Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Caterham Cars Founder perishes

Although I know very little about the English make affectionately known as Caterham Cars, sadly I was informed of the news that its company founder Graham Nearn has passed away at the age of 76 this past Saturday. (October 24th, 2009)

Yet there seems to be an outpouring of fondness for the late Mr. Nearn, the “Godfather” of the Caterham Super 7, who I had the privilege of meeting once some half dozen years ago, albeit I had no idea of the man’s stature in the zany world of Automobile Manufactures, nor any inkling that a half century ago he’d started Caterham as a Lotus Agent for Colin Chapman’s lightweight (Fenders) Sports Car known then as the Lotus 7.

Nor do I know anything about a long forgotten British Television Show called: The Prisoner, which apparently was originally aired back in the mid 1960’s before spawning a whole new generation of fans with its rebroadcasting on Britain’s Channel 4 (BBC?) in the early 1980’s. (Circa 1983) Only learning about said TV show whilst searching for news upon Graham’s untimely death and having found an interesting interview.

The Vanishing point – Not a number

Thus further learning that Graham had ultimately built a Prisoner Replica nearly two decades ago, having tracked down Patrick McGoohan and hashed out a deal over breakfast in LA, as Nearn and McGoohan unveiled the Caterham Prisoner Edition 7 in October 1990 for the Birmingham Motor Show. As Graham had ambitious plans of a limited production run of 500 for the Prisoner replica which apparently peaked at the modest number of 47 when sales orders dried up.

And there’s a photograph (the photograph?) of Prisoner star McGoohan and Graham Nearn in the brief article titled: Steward of the 7, as the above interview mentions how Graham had been an “Extra” in the TV show and telling the producers he wasn’t really worried about the daily wages, he just really wanted a photo of him alongside McGoohan, which he’d use to promote sales of the Lotus 7, having just been granted a Concessioner’s deal in 1966, before ultimately taking over the automobiles manufacturing in 1973.

Yet, even today, this most iconic English Sports Car in varying forms of build and now known as the Caterham (Super) 7 is still in production a half century later and revered by many motoring enthusiasts around the world…