Almost exactly ten years ago, on April 27th of 2011, Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes purchased Caterham Cars. While the company was mildly successful selling recreations and continuations of a sports car model Lotus stopped selling in 1972, Fernandes pumped a ton of money into the brand and brought it to a new level of international recognition. I have no idea whatsoever if that came with an increase in car sales, but maybe. Anyway, Fernandes has decided to move the company on to a firm out of Japan.
VT Holdings has been the Japanese importer of Caterham’s Seven for the last 12 years, and has come to an agreement to purchase Caterham Cars outright. According to intel acquired by PistonHeads, the change in ownership became effective on March 31st. VT Holdings was going to issue a press release on Tuesday indicating as much, but leaks will thwart the best laid plans of mice and men.
VT Holdings, in addition to importing around 120 Caterhams to Japan every year, is also the go-to company for Lotus cars and Royal Enfield motorcycles sold in the land of the rising sun. The company has more than 200 dealerships in Japan, as well as further holdings as far afield as South Africa and Spain. VT Chief Executive Kazuho Takahashi is a dyed in the wool enthusiast, having raced in Super GT/JGTC/Super Taikyu for over twenty years in Japan. There probably isn’t a better guy to take over the Caterham business. And if there is a country that loves the Caterham Seven more than the UK, it has to be Japan.
Takahashi-san said of the deal: “VT Holdings is proud to welcome Caterham to the group. We have not only purchased a globally renowned performance car manufacturer but become custodians of a motoring legend. We will protect and develop the Seven to meet the legislative challenges that lie ahead.”
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I look forward to seeing where Caterham goes in the future, as regulations become increasingly more strict every year. Perhaps the company will be forced to modernize its offerings with a bit more crash protection, a more efficient set of engines, and some new designs. Can a Caterham still be considered a Caterham if it doesn’t look like a 50s Lotus? Maybe it’ll just need to keep a bit of the simple and lightweight sports car DNA to still be a Caterham. The next decade is going to be very interesting for this company.