Caterham RAF Seven 360R is made from a decommissioned Puma helicopter

Helicopters don’t get anywhere near the love lavished on planes, and about the only time we hear about an Air Force in the car world is when an automaker wants to race a fighter plane down a runway. Caterham begins remedying both those oversights with one of the coolest crossover builds we can imagine, and it’s all for a good cause. The UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) maintains a fleet of Puma helicopters for transporting personnel and moving materiel to support troops, buying the first examples in the late 1960s. When the RAF Benson base was ready to retire a Puma HC2 that entered service in 1972, it got in touch with Caterham about using chopper parts to build a Seven. The result is this Caterham RAF Seven 360R.

Caterham and RAF engineers used the aluminum skin on the Puma’s doors and tail boom to create the Seven’s body, using the portion with the bird’s XW232 tail number alongside the roadster’s cockpit on both sides. Everything’s been painted NATO Green, with Desert Sand contrasts on the sills and the center tunnel.

The rear bulkhead in the Caterham’s cockpit still shows off the emergency jettison handle from the Puma’s door. The carbon fiber seats, driveshaft tunnel, and internal bodysides are lined with the Puma’s quilted soundproofing. Headrests get RAF patches with stitched Pumas, above identifiers for the pilot and co-pilot. The Puma’s switches didn’t go to waste, either, lined up as switchgear on the satin black dash panel. Caterham says it even came up with a three-stage start process to mimic getting the helo going; it probably involves flipping the collective and cyclic toggle switches in the center. The car’s clock came from the Puma as well, looking much like a Bell & Ross timepiece.

Underneath the custom work, the Caterham 360R gets over the ground with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 180 bhp to move 1,274 pounds. Those figures are not only well down on the Puma’s 3,600 hp from two turboshafts to lift its 7,970-lb empty weight, the Caterham musters 0.14 horsepower-per-pound, the Puma, 0.45 hp/lb. One is much easier to park on the High Street, though. Oh, and as a last touch, the Caterham’s battery box was once an ammo box in the Puma.

After debuting the car during this weekend’s British Formula 1 Grand Prix, the one-off build is going on tour before being auctioned on the Collecting Cars site. Caterham, the Royal Air Force, Mission Motorsport, and the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund want to raise at least £100,000 ($120,060 U.S.) from the auction — less than £60,000 ($76,836 U.S.) more than a 360R in this spec — all proceeds going to aid injured service men and women. The bidding starts on August 15 and ends September 12.

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