Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Duratec dream? If it's good enough for Cterham why not?

You know, it's easy to piss on the poor Focus, God knows I do it often enough. I complain how we don't get the new Euro Focus and when I was car shopping this year, I went and bought it's more sophisticated (Euro Focus based) Mazda 3 cousin. But the facts are that even our "old" Focus is a car to be reckoned with. It's got a lot of good bits in and under it. Don't forget the multilink independent rear supsension, as oposed to the McPherson struts that support the rears of many of the competition. And of course there are the 2.0 Zetec and 2.3 Duratec powerplants. World class in their own right. Now don't laugh, they really are world class powerplants and if you want proof of that, just look in the article linked in the title about Caterham exclusively using these Ford powerplants in their range of Seven Kit/Specialty cars.
Any car guy knows what a Seven is, even if he's not familiar with the history of the Lotus/Caterham Seven. They've been around for about 50 years and like the Shelby Cobra have been copied many times. We've seen many different powerplants in them from Toyota, Mazda (Rotary) and Rover in the UK, but during this 50 years, more often than not it was a Ford powerplant in the Seven, and it is again! These are highly recognizable cars, the "heavyweight" lightweight, the standard that others have been held up to for handling and power to weight ratios for decades.
And while it's hard to think of the lowly Focus as having real "Serious Street Cred" even if Ford says it has. It's not that difficult if you look into it. Think of it, the Focus challenged and for a while went head to head with the young "Tuner" crowd. They recognized the potential of the 2.0 Zetec and later 2.3 Duratec engines, the competent chassis and low cost of entry. Go to "Import" car shows or drag events and you'll see a very loyal group of followers.
Caterham's offerings for the US market are 2.0 Zetec, 2.3 Duratec and Cosworth tuned 2.3 ranging from 150 to 260 horsepower in a car weighing about 1100 pounds! Hell, my Mazda 3 weighs almost 3 times that and seems fairly quick with 161 hp.
I've always loved the idea of a Seven, I think we all do, but could I live with it on a regular basis? I don't know, it's low to the ground, very low, and it doesn't have "real" doors or windows, no trunk, not very comfortable. But, it's fast, and it handles like a slot car. Now in the US, it's sold as a Kit car, and not exactly cheap, but for between $30-45K you can have a unique sports car that will do 0-60 in under 5 seconds!

Now in my humble opinion I'd love to see a kit car of the Austin Healy 3000 powered by the 2.3 Duratec, especially that 260 hp Cosworth version. These cars had roll up windows and were more comfortable. I don't need 0-60 in 5 seconds, and I like the idea of having a 3 season sporty car. Just a thought. I've always had a soft spot for English cars and Kit cars based on them. I remember seeing a V-8 kit called the Saxon in the 80's, that was a Healy repica. I wouldn't mind seeing a version with the Duratec. That would be great, power and economy, with a trunk for weekend trips and a real top.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog and thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts here. I am putting together a collection of photos and information on Citroen and so far I managed to cover some of the models, and you will find some cool Caterham classic photos, Caterham 7 Roadsport wallpapers and high resolution Caterham 7 Superlight photos. I hope you’ll find the website to be interesting, in case you want to pay it a visit.

Enjoy your day!

Michael R.
Webmaster, All car photos