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Caterham unveils new road car concept with F1 link
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Caterham
Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Sep 2013   |  12:06 pm GMT  |  60 comments

Caterham today launched a new road car project, the AeroSeven Concept at the Singapore Grand Prix as it pushes ahead with its ambition to build links between its F1 team and its road cars.


The idea is for the first AeroSeven models to be delivered to customers at the end of 2014. This is not the car being developed in conjunction with Renault’s Alpine brand. That car is scheduled to be launched in 2016. This is a development of the existing Seven CSR platform.

The car is powered by a two litre, Ford-derived 237hp engine, with a 0-100km/h time of four seconds. It draws on learnings from the F1 team, with input from performance director John Iley. The team boasts that the car has had extensive development work in the wind tunnel to get the balance between downforce and drag.

Team owner Tony Fernandes said that he needs Caterham to be at least a midfield team for Caterham to benefit fully from the F1 association. He admitted that Caterham F1 team had a bad year in 2012 and tried to grow too quickly and that this year has been about “back to basics”.


Fernandes’ plan is to target the Asian market with affordable sports cars and also to develop an affordable motorsport ladder using products derived from F1 engineering links.

“I want people in Asia and the UK to be able to have a little race car and be able to go around the tracks which are available,” said Fernandes. “We want to make racing affordable and make F1 technology accessible.

“Right now it’s all high-end; McLaren, Ferrari there are few people who can afford that. My mantra is to try to make things affordable and accessible.”

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60 Comments
  1. Jock Ulah says:

    Cool! Does it come with swappable colour panels?

    Strip out the mechanicals, shrink it down a bit and it would make a great phone case.

  2. Elie says:

    Wow what fabulous alternative sports cars. Love it.

  3. Andrew Carter says:

    Wow, thats rather ugly and the bodywork looks like it’s been tacked onto the 7. Plus those LED’s down the side look distinctly chavy.

    1. Grant H says:

      Got to say i prefer the real caterham 7 thats a drivers car

    2. iceman says:

      To be fair it does look like an attempt to fix the main deficiency of the Lotus 7, the aerodynamics. Just a shame that in the process they’ve unfixed something that wasn’t broken, the looks.

  4. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

    You can’t hide how hideous a car looks by using led lights and blue leds down the side. Bet it goes like stink, and I bet it goes even faster without a big front numberplate dragging the aero back.

  5. dren says:

    I like the design. Any idea of the price point James?

  6. Mark says:

    Man that’s ugly…

  7. Random 79 says:

    ‘This is a development of the existing Seven CSR platform’

    Old car, new tricks…or at least a new body ;)

    1. JCA says:

      Most small car manufacturers use a tubular steel space frame chassis (Unless they make £300k plus carbon tubs and build single digit cars a year, before going bankrupt shortly after starting). Even the much vaunted Noble m600 uses one. The CSR frame is as well designed as most new ones, and has been updated over the years. Plus there are legal issues with a new one (Crash test legislation would be a huge one).

      I’m surprised they’re not using their new universal aftermarket supercharger kit, as this is about 50-100kg heavier than the seven, and cars like the Atom have as much as 300 bhp, with similar weight.

      BTW James, other websites are quoting 237 bhp, not 273.

  8. The all important question: How much?

  9. SteveH says:

    No windscreen? Great.

    1. jakobusvdl says:

      Good point, and it doesn’t’t look like it would be easy to style one to suit,, a screen would probably stuff up the aero too.
      Maybe it looks better in real life……still it looks better than a ktm x-bow

    2. JCA says:

      It’s a track day car concept. They expect you to use a helmet.

  10. franed says:

    An unusual design to say the least! Still it’s for Asian markets, they may like it, hopefully it will be in countries where it never rains.

    But the name, surely they will be sued by Morgan!

    1. Spyros says:

      I thought Morgan was keen to let their Aero be quietly forgotten… or do they still make it?

  11. Nic Maennling says:

    Am I the only one that hates the entire display of smoking doughnuts ? How juvenile.

    1. Dai Dactic says:

      I’m afraid we’re long passed the golden age of motoring and now poised at the top of the development s-curve where the law of diminishing returns dictates that ‘entertainment’ shall triumph over technology.

  12. Sebee says:

    I have to say, this is quite unusual looking. Interesting that it’s FORD powered, as it shows that maybe the relationship with Renault is not going to be that long term and are diversifying.

    Immediate thought here is that 0-100 time of 4s is no longer sufficient with production cars dipping into fives. How is the price point vs. the Atom for example? And the windshieldless design means helmets will be mandatory in this thing. Also because of that horrible beam running between the seats, any quick change of direction will mean a nice solid impact into the edge of the beam for anyone who’s the right height. Heavens forbid a side impact scenario. But it’s easy to be critical. Obviously there is an audience for this car, or they would not make it.

