Caterham Superlight R #29

Caterham Superlight R #29

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573

Original Poster:

216 posts

159 months

Monday 29th January 2018
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I'm a fan of lightweight cars. My first cars were Minis, which aren't on the porky side, but I think I first got hooked on the benefits of saving weight when I built a Peugeot 205 GTI to race in the 750 Motorclub Stockhatch championship. I paid so much attention to weight-saving whilst building it that I had to put almost 100kg of ballast back in it in order to meet the minimum weight for the series.

Since then I've obsessed over the weight of numerous cars. My most notable builds on various forums being a Mk1 (NA) MX5 that ended up <900kg and recently a 270bhp, HPE K20 swapped S1 Elise that was <700kg.

So it was likely that at some point I'd end up with a seven or similar and most likely, just because I like the aesthetics of them, a Caterham.

I first test drove one in 2016. I went to Sevens & Classics as I liked the look of an R300 that they had for sale. I took the car out and was incredibly underwhelmed. So I tried an R400 spec car that they had. Same dice. They had an R500(K) in stock, fitted with a Quaife sequential. I had a go in that and whilst it was quicker, it didn't match my Elise and the gearbox was really crude and no fun on the road. So I parked the Caterham idea for a while.

That is until in November last year, a friend up in Scotland dropped me a message to say that he'd heard of a Caterham coming on to the market that might be a spec that would interest me. This is what he sent me:

Caterham Superlight R No.29 1998. Factory build. 33k miles. Matching engine/ chassis numbers. Full history including all invoices and MOT’s from new.

Drivetrain:
1.8 VHPD Dry sump engine with Jenvey throttle bodies, Emerald ECU and cam verniers. Original VHPD ECU and throttle bodies go with the car. 6 speed Caterham Gearbox and LSD differential.

Exterior:
Full weather protection including brand new heated screen. Tonneau, carbon wings, carbon nose cone. MSA Roll bar, Aero fuel cap. Additional Tillet carbon flyscreen and Tillet carbon side doors go with the car.

Interior:
Tillet composite seats with 5 point Caterham harnesses. Momo quick release suede steering wheel. Carbon dashboard with start button, change-up light, 12 volt accessory plug and tunnel storage pockets. Electrical cut-off switch and factory plumbed fire extinguisher system.

Wheels suspension and brakes:
M. Barnaby 3 piece alloys 6” front 8” Rear. Proxes 888 tyres. Bilstein shocks all round. Caterham AP big brake kit with Pagid blue pads. Adjustable f/r balance master cylinder. Spare set of standard Caterham wheels with new Yokohama A201R tyres go with car.

General:
The car is in excellent condition. I have owned the car for five years/8k miles and am only selling due to my advancing years! The car is very tractable due to the well set up Jenvey/Emerald arrangement. The car has had no accidents and has original paint. The previous owner fully stripped and rebuilt/renewed the gearbox/suspension. When I purchased the car I replaced the head gasket, uprated the oil rail assembly and replaced the radiator and all coolant hoses.


If I was going to give a Caterham a try, I wanted a K series one. I also had decided that a VHPD was about as far as I wanted the engine to be stretched. I think it's sort of the sweet-spot for a K before you get into longevity issues that higher RPMs and greater specific output seems to bring. Other things I wanted were dry-sump, LSD, MBs and 6 speed. I also wanted lowered floors but I guess you can't have everything.

So I contacted the owner, had a chat, and he sent over some pictures












...and in action at Knockhill



...and he sent copies of some documents that really got me interested so we agreed a deal. I dropped him a deposit and agreed to make the trip up to collect the car. The car being in Glasgow and me being based near the South Coast in West Sussex made this no mean feat.

Edited by 573 on Monday 29th January 18:55

573

Original Poster:

216 posts

159 months

Monday 29th January 2018
quotequote all
Part of the problem with collecting the car was that it came with quite a few spares. These are pictures the seller sent me ahead of making the trip to Scotland.

Carbon aero screen and carbon mirrors



Caterham 8 spokes.



