Caterham Superlight R500 (2008): first official pictures

Published: 14 April 2008

Talk about giant slaying… Caterham’s latest rocket, the Superlight R500, will reach 60mph from rest in just 2.88 seconds – and all for £37k. That’s thanks to 263bhp and a kerbweight of just 506kg. Before you reach for your calculator that’s 520bhp per tonne, not far off the Bugatti Veyron.

The chassis comes from Caterham’s Series 3 model, but the R500 gets the nose from the CSR with carbonfibre winglets designed to produce downforce. Lots of carbonfibre and kevlar bits and pieces help keep the weight down, along with thinner body panels and even aluminium rear light housings.

And the power for this Caterham R500?

The power comes from a 2.0-litre Ford Duratec engine. Tweaked by Caterham Powertrain (CPT) it turns out an impressive 132bhp/litre and 177lb ft of twist (up from the R400’s 210bhp and 150lb ft).

Sitting in a Caterham has always been a yesteryear experience, and they’ve now added some decidedly 21st century toys to modernise the cockpit a little. There’s now keyless ignition, flush-fitting switchgear, plus a quick-release Momo wheel with integrated indicator switches, a Stack display and shift lights. Needless to say, this is still a very focused cabin – you won’t choose one of these to be pampered.

Which go-faster goodies are on the Caterham Superlight R500?

To make sure your runs to 60mph are consistently sub-three seconds, there’s the £2950 option of a sequential gearbox, though it adds 10kg to the kerbweight. Launch control is £350, and Eibach springs and dampers from the race-spec C400s will set you back £1250. A carbon induction airbox is £450.

As standard, the Superlight comes with a limited slip diff, kevlar seats with a four-point harness, adjustable dampers and gorgeous 13-inch anthracite wheels. The R500 is on sale now, fully-built for £36,995. Damn good value when you consider it’ll shame anything this side of a Veyron. 

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy