As you can see, the car is a Caterham 7. It was built from a kit delivered in October
1995 and was intended as a winter project. In fact, with the help of my younger
son Tim, it was completed in just over two weeks, much to my wife’s annoyance as
she thought it was going to keep me occupied for a good bit longer.
The car started life as a deDion chassis with a 2 litre Vauxhall engine running on
twin 45DCOE Weber carburettors and with a standard wet sump. It came with clamshell
wings, which seemed like a good idea at the time, as did the 16” wheels with Michelin
Pilot tyres. Boy, what a mistake they were - not for nothing did they become known
as Michelin ‘Pileups’!
After a couple of years of general motoring, which included a serious accident brought
about when the above mentioned tyres decided to take on the performance of ice skates
on a wet white line whilst driving over the Devil’s Dyke above Brighton (well, Hove
actually), I decided that I’d had enough of pottering about and investigated competing
in sprints and hillclimbs. The need for speed lead to a long list of modifications
and performance improvements that have taken 15 years to reach their current state.
I am indebted to Steve Broughton at SB Developments of Surbiton for relieving me
of so much money over the years and which would otherwise simply have been wasted
on trivia. Seriously, Steve’s advice has been tremendous and we have now arrived
at a outstanding hillclimb car; I just wish that my driving skills were up to the
car’s performance. Most of the engine tuning parts have come from SBD, and the cylinder
head and inlet manifold modifications, on Steve’s recommendation, by Simon Armstrong
at Ultimate Performance. With 250 bhp and 195 lbft of torque on tap, the car is
quite simply outstanding and awesome to drive. I know that SBD have since sold a
number of similar configuration kits and their owners are as delighted as I am with
mine. To get the best out of any modification requires expert engine mapping and
for that I had no further to look than ‘the two Steves’ at Track n’ Road.
Being a 16 year old car, its not going to be as sophisticated (if that term can be
applied to a kit car) as a more modern Caterham chassis. Its undoubtedly heavier
than today’s units, especially with the Vauxhall lump, but being 6’ 2” and 15½ stone,
were I to start again, I would seriously look at the wider SV chassis, with a Ford
Duratec engine which is both a lot lighter than the Vx, cheaper and very tunable.
For now though I’m delighted with her.