Planning a blat
Pictures I'll have to do later, but sold my old toy as grew out of love with it after 11 years - it was just sitting in the garage and always wanted a 7, never driven one (or a car like it) before so didn't have a benchmark.
Anyway, shopped around and saw one I wanted- 1998 1.8 with one owner from new, 36K miles. Bought from a garage after test driving it - went OK as far as I could tell.
After a few weeks, it didn't seem that quick - everyone said it must be fast but I used to reply by saying that it was nippy, not fast. Took it back twice to garage / dealer I bought it from for them to have a look at and each time they said it was fine. No smoke, no noise, nothing in coolant, started up fine, drove fine, just.....didn't pull as well as I thought it should. Wrote to Caterham to check power of engine and had it dyno'd. Meant to be 140bhp SS 1.8 engine. Dyno came back with a record breaking 77bhp...
Compression test revealed 2 cylinders not holding compression.
So, not going to return it as the selling garage obviously didn't know what they were doing with it (not a Caterham specialist I add) and entrusted Chaz at I-Tech Racing in Trowbridge to give me a lot more power.
As I was going to have to re-build an engine, I may as well re-build a more powerful one (ie - VVC) as my goal is to get it to 200bhp one day. Chaz agreed and suggested the VVC route - it will always be a road car and I may do a trackday, but wanted something that was driveable on the roads and not track specific. I bought a VVC lump off the internet and new liners / pistons, head sent off for skimming.....all the usual K Series stuff.
This was Chaz's first Caterham, although I chose him as he was a K-Series specialist and could also do a turnkey service - I don't have the time or skills to start taking engines out and send them off, so just wanted someone to fix the thing for me and I pick it up at the end.
Engine was from a MG ZR 160.
First problem strut brace doesn't fit as clouting some oil feed.
Second problem of plumbing a transverse engine into a longitudinal chassis.....
Clutch cable fouls engine.
Engine won't talk to car / car won't talk to engine as VVC and non-VVC wiring completely different. Emerald K6 ECU fitted but wires everywhere and having to re-wire it completely.
Cam sensor intermittent.
VVC lump didn't have a fuel pressure regulator, but for some reason it needs one in a Caterham...another day at the dyno wasted as it won't rev past 5K.
Lots of head scratching and decision taken to finally cut losses and ditch VVC gear, piper mild cams and veniers fitted to simplify and get it out of the workshop. Engine in and out 4 times to try and figure out various problems. On the last time, I instructed to fit Forged pistons and Con rods as it was being stripped again, so whilst it was apart they may as well be fitted to future proof it and save another strip down when I go for the tune again to 200bhp. I was originally keeping the cost down by not fitting them, but as it's been so long I had put some money by to have them fitted.
Now run in, everything works (new radiator was also needed so upgraded to triple core one in readiness for 200bhp), plus new battery, alternator, various sensors....etc....which all were failing or had failed on the old engine. Now has a healthy 165bhp on the dyno. And I can't bloody wait to get it back.
It's the one I wanted - BRG colour with clam wings, yellow stripe and Prisoner wheels - it's just a posing hack and not intended to be tracked, I have other stuff for that itch. It now goes as well as it looks (in my book anyway), and having drove it to run it in before being dyno'd for the last time, it just wants to send me backwards into the hedge compared to beforehand. The wait and expense has been worth it - now eyeing up suspension, LSD, brake upgrades......I know, I know, I should have bought one with everything already done, but I didn't do my research properly and fell in love with it as it was the colour and shape I wanted. I don't plan on selling it anyway so don't mind spending the money to get it properly sorted.