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Caterham calls time on iconic Superlight R500

Published: 08 July 2014

The final Caterham Superlight R500 has rolled off the production line as the Dartford sports car maker closes the order book on one of its most extreme creations.

The 253bhp R500, which is capable of reaching 60mph in 2.88 seconds, pirouetted onto the scene in a cloud of tyre smoke in 2008.

This lightweight David went on to win hearts and minds around the world by beating the Goliath Bugatti Veyron on Top Gear TV’s test track by nearly half a second.

Big in Japan: 50% of Caterham Superlight R500s sold overseas

The final model, number 174 off the line, was completed on 7 July 2014 before being packed up and sent off to Caterham’s distributor in Peru.

During its run, more than 50% of R500s were sold overseas, with the biggest export markets Japan and Italy, followed by France and then Germany. Celebrity buyers included ‘Road to Hell’ singer Chris Rea.
 
Caterham said the life of the R500 had come to its natural end, with the lifecycle of a typical Seven model lasting five years. 

The R500's run was extended due to its popularity, but Caterham will now focus on the more powerful, supercharged Seven 620R which sits firmly at the top of its high-performance tree.

Landmark Caterham R500 ‘perfectly encapsulated Colin Chapman’s original ethos’

Graham Macdonald, Caterham CEO, said the R500 helped cement Caterham’s position as one of the world’s best-known British sports car makers.

He added: 'It was a landmark model for us in many respects. Its performance on the road and track was matched by the impact it had on our brand.

'It represented the start of a new era in which Caterham stepped into the 21st century, but it perfectly encapsulated Colin Chapman’s original ethos and harnessed our determination to provide accessible fun like no other.'

Although Caterham is no longer producing the R500, the car was immortalised in model form by Matchbox and was even available as a remote-control Christmas present at Marks & Spencer.

By Adam Binnie

Contributor and new cars editor on our sister website Parkers.co.uk

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