    1. RogerD says:

      As per the story, the car is based on the Caterham CSR – which has a FORD engine. Nice conspiracy theory though o_O

      No windscreen just means impact-rated sunglasses and a peak cap if it’s sunny ;)

      This car is just a marketing exercise – a wacky concept with cool but entirely silly styling features. I can’t imagine it will get into production. If you want a Caterham “little race car” you’ll buy the SP300. If you want a Caterham “butt-ugly super quick road / race car” you’ll buy the R600.

      As for an F1 link – I see it has CF seats, four tyres and a steering wheel with buttons. Totally F1, Fernandez!

    2. JCA says:

      I don’t think Renault make an equivalent longitudinal drive train. Plus I understand they won’t be using the same engine as the Co developed Alpine. The talk was of a Toyota engine.

  13. Warren G says:

    It’s definitely got some character, lol, but I don’t see much of an F1 link in it. Doesn’t even use the same make of engine as their F1 cars. Don’t appear to be any shapes in the body either that evoke images of being born from an open wheel thoroughbred.

    I like his idea about “affordable” race cars, but isn’t F1 SUPPOSED to be high end? That could be part of the reason Ferrari & McLaren road car divisions are successful.

    Be interesting to get an R&D costs comparison between developing a new Ferrari & something like this Caterham.

    1. Spyros says:

      No F1 link? But surely, it’s green and has yellow rims on its wheels!

  14. Cedricbaum says:

    My mantra is to try to make things affordable and accessible.”
    What about adding beautiful to his Mantra. This thing looks like a submarine on four wheels!
    Wonder what Jeremy Clarkson’s view is of caterhams latest creation, ugly as I say!

  15. Mark J says:

    I personally like the philosophy behind the car and hope the company does well. But it needs to be desirable as well and if it looks this cheap and un-refined from a design point of view then it won’t just be their F1 team that are back markers. The company does need to evolve from the original 7. But I feel what they have presented is not the right step in that direction.

  16. Søren Kühle says:

    Holy Batpoles Batman!
    It’s the Frogmobile!

    1. jeffrey says:

      +1

      LOL!

    2. JCA says:

      Thank you very much!!! I now have ‘We all stand together in my head’. Pom pompom, padia.

  17. Jodum5 says:

    how many different ways can you say “fugly”?

  18. Lee says:

    Is the link that they’re the same colour? I think that’s about as far as it goes, although it may be faster than the F1 car.

    1. JCA says:

      Well, its a seven with aero down force, and less drag, so it will be plenty fast. Give it round headlights, and it will be…. , well, less ugly.

  19. Mike from Colombia says:

    What an odd looking thing.

  20. Bill Nuttall says:

    Clearly the looks are decisive, personally I think it’s fantastic. My main concern is that acres of carbon fibre and ‘affordable’ are rarely paired together. I’m guessing they actually mean cheaper than a McLaren, but not by much.

  21. Quade says:

    Damn! What an ugly car!
    I’d rather buy a door.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Generally buying a car is a good deal as you get at least two doors…but I’ve looked closely at this one and I’m pretty sure there are none.

      How are old people supposed to get in or out?

      Before anyone gets offended, stop and ask yourself this: Are I about to suggest that old people are going to be too old to want to buy this car?

      Old people are people too, and some like to have fun :)

      1. Jock Ulah says:

        I am old.
        I like to have fun (occasionally).
        I am a designer –
        So I could have a bespoke carbon-fibre mini-ramp made to suit.

        But –
        I am a designer –
        So I might specify a green brick with rounded corners for a house . . .
        But I wouldn’t want to climb into one.

      2. Random 79 says:

        Whoever the designer is that posted the ill-fated reply: Lol :)

  22. Random 79 says:

    I’ve never understood Tony’s business plan.

    1: Decide you want to create a car company.

    2: Buy the rights to an established English car company.

    3: Spend millions to create an F1 team using that name.

    4: Spend a year or so in court and wads on lawyers to defend those rights against the same established name you just bought.

    5: Lose that fight.

    6: Say “oh well” and buy the rights to another established English car company.

    7: Spend still more millions to develop your F1 team using that name so that it’s still capable of finishing 10th.

    8: Create a bog-ugly concept car apparently based on your F1 car but mostly based on the same car your new company has already been building for years.

    9: Target the Asian market.

    Wouldn’t this be simpler:

    1: Decide you want to create a car company.

    2: Create your own car company and put your own name on it.

    3: Create a car.

    4: Target your own market.

    Much simpler.