Carbon half-doors



Original ITBs



There were also boxes and boxes of spare parts and other things that he didn't photograph. So I arranged to drive up the country, drop off an Elise that I'd sold to someone in the Midlands, meet my Dad who lives in Manchester and get a lift to Glasgow with him so that he could transport the spares back down South. Simple.

SidewaysSi

7,879 posts

192 months

Monday 29th January 2018
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Great stuff. The original Superlight cars are wonderful things. I have had mine for 8 years and it is still a joy.

I have often thought about an SLR but love my Superlight too much on road to sell!

573

Original Poster:

216 posts

159 months

Monday 29th January 2018
quotequote all
One of the documents the owner sent me that got me interested in the car was the original sales invoice. I've blurred some details, but I was interested to see that the car had originally been purchased by a Mr Cleverley, at an address very close to me.



The person was a director of a large coachworks in the area, on the site that later became Mole Valley TVR. Some research showed that the proprietors had retired some years back and had closed the business down. Some more research led me to find that the two main directors had ordered a pair of matching Superlight Rs, both in fluorescent yellow. My car was initially registered with the numberplate '14 S' the other one, I can't be sure but some things I've read lead me to believe it was registered with '15 JET'. I've found accounts from other Caterham club member at the time discussing the two matching cars turning up to Caterham get-togethers at the time.

Previously the 0-100-0 record holding JPE was painted in a similar scheme, but to date, these are the last Caterhams to leave the factory in flourescent yellow. Unfortunately it appears that the 'sister car' has since been written off too.

Edited by 573 on Monday 29th January 19:58


Edited by 573 on Wednesday 4th July 15:49

cwin

944 posts

177 months

Monday 29th January 2018
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Very nice car, congratulations I'm sure you going to have some fun with it. If you ever need any help with set up or servicing you won't go far wrong with Matt Blyth Motorsport who i thinkis in your area, we have just won the Caterham Seven 420r British Championship with this team.
Also plenty of good secondhand tyres if you need any, Avon ZZRs are the best tyre for that.

Enjoy....

Ps,, I know we're there is another super light R for sale with a sequential box and full cage,not mine,

573

Original Poster:

216 posts

159 months

Monday 29th January 2018
quotequote all
In the history there's a print out from when the car was for sale for the first time as a used car. It's from the Caterham used car website in February 2002. This shows the plate at the time as '14 S'.



I like the hand-written notes on the page too which tally with some Lotus Seven Clubs forum entries I found with a chap called Dino Ferrana contemplating buying the car. As you can see from his notes he was also contemplating a plate to go on the car, D10 NOS. The history shows that he bought the car, and the plate and the car wore that until it was next sold.

The next owner was up in Scotland, a Mr Philip Imperiale who put his plate on the car - YHP 375. He also changed the seats from the comfort spec leather armchairs to the Tillets, removed the factory fitted heater using the correct Caterham sourced panel and also swapped the rear arch stone guards from aluminium to carbon. I assume he also submitted it to the Caterham Register as it's his plate you can JUST about make out on the car's picture on there:



http://www.thecaterhamregister.net/superlight%20Rs...

Edited by 573 on Monday 29th January 20:00

573

Original Poster:

216 posts

159 months

Monday 29th January 2018
quotequote all
For interest, here's a link to the thread in 2002 discussing the cars for sale on Blatchat: https://www.lotus7.club/forum/chitchat/2-dayglo-su...

I'm not a member on there so can't reply. I may join but it seems to cost £50 just to be able to post on the forum.

keo

745 posts

128 months

Monday 29th January 2018
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Looks good OP, I fancy selling my Elise and trying a 7

573

Original Poster:

216 posts

159 months

Monday 29th January 2018
quotequote all
I found these pictures that Philip Imperiale posted on Drivetribe: https://drivetribe.com/u/-xB1rBfnQLufTOfFJ69epw?ii...

