Well it was perhaps the worst kept secret of the week, and yet the buzz and anticipation at this morning’s press conference was palpable as the gathering of journalists awaited the Headmaster (Tony Fernandes). We’ll bring you a separate report from Steve Hindle, who attended the conference plus some insights from his interview with Andy Noble, Sales and Marketing Director for Caterham Cars.
Rather than steal any of Steve’s thunder, we’ll focus the rest of this article on details of the announcement itself.
The acquisition of Caterham Cars by Team Lotus Enterprise, represents the 4th business in the group which also includes; The Team Lotus Formula One squad, EQ8 Energy Drink and Team Lotus Merchandise and Licensing.
Tony Fernandes, Kamarudin Meranun and SM Nasarudin – the men behind the Team Lotus Formula 1 squad – completed the purchase several weeks ago buying out the shareholder consortium led by Corven Ventures, who acquired the Dartford car maker from the Nearn family through a Management Buy-In, led by former Lotus Cars General Manager, Ansar Ali.
Whilst Corven Ventures have now completely exited from their investment, Ali will continue on in the new organisation together with the company’s existing management team.
The acquisition of Caterham Cars by Team Lotus Enterprise will not only signal the continued development of the legendary Seven, but will provide Caterham with the platform to apply its philosophy of ‘adding lightness’ to exciting new models for the 21st Century.
Ansar has been responsible for energising Caterham’s export prowess during the last five years, creating the iconic Superlight R500 – Top Gear’s Car of the Year for 2008 – and Caterham’s first brand new model in 15 years, the SP/300.R sports prototype racer.
As custodians of Colin Chapman’s two-seater Seven since 1973, Caterham has been responsible for the evolution of a car originally conceived as a ‘fit for purpose’ race-car for the road in 1957.
Today, the Seven is arguably the benchmark for the perfect balance between power and intuitive, user-friendly handling, and in spite of its years remains one of the most raced cars in the world. It has also been the inspiration for the recently-launched Caterham-Lola SP/300.R for the race and track day community.
Tony Fernandes said: “Caterham has a unique place at the heart of the motoring world. As well as being proudly and staunchly British, it has an enviable and uniquely unblemished reputation within the industry for performance, handling and engineering excellence.
“Caterham Cars has remained wholly faithful to Colin Chapman’s philosophy of ‘less is more’, and the DNA of the original Seven can still be traced to the newest additions to Caterham’s product offering.
“It is already a successful business with sales across Europe, Japan, Australia and the Middle East, and under the guidance of the existing management team,we now have all the ingredients and the launch pad to further evolve that spirit and take Caterham to new exciting horizons with innovative products and greater global brand exposure.”
Caterham Cars, Managing Director, Ansar Ali, added: “This is yet another exciting chapter in the Caterham story. Until now, the resources Caterham has had at its disposal have, naturally, limited the exposure of the Caterham experience and the legendary Seven has had to rely almost entirely on its remarkable reputation and legacy.
“We will remain entirely true to the philosophy that we, as custodians of one man’s motoring concept, have protected for nearly 40 years.
“However, the acquisition of the company by Team Lotus Enterprise will allow our existing management team to take Caterham’s core spirit of pure driving enjoyment to a hitherto un-served audience.
“While the Seven will now have the global springboard it deserves and will continue to be evolved yet further, we also have the opportunity to expand the Caterham family beyond the Seven and SP/300.R and breathe new life into our uniquely respected brand and mature it into a truly global business.”