Scratch that itch; Caterham !

Scratch that itch; Caterham !

Author
Discussion

paul gee

Original Poster:

35 posts

28 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
Hi all, I've watched the evolution of this iconic sports car for a long time. Hugely impressed by the talent of those engineers who can build them, including the replicas. Set on a Caterham anyway, but can't get into the showroom yet due to lock down of course. Pondering all the usual pros and cons of course; and will very much appreciate any knowledge smile
a) Never even sat in one but like the SV chassis appearance and that's my preference.
b) Not into the idea of track days though I will possibly try the Caterham Instruction course before I buy.
c) Very mindful of my limitations as a pilot, usually like to corner with the back wheels squarely behind the front ones ! Reading that 'front end lift' can be an issue, is this a phenomenon that occurs beyond 100 mph on a wind free day, or at lower speeds too ?
d) Ground clearance may be a slight issue on the access road to my place, how high can chassis be adjusted without affecting handling ? I'll be buying a car with dry sump by the way.
e) Is the 'track day roll bar ' a life saver compared to the standard item ?
f) Seems the CSR models are no longer in production, any ideas why not ?
g) Any downsides to the roller barrel throttle upgrade ?

Thanks in advance smile

ian2144

1,606 posts

186 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
Best bet is Hire one, local to me is
www.highlandcaterhamhire.com
They have a selection of SV’s and two CSR’s.

Great fun and this will give you an idea what you want from your Caterham.

Steve Campbell

1,581 posts

132 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
paul gee said:
Hi all, I've watched the evolution of this iconic sports car for a long time. Hugely impressed by the talent of those engineers who can build them, including the replicas. Set on a Caterham anyway, but can't get into the showroom yet due to lock down of course. Pondering all the usual pros and cons of course; and will very much appreciate any knowledge smile
a) Never even sat in one but like the SV chassis appearance and that's my preference.
b) Not into the idea of track days though I will possibly try the Caterham Instruction course before I buy.
c) Very mindful of my limitations as a pilot, usually like to corner with the back wheels squarely behind the front ones ! Reading that 'front end lift' can be an issue, is this a phenomenon that occurs beyond 100 mph on a wind free day, or at lower speeds too ?
d) Ground clearance may be a slight issue on the access road to my place, how high can chassis be adjusted without affecting handling ? I'll be buying a car with dry sump by the way.
e) Is the 'track day roll bar ' a life saver compared to the standard item ?
f) Seems the CSR models are no longer in production, any ideas why not ?
g) Any downsides to the roller barrel throttle upgrade ?

Thanks in advance smile
a) How big are you ? Many find the SV too big for this kind of car, others find them perfect. Sit in them before you decide.
b) You will (or should) revise this when you are an owner. The car only really comes alive on a track and you will experience the car as it was meant to be. Plenty of novice/beginner days to cut your teeth on.
c) If you are regularly getting to 100+ on normal roads, see b. The car isn't at all about top end speed on straight roads, much better on fast b roads and hugging the curves ( at much less than 100mph and more often than not within the speed limits)
d) I think the normal sump clearance is ~ 75mm on most cars. Not sure what the max could be without affecting handling. Depends what you mean by ground clearance. There are ways to gently take different types of sleeping policemen and be safe.
e) Yes if you go upside down I believe.
f) The went out of production about 6 years ago. Not sure why. Supply / Demand ?
g) Sorry can't comment. What car or spec are you looking at ?


Edited by Steve Campbell on Monday 8th February 16:28

paul gee

Original Poster:

35 posts

28 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
Thanks guys, the SV chassis appeals to me appearance wise, just a personal thing. I'm fairly slim, 6'1" so yep possibly would fit a S3 but prefer the SV. My driving is normally below 100 mph as I don't want to lose the license smile Just wondered if front end lift is particularly troublesome ? The track day route to improvement of my piloting 'skills' is certainly something for me to consider. The model I'm after is the 420R and the roller barrel upgrade interests me.

Steve Campbell

1,581 posts

132 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
Can't say I've experienced front end lift specifically. Maybe something more experienced on the "older" clam shells but I've always had cycle wings.

