What comes after seven? Eight, perhaps, but for Caterham Cars, the answer appears to be the new SP/300.R, a prototype-style, open-wheel racer just begging for a track day.
“Motorsport is not only part of the history of Caterham, it’s been the lifeblood running through the character of our vehicles -- race cars for the road,” said Ansar Ali, managing director of Caterham Cars. “Today, racing is not only the heartbeat of the business, it’s an intrinsic part of our fabric both here and abroad and the SP/300.R represents the next logical step in the development of our product offering.”
Although Caterham has long been tied (at least through history) to Lotus, the SP/300.R was birthed in partnership with a different British sports car manufacturer. The company actually turned to Lola Cars, a renowned manufacturer of racing chassis, to help develop this new offering. The SP/300.R, dubbed by both Caterham and Lola as a sports prototype, appears to mix bits of Lola’s LMP racers with the company’s B08/90 trackday special, but is actually an all-new design.
According to Caterham, the SP has been designed from the onset like an actual Le Mans car, and benefits from full computational fluid dynamics analysis. That advanced process allowed the company to fine-tune the SP’s aerodynamics, and hone the front splitter, body form, rear diffuser, and ground effects. The SP’s body isn’t the only bit inspired by actual racing machines.. Lola and Caterham designed a bespoke aluminum tub for the SP with a longitudinally-placed engine mounted amidships. The suspension is fully race designed as well, with the rear architecture actually pulled directly from Lola’s Formula 3 cars, including the fully-stressed rear axle. The front suspension features dual wishbones with pushrod dampers, and ride height is fully adjustable at each corner.
As is the case with the Seven, the SP/300.R is available with an engine supplied by Ford. The standard offering is a supercharged form of Ford’s Duratec I-4, which cranks out 300 horsepower. That may not sound like much, but keep in mind the SP tips the scales at a lithe 1320 pounds, essentially bestowing a power-to-weight ratio on par with that of the Bugatti Veyron. Caterham says the SP/300.R can sprint from 0-60 mph in 2.5 seconds, and reach a top end of about 170 mph. Although this is the prescribed powertrain setup, Caterham is willing to adapt the chassis to fit other engines per request.
At this point, the SP/300.R is a track-only toy, but Caterham is reportedly looking into developing a street-legal variant (at least for the U.K.), designed to compete with cars like the Radical SR1. Until that happens, owners who pony up $95,200 for the opportunity to own one will be restricted to using the car at various track day events, or a one-make race series currently under development.
Check out two videos of the car below.