573

Original Poster:

216 posts

159 months

Monday 29th January 2018
quotequote all
The next owner, also in Scotland was a chap called Alan Gourley. I understand that Alan is / was an engineer for Honda. He stripped the car and restored areas that were starting to show signs of age. From the condition that the car is in now he obviously did a very thorough job.



He also did a good job of documenting his work in a thread on Scottish Elises: https://www.scottishelises.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php...

Alan's photobucket: http://s647.photobucket.com/user/Gourlay83/library...

573

Original Poster:

216 posts

159 months

Monday 29th January 2018
quotequote all
...and Alan sold the car to a chap called Frank Donaghy. Frank had it 5 years, and it shared space with numerous Lotuses and it seems lots of motorbikes. I think Frank had raced bikes when younger but now found that he felt in his advancing years he wanted to let a few of his toys go.

So, back to where the story started. I agreed to buy the car from Frank and made my way up the country to Glasgow.

Frank was an absolute gent, and I spent a few hours there while he took me out for a drive, through the history of the car and showed me all of the spares.

Eventually, I got strapped in and started the almost 500mile journey home. First impressions, you need to be really careful how you drive the car as it draws an unbelievable amount of attention. I really underestimated just how daft a fluorescent yellow Caterham would look in reality and how much people would gawp at it. 100% positive reactions though and really hard to drive on the motorway as people pulled alongside but didn't overtake. I'd look over and either parents have slowed down and kids were waving and smiling at me or someone would be pointing a camera phone.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that it drove really well and was surprised that it felt quite quick. I think a part of that compared to the ones I'd test-driven previously is in part down to the difference of having just me in the car compared to having a salesman in the passenger seat alongside you. That additional weight is obviously a large percentage in a car like this. The other thing, is that the engine is incredibly flexible. It's the sweetest K-series i've driven and I think a large part of that is just how well it's set up. The cams have been timed properly with verniers and it's obviously been mapped really well. It's incredibly tractable and will pull from modest revs even in 6th. In low gears, with the low final drive and the short ratios of the 6 speed box the shift-light flashes, select next gear accompanied with a crack and often a flame from the exhaust and it seems to be flashing again. It sounds EPIC for a 4-pot engine, it's easily the best sounding 4-pot I’ve ever owned. Exhaust and induction are probably too loud for track though. Flames and crackles on the over-run are ridiculous too and appeal to the child in me.

To prove I collected it from Scotland, here's a picture of it with some Highland Cattle.



...and this is at the first fill-up of many somewhere North of the Border. This shows off some of the things I didn't like and wanted to address soon into ownership: the stick-on front plate, rear plate with flag, Scottish Ducati ownersclub stickers and a random Akropovic sticker next to the exhaust. It also shows how the paint is a) f*cking mental in reality and b) really strangely faded different amounts on different parts of the car.







This is the view I shivered through, despite 3 coats, for hours on end. It turns out that a Caterham with no heater and without a roof is quite cold at motorway speeds in late November.



I called it a night at my parents in Manchester and stuck it on their drive, retiring inside for a beer.



The next day I continued the drive and finally made it home. I bring lots of cars back and normally I get no interest from anyone in the family at all. This time they all ran out to see the car and I got lots of enthusiasm from the kids. My youngest called shotgun and blagged the first ride, being particularly pleased that she had matching ear-defenders.



Rocket.

1,226 posts

207 months

Monday 29th January 2018
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Lovely Caterham OP, I think I used to follow your Elise thread on Seloc, glad to see you found a equally focused car to replace it, would be interested to hear how you think they compare. I have a love of light cars too and the Caterham itch will be scratched one day too I am sure.

573

Original Poster:

216 posts

159 months

Monday 29th January 2018
quotequote all
So back home, first things first. If anyone's read any of my previous threads on other forums it'll be no surprise that I'm more than a little OCD with my cars. So to start I peeled off all the previous owner's stickers and removed the numberplates.



The rear plate was covering loads of old sticky pads that took ages to remove. Once I did, it revealed a history of the numberplates it's worn via the extent of progressively less faded areas.



