Caterham Super Seven vs Morgan Super 3: on the summer…

Caterham Super Seven vs Morgan Super 3: on the summer…

“She’s beautiful, name it!” Has it been returned? – No, lady, it’s new! » It’s an understatement to say that the sight of the Morgan Super 3 plunges anyone into a mixture of fascination, awe and confusion.

The very idea of ​​a three-wheeled vehicle is a little strange, and if the British car industry was not alone in producing such machines, it played a major role in the 20th century.

And this, for a very small reason: considered by the Administration as a motorcycle, “three wheels” benefited from a more gentle tax.

the uniqueness that inspired Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan (HFS for short), the founder of the Morgan Motor Company, to start manufacturing three-wheelers with V-twin engines in 1911… Peugeot!

And although it wasn’t until 1936 that the brand finally decided to sell a four-wheel model – we always knew how to take time to think at Malvern! -, the three-wheeler lasted until the early 1950s, before disappearing from the list… then returning with the 3‑Wheeler (2012) and the Super 3 that fascinates us today.

Caterham’s history is short, although the roots of the Super Seven 600 you’re looking at go back to the 1957 Lotus Seven.

In 1973, Colin Chapman decided to go ahead and sell the rights and tools to Graham Nearn, manager of Caterham Cars, the largest distributor of Saba in the UK.

Since then, Saba has remained true to its fundamentals, changing only to meet anti-pollution standards.


So we have two examples that carry a heavy heritage and that each translates in its own way the concept of “shower on wheels” in the case of “light is right”.

From an official point of view, it is clear Morgan Super 3 which plays perfectly on the side of balneotherapy. Compared to the 3‑Wheeler, the most obvious change is the disappearance of the Harley‑Davidson V-Twin that served as a grille: this motorcycle block is replaced by a car engine placed normally under the hood.

This is a 1.5 EcoBoost from the Ford Fiesta ST, but without a turbo and connected to a 5-speed gearbox borrowed from the Mazda MX-5, itself connected to the rear wheel by a toothed belt.

It should be noted that this Super 3 is the very first Morgan to benefit from a monocoque body, the company obviously wanted to wait until it had enough perspective before adopting this innovative technology!

In the absence of doors, getting on board only requires crossing the edges of the “bath”, which is done without any problems, even for your slave, who is 1.85 m tall, wears a size 46 and is as soft as a favorite oak. La Fontaine.

The hardest part will eventually be fastening your seat belt, with the clip stuck between the pelvis and the bodywork. The bench is installed, it is the pedals and the steering wheel that adjust (in both planes per second), and it is easy to find a good driving position. Only regret: there is no foot station.

The finish is neat, it has good quality materials and almost no elements are taken from the big series, except for the gear lever knob, found from… Renault Laguna 3.

We appreciate the Moto-Lita’s attractive steering wheel, digital instruments (there’s even an on-board computer!), nice rocker switches and solid design. Adjustments under the dashboard allow you to find accessories (cup, mobile phone holder, etc.), and you can also have USB sockets and heated seats!

Normal heating is (also) optional. A small storage space under the passenger seat can be used to hide small items. There is definitely no windshield, and even two wind screens (suitable up to 100-120 km / h) are charged extra!

So, no soft top, but a tonneau cover… also at extra cost. The Caterham Super Seven 600 also plays the neo-retro card, with its long wings, side exhaust and lots of chrome touches. And there, it is a great luxury, since the windshield, doors, top change and even heating are standard: Mercedes S class was better to look!

On the other hand, boarding is part of the gym in this version, which is only available in a standard chassis (the Super Seven 2000 is also available in a wide chassis, more suitable for … generous body types). To be perfectly clear, you don’t sit in the Super Seven 600: you put it on like tight jeans!

The advantage is that it is fully protected, stuck between the chassis tubes and the transmission tunnel. The downside is that the footwell is so narrow that it would be better to wear Repetto ballet flats instead of Timberland boots if you don’t want to press all three pedals at the same time!

Little comfort: these are described from above, it is possible to put your left foot under one clutch … which allows you to compensate for the absence of the foot part. As on the Morgan board, the dashboard “board” lives up to its name very well.

But here, there is no effort to finish: the buttons, switches and counters seem to be from the control panel of the machine tool from the 80s. The fact remains that the Super Seven has a real trunk.

Old flavors

If our two cars have similar philosophies at first glance, they offer completely different driving sensations.

Already, their technical characteristics are very different: the Morgan’s 3-cylinder aero gives a response to the linear trigger and does not hesitate to take turns while giving meows of pleasure, while the Caterham’s 3-cylinder turbo pushes hard and early. , but it evaporates quickly and does not encourage you to smoke the medium, which only shows a normal sound.