Maybe something more that the racers & speed merchants can comment on :-). Understeer in the wet is about as far as I've experienced but the problem was between the seat and the steering wheel mainly :-)

Orange Blackbird

58 posts

131 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
paul gee said:
Hi all, I've watched the evolution of this iconic sports car for a long time. Hugely impressed by the talent of those engineers who can build them, including the replicas. Set on a Caterham anyway, but can't get into the showroom yet due to lock down of course. Pondering all the usual pros and cons of course; and will very much appreciate any knowledge smile
a) Never even sat in one but like the SV chassis appearance and that's my preference.
b) Not into the idea of track days though I will possibly try the Caterham Instruction course before I buy.
c) Very mindful of my limitations as a pilot, usually like to corner with the back wheels squarely behind the front ones ! Reading that 'front end lift' can be an issue, is this a phenomenon that occurs beyond 100 mph on a wind free day, or at lower speeds too ?
d) Ground clearance may be a slight issue on the access road to my place, how high can chassis be adjusted without affecting handling ? I'll be buying a car with dry sump by the way.
e) Is the 'track day roll bar ' a life saver compared to the standard item ?
f) Seems the CSR models are no longer in production, any ideas why not ?
g) Any downsides to the roller barrel throttle upgrade ?

Thanks in advance smile
Paul

a) I would sit in an SV and an S3 before deciding, I am a smidge under 6ft and love the size of an S3 and I have friends with S3s who are 6ft 2" and like them too. If you are slim I think it would be the better car, and will be lighter.
b) Fair enough but to get the full benefit of a 420R the only place to really use that kind of performance is on track.
c) Not sure who told you that and the only place you are going to see any kind of front end lift would be on track and I have never noticed it. Car needs setting up for camber, track and possibly castor if steering is too light.
d) Ground clearance can be a problem, dry sump will help but if you are not doing trackdays the dry sump is not needed for road use. If you must have an SV bigger wheels look better for road use although they will not improve the unsprung weight situation and therefore compromise the handling slightly although again for road use this is hardly an issue.
e) Yes
f) Only for the continent I believe and expensive. No idea why.
g) If not mapped correctly they can be a little jumpy on part throttle. Sound great though.

Good luck with your future purchase.

Nick

_Bandit_

772 posts

159 months

Monday 8th February
quotequote all
paul gee said:
Thanks guys, the SV chassis appeals to me appearance wise, just a personal thing. I'm fairly slim, 6'1" so yep possibly would fit a S3 but prefer the SV. My driving is normally below 100 mph as I don't want to lose the license smile Just wondered if front end lift is particularly troublesome ? The track day route to improvement of my piloting 'skills' is certainly something for me to consider. The model I'm after is the 420R and the roller barrel upgrade interests me.
Hi Paul, I’ve just bought my first 7, a 420R.

To answer your questions, I’d go and sit in a few first off.
I wanted the full 7 experience so went std S3 chassis with Tillets. You literally wear the car like an exo suit - I’m 6’1” and 14.5 stone, you wouldn’t want to be much bigger! Not a fan of SV looks personally but whatever floats your boat.
As for front end lift, I’ve done over 100 mph in mine and not noticed any discernible issues, seemed pretty stable to me.

As for the trackday roll bar, it’s standard on a 420R and is taller than the std one. If you want additional protection then a full roll cage is the next step.
As for driving ability, I was initially a bit concerned with reports of scary handling in the wet but have been pleasantly surprised in that it’s completely docile provided you treat inputs accordingly. Been out in heavy rain and low temps and had a blast. Of course you need to manage throttle and steering inputs and not drive it like a modern electronic laden car, but that’s the whole ethos of it.

Finally, I saw a video of a 420 with throttle bodies and decided I HAD to have them. Other than the odd lumpy low speed driveability, I’ve not had any problems and absolutely adore them. The foam Pipercross filter poking out of the bonnet just makes it perfect.

In short, I was initially hesitant but now I took the leap I’m utterly converted, totally unique and intoxicating experience (coming from an owner of 4 Elises and a V6 Exige), I cannot recommend more highly

paul gee

Original Poster:

35 posts

28 months

Tuesday 9th February
quotequote all
Orange Blackbird said:
Paul

a) I would sit in an SV and an S3 before deciding, I am a smidge under 6ft and love the size of an S3 and I have friends with S3s who are 6ft 2" and like them too. If you are slim I think it would be the better car, and will be lighter.
b) Fair enough but to get the full benefit of a 420R the only place to really use that kind of performance is on track.
c) Not sure who told you that and the only place you are going to see any kind of front end lift would be on track and I have never noticed it. Car needs setting up for camber, track and possibly castor if steering is too light.
d) Ground clearance can be a problem, dry sump will help but if you are not doing trackdays the dry sump is not needed for road use. If you must have an SV bigger wheels look better for road use although they will not improve the unsprung weight situation and therefore compromise the handling slightly although again for road use this is hardly an issue.
e) Yes
f) Only for the continent I believe and expensive. No idea why.
g) If not mapped correctly they can be a little jumpy on part throttle. Sound great though.

