So, a bit of backstory as to why nobody ever got this thing.
Renault decided to revive its sports and racing arm, Alpine, much to the delight of nerdy enthusiasts such as ourselves. Then, they partnered with Caterham, but then that deal went sour.
Currently, Renault is going forward with the new Alpine without Caterham. This is the Vision Concept. The production version will probably look mostly like this:
But the designers over at Drive Design did actually create a near-production design for Caterham back when the partnership was still going. It’s what the Caterham version would have been had Caterham continued with the project. In a story on the company’s website, lead designer Mark Przeslawski reveals Drive’s relationship with Caterham and how the C120—their name for the car—came to be and how the collapse of the relationship affected them.
So where did it start for us at Drive? It goes back 5 years to an initial meeting with Caterham in Hethal, Norwich. The original project became a distant memory as aspirations changed with the introduction of a partner in major manufacturer Renault, a completely new package and advanced aluminium construction. As the engineering package was developed at Caterham and Renault bases, Drive’s design team were seconded to work at the Renault R&D headquarters in Guyancourt, Paris, forming an important conduit for the Anglo-French alliance.
The Drive design team lived, breathed and dreamt C120, flying out to France in the early hours of Monday morning and returning on a Friday evening for 6 consecutive months. Some weeks were tiring, stressful and occasionally deflating, with our attempts at the French language appreciated, even if laughed at by the canteen staff. Our commitment, comradery and passion pulled us through every time, to be part of history, taking part in something that would bring a British sports car brand into a new era. The sad demise of the joint venture was a bad dream. For a long time we couldn’t believe that with all the effort everyone put into the project and with it so close to being realised, there would be no exciting moment of that first drive.
It’s definitely a neat and compact-looking sports car, and aesthetically very similar to the Alpine Vision Concept. Not surprising, when you learn that the Caterham and Alpine clay models shared a studio during their development.
Przeslawski’s tone expresses a lot of wistfulness that the C120 never happened. Mine would, too, if my team and I worked so hard on creating a car only to have the plug pulled on it.
You can read the rest of the Caterham C120's story here.