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After divorcing Renault, Caterham seeks partner to build a more mainstream car

The born-again Alpine sports car that Paris-based Renault will introduce in just a few short months was initially developed jointly with Caterham. The partnership was dissolved, and the Caterham-badged version of the car has been deep-sixed, but the British firm is still looking at ways to expand its lineup with a more mainstream model.

Caterham told British magazine Autocar that it doesn’t have the financial resources required to develop an entirely new model on its own because it has historically been a small, independent automaker. As a result, it’s again looking for a bigger company to team up with and share costs, though it hasn’t revealed whether talks have already been held.

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The brand’s more mainstream model will be a full-bodied, closed-top sports car. It will be sold alongside the Seven — which turns 60 years old next year — instead of being billed as a replacement for the iconic model. Technical details will vary depending on who Caterham joins forces with to design the coupe.

However, the brand’s top executives want the coupe to adopt a front-engined, rear-wheel drive layout. The aborted C120 that was supposed to share its platform with the Alpine model was mid-engined, but Caterham boss Graham MacDonald explained that was a concession the brand was forced to make in order to participate in the project.

The engine will be an existing unit sourced from another automaker. The Seven (pictured) is currently powered by Ford-sourced engines, but the company has ruled out using the company’s newest EcoBoost mills because it wants to avoid using forced-induction as much as possible. The supercharged 620S is one of the few exceptions to the rule.

Developing a car from scratch is a long, expensive project, but Caterham affirms it won’t cur corners in a bid to expand its lineup at all costs.

“What we’re unlikely to do is just stick a roof and doors on a Seven. We want a bit more ease of access and more creature comforts inside,” MacDonald said.