Caterham has revealed its first all-new model since the 21 more than 15 years ago, a sub-600kg sports prototype complete with a Lola chassis and a supercharged 300bhp Ford Duratec engine.
Revealed this morning at the Autosport International show in Birmingham, the Caterham-Lola SP/300.R will initially be used in a one-make race series from 2012 and as a trackday special, but the firm is seriously considering a road-legal version.
The model will sit at the top of Caterham’s range of the iconic Seven and its various derivatives; the firm calls it a “top end natural progression” for its customers.
Caterham describes the Lola Cars-supplied aluminium race chassis as bespoke. The SP/300.R has also been designed by Lola using CFD with input from Caterham; its design is aero rather style-led for maximum aero efficiency and downforce, although some Seven design cues such as its grille are carried over.
A large rear wing dominates the traditional sports prototype design, while an F1-style raised nose sits at the front along with a lift-reducing forward splitter.
The SP/300.R gets full race suspensions with double wishbones at the front and rear, pushrod dampers, an adjustable ride height and bespoke wheels and tyres. The rear suspension is a development of the system used in Lola’s Formula Three and World Junior cars.
Powering the SP/300.R is a new Caterham-tuned supercharged version of Ford’s familiar 2.0-litre Duratec unit with 300bhp. The engine has been tuned to offer a linear torque delivery and is mated to a semi-automatic Hewland gearbox. A push-to-pass button also features.
Caterham is quoting some mighty performance figures; 0-60mph should take just 2.5sec and a top speed of 170mph is possible. It produces 500bhp-per-tonne excluding the driver.
Other engines are able to be fitted to the SP/300.R, although Caterham’s stock unit is claimed to offer unrivalled levels of reliability with rebuilds virtually unnecessary.
Just 25 units will be built each year costing £60,000 excluding local taxes.