Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Caterham Cars

Caterham Cars is a manufacturer of specialist lightweight sports cars based in Caterham, Surrey, England and part of the British motor industry. Their only current model, the Caterham 7 (or Seven), is a direct evolution of the Series 3 Lotus Seven designed by Colin Chapman and originally launched in 1968. A track-only car, the SP/300.R, is to be released during 2010. Caterham Cars had been a major Lotus 7 dealer during the 1960s, and its founder, Graham Nearn, purchased the rights to continue manufacture of the Seven design from Chapman in 1973, after Lotus announced its intention to discontinue the model. Caterham initially restarted manufacture of the Lotus Seven Series 4; however, when this proved unpopular, production switched to a Series 3 model in 1974. The Lotus/Caterham 7 is widely regarded by car enthusiasts and the media as one of the iconic sports cars of the 20th century. With 2007 marking the 50th year of continuous production, the Seven still enjoys strong support and success in clubman-style racing. As with its Lotus Seven precursors, Caterhams are constructed of aluminium sheet attached to a tubular steel chassis. Nosecone and wings are either GRP or carbon fibre depending on specification. All Sevens are front engined with rear-wheel drive and two seats. Their extremely high performance is achieved through light weight (less than 500 kg (1,102 lb) on some versions) rather than particularly powerful engines. As well as a lightweight chassis and bodywork, Caterham Sevens achieve their very low mass through their lack of comfort and safety oriented features such as a fixed roof, doors, radio, air-conditioning, airbags, traction/stability control, ABS, satellite navigation or cruise control. As a result, the Seven is somewhat limited in its practicality for everyday usage and is instead recognised by driving enthusiasts for its focus on driving enjoyment, making it an ideal track/race car or 'Sunday' car.

Caterham Super 7 Roadster SV

Historically, engines have been supplied by Ford, specifically Ford Kent engines or Cosworth-derived race-prepared BDA/R units, enlarged to 1.7 litres and generating 150–170 bhp. In the early '90s, Caterham started using powerplants from other sources, with the least expensive models using 1.4-litre K series engines from MG Rover for the base model, and Vauxhall engines including full race versions of the 16 valve 2.0XE "red top" as fitted to 1990 Vauxhall Works Touring Cars. Rover engines span a power output of 110–250 bhp in the R500 Evolution, Vauxhall engines 165 bhp (123 kW; 167 PS) to 320 bhp (239 kW; 324 PS) in some factory built versions of the car. A 250 bhp (186 kW; 253 PS) Caterham JPE (Jonathan Palmer Evolution) briefly held the world record for production car 0–60 mph times (at 3.4 seconds) until it was bettered by the $1M McLaren F1. The many aftermarket tuning companies for these cars have also offered the Ford Zetec, Honda Fireblade, Honda Blackbird, Suzuki Hayabusa and even the Mazda Rotary engine. It is rumoured one owner even fitted a rotary diesel engine from a military drone. In 2001, Caterham designated MG Rover the sole engine supplier for factory-built Sevens, with Ford Zetec, Honda Fireblade, Yamaha Firebird and Suzuki Hayabusa engines still available for kit assembly. The Rover engines were based on the K series and carried the 'Xpower' branding. However, the partnership evidently came to an end with the buyout of Rover by China, with the 2005 model introducing a Ford Duratec engine. Typical powerplant output ranges from 140 to over 300 bhp (224 kW; 304 PS), depending on specs and modifications. The gearbox is either the classic Ford T9 five-speed or Caterham's own six-speed box. The T9 is cheap and durable, but has gear ratios meant for a much heavier car. The six-speed gearbox is expensive and had early 'teething' problems, but its ratios are considered the perfect match for the Seven. Independent companies such as Quaife do offer replacement gearkits for the T9 as well as sequential boxes for those with a racing fever and the need for a more robust transmission. The most extreme engine/chassis combination available from the factory as of 2008 was the R500 with the 263 bhp (193 kW) Ford engine, bringing the car's 506 kg (1,116 lb) from zero to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 2.88 seconds. The previous model also held a production car world record for zero to 100 mph back to zero at 10.73 seconds (faster than many modern family saloons can reach 60), set in 27 April 2004.

In 2010 Caterham offers three different chassis variants in the UK.
* Series 3 (S3)
The most popular variant retains the same dimensions and layout of the Lotus 7 Series 3.

* Series 5 (SV)
Caterham introduced this variant in 2000 to accommodate larger drivers (space is restricted in the S3 for drivers over 6 ft (1.8 m) tall.) Although visually very similar to the S3, the SV is longer taller and wider and has significantly more space for taller and broader drivers with the added benefits of more luggage space, a larger fuel tank and more stability. The SV chassis is 25 kg (55 lb) heavier than the S3.

* CSR (Series 6)
The CSR was launched in 2005 following extensive research and development by Caterham with the objective of creating an improved Seven. The CSR is based on the larger dimensions of the SV but with a substantially revised and stiffer chassis, inboard 'pushrod' front suspensions, fully independent rear suspension, improved aerodynamics, potent Cosworth engines and a new 'integrated' dashboard layout.

The CSR chassis comes in two basic trims which mirror those of the S3/SV cars. The 'basic' CSR has a road and touring oriented spec with full windscreen and weather equipment. This is available as the CSR200 (200 bhp) or CSR260 (260 bhp). The CSR Superlight (also 260 bhp) is the current Caterham performance flagship strips away the windscreen, integrated dash and other comfort-oriented components for maximum performance, with specialist 'Dynamic dampers' added to improve its already phenomenal grip. The 'basic' CSR set an unofficial time of 1.17.4 on the BBC Top Gear test track at Dunsfold, placing it ahead of many of the world's most expensive performance cars.Future models - Caterham announced a CSR175 model at the Tokyo Motorshow in November 2009. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Seven 2007 Caterham showed a concept car known as the X330 which utilised the CSR chassis but with a supercharged 330 bhp (246 kW; 335 PS) Duratec engine. Production is unconfirmed.RS Performance RST-V8 Engine - The 'Caterham Levante', built in associate with Caterham's subsidiary, RS Performance Engine Developments Ltd. (RS=Russell Savory), is a mostly-carbon-fibre bodied Caterham, with Kevlar seats, combined with an "over 500bhp" 2.4-litre, 40-valve supercharged V8 and a reduced body weight of 520 kg (1,146 lb) boasts almost 1,000 bhp (746 kW; 1,014 PS) per tonne (initial announced specifications were 550 bhp (410 kW; 558 PS) and 530 kg (1,168 lb), but the RS website specifies "in excess of 500bhp," and 520 kg (1,146 lb) or 530 kg (1,168 lb); the math may or may not achieve "over 1,000 bhp (746 kW; 1,014 PS) per tonne"). The eight cars, costing £115,000, sold out. and only eight will be produced to celebrate more than 50 years in production. Two days' of mandatory "driver training" are included in the price of the car.

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