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Thread: 2003 Caterham SV Zetec 5spd

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    Princeton, NJ
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    61

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    Yeah, I figured you were looking for a response. Good luck with your sale, I’m bummed the timing is wrong for me.
    Lotus Europa, newest project
    Lotus Elan S4, almost a Sprint
    Lotus Élan S1, Enhanced
    Lotus Racing Kart, Track Terror
    Lotus Exige S, Wicked Road & Track

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    Tallahassee, Florida
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    Mike, I showed your Caterham to my wife and she thought is was absolutely beautiful! She has an eye for good looking pieces of rolling art. I watched your on-track video and that car runs like a scalded cat. I am now on my third Brunton Stalker and my current one was one of the very last ones built by and exceptional craftsman with the old frame pre-Minehart chassis design and ultimately very sorted by taking it to Scott Minehart and having him do a bunch of things to get it really dialed in. As you know, it primarily uses USA sourced components so the availability of replacement parts is not a big deal.

    I have long admired the Caterham's as they are the official Lotus 7 sponsored manufacturer when Lotus sold the manufacturing rights. Over the past few years, I have watched the distribution system for cars coming into the USA varying in all kinds of ways and have reportedly lead to long lead times for parts from the UK. I guess my questions are: How reliable are these cars overall and how difficult is it to currently obtain replacement parts for these cars in the event of breakage or a mishap? Are the parts costs significantly greater given that these are low volume cars and the source is in the UK? BTW, I am not trolling in any way shape or form. I am really curious about how ownership of the Caterhams is in the USA?
    Last edited by Astro Bob; 10-09-2017 at 09:50 AM.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    3,631

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    Hi Bob,

    You raise a bunch of questions - dealing with each in turn:

    I have watched the distribution system for cars coming into the USA varying in all kinds of ways and have reportedly lead to long lead times for parts from the UK.


    This distribution system for Caterham is not perfect. It gets better are you get closer to the source. The old Caterham USA dealer with Jon Nelson worked well. He had decent stock and you could reach him. It went through a hiatus when Caterham UK decided that the dealership needed to go to another place in California which ended up a complete and total fail. No parts stock assuming they would bother to even pick up the phone. Some of my phone calls with them were absolutely comical - they cared nothing for the brand in the USA other than churning out short term sales targets. Then Caterham UK loosened the restrictions allowing Bruce Beachman to enter the picture and some of the old long time dealers - BritAuto in TX and George Alderman in DE, to re-enter and rebuild a good and positive profile of Caterham USA support. So to be completely fair the past history of Caterham support in the USA has been decidedly choppy but I think it is in a much better spot today.

    It was while that CA dealer lot were messing up after sales support and I could not get a phone call back from them, that I started ordering direct from Caterham UK. Gave them a call direct first thing in the morning and an order would be on its way to arrive in 1-2 weeks. A group of us locally pool orders to save shipping. Caterham UK were aware of why - they said it was very common to have US owners call direct.

    I also ordered direct from places in the UK like Raceline, Meteor Motorsports or Car Builder Solutions or even Bookatrack (they are Caterham dealers in the Midlands in the UK). Never had supply issues as all orders would arrive within 2 weeks. The only supply issue I had delays on was getting brake bits out of the manufacturer, AP Racing and this was not Caterham's fault. Shock absorbers got held up in customs for 4 weeks as I educated the US customs folks that a shock absorber is a complete unit and not a collection of individual parts requiring inventory and separate duty on each component. The Caterham supply chain today is just as quick as Brunton Auto in my view albeit not as cheap.

    How reliable are these cars overall?


    Very reliable for me. My philosophy is have the cars well maintained at all times. I understand upfront that I am not driving a Toyota Camry but a high performance vehicle that needs a little greater attention. I have defined annual refresh lists that kick off every December. I have my "routine" before I drive on the road or on the track. I am mechanically sympathetic and listen to the car "talking" to me when driving. If a mechanic does the work then I check his work to give me piece of mind. I anticipate the wear cycle on my cars and sometimes anticipate the fail by replacing. A new car to me will go through a fettling process of maintenance work to where I feel confident in its reliability.

