Price cut gives sports car a shot at suc­cess

The Advertiser - Motoring - - Cool Wheels - MARK HINCH­LIFFE

ENGL I S H sports car man­ufa c t u r e r Cat e r - ham is hop­ing a $26,000 price drop will at­tract cus­tomers – any cus­tomers.

Not one Cater­ham was sold last year and only one in 2008.

‘‘Yep, last year was the first year I had no de­liv­er­ies at all, so I am not a rich man,’’ says Cater­ham Cars Aus­tralia spokesman Chris van Wyk.

He says they had two prob­lems. ‘‘ The price is too high and most Club­man buy­ers want a kit car, some­thing that we do not of­fer,’’ he says. ‘‘In my ex­pe­ri­ence with this mar- ket, most buy­ers want to build a $40,000 kit car, or they may pay up to around $60,000 for a built-up car. Very few have the abil­ity to pay more.

‘‘So even now, we are re­ally still too ex­pen­sive for the mar­ket. This means we are re­ally looking at buy­ers who can af­ford a BMW Z4 or a Porsche Boxster, but for most of those our car is too fo­cused and ba­sic.’’

Yet he is con­fi­dent of at least a 100 per cent sales in­crease this year with the base model two-litre cost­ing $82,950 which is $26,050 less than out­go­ing $107,700 SVR 200.

Mr van Wyk says the price drop was due to ‘‘the more favourable cur­rency ex­change rate, the re­duced duty and a re­vised, less ex­pen­sive en­gine’’. And rather than just of­fer­ing one model, Cater­ham now has its largest range of Sev­ens on of­fer.

The Road­sport SV 175, Su­perlight SV R300 and CSR 175 are all pow­ered by a twolitre en­gine de­vel­oped with Ford in the UK. The new Euro 4 four-cylin­der en­gine pro­duces 129kW of power and re­places the pre­vi­ous ‘‘very nice, but also very ex­pen­sive’’ hand-built Cos­worth 2.3-litre with 147kW.

There is also the base model $64,900 Seven Road­sport SV 120, which re­places the SVR 120 and is pow­ered by a 1.6 Ford Sigma.

‘‘Our Road­sport SV 120 model also dodges the dreaded lux­ury car tax, be­cause it posts a fuel con­sump­tion fig­ure un­der seven litres per 100km,’’ Mr van Wyk says.

The Seven Road­sport SV 175, which is based on the out­go­ing SVR 200, is in­tended for road use and has weather pro­tec­tion, but no air­con­di­tion­ing. It fea­tures a short­throw man­ual five-speed gear­box, unas­sisted di­rect steer­ing, unas­sisted brakes and own­ers will still be able to see the front sus­pen­sion and steer­ing at work from the driver’s seat.

Top of the Cater­ham Seven range is the $95,530 CSR 175 with in­board front sus­pen­sion, in­de­pen­dent rear sus­pen­sion and ad­justable dampers and front anti-roll bar.

At the bud­get end is the Seven Road­sport SV 120 with its 1.6 litre Ford Sigma en­gine, five-speed man­ual gear­box, De Dior rear sus­pen­sion and 14in wheels. It still comes with full weather pro­tec­tion, elec­tri­cally heated wind­screen and cloth trim.

Cater­ham Seven sports cars are based on the 1957 Colin Chap­man-de­signed Lo­tus 7.

Cater­ham Aus­tralia also or­ders in com­plete or kit form racing cars, with prices de­pen­dent on cus­tomer spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

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