    Now I know the idea is that using an established name gives you a head start and if he was targeting English market I’d fully understand, but is Caterham really an established name in Asian markets?

    1. JCA says:

      1. He originally wanted to buy Lotus Cars from Proton, so licencing the Lotus Racing name made perfect sense.

      2. Then Danny Bahar shows up and decides Lotus should take on Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin at the same time, heaping huge debt onto the company. He also decides end the relationship with Fernandes and to sponsor the GENII owned Renault F1 team. (Lets not mention the IndyCar engine debacle.)

      3. Fernandes buys Team Lotus name and wins the court case for its use, but realises he won’t get Lotus Cars (or if he did, it would be a mess), so buys Carerham, with the plan to create what he thought Lotus should have become before Bahar. Sells Team Lotus name back to Lotus Cars.

      4. Starts with an existing brand name to build his car company, while (possibility) increasing motorsport participation into LMP2 (taking over from where Lola left off) , GP2, and continuing with stand alone series with sevens, the sp300r and adding a new cart series.

      As for Caterhams position in F1, Fernandes believed the promises of the big teams of their commitment to cost cutting, maybe his only really big mistake in this venture.

      1. Random 79 says:

        All true, but to me it still seems like a strange way to do things…but then again I’m not a multi-millionare :)

      2. JCA says:

        I forgot to ad that Tony romanticised the Lotus of Chapman, so it was a dream of him to own it one day. So Caterham was the next best thing. High powered CEOs all have huge egos, so, while ordinary people would have cut their losses at my point 2, it became a personal game with Bahar that he, like most type A guys, was determined to win.

      3. Random 79 says:

        Strangely enough that does make sense.

      4. aveli says:

        the lotus elise looks much better albeit decades older!
        they should’ve looked at copying the elise chassis with ques from lamborghini external styling.
        no so hard to make a car look nice.
        they’d be lucky to sell 10 of those in as many years

      5. JCA says:

        The problem with the Elise platform is that, though its aluminium bonding process is very clever, it is also very labour intensive, thus expensive. Cars made with it need to cost close to the Evora and Exige Roadster to be profitable. Tubular steel chassis are much simpler and cheaper to make and using their existing platform, avery good design, means they don’t have to go through the expensive EU crash testing.

        This is also a concept, so the styling is supposed to be provocative, like that hideous Lexus SUV thing at the Frankfurt show. I would assume that the end product will be toned down substantially, as in no LEDs down the side and, hopefully, conventional headlights (It would look much better with those quartered circular headlights from that BMW 328 humage of a few years back).

      6. vvipkho says:

        Caterham name is sail on the sea too..

  23. ACx says:

    Behold, the Caterham Kermit. Cant wait for their concept Piggy.

  24. Ed says:

    And what happens when it rains? Briliant!

  25. Spyros says:

    What’s the point of a ‘new’ Caterham (with or without “F1 links”) that’s slower than the fastest existing Super7?

    Yes, 4″ for a 0-62mph time really is too slow. Think again.

    1. JCA says:

      They make an aftermarket supercharger kit for four cylinder engines. I would imagine it would be an option on the production model.

      1. Spyros says:

        Isn’t an option for the S7? If so, we’re back at square one.

        Ironically, the original Lotus 7 had a pretty obvious F1 link, too, being a Lotus… so long as you compared it with a front-engined F1 car, of course.

        Still, maybe we’re missing something about this new one. Perhaps the F1 link is that it has a diffuser..?

      2. JCA says:

        I think it is fairly new, and is available to other small manufacturers, so may become available to individual custommers soon. The front engine thing does at least deferentiate it from its competition, who usually use mid mounted transverse drive trains from hatchbacks. Lets face it, they are plenty fast enough for most people as is. The retro kit car thing also doesn’t translate well in Asia, so a re-body to something that looks modern, while still cheap and easy to produce, makes a lot of sense.

  26. John says:

    Who would buy a car with the beam in the middle? What is that for? Safety?

    1. Random 79 says:

      Good question. It would have to be seriously annoying while sitting in the car.

    2. Quade says:

      Its a prototype anti-speed device.

      It works by slicing you neatly in two (aided by cornering g-forces) as a means to persuade you to “sharply” lose interest in dangerous high speed manoeuvre’s.

      Speed cams, tickets, the old bill? Those are all so old school!

      1. Random 79 says:

        I was right: That would be seriously annoying ;)

  27. Mr_Peabody says:

    If that represents Iley’s thinking on aero the drag and low downforce problems with the F1 car get much clearer.

  28. aveli says:

    the more i look at this car the more it grows on me. i think tony fernandez could be on to a winner with this. i noticed he intends to introduce a whole range of cars.
    this car could be a winner with a canopy. great detailing.

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