Good luck with your future purchase.

Nick
Thanks so much Nick, I am really sold on the size of the SV but will certainly try both. My previous sports cars last 20 years have been Cobras and a TVR Chimaera. The accelleration of the 420R makes it a must for me even if I don't use anything like the full potential. Dry sump is standard on the 420R apparently, that ground clearance will help me. Agreed I like the 15" Orcus wheels on the SV. smile

paul gee

Original Poster:

35 posts

28 months

Tuesday 9th February
quotequote all
_Bandit_ said:
Hi Paul, I’ve just bought my first 7, a 420R.

To answer your questions, I’d go and sit in a few first off.
I wanted the full 7 experience so went std S3 chassis with Tillets. You literally wear the car like an exo suit - I’m 6’1” and 14.5 stone, you wouldn’t want to be much bigger! Not a fan of SV looks personally but whatever floats your boat.
As for front end lift, I’ve done over 100 mph in mine and not noticed any discernible issues, seemed pretty stable to me.

As for the trackday roll bar, it’s standard on a 420R and is taller than the std one. If you want additional protection then a full roll cage is the next step.
As for driving ability, I was initially a bit concerned with reports of scary handling in the wet but have been pleasantly surprised in that it’s completely docile provided you treat inputs accordingly. Been out in heavy rain and low temps and had a blast. Of course you need to manage throttle and steering inputs and not drive it like a modern electronic laden car, but that’s the whole ethos of it.

Finally, I saw a video of a 420 with throttle bodies and decided I HAD to have them. Other than the odd lumpy low speed driveability, I’ve not had any problems and absolutely adore them. The foam Pipercross filter poking out of the bonnet just makes it perfect.

In short, I was initially hesitant but now I took the leap I’m utterly converted, totally unique and intoxicating experience (coming from an owner of 4 Elises and a V6 Exige), I cannot recommend more highly
Hi Bandit, that all sounds very encouraging ! Really reassured by your experiences in bad weather and at speed. By respecting the 420 power/weight and not getting on the power early in corners I'm hoping to learn the car smile Thanks so much smile

PushedDover

3,212 posts

17 months

Tuesday 9th February
quotequote all
ian2144 said:
Best bet is Hire one, local to me is
www.highlandcaterhamhire.com
They have a selection of SV’s and two CSR’s.

Great fun and this will give you an idea what you want from your Caterham.
Damn....


(but thanks)

Amris

153 posts

132 months

Tuesday 9th February
quotequote all
Few extra notes below :-)

a) as the others have all stated try as many types of car as you can in your price range before deciding on a model. You'll be amazed at there different characteristics.
b) don't be put off by track days thinking they are scary things. If you do buy a Caterham join the lotus 7 cub, they do Botha. great handling day at Dunsfold and a number of novice track days a year where they can buddy you up with more experienced drivers so you have some confidence and somebody to walk you through any spanner checks etc. My opinion is unless you are buying a lower bhp car this is the only place Caterham really come alive.
c) No issues with front end lift, even on track above 100mph. Additionally if you want to refine the handling of your car there are a number of specialist who can do everything form flat flooring (~£300) to a full new suspension setup. But as I said earlier, every car is different so try a few and see what you think.
d) I have no issues with speed bumps etc, and can even get over a the thinner bolt down type in car packs with relative ease.
e) to be frank these are not the safest cars, my option is front and rear collision you are probably fine, side impact and you're in trouble. If your concerned get a cage and side impact bars. Cages come in all shapes and sizes with some fitting under a standard weather hood etc. But as a general rule, the FIA track day bar is stronger and safer.
f) no idea sorry, great car with is larger 2.3 engine, suffers from a very hot foot well though I hear. Good car for touring due to is independent rear suspension and wider track. Very comfy
g) yes - roller barrels have a very differnt progression curve to standard butterfly valves. This means they are less torquey at lower throttle input but allow greater flow of air at full throttle. As a result they are generally preferred for track use, if you want the upgrade power and get the air filter look, the preferred option by most is Jenvey throttle bodies. You can DIY this job but will require a rolling road session to tune it. Most Caterham specialists in your area will be able to do this for you if you would rather pay a mechanic. Cost is similar (if not slightly cheaper) to the Caterham equivalent roller barrels.

paul gee

Original Poster:

