Home / Social media / Cars / The RAF-Caterham Seven: a helicopter-inspired marvel.


If I asked you to name a vehicle that's been around for over fifty years, has barely changed its design, and is as nimble as a cat on a hot tin roof, what would you say? A Caterham Seven, right? Wrong. Meet the Puma HC2 helicopter. And no, I'm not mad. You see, Caterham and the Royal Air Force have concocted something utterly bonkers. They've taken the skin, the guts, and the soul of a retired Puma HC2 and melded it with a Caterham Seven 360R. Yes, they've built a car out of a helicopter. And it's as incredible as it sounds. This one-off creation is set to be auctioned off on Collecting Cars, with the aim of raising over £100,000 for injured service men and women. It's a joint venture between the RAF, Caterham, Mission Motorsport, and the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. First, a bit about the Puma HC2. Since 1972, these helicopters have been the workhorses of the RAF, performing everything from troop transport to frontline casualty evacuation. This particular Puma, XW232, has seen action in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq – you name it, it's been there. After half a century of service, XW232's time in the skies has come to an end. But rather than fade into obscurity, it’s been given a new lease on life. The Caterham Seven 360R serves as the foundation for this Frankenstein's monster of a car. The aircraft’s aluminium skin from the tail boom and doors now panels the car's exterior. Inside, you’ll find quilted soundproofing from the helicopter lining the side panels and tunnel top. Even the carbon fibre seats are padded with the helicopter’s evacuation instructions stitched into the lining.

But it doesn’t stop there. The dashboard is a masterpiece of military homage, featuring switchgear straight from the Puma and a three-stage ignition sequence that would make any fighter pilot feel at home. The pièce de résistance? A navigational clock from the aircraft sits proudly in the centre of the dash. And there’s an Easter egg under the bonnet: the battery now resides in an ammunition box. The exterior retains the weathered look of the helicopter, with matching NATO green paint on the remaining panels and a chassis finished in Desert Sand. The car was built by Caterham with significant help from serving RAF personnel at Benson. Bob Laishley, Caterham’s CEO, was thrilled with the project. “When the RAF approached us, we jumped at the chance. It’s the first time we’ve built a Seven from helicopter parts, and it’s fantastic to know the auction proceeds will go to such important causes.” Cpl McCreadie, an Aircraft Technician, was equally enthusiastic. “It’s been an honour to be part of this project. Stripping down the Puma and seeing it transformed into a Caterham has been fascinating. I’ve learned new engineering techniques and refined my skills. I’m proud to have been part of the team.” Sqn Ldr Morley from RAF Benson added, “Our STEM team will be showcasing this car at events throughout the summer. It highlights the incredible engineering skills within the RAF and the wider STEM community. It’s a chance to celebrate the Puma’s history and showcase opportunities within the RAF.” So, there it is, a Caterham Seven 360R built from a Puma HC2 helicopter. It’s a tribute, a fundraiser, and a testament to the ingenuity of the engineers who made it happen. It’s mad, it’s magnificent, and it’s quintessentially British. The RAF-Caterham Seven is more than a car; it’s a rolling piece of history, engineering, and sheer brilliance. Jeremy Clarkson would be proud.

Take a look at the YouTube video that has nothing to do with cars, well nothing besides being the inspiration for this new special Caterham. To be clear, this is about a helicopter, there is no car in here: RAF Puma HC2 Helicopter Landing and Takeoff | TAS Productions

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