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1988 Caterham with Cosworth 2.0 litre YB (Webers) - pre-purchase suggestions


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Canadian newcomer to the site looking for insights/suggestions on issues to consider as I negotiate for a  LHD Caterham.  The car has a solid axle and the seller has suggested that may be a weak link in the drive train.  This purchase would be a YOLO car so I would like to do the deal.  But the outlay is considerable so I am looking for opinions.  At 6-1 and 180 lbs I am pushing the seating envelope so a lowered floor pan and thinner seats are a possibility.  Thoughts?

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Posted (edited)

Hi and welcome.

 

In my limited experience Caterhams don't have much room to negotiate. In general between having low miles on average and few features to begin with and very few changes between the years and the fact that most of differences are a bolt on combined with low supply makes them a "I know what I have" type of situation and as long as the asking price is within reasonable range they will get the asking price.

 

However if the asking price is above the average for the type of model and year etc then you can try to use other listings as a bargaining chip. 

 

I believe Canadian 7's are even more limited in supply further helping sellers rather than buyers. On the flip side whatever the price is, it's likely to stay true to that price in the future if you were to ever sell it yourself even if you think you might "overpay" now in your mind. 

 

Obviously the condition overall. Look to make sure it runs overall, doesn't over heat, doesn't have throttle sticking issues (ask me how I know?), damage to paint or other physical damage. Look for rot in the corners where the chassis rails meet the footwell in the engine bay. Look for leaks, all can be common with age. Fuel, oil, coolant. Gaskets go bad. Common one is on top of fuel pump where the sender sits.

Edited by Vovchandr
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6'1" is not particularly tall for a Caterham.  But if you feel the need to sit lower then changing from the vinyl upholstered seats to a Tillett race seat gives about 0.5-1 inch.  Removing sliders and bolting to floor directly creates about 0.5 inch.  Lowered floors would give another 1 inch of clearance.  However, I doubt you could buy a lowered floor on a 1988 Imperial chassis but you could get someone local to fabricate them for you - it should not be particularly difficult.  

 

The YB Cosworth in its normally aspirated tune was no more than 200 hp - more likely 180hp on webers.  You need to advise if it is more.  Engine is fine and reliable as long as it does not overheat.  The head gasket is the weakest point in turbo tune and that carries into NA cars although the heat load on those is drastically lower.  Otherwise a great torquey engine.  

 

The live axle can withstand that hp, you just have to be careful applying the right foot.  A live axle car will dance around more on a bumpy road making it more of a challenge to get the power down onto the road.  I would be wary of a live axle car over 200hp as you will find it is such a challenge to drive.   

 

 

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Look for rust on the tube frame, check for cracks where the suspension is connected to the tube frame. Another issue with Weber carburetors is if the owner is using the right fuel pump, Webers require 4 psi plus a high flow pump, I just went through this issue, I bought a 7 clone with a Weber, the owner installed a $20 garbage pump with 2.5 psi and very low flow, when I drove the car it felt like it wasn't getting enough fuel and the idle wasn't smooth. Now installing a 4 psi high flow pump. If there is no rust or smoke generally a car is worth something. Check the syncros and if the clutch slips. Any deferred maintenance, adjust the price down.

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Vovchandr, Croc and 924s - that's precisely the kind of insight I'm looking for.  Being 33 years old, it's certainly been driven hard.  The car was imported from Holland; chosen because it's LHD.  The car is located about 5 hours away (2-ferries) - seen it once.  Working toward a test drive and serious inspection in the next week.  

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Weber carbs - I would go in assuming that a rebuild on the carbs is quite possibly needed.    I have 12 of them lurking in various vehicles.  They are a great carburettor but not everyone looks after then properly and if the car has sit for any length of time then they can get gummed up.  Fortunately there are plenty of good rebuild specialists out there, parts are plentiful and its not that expensive to get a rebuild done. 

 

The upside is they produce a great intake sound.  

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3 hours ago, Croc said:

 

Weber carbs - I would go in assuming that a rebuild on the carbs is quite possibly needed.    I have 12 of them lurking in various vehicles.  They are a great carburettor but not everyone looks after then properly and if the car has sit for any length of time then they can get gummed up.  Fortunately there are plenty of good rebuild specialists out there, parts are plentiful and its not that expensive to get a rebuild done. 

 

The upside is they produce a great intake sound.  

Have tried rebuilding them yourself? It doesn't look like any special tools are required, balancing two of them does require the purchase of a special tool. Getting an expert to rebuild is probably the best decision.

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