Caterham is a British automotive manufacturer based in Surrey, UK. Caterham is infamous for its no-frills sports cars that are admired by enthusiasts the world over.
Founded in 1973 by Graham Nearn, Caterham blends lightweight materials and expert craftsmanship with decently-powered engines for guaranteed fun on the road.
Caterham vehicles are available to purchase in kit form and complete examples. According to Caterham, it can take anywhere between 80-100 hours to build a Caterham car yourself.
But where are Caterham cars and their self-assembly kits produced? Let’s find out.
Where Caterham cars are made
All of Caterham’s vehicles and self-assembly kits are produced in a factory in Dartford, Kent (UK). Caterham is headquartered in Crawley, Sussex (UK).
Caterham has been producing its parts and vehicles at the Kent factory since 1987. Complete cars are produced using a technique called cell assembly: where each technician is assigned their own car to build and complete.
Although all of Caterham’s production takes place in the UK, kits and complete vehicles are shipped and enjoyed across the globe through a network of distributors. In the United States, Superformance is Caterham’s official distributor.
Caterham Cars are also available to buy through dealers in South America, Malaysia, Japan, and Australia.
Caterham vehicles are typically shipped from Kent to distributors in part-built form. When the kits arrive, international customers can choose to assemble the car at home or have their local dealer build it for them.
Who is Caterham owned by?
Caterham Cars is part of the Caterham Group. In April of 2021, Caterham Cars was acquired by VT Holdings, a vehicle dealer and importer based in Japan.
VT Holdings has acted as the official importer for Caterham’s vehicles in Japan since 2009. It’s clear that they understand and respect the quality and heritage of the brand – they sell over 120 Caterham vehicles in Japan each year.
As of right now, there are no reports of moving Caterham production out of the UK. Assembly will still take place in the Dartford facility.
Caterham remains a quintessentially British motoring brand. Its DNA is, and always will be, 100% British.
How to tell where your Caterham was made
The most accurate way of identifying where your Caterham vehicle was made is to check the first two or three letters of your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
The first three digits of a VIN number are known as a World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI). For most production vehicles, this allows you to trace the car back to its country of origin.
You can find your VIN number on the title or registration documents for your car. It can also be found on the cowl panel, or on a metal plate in the inner driver’s door sill.
If your WIM is ‘SDK’, this means that your Caterham vehicle was produced by Caterham in Kent (UK).
The sixth digit of your VIN number indicates the assembly plant where your Caterham was built. If this is a ‘K’, it means that your Caterham was supplied as a kit.
If you’re interested in decoding your VIN number to find out more about the spec of your Caterham vehicle, there are plenty of VIN decoder services online. They’re mostly free and very easy to use.
Are Caterhams sold in the US?
Yes, you can purchase Caterham vehicles in the US. Superformance is the official US distributor of Caterham cars, so we would recommend getting in touch with your local dealer. There are also plenty of used examples available on the market.
What is the fastest Caterham?
According to Caterham, the Seven 620 is the fastest production road car that they have ever produced. It boasts a whopping 310 bhp (which is super quick considering the car’s weight) from a 2.0 litre Duratec engine with a factory-fitted supercharger.
Are Caterham cars street legal?
If you are building your Caterham yourself, it will require an Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) test (UK) or state-specific registration processes (US). In any case, if Caterham or your local distributor builds the car for you, it should already be fully approved for street usage.
Caterham’s legendary status is steeped in British motoring history. The Caterham 7 takes direct inspiration from Colin Chapman’s iconic Lotus Seven. Both Caterham and Lotus were huge advocates of kit cars – giving enthusiasts the option of building a vehicle with their own hands.
It’s inspiring that we continue to see countless Caterham vehicles on the roads. Sure, they’re not built for mass-market production and flashy marketing tactics. But if you’re in the know about these cars, you’re in the know.
Do you own a Caterham? Let us know below!