Following the IVA test on December 7th, I sent off the registration application to the DVLA (Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency). Their website says they will process an application for a new registration within 4 weeks.
I had hoped that the run up to Christmas would be quiet for them, but it seems that was counteracted by them being low staffed. I was really hoping that they would complete the registration process in time for Christmas so we could drive the car on the road over the holiday period. They managed to dash our hopes on both the two week and four week schedules.
The car stayed in the garage all Christmas.
Once it had got to early Jan, in fact exactly four weeks after I had sent in the application, I gave the DVLA a call. They said my application had been received and that they processed applications for this type of application in four weeks. I pointed out it was already four weeks and the person I had on the phone said she would go and check some more. The phone went dead before she could give me an answer.
I waited a few more days and called again. This time there was progress. They said the application had been approved and I should receive the various docs within 3 to 5 business days.
In fact, the confirmation of registration arrived the next day, Jan 10th, in the post – so much for 3-5 business days. The day after that I got the V5.
Now that I had the registration confirmation letter I could get some number plates and get on the road.
Prior to the registration application I had decided not to go for a so called vanity plate of any kind – I just relied on getting a random number assigned. In the UK, there have been a number of different number plate configurations. Obviously in the very early days of cars, number plates consisted of just a few numbers, then letters were included and there have been a number of different schemes in the intervening years.
The UK number plate registration system these days is a complex system to try to describe on a blog like this, Google will tell you all you need if you’re interested. Suffice to say our registration was designated a 67 registration semi-year! The 6 denotes the second 6 month period in 2017 that’s actually from October to March 2018. The 7 denotes 2017. We were also given a region specific prefix of WX (W being “west”, i.e. Bristol) and then a random letter sequence of LCN. The whole plate therefore reads: WX67 LCN.
Not very inspiring but it will do.
The day the registration confirmation arrived (34 days after sending off the forms) I went and got new plates for the front and rear, white for the front, yellow for the rear. I used velcro to attach them. That works fine on the back with a flat surface to work with but is far from satisfactory on the front where the nose-cone is contoured and you have to get the flat plate to fix to a contoured surface. The way I have the front plate at the moment… I know it’s going to fall off soon.
I think I’m going to 3D print some braces/brackets to help keep the front plate from dropping off.
In the end I went for UK and Union Jack designations on the number plate. I’m absolutely not, anti-european, but I’m aware that having a Euro flag on our number plates is going to be a thing of the past – might as well accept that now.
That’s it. I can drive it now.
How Does It Drive
Since getting the number plates, the weather has been really bad.
Fog, rain, snow, ice and more rain.
It’s not that I want to be a fair weather Caterham owner, I’m just biding my time. The 420R has a reputation for a) a fierce clutch and b) a proclivity for lighting up it’s rear tyres. With both of those together I’m not keen to stick my nice new car into a wall/ditch/other-car (delete as appropriate) because I’m a novice.
So, I’ll bide my time. I’ve been out in it a few times in the past week since getting the plates but I’m building up to an appreciation of the cars capabilities and quirks and will, I’m sure, be all the happier for it.
Here’s me and a friend in the car after one of the few outings to date…
Initial impressions of the driving experience are exactly what I expected…
- There’s torque available in any gear to hurl you down a road
- You’re the smallest thing on the road, by far
- It’s amazing how much heat the heater and transmission tunnel generate – this is going to be a problem in the summer
- There’s not much space between the clutch and brake pedals. The SV is ok with the accelerator pedal but the other two are close. It caught me out on the trip to the IVA test where I wore shoes that were too wide. I’m going to have to work on my wardrobe.
- Bump-steer – there’s clearly some bump-steer being generated from somewhere in the geometry. I heard Lotus7.club members talking about steering rack height (raising it 10-12mm), so may need to look at that.
Giles pointed out that the front LHS tyre was running very close to the wing-stay at the front. I’ll have to take a look at that at some point. It’s not touching, but it is close and I can imagine it might rub under some scenarios.
Indicator Trouble Again
On one of the first drives, the front RH indicator gave up the ghost – characterised by the indicators running double speed. Caterham clearly use the resitive load of the indicator bulbs as part of the RC circuit determining the indicator mark-space ratio… sounds a bit old fashioned, but not a complete surprise!
I’ll have to sort out a new bulb for the indicator.
We’re on the road!