    I have had my share of breakages - hose splits, jubilee clip fails, flat tires, clutch, etc. but these are wear and tear items. Only once have I been towed home from when I was out touring and that was from a burst radiator host - one of those things. I have quite happily done couple hundred mile drives without needing to prep.


    How difficult is it to currently obtain replacement parts for these cars in the event of breakage or a mishap?
    Generally pretty easy. I know where to go to source parts. The engine parts for my Caterhams are Fords - parts available here in the US. You learn to find out what Caterham sourced its parts from. For example, wheel bearings on the CSR rear are Fox body Mustang parts for specific years with hubs being VW Passat of 1990s vintage. A T-9 box was sold on US cars. I have even found gear lever plastic locater clips for the Caterham 6 speed box in the US. Re-paneling can be done here in the US if you know where to go. Tires come from Roger Krause on the west coast. I have seen George Alderman straighten bent chassis. The only tricky part thing is the locked ECU on Duratecs. Simple solution is to replace it with another unlocked ECU or different brand or do an internet tune with a UK specialists at SBD.

    The Stalker may have more US parts available which makes things quicker and cheaper but the Caterham is more plug and play style so I dont need the level of craftsmanship and skill that building a Stalker requires. Swings and roundabouts.


    Are the parts costs significantly greater given that these are low volume cars and the source is in the UK?


    Yes and no. The Zetec SV is cheaper than the CSR as there are off the shelf solutions available here for most engine and transmission parts. The CSR has its share of unique parts (custom driveshafts for example) reflecting the bespoke independent rear end suspension but its not that many. My CSR brakes have been modified to use Harley Davidson fittings to avoid needing to use Caterham brake fittings. So not everything is in the UK.

    That said the Stalker parts have to be cheaper and are of a known parentage which makes them easier to source. But there are Stalker elements which are owner constructed and not off the shelf like they are at Caterham so the cost is in time/skill not parts cost.

    Of course if you try and fly a Stalker like Superman and fail by crash landing a chassis then sending a chassis to FL is soooo much easier than sending it to Arch or to Caterham (Caged) for re-jigging and or repair although if it was relatively minor then the work could be done by the better USA dealers.


    On the surface it looks like the Stalker would be easier to support but in practice the Caterham does just fine. Knowing where to go for the items/repair is the trick and even that is greatly assisted through this forum and Blatchat in the UK.


    In the end it is all swings and roundabouts. Different people weight the same facts and reach different conclusions because those conclusions suit their individual circumstances better. Personally the little extra effort required reflects that we have exotic cars and not Camrys.
    Last edited by Croc; 10-09-2017 at 02:29 PM.
    Mike

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Tallahassee, Florida
    Posts
    120

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    Quote Originally Posted by Croc View Post
    Hi Bob,

    You raise a bunch of questions - dealing with each in turn:



    This distribution system for Caterham is not perfect. It gets better are you get closer to the source. The old Caterham USA dealer with Jon Nelson worked well. He had decent stock and you could reach him. It went through a hiatus when Caterham UK decided that the dealership needed to go to another place in California which ended up a complete and total fail. No parts stock assuming they would bother to even pick up the phone. Some of my phone calls with them were absolutely comical - they cared nothing for the brand in the USA other than churning out short term sales targets. Then Caterham UK loosened the restrictions allowing Bruce Beachman to enter the picture and some of the old long time dealers - BritAuto in TX and George Alderman in DE, to re-enter and rebuild a good and positive profile of Caterham USA support. So to be completely fair the past history of Caterham support in the USA has been decidedly choppy but I think it is in a much better spot today.

    It was while that CA dealer lot were messing up after sales support and I could not get a phone call back from them, that I started ordering direct from Caterham UK. Gave them a call direct first thing in the morning and an order would be on its way to arrive in 1-2 weeks. A group of us locally pool orders to save shipping. Caterham UK were aware of why - they said it was very common to have US owners call direct.