35 posts

28 months

Tuesday 9th February
quotequote all
Amris said:
Few extra notes below :-)

a) as the others have all stated try as many types of car as you can in your price range before deciding on a model. You'll be amazed at there different characteristics.
b) don't be put off by track days thinking they are scary things. If you do buy a Caterham join the lotus 7 cub, they do Botha. great handling day at Dunsfold and a number of novice track days a year where they can buddy you up with more experienced drivers so you have some confidence and somebody to walk you through any spanner checks etc. My opinion is unless you are buying a lower bhp car this is the only place Caterham really come alive.
c) No issues with front end lift, even on track above 100mph. Additionally if you want to refine the handling of your car there are a number of specialist who can do everything form flat flooring (~£300) to a full new suspension setup. But as I said earlier, every car is different so try a few and see what you think.
d) I have no issues with speed bumps etc, and can even get over a the thinner bolt down type in car packs with relative ease.
e) to be frank these are not the safest cars, my option is front and rear collision you are probably fine, side impact and you're in trouble. If your concerned get a cage and side impact bars. Cages come in all shapes and sizes with some fitting under a standard weather hood etc. But as a general rule, the FIA track day bar is stronger and safer.
f) no idea sorry, great car with is larger 2.3 engine, suffers from a very hot foot well though I hear. Good car for touring due to is independent rear suspension and wider track. Very comfy
g) yes - roller barrels have a very differnt progression curve to standard butterfly valves. This means they are less torquey at lower throttle input but allow greater flow of air at full throttle. As a result they are generally preferred for track use, if you want the upgrade power and get the air filter look, the preferred option by most is Jenvey throttle bodies. You can DIY this job but will require a rolling road session to tune it. Most Caterham specialists in your area will be able to do this for you if you would rather pay a mechanic. Cost is similar (if not slightly cheaper) to the Caterham equivalent roller barrels.
Hi Amris, thanks so much.Good news from everyone about front end lift and speed bumps. Funnily enough one lad recently reckoned the Caterham roller barrel throttle upgrade actually improves low speed driveability but everyone else said the same as you. Obviously the only upgrade that doesn't invalidate the Catrerham warranty is their own one. I'll possibly wait till I'm out of waranty after 2 years and get the Jenveys. Does seem odd that the CSR was discontinued as it is so highly rated by all who drove one

_Bandit_

772 posts

159 months

Tuesday 9th February
quotequote all
Paul if you’re looking at throttle body options then definitely speak to Stuart at Premier Power, the F225 upgrade is bespoke and from what I’ve heard is fantastic quality.
http://premierpowerengines.com/premier-power-f225-...

BertBert

14,875 posts

175 months

Tuesday 9th February
quotequote all
As always at this point I say this with apologies to people who have heard me say it before.

Don't get hung up over the horsepower thing. Big horsepower might be your thing, but it's not all that a caterham is about. They are mentally fast and if you are forever holding back it can be really frustrating in my experience. This will especially be so if you are not confident in handling sideways activity if that's not too rude to say biggrin

The first one I drove was the mighty 1400 k series and it completely blew me away!

I've been there and done it up to 230bhp and for me the sweet spot and certainly the most enjoyable place is around 140.

Best to get in a drive to see what you like best.

Bert

paul gee

Original Poster:

35 posts

28 months

Wednesday 10th February
quotequote all
BertBert said:
As always at this point I say this with apologies to people who have heard me say it before.

Don't get hung up over the horsepower thing. Big horsepower might be your thing, but it's not all that a caterham is about. They are mentally fast and if you are forever holding back it can be really frustrating in my experience. This will especially be so if you are not confident in handling sideways activity if that's not too rude to say biggrin

The first one I drove was the mighty 1400 k series and it completely blew me away!

I've been there and done it up to 230bhp and for me the sweet spot and certainly the most enjoyable place is around 140.

Best to get in a drive to see what you like best.

Bert
Thanks Bert, certainly not into sideways cornering, the sports cars I've owned and driven in the past were all powerful front engine rear drive with no traction control so I'm really a point and squirt type if you like. Very impressed by the way Caterham have utilised these Ford Duratec motors, so that interests me. The 'in gear' linearity must be incredible judjing by accelleration times. Its the ability to gather speed easily even in 4th and 5th, that's what I'm after. Maybe I'll learn the sideways bit, will certainly try the instruction course. Apparently the waiting list is 6 months so plenty of time to get my bum in one smile Which begs the next question; how do we get in them ? Both boots on the seat and then slide down ? Seen that on youtube and it seems a bit hard on the upholstery ? smile

paul gee

Original Poster:

35 posts

28 months

Wednesday 10th February
quotequote all
_Bandit_ said:
Paul if you’re looking at throttle body options then definitely speak to Stuart at Premier Power, the F225 upgrade is bespoke and from what I’ve heard is fantastic quality.
http://premierpowerengines.com/premier-power-f225-...
Thanks so much Bandit smile

Amris

153 posts

132 months

Wednesday 10th February
quotequote all
BertBert said:
As always at this point I say this with apologies to people who have heard me say it before.

