it.

20240430_143248.thumb.jpg.4fcd89a153b710b80989823fdd3e4ea4.jpg

Real. I took this picture at a Walmart 

 

 

 

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Just thought I would update yall.  The 7 has arrived!  Now the adventure officially begins!  Picture of me with it here:

Randy First time with Caterham 7_1.heic

RandyFirsttimewithCaterham7_1.thumb.jpg.2f2cc62794057ae80fcf8e6c91b6a487.jpg


Still have barely driven it, since we need to go to the DMV to get it licensed and the title transferred.  The 1 mile I did drive it reminded me of the times I have driven a 7 before. 

 

I quickly learned that my tenny shoes will NOT work (gas and brake at the same time, yikes!).  I ended up using bare feet for now since my first stab at a shoe (Piloti Shift shoes) hasn't arrived yet.  I wonder how often people use just their bare feet to drive these?

 

About 6 cars passed us on our street when we had just unloaded the car and every single one didn't just look at it, but literally stopped in the road to ask questions about it.  So, the gawking and questions about it have officially begun :)  In Gulf blue with an orange nose/stripe, it is a stunner in person for sure!

 

Yesterday, on a country road getting into the city of Eugene I barely scrapped the bottom of my Miata on an unexpected bump/depression and it definitely got my attention as to what would have happened in the 7 in that same incident.  Note that my Miata is also lowered from factory and is quite low itself.  I am driving the Miata as if I am driving the 7 lately and I was for sure looking for upcoming road hazards, but it was around a corner and I didn't see it until it happened.  Right now, I think ground clearance and messing something up underneath the car on a country road is my main concern. 

 

Some good advice above and thanks everyone for the advice the last month or so.

 

Randy

Edited by JohnCh
Converted unsupported .heic image to .jpg
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2 hours ago, Randy Flowers said:

Just thought I would update yall.  The 7 has arrived!  Now the adventure officially begins!  Picture of me with it here:

Randy First time with Caterham 7_1.heic

RandyFirsttimewithCaterham7_1.thumb.jpg.2f2cc62794057ae80fcf8e6c91b6a487.jpg


Still have barely driven it, since we need to go to the DMV to get it licensed and the title transferred.  The 1 mile I did drive it reminded me of the times I have driven a 7 before. 

 

I quickly learned that my tenny shoes will NOT work (gas and brake at the same time, yikes!).  I ended up using bare feet for now since my first stab at a shoe (Piloti Shift shoes) hasn't arrived yet.  I wonder how often people use just their bare feet to drive these?

 

About 6 cars passed us on our street when we had just unloaded the car and every single one didn't just look at it, but literally stopped in the road to ask questions about it.  So, the gawking and questions about it have officially begun :)  In Gulf blue with an orange nose/stripe, it is a stunner in person for sure!

 

Yesterday, on a country road getting into the city of Eugene I barely scrapped the bottom of my Miata on an unexpected bump/depression and it definitely got my attention as to what would have happened in the 7 in that same incident.  Note that my Miata is also lowered from factory and is quite low itself.  I am driving the Miata as if I am driving the 7 lately and I was for sure looking for upcoming road hazards, but it was around a corner and I didn't see it until it happened.  Right now, I think ground clearance and messing something up underneath the car on a country road is my main concern. 

 

Some good advice above and thanks everyone for the advice the last month or so.

 

Randy

 

Small solicitation here. 

 

Consider becoming a "Club member" to give  @JohnCh a helping hand with the thankless service or keeping this community going behind the scenes. This forum single handedly changes the ownership experience for the better and the small fee on the grand scheme of things helps things going. I've never donated or contributed to any free online platform even after owning one myself but the folks here really go above and beyond to help each other and after they did it for me it seemed silly not to give thanks back. 

 

Added bonus, your user name becomes red! :classic_ninja:

Edited by Vovchandr
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