I arrived at Caterham Gatwick to collect Tigger with feelings of great anticipation and excitement, equally matched with anxiety about mistakes I might have made in the build. Dan, the amazing gentleman who had answered my questions through the build, was on hand and provided all possible reassurance because he had also conducted the PBC. I won't forget that feeling of driving out of the Caterham hanger and onto the public roads with my all my senses on high alert.
We had decided to go the long way home and take multiple days over the journey - 633 miles over 3 days and I'm so thankful that we didn't try to do it quicker or try to take a more direct route using motorways or dual carriageways. Every car that's new to a driver has differences that take a few miles to experience and learn - the Caterham's differences come at you through all your senses (with the possible exception of taste)! The sensitivity of the steering, the feeling of the car moving under you, the noise and even the smell of the engine and exhaust are so different from anything that I've ever experienced before in a car. In the first few miles, my brain was overloaded by these sensations trying to concentrate on what was important and trying to assimilate what was normal for this incredible vehicle. It really does take time to identify the different noises and feelings - the noise from the clutch as it bites; the whir of the LSD; the rattle of the suspension.
As recommended for running-in, I was keeping it under 4.000 rpm for the first 400 miles but there seemed to be a resonance that occurrs as the engine passes through 3,500 rpm. Once the run-in period was over at the end of day 2, I occasionally let the revs increase a little over 4,000 rpm and was startled by the fact that the car seems to come to life even more at that point. The transmission settles into meaningful business and there's a realisation that the car is continuing to pull without any feeling of a limit. The clutch is short and sharp, and yet easy because the car weighs so little; the gearbox throw is equally short and demands precision; the brakes are hard but require forceful effort; the steering is highly sensitive and asks for your full concentration. Bring all of this together and it is an utter joy. Hard work - but an utter joy. I really don't think I could have managed much more than 200 miles a day in those first few days!
The end of a long day!
We made the 633 miles without incident, at which point I thought I was justified in adding a little personalistion to Tigger. Inspired by Chris Collins' blog, I had commissioned a "Built By" plate (as done by the Caterham technicians for factory built cars) and fitted it to the pedal box cover.
Built By (with signature redacted!)
Over the next couple of weeks, with excellent Summer weather, I really enjoyed taking friends out and the miles seemed to tick past quickly and easily. So far (with 980 miles on the clock) the only issue I have found is the loss of one of the bolts securing the coil cover. This was replaced and a smattering of Loctite 243 to prevent it recurring.