On the other hand, the “breathing” of the turbo discharge valve makes you smile! The Seven’s small gear lever has a solid lock, but its travel is so short that it loses steering precision. In stark contrast to the Super 3 box, whose long lever certainly boosts dynamics but is easy to handle.

It’s really unfortunate that the pedal board is interfering with the toe exercise. In terms of times, the two manufacturers announce almost the same 0 to 100 km / h times (unfortunately we have not been able to calculate them), despite the lower weight / power ratio on the Morgan.

At high speed, Saba is limited to 170 km / h due to the very short final gear ratio: we always use the lever! In short, in terms of the engine, it is the three wheels that prove more convincing.

On the chassis side, however, the lead is reversed. All in all, it makes sense: with one wheel down, the Morgan can only be less efficient. To facilitate handling, its manufacturers have adopted a very wide front track, with narrow tires (130 mm), while the rear tire is of the “all-weather” type and wide (195 mm).

The idea is to have continuous impacts with a lower limit of grip, but also that the rear tire, which with its central position does not enter the tracks of other cars, can provide the best grip on any surface condition.

In fact, the overall balance of the Super 3 tends to be low when entering a curve, a behavior that can fortunately be reversed with an accelerator when exiting. More annoyingly, the steering, which is heavy, highly directional and imprecise, is painful in the long run.

To make matters worse, the very stiff rear suspension shakes passengers like plum trees. Unfortunately, the third wheel rushes to swallow the hole that we took care to avoid with the other two!

Finally, the impressive overall width (1.85 m) makes the machine very difficult to place on narrow roads. The move from Morgan to Caterham reminds us of the advantages of a car with an even number of wheels.

First for this dungeon story! But also because the Super Seven 600 offers a very natural balance, with a very responsive front axle, direct steering and a rear axle that reacts best when you have the rear axle on it.

If the Morgan gives the impression of going backwards, the Caterham throws itself on the ropes with a simple bend of the arms. Happy!

Only regret: a very hard brake pedal requires a determined calf, while the limits of the grip of narrow tires (155 mm wide) are quickly reached during deceleration.

The Super Seven 600 is therefore no surprise in this sector… a shame for a car weighing less than 450kg on the scales!

Comment by our tester Vincent Desmonts

We can’t help but pay attention to the Morgan’s wonderful character and the unique feeling that driving the car provides. But if you want to carve a path and negotiate curves, the Caterham remains the best choice, even in this upgradeable version of the Super Seven 600. Especially since, for more difficult than Morgan, you can afford a 2-liter 170 hp version, more efficient and more aggressive!

Caterham Super Seven 600: technical sheet

  • Engine: 3 in line, turbo, 12 S
  • Displacement: 660 cm3
  • Maximum power: 86 hp at 6,500 rpm
  • Maximum torque: 11.8 mkg at 4,000 rpm
  • Transmission: rear wheels, 5 manual gears
  • Traction control/locking: no/optional
  • Declared weight: 440 kg empty
  • Weight / power ratio: 5.1 kg / hp
  • L – l – h: 3 180 – NC – 1 090 mm
  • Wheelbase: 3,100 mm
  • Voie’s AV/AR : NC
  • Tires: 155/65 R 14
  • Tank: 32 l
  • Base price: €44,274
  • Option/penalty price: €5,718/0
  • Price of tested model: €49,992 (including penalty)
  • V. max. : 170 km/h
  • 0 to 100 km/h: 6”9

Morgan Super 3: technical sheet

  • Engine: 3 in line, 12 S
  • Displacement: 1,497 cm3
  • Maximum power: 118 hp at 6,500 rpm
  • Maximum torque: 15.2 mkg at 4,500 rpm
  • Transmission: rear wheel, 5 manual gears
  • Traction control / locking: no / no
  • Declared weight: 635 kg dry
  • Weight / power ratio: 5.4 kg / hp
  • L – l – h : 3 581 – 1 850 – 1 132 mm
  • Wheelbase: 2,533 mm
  • Voie AV : 1,704 mm
  • Tires AV & AR : 130/90 R 20 & 195/65 R 15
  • Tank: 32 l
  • Base price: €58,788
  • Option/penalty price: €14,232/210
  • Price of the tested model: €73,020 (exclusive)
  • V. max. : 209 km/h
  • 0 to 100 km/h: 7”0

Find our double test of the Caterham Super Seven 600 and the Morgan Super 3 on Competition car n°739 you 28/07/2023.

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