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New Caterham owner in Northern California

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  • New Caterham owner in Northern California

    Hi all,

    After owning two Lotus 7's in the past (Ford and BMC powered; left and right hand drive) I just purchased a 2000 Caterham Super Sprint 1700, live axel with a 5-speed. First of all I'm just amazed what the years of development have done. I chose this model as it was the closest I could find to the style and feeling the the original Lotus. But as you all know it's so much more even at 20 years old. According to Caterham the car was originally shipped to Autocourse in Laguna Niguel. I bought it from a dealer near Fort Worth, Texas where it spent most of its life. Before that it reportedly spent a relatively short time in Alabama. How it got there from California I don't know, but it was never registered here. In fact the Texas title says it's a FORD. I'm the 3rd owner and the car has 11000 miles on it. I have the original invoice and it shows the original AVON tires are still on it. Have to change that although they look great. Top and doors look like they've never been used and the tonneau is still in the plastic and was never installed. Overall the car is pretty much the same as when it was delivered.
    Because of COVID19 I can't even start the registration process until all the DMV offices reopen. Out of state, SPCNS; I can hardly wait for the fun to start.
    Anyway, I've already learned a lot from the forums and am happy there's such an active Caterham community in the state. Once again, driving this car is so much fun.

    Thanks,
    Dann
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  • #2
    Before the SPCN or specially constructed vehicle registration process was started in California there was a work around thru some group, I think out of Alabama.

    You'd send them some paperwork and money, they'd create an Alabama Registration which would allow you to register the car in California as a pre-smog year vehicle. So you could register your 2000 Caterham as a 1964 Lotus and be smog exempt. Used a lot by the Cobra replica guys.

    Eventually they caught up with them and I believe some guys went to jail or fined. A lot of Cobra owners had to then re-register their cars thru what was referred to as SB100 or the SPCN process. When this happened the SPCN numbers were used up the first business day of the year at the DMV for several years. It has not been a problem getting the number for a few years and you should be OK.

    This is probably why Alabama is part of your car history.

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    • #3
      PLEASE replace the tires before you drive it much. They are too old to be safe.

      I am assuming you have 14" wheels.

      For street use I use Falken Azenis which come in 14". Cheap and work OK. Others use Toyos R888 which work even better but I don't remember if you can get them in 14"

      195 /60 R14 is the size I have in the Falken, 615K.
      Last edited by Doug Liedblad; June 9, 2020, 12:12 AM.

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      • #4
        Very pretty car.

        I concur with Doug on the tires, both the need for replacement and on the preferred choice. I'm running the Toyo R888 and I love them. The only down side is the semi-slick tread pattern is not overly rainy day friendly. But since it never rains in SoCal and I don't have a top for my car this is a non-issue for me.

        Also, it seems to me that I read somewhere recently that there was a 60-day waiver on registrations due to COVID and DMV closure. Maybe you can find something specific on this on DMV site on the interweb......
        EscondidoRon

        '62 Lotus Seven
        '84 Turbo Esprit (x2)
        '14 Evora
        '77 Esprit S1 (RIP) :(

        "A man must keep a little back shop where he can be himself without reserve. In solitude alone can he know true freedom." -Michel De Montaigne 1588

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        • #5
          Thank you for the tips. I did get new tires. Have had a couple of 50 mile rides. Love the car. I can't believe what a difference the side screens make at speed. I'm not caught in a vortex, at least not nearly as bad. Makes limited freeway driving a lot more pleasant. Also, I now have a more complete history of the car. I was finally able to track down the previous owner who had moved to Florida; a real car guy who owned a Lotus Elite and later an E-Type Jag along with some other British cars. Like me he was looking for a modern car closest to what the 60's Seven was like. He found the car in Huntsville, Alabama barely a year old. The first owner developed Parkinson's and just couldn't drive it. He had ordered the car from Autocourse in Southern California. So, the next owner drove the car from Huntsville to Midland, without any problem. For the next 19 years he put only about 6000 miles on it, mostly driving to and from work. The condition certainly reflects this. With this information I tried locating the first owner. Sadly, he passed away from Parkinson's earlier this month. I'm still waiting to register the car but can't until the DMV offices are fully opened up for all transactions. So for now, taking care of routine service and rebuilding the carbs. Great to be a member of the club.

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          • #6
            Finally figured out how to reply. I wasn't logged in. Here's an update to my first post. I had my virtual appointment by phone with the BAR back on August 31, 2020. Eight months later I'm still waiting for a smog appointment. I've talked with several people at the BAR and have gotten a number of reasons why I can't get an appointment. It seems, because of the Superformance Cobras, the state is maintaining those are manufactured vehicles and shouldn't be registered under SB100. So the hangup seems to be bleeding over into Caterham. I've been told Caterhams are manufactured vehicles and not kits. Supposedly the BAR and CARB are trying to figure things out and have delayed any appointments. I'm in contact with another Caterham owner and also a Morgan owner who are in the same boat. There may be legal action in the works. Anyone else running into this problem?

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