Sprung on a Superlight’s suspension, the underpinnings are comprised of wide-track front wishbones and adjustable spring platforms and a Watts linkage rear suspension, as well as an uprated rear antiroll bar working in conjunction with the rest of the DeDion rear suspension. This hybrid of an IRS and a solid rear axle suspension has been the choice for the Caterham for years, and it works like magic in tandem with the limited-slip differential. I know, I got to cane it. But before I caned it, I built it. Well, I did so with a lot of help from the tech at Caterham USA, the American importer located in Denver, Colo, that happens to be about a mile from my house. The garage where the cars get received is in a sort of rough area in Denver. This adds to the mystique in a way. Once we found the faceless operation we went inside where our project car lied waiting in a crate. We pried it open and looked inside like a scene out of Indiana Jones. There was an amalgam of parts along with the Caterham orange body with black racing stripes. After retrieving everything from the crate, we put the body on jack stands and laid the parts out in their respective area then got to work on the suspension. The attachment of the front wishbones was fairly straightforward as was the rear, especially with two people. It’s always nice to have someone to guide your bolts into the holes.
The trickiest part of the build (besides the wiring, which was done by Caterham’s tech) may have been the installation of the Caterham six-speed transmission. The 7000 CSR six-speed is like Amy Winehouse at church, it doesn’t fit in so well at first. The motor, on the other hand, bolted right in, and after a few more steps, like installing the seats and mounting up the 15-inch Motorsport wheels shod with Avon CR500 tires, the little roadster was ready for it’s shakedown run.
It was with much anticipation that I awaited the end of this. I spent years in England gazing at Caterhams and Lotuses and wondering how they performed. I also remember staring transfixed at one I would always see parked on the streets of SoHo and wonder how on earth they could be so ugly. The raised headlights make it look like a frog being squeezed by a cruel child. The newer version still has those raised headlights for obvious legal reasons, but I have to admit they’ve gotten a lot more attractive.
Ingress into the cockpit is not such a bad ordeal with the rollbar to assist, and the cabin seems to have ample legroom, even for my 6’3” frame. I turn on the ignition switch and push the James Bond button. Contained explosions and organized mechanical chaos fills the garage with the lively growl of the Duratec. Filling the Caterham with petrol for the upcoming drive proved a bit tricky. There seemed to be a few problems with the Aero filler cap accepting the nozzle. But after some patient pumping, (insert premature ejaculation joke here) we got on our way to the hills.