22.10.08: Salesman's view on RTotY '08

Time 13 years ago


SO you’ve probably been waiting to hear how our Road Test of the Year went. Awesome doesn’t come close. I’ve just finished writing the piece for the next issue and won’t spoil the surprise of the outcome.


However, to give deputy ed Rich and I a different opinion we asked car salesman Duncan Chappell to come along as well as a car-buying punter Dan Harris. Both gave us their opinions on the cars for the feature. 


Dunc’s was a little too long to include all of it in the mag, but it was so good I just had to post it here. 

The latest issue of Car Dealer Magazine is out now!


So here, in full, is Chrysler salesman Dunc’s review of the weekend:


‘After the initial boiling over excitement of my best mate asking if I fancied a weekend on some of the best roads in Britain, driving some of the best cars on sale today had calmed down to a more gentle simmer, a feeling of dread overwhelmed me. Did James say ‘Caterham R500’……?


Although working in the trade, I am one of the few car sales people that are actually passionate about cars. This was going to be NO busman’s’ holiday. The long awaited Friday morning came, my wait came to a loud and silver end, as James and Dan pull up in the DBS and EVO. I’m really excited now! ………..Did he really say R500…..?


Jumping behind the wheel of the Evo for the 1st stint to Caterham in Surrey….. R500….you sure…….? I am met with a superbly balanced, powerful, capable and very very DULL driving experience! 


This is not the car for motorways and traffic filled dual carriage ways! After an hour or so we arrive at Caterham’s home, and a brief exchange of words between the 3 of us on our first leg of this journey; we are presented with a bright yellow Caterham R500. 


We are taken through instructions on how to start the thing (a sequence of buttons), how to release the penny size momo steering wheel and how to connect up the racing harness, then something very strange happened for who are supposed to be pure motor enthusiasts; all 3 of us start to back away. 


Before I could run away, James asked if I was ok to do the first stint, I tried to answer without sounding like a terrified kitten, I mean this thing can hit 60mph in 2.88 seconds, and has no traction control, no airbags, no doors for that matter! 


Shoe horning my way into it, I try and put a brave face on as I pass the window of the showroom and follow the other 2 cars out onto the road. My brave face has no been replaced with a very stern look of concentration, feeding the power in VERY gently we arrive at the petrol station 5 minutes down the road. James fills the car up while I remain very still and quite frankly scared strapped into the car. 


Once through the button sequence the engine fires into life again – oh my, here we go then…… out onto the dual carriage way and I’m feeling the erg to see what it can really do, and what I’ve been so scared of. The Aston and Evo accelerate away with a torrent of noise (not from the Evo though) reaching high speed with ease, so, I take a deep breath, shift the ever precise gear stick into 2nd and floor the throttle…….. and then barrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!! 


Within a split second the world is a blur, with trees now just a mass of green to either side, I sling shot past the other 2 as I change up to 3rd, plant my foot again, with a chirp from the rear tyres as the noise reaches deafening volume!


No time to look at the optional up change display I hit the rev limiter, before coming to a halt at the roundabout. I now have two big red devil horns, sat laughing my head off as the other 2 cars pull up beside me, no words are needed, the look on James’s face, and my incapability of saying anything confirms not only that this little car is THE fastest thing I have ever experienced, but that it will take a hell of a lot to get me out of it on the weekend that lay ahead!


To say I love this car is a huge understatement, not only did I do the first stint but the rest of the eight hour journey to Wales! Two hours after we arrive at the holiday park, I am still shaking and impatient to get back into the R500 for another realisation into the world of Duratec ecstasy! 


The next day we are up early (much to my delight) and head off to the valleys for the photo shoot. I get my first go in the £165,000 DBS, it truly is a piece of art, and very quick to boot, but if I had that money to spend? I would take the Caterham and use the £140,000 change to give up work for the next four years so I can drive it all day, everyday! 

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Growing more and more attached to this car I am only parted from it when the head gasket goes – I’m gutted. Apparently I look like I am about to cry into my coffee as we wait for the AA man to come and take it away and leave me grieving. I spend the rest of the Sunday in the Evo, which was perfect for the twisty roads but not scary enough and thinking of my new yellow friend on its way back to Surrey, sad times. 


How can I be bored driving an Evo X and then an Aston Martin DBS? Because I have experienced the Caterham R500, and nothing, nothing compares! Trust me, if you are lucky enough to have a go in one of these cars, you will know what I mean.    



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