Tony O'Kane | Nov 6, 2008

In an unprecedented move for a boutique manufacturer, legendary sports car maker Caterham has announced that it is putting the development of its next vehicle into the capable hands of... the online public?!

Is this Web 2.0 taken to a new extreme, or is it a genuine attempt by Caterham to engage with motoring enthusiasts on a more intimate level? Whatever the case, judging by the many automotive forums out there and the people that inhabit them, development of Caterham's new car could become a case of many minds making light work... or it could just degenerate into one massive flame war.

There's a lot riding on this project. Provided the finished product isn't rubbish (and Caterham won't allow that), whatever comes out of it will be Caterham's first all-new car. This is a big deal when you consider that the British manufacturer's current offerings (above) are still based upon the 50 year-old Lotus Seven.

The project (which goes by the name of Project Splitwheel) will take input from registered users via blogs, forums and wiki pages to flesh out the finer details of the car before users vote on which features make it and which get crumpled up and thrown in the bin. Registrations are now open at Project Splitwheel's site, while the design process is slated to begin in early 2009. Provided it meets with Caterham's approval, the resulting car could be released as early as 2011.

So, will Joe Average get it right, or will we wind up with something resembling The Homer? Well dear readers, now's your chance to have your say. We'll be watching this one closely. From a safe distance, of course.

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