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What happened to all of the California Caterham dealers?

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  • What happened to all of the California Caterham dealers?

    The Caterham USA no longer lists any Caterham dealers in California. What happen to them all?
    Woody also is not longer at MSI in Vacaville, and Larry at MSI is no longer working in the shop, so there is no one at MSI working on Caterhams.

    So now we have no resources in Northern California to work on Caterhams.
    Rod Swanson

  • #2
    Caterham Dealerships

    What a coincidence......just recently I was thinking about calling Rich Kemp to discuss a couple of questions I have about my '03 Cat which he built for me, but hadn't gotten around to. I had a suspicion he no longer was a Caterham dealer judging by Denver's website. Woody took me out for a ride in his race Birkin at the time I was deciding which 7 to buy. With Rich and Woody absent our security blanket has been taken away. What do we do now for ECU and suspension tweeks without trailering the car to Denver at Rocky Mountain? I understand even Rocky Mountain has lost a key employee, if I'm not mistaken. I'll be making a few phone calls soon and hopefully have some good news to share.
    With Best Regards,
    Jim F.

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    • #3
      We have a pretty good body of knowledge between us.

      Talk to me if you have ECU issues. On the other hand, if the bill removing the 500 car cap on SPCNS 100 goes through, Caterham will be back in force here since they can then sell cars with a guaranteed registration success.

      /Magnus F.

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      • #4
        My opinion is that Caterham has not really made it worthwhile to be a dealer. This is especially true given the current exchange rate. It is cheaper to by parts - and even cars - directly from the UK.
        Tom "ELV15" Jones
        http://PIErats.com

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Elv15 View Post
          My opinion is that Caterham has not really made it worthwhile to be a dealer. This is especially true given the current exchange rate. It is cheaper to by parts - and even cars - directly from the UK.
          Yup. I think (but I could be wrong) that this is where Will got crosswise w/ Caterham USA.

          Current economic times just might have something to do w/ this. Track day signups are way off - NASA Fontana didn't even sell out for some classes. This is unheard of up to now. Also, I'm guessing that the low number of cars sold has a lot to do w/ dealers (other than Will?) not being able to make a go of it, and registration has a lot to do w/ that as Magnus points out.

          He also correctly points out that there's a resource base around - just ask. After all, it's a Zetec (mostly) that pulls them around, not some exotic weirdo one-off engine (mostly).

          I've never understood why these cars aren't more popular, especially for track use. You get so much speed for the buck. I see all these boy-racer streetmobiles w/ thousands and thousands of dollars of aftermarket crap tacked on them and when they (rarely) show up at the track they get completely clobbered. That goes for almost all of the big big dollar "exotics" (ya'll remember that moving chicane Ferrari at Willow? Sluggo!).
          Chris
          ------------
          A day you don't go a hundred is a day wasted

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          • #6
            I like the fact that these cars are not "popular", if I wanted a car like everyone else has , I would have bought a Ferrari :p
            www.morgansegal.com

            The funny thing is my wife goes " What is that car a Morgan ? " and I said "No that's a Caterham but there is a Morgan driving it " -delise

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            • #7
              Originally posted by mopho View Post
              I like the fact that these cars are not "popular", if I wanted a car like everyone else has , I would have bought a Ferrari :p
              Some years ago, well before you saw the light:D, Woody (formerly of MSI) was trying to get a Caterham racing series going. That would have been very cool. It's only Jon and I out there pretty much all of the time. A few more track junkies would be welcome.
              Chris
              ------------
              A day you don't go a hundred is a day wasted

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              • #8
                I saw the "light" many years ago, it was just a different light (albeit 200lbs less light) ;)
                www.morgansegal.com

                The funny thing is my wife goes " What is that car a Morgan ? " and I said "No that's a Caterham but there is a Morgan driving it " -delise

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jim F. View Post
                  What a coincidence......just recently I was thinking about calling Rich Kemp to discuss a couple of questions I have about my '03 Cat which he built for me, but hadn't gotten around to. I had a suspicion he no longer was a Caterham dealer judging by Denver's website.
                  Rich does still sell caterham parts at least. I just recieved some parts- though they did take a while to get here. I understand his family is going through some tough times.

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                  • #10
                    It would seem that being a Caterham dealer is only feasible if it is adjunct to an already profitable operation, eg., a classic car or racing car service operation. From what I've heard in my area (near Road Atlanta), running any type of racing car support business is a dicey proposition right now. A pretty good sized ALMS operation in our area (Tafel Motorsports) went under recently. I also noticed the Florida Caterham dealer is no longer listed on the CC USA website, and they were a service and prep shop for classic and competition cars. I, too, have found better success recently in sourcing my parts directly from the factory. I hope CC USA can find a business model that works both for them and the retail dealer. It's disappointing to think that it's not a viable proposition to be a Caterham dealer in California, surely the biggest market in this country for such toys.
                    Brad
                    2013 Boss 302 Mustang
                    2005 SV Roadsport (gone but not forgotten)

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                    • #11
                      When i first met Rich Kemp in '02 while his shop was in So. San Francisco (before his move to Sears Point) he had just been appointed a Caterham dealer. Woody Harris was in Vacaville as a dealer for Birkin. Those two were the closest retailers of Sevens to me here in So. Oregon. To the point, in my conversations with Rich I discovered that he did in fact have some serious family health issues of a permanent nature. He took on the Caterham dealership as a supplement to his existing Lotus repair, prep, and service business. I hope I'm not stepping over the line in saying this, but "I think" he told me he couldn't survive on being solely a Caterham dealer. Rich is a hell of a nice guy and we should all wish him the very best. Very sorry for the loss of his Cat franchise!
                      With Best Regards,
                      Jim F.

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                      • #12
                        I'm not certain if Rich is still a bonafide Caterham dealer. I think he is as he took delivery recently of a CSR for a customer which he's building now. He's been helping me get my Superlight finished up and, yesterday, I had my first drive in it which was quite a thrill I have to say. Still a few weeks of work (I'm only able to do several hours per week on it) until I bring it home from Rich's shop. One more Caterham is about to be on the road after a LONGish build- since fall 2005. If you have a hard time catching Rich at the shop or on the phone keep trying; he's around and still working on Caterhams and Loti.

                        Steve

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Steve Stephens View Post
                          I'm not certain if Rich is still a bonafide Caterham dealer.
                          I'm The Pater Familias!!!! I'm Bona Fide Dammit!!!!
                          Ulysses Everett McGill

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