Don't get hung up over the horsepower thing. Big horsepower might be your thing, but it's not all that a caterham is about. They are mentally fast and if you are forever holding back it can be really frustrating in my experience. This will especially be so if you are not confident in handling sideways activity if that's not too rude to say biggrin

The first one I drove was the mighty 1400 k series and it completely blew me away!

I've been there and done it up to 230bhp and for me the sweet spot and certainly the most enjoyable place is around 140.

Best to get in a drive to see what you like best.

Bert
Agree with Bert here, if you are only after road use you probably don't need so many bhp. But as mentioned before, just try as many cars as you can before you buy to see what works for you :-)

Boggo

72 posts

18 months

Wednesday 10th February
quotequote all
I'd urge you to heed the advice given my multiple people on here (which you seem to want to ignore) and get in an S3. Looks aside (SV is UAF), they are a much better handling capable car. SV is needed only if you are too big (which by the sounds of it you are not) for the S3.

Personally I'd forget the big power - really stacks up the price of the car, for something that essentially becomes unusable.

The front end lift I think is a bit of a red herring. Caterhams handle fantastically, but generally understeer before over steering when cornering (unless you're too sharp with your right foot). This can give the 'front end lift' concept some ground. But on the road you shouldn't experience this unless you're trying to crash/get arrested.

If I was you, I'd jump in a 270/310 car for around £20-25k (yes its a sigma, but its still great) and learn to drive it properly, then see if you feel the need to upgrade to the big power. Personally, big power caterhams are wasted unless in the hands of a very very skilled driver, or someone in the pub (remember them?!) who has a small wang.

upsidedownmark

1,986 posts

99 months

Wednesday 10th February
quotequote all
Late to the party, and not much to add, except..

Try not to rule out the S3. You might need to due to height, but in my limited experience, the SV/S3 feel rather different (albeit my mate's SV is a rather different spec to my S3, so it might not be down to the chassis).

Consider why you like 'big power' - power to weight is what gives acceleration and if you're coming from anything else, you can halve the power requirement for a cat. It's also more likely to go sideways than anything else you ever owned, especially if it's damp/cold. That said, it's the easiest thing you'll ever drive to slide/recover, especially if it's caused by too much throttle on the way out of something, the steering is very direct.

The 'front end lift' might be relevant it you're heading into blanchimont flat out, otherwise, just forget it, honestly it's more a theoretical thing than anything that should concern anyone on the road.

paul gee

Original Poster:

35 posts

28 months

Wednesday 10th February
quotequote all
Boggo said:
I'd urge you to heed the advice given my multiple people on here (which you seem to want to ignore) and get in an S3. Looks aside (SV is UAF), they are a much better handling capable car. SV is needed only if you are too big (which by the sounds of it you are not) for the S3.

Personally I'd forget the big power - really stacks up the price of the car, for something that essentially becomes unusable.

The front end lift I think is a bit of a red herring. Caterhams handle fantastically, but generally understeer before over steering when cornering (unless you're too sharp with your right foot). This can give the 'front end lift' concept some ground. But on the road you shouldn't experience this unless you're trying to crash/get arrested.

If I was you, I'd jump in a 270/310 car for around £20-25k (yes its a sigma, but its still great) and learn to drive it properly, then see if you feel the need to upgrade to the big power. Personally, big power caterhams are wasted unless in the hands of a very very skilled driver, or someone in the pub (remember them?!) who has a small wang.
Not ignoring advice. I've made it clear I happen to prefer the appearance of the SV. I will try an S3 too, but the extra footwell space sounds a plus for me as well. Also made it clear I'm not going to be living on the extreme edge of what the car can do through corners. Driving very powerful and unforgiving stuff previously, I was mindful of my limitations as a pilot, and thus didn't crash them. I know the Duratec cars aren't cheap, but we could say that about so many cars nowadays of course. Engine choice isn't really one of my questions, the 420 sounds like it's going to please me with torque delivery when not 'trying hard' in typical main road driving. Good news about the front end lift that so many journalists mention; clearly not the problem I thought it might be.