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Tamiya 1/12 Caterham Super Seven JPE


By Michael Benolkin



Lotus is famous for developing some of the hottest sports cars and racecars on the planet. One such offering was the Lotus Super Seven, similar in size, shape and performance as the Cobra 289. While the engine in the Lotus was smaller, the body weight was also lighter, giving the Lotus Super Seven an outstanding thrust-to-weight ratio. While Lotus eventually dropped the Super Seven and moved on to newer car models, Graham Nearn of Caterham Cars obtained the rights to produce the car. In the subsequent years, the Super Seven has been offered to car collectors in production and kit form.

The Super Seven JPE was introduced in 1993 under the supervision of Formula One champion Jonathan Palmer, becoming the Jonathan Palmer Evolution (JPE). The JPE weighs only 1168 pounds (530 kg) while sporting a 2-liter, 250 horsepower engine. It is no small wonder that this car held (and may still hold) the 0-60 MPH Acceleration Record.

The Kit

Tamiya has been producing some very beautiful multimedia racecar kits in 1/12 scale for some time. The quality and attention to detail is second to none in this scale. In fact, many of the more popular subjects are being re-released as you read this.

One of the more unique subjects from this 1/12 auto line has been their Caterham Super Seven series. It is rather appropriate that Tamiya would offer a super-detailed kit of a one-scale kit car! With the release of this kit, there are now three different versions of the Super Seven. While the first two kits have been released several times, the JPE kit is brand new, and the construction/build-up is completely different.

The photos you see here only represent some of the parts included in this kit. I have absolutely no idea how many parts are included in this kit, but for a 1/12 kit of a very small car, this box contains a boatload. To give you an idea of the size of the kit box, it is identical in size to Tamiya's 1/32 F-4J Phantom II kit (BIG).

Inside, you'll find that everything is extremely well packed. There wasn't as much as a scratch on any part I examined. There are 14 trees of plastic parts molded in black, aluminum, clear, or clear red. One of the trees is chrome plated, and two others are pre-painted in the special body color. The major body panels are stamped out of aluminum (not plastic) and also pre-painted. There are also other numerous metal parts included. This kit is rounded out with a variety of rubber hoses, four nicely done rubber tires, and a nice supply of screws and nuts.

Construction differs from the previous Super Seven kits as this one is assembled mostly with screws. The hood is removable, while the steering and suspension are fully functional. With the body pre-painted, the only work to be done in the paint shop is detailing out the powertrain and a few other sub-assemblies.

If you choose to build your Super Seven as the version depicted on the box, Tamiya supplied the markings as dry transfers instead of water-slide decals. Another very nice touch indeed!


If I didn't know better (and I don't), I'd swear that Mr. Tamiya owns one or more Caterham Super Sevens. The level of detail in these kits and the release of three different versions of this car are good clues!

While not a kit for the beginning modeler, this will provide an excellent change of pace from the pure plastic automotive scene. While the Caterham Super Seven JPE retails in the US for about $330, you can find some bargains out there. I bought my JPE on sale for $250 at a local hobby shop. At the current exchange rates, you can order the JPE from Hobby Link Japan for around $230 plus UPS shipping. I've also seen the other two Super Caterham kits listed on Hobby Link Japan (their retail prices are less than the JPE) and they even show up on auction sites like eBay . I highly recommend this kit!!!!

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Air Intelligence
1999 Modelers'
Reference Guides

1/32 Scale Guide $18.00
1/48 Scale Guide $25.00
1/72 Scale Guide $25.00
HH-43 Huskie Color
Reference Guide $15.00

Please add $3.20 Postage in the US.

TacAir Publications

PO Box 90933
Albuquerque NM

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