July 28, 2006 Caterham is famed for producing some of the fastest cars in the world, and we tend to give the cars regular coverage because they offer a bang-per-buck factor that’s right up there with their power to weight ratio. So what happens when you take a Caterham and refocus its 550 kg weight towards achieving efficient fuel consumption rather than in getting there quickly? A modified Caterham Seven Roadsport 1.6-litre 16-valve K Series sports car was entered in the recent Shell Eco-Marathon. A bit of aerodynamic modification and a set of narrow low rolling resistance tyres were the main changes alongside some economic driving techniques to ensure it maximised every drop of fuel. The sportscar was the only road registered car in the event and the team was hoping for 100mpg. On the day, it recorded 131 miles per gallon.
The effort was supported by the Energy-Efficient Motorsport (EEMS) initiative of Motorsport Development UK and was modified by Axon Automotive. The Axon team aimed to beat last year’s record for a conventional road car and achieve above 100 mpg.
The standard Caterham Seven Roadsport 1.6-litre K Series used enhanced aerodynamics, new lightweight seating, narrow low rolling resistance tyres and economic driving techniques to ensure it maximised every drop of fuel.
The Shell Eco-Marathon is an annual competition to determine the car with the greatest fuel economy after 40 minutes driving and seven laps of the track at a minimum of 15mph. Each entry must meet strict safety requirements and drive using as little petrol, LPG, diesel or hydrogen as possible.
Axon Automotive project leader, Dr Steve Cousins comments: "We are showing that careful driving and relatively simple modifications to conventional cars can lead to significant fuel savings. Significantly the Caterham 2R was the only car in the competition that was moulded from a road-legal vehicle."