Caterham RST-V8 Levante (2008): first official pictures

Published: 26 February 2008

This is the Caterham RST-V8 Levante, an example of what happens when a chirpy British sports car turns over to the dark side. The Levante is the work of RS Performance, which has taken an SV chassis, stuffed a 2.4-litre supercharged V8 into the front and coated the lot in swathes of carbon fibre. The result is 550bhp in a chassis weighing little over 500kg.

The mathematicians among you will already have worked out that’s over 1000bhp per tonne, and the statisticians will know it’s more than a Bugatti Veyron. The 0-62mph sprint is completed in under three seconds.

How on Earth will the Caterham RST-V8 put all that power down?

With difficulty. The carbonfibre weight-loss diet means there's even less weight to push the rear tyres in the Tarmac. Hopefully the chassis, super-sticky tyres and traction and launch control will keep everything tidy.

Russell Savory, the man behind RS Motorsport, has been developing the Levante for over 16 years, so don’t expect any shoddy kit-car workmanship here. Weight-saving measures include a steering wheel fashioned with carbonfibre and Kevlar seats. Even the F1 style front splitter is carbon, although for £115,000 you might expect a bit of racing technology.

Click 'Next' to read about how this mad Caterham will try to keep all that power contained

That’s an awful lot for a Caterham!

It is, but think of it as a custom product backed up by Caterham’s tried and tested chassis know-how and the price becomes more manageable. Only eight Levante’s will be made at first, so buyers are unlikely to pass many on their way to a track day, or indeed on the track itself.

But you needn’t worry if you miss out on the first eight, because Caterham has told CAR Online that any customer looking for a more extreme or personal take on the Seven theme will be pointed RS Motorsport’s way in future.

So, if 550bhp is a little on the outrageous side for you, that supercharger can go, leaving a more manageable 400bhp. As Savory himself puts it, RS Performance can ‘turn imagination into reality’. A diesel-engined Seven, anyone? Thought not.