Ever since Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Graham Macdonald, took on the role of CEO at Caterham Cars, talk of a ‘mainstream model’ has been ripe. Last month former CEO, Ansar Ali, stepped down from his position of seven years by mutual consent with the board. Ansar Ali’s tenure held with it the main responsibility of re-launching the latest Caterham 7 range. With having been achieved, many feel he has now made way for Macdonald to usher in a “smooth transition into the next chapter of the Caterham Cars story”, as the group’s chairman, Tony Fernandes puts it.
Perhaps the new chapter for Caterham Cars will be explored off the world’s race and karting tracks, with a mainstream performance car that isn’t a variation on the open wheeled Seven? Macdonald recently discussed a new vehicle that will come with a roof (hallelujah) and with more luxurious features. Pricing for such a car could be pegged around the £40 000 mark (or roughly R500 000) putting it in competition with existing Lotus Elise type competitors.
Powering the flagship vehicle will most likely be a supercharged, 4-cylinder unit from Ford, which would continue the successful partnership the companies have enjoyed for many years with the iconic Caterham 7. Caterham Cars have also said it will most certainly be a global product (whatever that means) and that it could be scheduled as early as 2015. ”We want to make affordable sports cars. We’re going to stay within the areas that we’re good at. We know what we’re not good at and we’re not going anywhere near that. Our cars are going to be raw; they are going to be for the driver. We have started with the driving position and worked outwards”, said former CEO Ali.
The idea of launching a flagship model is not new at Caterham Cars, with access to finance always a hindrance in developing something new. The Caterham 21, for example, was a two-seater designed and hand built for the 1994 British Motor Show to celebrate 21 years of Caterham Cars. That car was styled Iain Robertson and developed by Jez Coates. It was offered with a range of 4-cylinder engines with as much as 172 kW in its most powerful form. Caterham originally intended to produce 200 cars per year, but fewer than 50 were actually made before production ceased. Let’s hope they make a better go of it in 2015.