As documented above, I have a list of the plates it's worn in the history and it's had a few short ones. As you can see from the fading and the placing of those rivnuts it had the shorty plate (14 S) early in it's life, then a larger plate (D10 NOS) that the owner drilled into the body to fit rivnuts for frown.

I have an appropriate numberplate that I'm going to put on the car, but for now I fitted a new plain plate with Irish font just to tidy things up. The font I chose is the legal Irish font which is a cleaner type then the UK one. It has perpendicular ends to the letter formations so it looks neater than the UK one. I told you I was a bit OCD... This pic also shows the faded area on the back compared to the small circle of slightly less faded paint under the Superlight R badge. This is from where I peeled off the Ducati owners' club sticker.



For the front I drilled a 3/4 sized plate to match 2 rivnuts that were already in the nosecone.



However, it looks miles better without IMO, so I'll probably not use one.



I then just gave it a quick look over. Its really useful being able to take the engine cover and nose off so easily.





I popped the airfilter off to try my Reverie carbon box on, that I have from the K20 Elise. Removing the filter revealed the carbonfibre induction horns.


573

Original Poster:

216 posts

159 months

Monday 29th January 2018
quotequote all
So first day with the car down here after it's lived up in Scotland for years I decided to take my wife out for lunch in it.

You'll remember if you've been reading carefully that I said the car was purchased by a Mr Cleverly. His business partner and the chap that owned the 'matching' car was a gent called David Trolley.

Anyway, we're in the carpark after lunch, I'm sat in the Caterham and this chap with his wife walk over.

"You wouldn't believe it, but I used to have one of these, exactly the same colour".

"Your name isn't Mr Cleverley is it?"

"Ha, no, I'm David Trolley".

So by complete coincidence, on the very first outing in the car on the first time it's been back in the area for 18 years or so I met the man that had the sister car. I've got his phone number so I'm going to arrange to head over there. He used to do trackdays in it and says he has loads of pictures. Will hopefully be pleasant weather and I can take the gent out in it. Would be cool if he still knows the original owner of mine. Would be great to meet up with him.

Edited by 573 on Wednesday 4th July 15:57

Ollie C

103 posts

161 months

Monday 29th January 2018
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Absolutely awesome. My favourite colour too. Puts me in mind of the one of the first videos I watched on YouTube.

https://youtu.be/830avqyeTDs

Justin S

3,561 posts

219 months

Monday 29th January 2018
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Great story . Looking forward to the next postings.

573

Original Poster:

216 posts

159 months

Tuesday 30th January 2018
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Thanks for the feedback and interest all.

Ollie C said:
Absolutely awesome. My favourite colour too. Puts me in mind of the one of the first videos I watched on YouTube.

https://youtu.be/830avqyeTDs
I love this one for a slice of retro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQAWL4_TO4E

I'm not sure any other video is so representative of its time. biggrin

Smitters

3,301 posts

115 months

Tuesday 30th January 2018
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Ollie C said:
Absolutely awesome. My favourite colour too. Puts me in mind of the one of the first videos I watched on YouTube.

https://youtu.be/830avqyeTDs
K2 RUM, the second coming, is currently being hammered together. There's a fair few posts about it on the Facebook Caterham Techtalk page. Looks like it may be suitably swift.

stew-STR160

7,826 posts

196 months

Tuesday 30th January 2018
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That's a proper 7. VHPD engines belong in those, and Lotus Elise/Exige. What a car.

Crazy coincidence with Mr Trolley!

Smitters

3,301 posts

115 months

Tuesday 30th January 2018
quotequote all
573 said:
For interest, here's a link to the thread in 2002 discussing the cars for sale on Blatchat: https://www.lotus7.club/forum/chitchat/2-dayglo-su...

I'm not a member on there so can't reply. I may join but it seems to cost £50 just to be able to post on the forum.
Lovely car. The £50 gets you considerably more than the ability to post - worth a look at least (e.g. Silverstone GP club trackday for under £300...).