Spannerhead Dot

Full Lock: Caterham Superlight R500

June 27, 2011 by Matt

Caterham Superlight R500

Maybe this’ll be the beginning of an ongoing series called “Cars I Would Give My Left Kidney to Drive.” Who knows.

The only thing for certain is that I would have more fun at the wheel of the Caterham Superlight R500 than almost anything on the road. I’m not known for my prognosticatory ability, but I think you can take that declaration to the bank.

Any doubts should be dispelled by a viewing of an R500 in being driven at 10/10ths, in this case at the hands of the Stig, wringing it out around the Top Gear test track.

I do wonder whether I’d fit in it, though—I’m 6’4″, and I remember vainly trying to look either over or under the structure at the top of a Miata’s windshield while conducting a test drive some years back. Small cars and my lanky frame don’t always get along.

But that very potential difficulty touches on the other major reason the R500, or cars like Caterhams in general, hold a special appeal: They’re kit cars. I don’t believe this applies to the R500 in particular (which you buy pre-assembled), but the “lesser” Caterhams, you assemble yourself. You specify the engine, transmission, suspension setup, gauge layout, and all the rest. So, in theory, I could customize the ergonomics to fit me perfectly.

All that said, when I start talking about building one and customizing it, I’m still off in la-la land; for as much of the assembly is required, it’s still a pricey proposition ($20K for the cheapest Caterham—with no engine), especially for a car with little-to-no practical value whatsoever.

But holy smokes, just to have five minutes behind the wheel at VIR. Heaven, I tell you.

Filed under: Caterham


  1. Bro in law says:

    There is an awesome video of this car vs a prosche 911 gt2 on YouTube going round the nurburgring (spelling?). Sorry, commenting from my phone.

  2. Ben says:

    You might need to grab one of those quickly, as Team Lotus just bought Caterham Cars and it is questionable as to whether they will make road versions anymore. This becons the questions… Wasn’t the original called a Lotus Super 7? Is there a relationship between the 2 entities that I don’t understand?

    • Matt says:

      Hmm…good tip. I can’t imagine Caterham not making 7 clones anymore. They’re very common at track days in the UK (and fairly popular here too—last time I was at VIR I saw a good half-dozen circling the track).

      The original was the Lotus 7:

      “After Lotus ended production of the Seven, Caterham bought the rights to it, and today make both kits and fully assembled cars based on the original design.”

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