Monday, February 7, 2011

It's a 'Busa, not a Hayabusa

Now that we are in the midst of Winter and cold temperatures, my mind turns to a hot summer day last August where I barged uninvited to a meeting of Caterham Lotus Super 7's . I believe Caterham does not officially own the rights to the name Lotus so they call their limited production sports car a Super 7 but it is loosely based upon the same chassis.


Our local newspaper has a weekly car section where they publish locations of show & shines and other car meets throughout our area during the summer and I felt like having a peek and get a chance to meet up with David O Saville Peck who is an authorized builder of the Caterham Super 7 at his facilities on Vancouver Island. I believe he is the only builder authorized to build the Super 7 outside of the UK. Chassis's are shipped to his location from the UK where he takes over and hand assembles each car from start to finish. I have visited his "factory" while a car was under construction and I can tell you that every piece used has more than one purpose in an effort to minimize weight.

It was a chance for some owners to get together for a few hours to socialize and go for a drive


There were around 10 cars there and each one had a different configuration. Some were LHD and some RHD. It seemed that each one had a different powerplant, no two were alike.


That's David O Saville Peck in the striped shirt, on the left. He is a proven racer and slalomer with many victories under his belt.


This is David O Saville Peck's personal driver. You may wonder why I always refer to him as David O Saville Peck, instead of just "David". I remember one time a few years ago when I was at his workshop near Duncan, BC (Geoff, this is very close to Cowichan Bay) we were talking about this and that and I called him David. He was quick to correct me by saying "David O Saville Peck" so that is what it has been ever since.


Today I was the outsider. I do not own a Lotus so it was hard to strike up conversations as the other owners were all discussing different aspects of their cars and what upgrades they had done. I made sure to talk to David O Saville Peck and the homeowner who was hosting this gathering to ask permission to snap a few photos. It seemed that every car was unique in its running gear and options. When ordering a car there is a base configuration which starts out at around $50K and other performance options can raise the price significantly. Each vehicle is custom produced to the owner's specification and wallet thickness. If I were to purchase of Caterham I would definitely go for the 'Busa powered one, but they are rare.

but what luck . . . I didn't realize it at the time when I noticed this stunning beauty


but this was one of the rare 'Busa ones, and just happened to be produced at David O Saville Peck's facility in Duncan as evidenced by the unique grill. It wasn't long before the hood was removed and I was attracted to it like a magnet


Here's a closer view of the Hayabusa Engine


Having a motorcyle engine and transmission means the shift lever is sequential shift just like your left foot shift lever. The stick shift (cockpit photo above) lever is spring loaded. To shift up you click back, and click again to up a gear. To gear down you click forward all the way back down to Neutral then one more click back to first. On a 6 speed motorcycle transmission you would shift 1 down then 5 up. No different with this manual shifter on the transmission hump. You have no "H" pattern, just clicking back or forward and the clutch pedal is sort of the same as using your left handlebar clutch lever. I am sure you would get used to this in no time.

Now the problem with motorcycles is there is no reverse gear. David O Saville Peck designed a reversing transmission which connects after the tranmission to reverse the direction of driveshaft rotation


That is the gold coloured unit with the chain drive. Since this reverses the rotation after the transmission you actually have 6 speeds forward, and also 6 speeds in reverse. In front of the shifter there is another lever which has two positions, forward or reverse. So when you actually want to go into reverse to back up your Caterham Super 7, you click down to first gear, and move the 2nd lever to reverse position. Depending upon how fast you wish to go in reverse you can shift up all the way up to 6th gear. It may not surprise you to know that David O Saville Peck holds the record for driving his Caterham Super 7 One hundred miles per hour in reverse (on a closed runway, of course).

Here's another view of the 'Busa engine


This particular car has had some modification but I am not sure what was done to it, only that I heard the owner say that it had around 200 HP and it weighed only 1,200 lbs. As each Super 7 is custom made you could order it with RHD for the NZ roads. Perfect for those rapidly ageing Striple Riders


  1. Dear Bobskoot:

    I had never had as thing for custom cars, though I once owned a Willy's jeep with a 357 Chevy shortblock. It handled like a pig.

    But I am day-dreaming of ther day when I will own a Xenon gyro-copter. I believe the engine is a Rotax with 120 hp.

    Fondest regards,
    Jsck • reep • Toad
    Twiated Roads

  2. PS: You'd look good in one of these Caterhan Lotus Super 7's though. When I read the paragraph on how lucky you were to find the Hayabusa-powered one, I felt sure you bought it.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  3. Wonderful stuff! You didn't mention that busa engined car's top speed but I'll bet it can fly and I'm sure it sounds great too.

  4. I remember following an installation where they installed a 12A rotary engine into the chassis of something the looked a lot like the Super7. This was over thirty years ago. I used to be a mechanic at a Mazda dealer and worked on and rebuilt a lot of these engines so I was interested in the installation. Do most of these have motorbike drive trains?


  5. Very cool cars! I love that 'Busa. I didn't even think of the implications of having a motorcycle engine and tranny - Interesting.

  6. Cool cars! Very drool-worthy!

  7. Top Gear puts this car near the very top of their lists of cars driven fast round their track by their tame racing driver The Stig (Some Say...). However the presenters were rather firm in their opinion that owners of these vehicles are likely to be high on the scame of nerdiness. How odd that it should be you to confirm that.
    And they can't even lean through a corner properly...

  8. Lotus handed over the rights to the 7 many years ago. The Lotus 7 was a kit car (sold with disassembly instructions, since british law forbade the inclusion of assembly instructions with such vehicles...), designed to accept just about any small-displacement engine and transmission. Lots have Mazda rotary engines, and I'm not at all surprised the Hayabusa engine fits. In Japan there used to be a Formula Hayabusa racing class, this same engine being fitted to a small open-wheel race car chassis. It was designed for amateurs and entry-level professional racers. Of which I was once one. The former...

    Scootin' Old Skool

  9. Jackie: I nearly purchased a Toyota FJ40 with a short block chevy V-8 conversion. I also had an idea to put a small V8 in my Jeep YJ, but in the end decided not to

    You have have to reconconsider getting a larger Rotax engine for your frame . . .

    Andrew: Those Super 7's can really fly. 200 HP at only 1,200 lbs and thanks for visiting

    Charlie6: The reversing tranmission changes the output shaft rotation so your transmission has 6 speeds in either direction.

    RichardM: I used to have a 12A in my RX7. Everyone was waiting for the 3 chamber rotary but they had problems producing it. It was a neat car, when it ran. Most Super 7's have conventional drive trains, front engine & transmission combo. Only the Hayabusa model uses the transplanted 'Busa as a complete powerplant.

    BlueKat: Come on up to British Columbia. We are working on a weekend over to Vancouver Island in a couple of months. I will take you to the factory

    Ken: The Super 7 is very cool, no top, no trunk and doesn't lean into the corners.

    Mr Conchscooter: it is hard to break into a specific car group when you don't own "the" car. Also I came un-invited so they don't know who I am. So I can understand the cold shoulder

    Orin: I searched the 'Net and found a lot of Smart cars, and the Suzuki Capuccino are "busa powered.