Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Car Of The Day: March 16, 2011

Today's car of the day is Matchbox's 2008 Caterham R500.

The Caterham Seven (or Caterham 7) is a sports bike-sized sports car produced by Caterham Cars in the United Kingdom. It is based on the Lotus Seven, a lightweight sports car sold in kit and pre-built form by Lotus Cars, from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. After Lotus ended production of the Lotus Seven, in 1972, Caterham bought the rights to the design, and today make both kits and fully assembled cars. 2007 marked the 50th year of production of the Lotus/Caterham 7.

The Caterham Seven is a small, lightweight, two-seater sports car renowned for its performance and handling. Various other manufacturers offer a sports car in a similar basic configuration, but Caterham owns various legal rights to the Lotus Seven design and name. The company has taken legal action in the past in order to protect those rights. In South Africa, it lost its case against Birkin (a competitor) on the basis that it never obtained the rights from Lotus that it claimed it had. The modern Seven is based on the Series 3 Lotus Seven, though Caterham have developed it to the point that no part is the same as on the original Lotus.

For more information and pictures of the real car please visit: Caterham R500

We can thank "Top Gear" for this one making it to the Matchbox line.  Personally, I've been a huge fan of the real car since playing a game by the name of "Test Drive 5" for the PlayStation back in the late 1990s.  The Caterham was an unlockable car and I wasn't too enthusiastic about it.  There Mustangs and a Charger Daytona, so of course my attention was diverted there.  But then I took this one out for a spin.  Acceleration in spades.  Handled like a dream.  I could outrun everything, even if the car was limited by a low top speed compared to some of the other cars.  The ability to accelerate and weave through traffic were much better benefits than high top speed in this particular game as the racing was done on the streets.  Won me over right away so I was thrilled to finally have a Caterham in my collection!

The Superlight is available in both S3 and SV chassis sizes. The list of standard equipment reflects the Superlight's bias to track work; Wide-track front suspension, 6 speed gearbox, Carbon fibre dashboard and front wings, GRP aeroscreen and seats, racing harness, removable steering wheel. Quoted weight for the Superlight is about 50 kg (110 lb) less than the Roadsport, due in part to the lack of a spare wheel and carrier. Engine options again are something of a temporary mix of incoming Ford Sigma (150 bhp) and outgoing Rover k-series (160 bhp) for the R300. Both the R400 and R500 use the 2 litre variant of Ford Cosworth Duratec engine, in different states of tune. The R400 is quoted at 210 bhp (160 kW), the R500 at 263 bhp (196 kW). With the recent launch of the R500 (April 2008), Caterham made available the options of a sequential gearbox and launch control. Quoted performance for the R500 is 0-60 in 2.88 seconds and a top speed of 150 mph (240 km/h).

At the beginning of December 2008, the R500 was featured on the popular BBC television show Top Gear, putting in a timed lap of the Top Gear circuit of 1 minute 17.9 seconds. This is, to date, the eighth fastest official lap timed by the show, faster than, amongst others, the Bugatti Veyron. This feat was considered even more impressive due to the coldness of the conditions which made it difficult for the test driver (The Stig) to get heat into the tyres. Shortly afterwards, on the 14th December show, Top Gear made the R500 its '2008 Car of the Year'.

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