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Caterham 360R spawns one-off tribute to military helicopter

Caterham 360 R RAF lead
Caterham 360 R RAF lead

The joint project is intended to raise money for injured servicemen and women

Caterham and the Royal Air Force have partnered to build a Seven 360R with components from a retired military helicopter, in order to raise money for charitable causes.

The joint project is intended to raise money for injured servicemen and women when it's auctioned off through Collecting Cars.

The car is expected to fetch more than £100,000, all of which will go to the Mission Motorsport and the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.

Hand-assembled by both Caterham staff and personnel from Oxfordshire's RAF Benson, the 360R is designed as a tribute to the Aérospatiale Puma support helicopter.

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The donor aircraft, XW232, entered service in 1972 and until recently was used to transport soldiers, weapons and ammunition on the battlefield, as well as the movement of casualties and in response to medical emergencies on the frontline.

The unique 360R has aluminium body panels and a rear bulkhead lifted straight from the Puma's tail and doors, and the aircraft's door jettison handle now sits just in front of the rear wheel arch.

The car's body is finished in the same Nato Green as the Puma and its chassis is coloured Desert Sand in reference to the regions in which the helicopter operated.

The Puma's soundproofing has been used to line the 360R's door panels and transmission tunnel. This is also used to pad the carbonfibre seats, the lining of which is stitched with the helicopter's evacuation instructions.

"Military-grade" switchgear sits on a bespoke satin black dashboard and replaces the standard buttons, which means the car now has a three-stage ignition sequence.

A navigation clock now sits in the centre of the dashboard, too.

Under the bonnet (upon which the names of the project's participants are inscribed), the Puma's ammunition box, which once carried 50kcal bullets, is now home to the car's battery.

It shares its mechanicals with the regular 360R, which means it has a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder Ford Duratec engine sending 180bhp and 143lb ft of torque through a five-speed manual gearbox to the rear wheels.

This allows for a 0-62mph time of 4.8sec, a top speed of 130mph and a power-to-weight ratio of 307bhp per tonne (it tips the scales at 565kg).

Caterham CEO Bob Laishley said: “When the RAF approached us about this project, we jumped at the chance to be involved – firstly because it was an interesting build process for us, as it’s the first time in our history that a Seven has been made from recycled helicopter parts.

“It was a true team effort as well, with engineers from the RAF supporting us throughout the build. But more importantly, it’s great to know that any proceeds from the auction will go to incredibly important causes.”

The car will make its public debut this weekend, during the Formula 1 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Bidding will then open on 15 August and end on 12 September. 

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