Some cars are designed to get you from one place to another and others are made to set your soul free. The Caterham 170 R definitely falls into the latter category. In fact, it is in every respect an old-school roadster, an English roadster to boot. It’s one of the most unique cars that you’re ever likely to run across and it definitely brings back memories of old cars with more than enough class to impress almost anybody.
Coming Into Its Own
How did this particular car come into existence in the first place? For roughly the last three years, a Japanese company called VT Holdings has actually been in charge of the Caterham Company. As it turns out, these types of cars are exceedingly popular in the Japanese population. As a result, there was an overwhelming desire to create something that both looked and performed like the English roadsters from days gone by, yet incorporated newer technology that was both more dependable and in some cases, more affordable. That is how this particular car was eventually born. The car that would eventually become the Caterham 170 R weighs only 974 pounds and has 84 horsepower. That makes it one of the smallest cars currently in production. It also makes it one of the most unique vehicles on the road, something that most people would be proud to own.
Enough Power to Spare
With just 84 horsepower, you might be thinking that this car doesn’t have enough juice to get up a good hill without forcing someone to get out and push, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the car has more than enough power to get the job done, thanks in part to its 660 cc Suzuki three-cylinder engine. Even though it seems like it’s not much horsepower, it’s important to keep in mind how little this car actually weighs. At the end of the day, it’s capable of producing roughly 160 foot-pounds of torque. In fact, it got its name from the fact that it has a power to weight ratio of 170 English tonnes. That’s enough to satisfy even the most discerning of individuals, especially when you consider that this car is, at its very core, an English roadster. It wasn’t designed to go out on the racetrack and win races. It is designed to be exactly what it is, an open-top roadster that gives you the opportunity to get out and tour some of the back roads while enjoying the experience to the fullest. Truth be told, you’d probably be better off looking at a different kind of car all together if the only thing you are interested in is seeing how fast you can get from point A to point B. This car isn’t necessarily about speed (although it can go inanely fast). Instead, it’s all about the experience of driving it.
Replacing a Legend
This particular car was designed to replace Caterham’s previous model, the 160. This was a beloved car that practically anybody would consider themselves lucky to own. As a result, the 170 promises to be even more popular, as it incorporates many of the things that made the 160 so popular, with a few important changes. For example, it is slightly narrower than the 160. Clearly, you can tell by its name that it also produces a greater power to weight ratio. It’s all topped off with a 5-speed manual transmission. The car has disc brakes on the front and drum brakes on the rear, like so many other popular automobiles today. The thing that most people want to know is the bottom line. In other words, how does the car’s horsepower translate on the road? As luck would have it, it translates quite well. In fact, the car is capable of going from 0 to 60 and 6.9 seconds. That’s not nearly as fast as some race cars, but still respectable. The thing that’s really impressive is the car’s top speed. While it seems like it would be virtually impossible for a car of this size with only 84 horsepower, it’s capable of a top speed of 105 miles per hour.
Steering and Handling
Of course, the car has to be fairly responsive in order to be able to reach that top speed or it would be virtually impossible to handle. As such, Caterham included modern-day handling and suspension so that the car would be relatively easy to control, even at higher speeds. This is even more important when you consider the fact that the car is long and narrow. Furthermore, it has narrow tires. These tires don’t grip the road as well as wider tires would, so the steering and handling components on the car itself become even more important. Surprisingly, the car handles quite well even in the upper echelons of its speed capability. It also manages to hold its own during cornering, something that most people wouldn’t expect.
On a final note
There is one more thing that makes this car extremely unique. You can have Caterham build one for you or you can have them ship you a kit so you can build the car yourself. That fact alone makes this car special. After all, there just aren’t that many car kits that are available these days. It used to be something that was widely accepted, but it’s also largely become a thing of the past. Of course, if you want Caterham to build a car for you, it will cost you an additional $2,000 or so. That said, it might be well worth the extra money to have experts at the factory handle the building process as opposed to trying to do it on your own. Either way, you’ll end up with a car that goes a lot faster than you think it would and looks great the whole time it’s doing it.