    I also ordered direct from places in the UK like Raceline, Meteor Motorsports or Car Builder Solutions or even Bookatrack (they are Caterham dealers in the Midlands in the UK). Never had supply issues as all orders would arrive within 2 weeks. The only supply issue I had delays on was getting brake bits out of the manufacturer, AP Racing and this was not Caterham's fault. Shock absorbers got held up in customs for 4 weeks as I educated the US customs folks that a shock absorber is a complete unit and not a collection of individual parts requiring inventory and separate duty on each component. The Caterham supply chain today is just as quick as Brunton Auto in my view albeit not as cheap.



    Very reliable for me. My philosophy is have the cars well maintained at all times. I understand upfront that I am not driving a Toyota Camry but a high performance vehicle that needs a little greater attention. I have defined annual refresh lists that kick off every December. I have my "routine" before I drive on the road or on the track. I am mechanically sympathetic and listen to the car "talking" to me when driving. If a mechanic does the work then I check his work to give me piece of mind. I anticipate the wear cycle on my cars and sometimes anticipate the fail by replacing. A new car to me will go through a fettling process of maintenance work to where I feel confident in its reliability.

    I have had my share of breakages - hose splits, jubilee clip fails, flat tires, clutch, etc. but these are wear and tear items. Only once have I been towed home from when I was out touring and that was from a burst radiator host - one of those things. I have quite happily done couple hundred mile drives without needing to prep.




    Generally pretty easy. I know where to go to source parts. The engine parts for my Caterhams are Fords - parts available here in the US. You learn to find out what Caterham sourced its parts from. For example, wheel bearings on the CSR rear are Fox body Mustang parts for specific years with hubs being VW Passat of 1990s vintage. A T-9 box was sold on US cars. I have even found gear lever plastic locater clips for the Caterham 6 speed box in the US. Re-paneling can be done here in the US if you know where to go. Tires come from Roger Krause on the west coast. I have seen George Alderman straighten bent chassis. The only tricky part thing is the locked ECU on Duratecs. Simple solution is to replace it with another unlocked ECU or different brand or do an internet tune with a UK specialists at SBD.

    The Stalker may have more US parts available which makes things quicker and cheaper but the Caterham is more plug and play style so I dont need the level of craftsmanship and skill that building a Stalker requires. Swings and roundabouts.




    Yes and no. The Zetec SV is cheaper than the CSR as there are off the shelf solutions available here for most engine and transmission parts. The CSR has its share of unique parts (custom driveshafts for example) reflecting the bespoke independent rear end suspension but its not that many. My CSR brakes have been modified to use Harley Davidson fittings to avoid needing to use Caterham brake fittings. So not everything is in the UK.

    That said the Stalker parts have to be cheaper and are of a known parentage which makes them easier to source. But there are Stalker elements which are owner constructed and not off the shelf like they are at Caterham so the cost is in time/skill not parts cost.

    Of course if you try and fly a Stalker like Superman and fail by crash landing a chassis then sending a chassis to FL is soooo much easier than sending it to Arch or to Caterham (Caged) for re-jigging and or repair although if it was relatively minor then the work could be done by the better USA dealers.


    On the surface it looks like the Stalker would be easier to support but in practice the Caterham does just fine. Knowing where to go for the items/repair is the trick and even that is greatly assisted through this forum and Blatchat in the UK.


    In the end it is all swings and roundabouts. Different people weight the same facts and reach different conclusions because those conclusions suit their individual circumstances better. Personally the little extra effort required reflects that we have exotic cars and not Camrys.
    Mike, Thanks for the very detailed response to my plethora of questions. It appears that in many respects, the Caterham's are more plug and play than the Stalkers that are built by a variety of people with varying skillsets. Scott Minehart of Stalker Cars has often opined to me that when someone calls him out of the blue and asks if such and such Stalker is a good car that he responds "I don't know? I would have to see the car in person for a closeup inspection". As you so aptly pointed out, there appears to be more variability among some of the kits that have been put together by various builders.

    I think your practice of staying ahead of the curve on maintenance issues for your exotic cars is a wise one and likely keeps you from having many unexpected problems cropping up. I am surprised that someone has not yet hit the "buy" button but suspect that someone will be feasting their eyes on your car in their garage before the Thanksgiving holidays. Bob

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