Caterham bought by Japanese importer VT Holdings, taking over from AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes

Caterham bought by Japanese importer VT Holdings, taking over from AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes

It’s the footnote of a saga that started when AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes went racing in Formula 1 back in 2010. Caterham Cars, the iconic British kit car maker owned by the Malaysian entrepreneur and his business partner Kamarudin Meranun since 2011, has been bought over by the brand’s Japanese importer VT Holdings effective March 31.

The new owner has officially represented Caterham in the country since 2009, where it sells over 120 cars a year – an impressive figure for such a niche carmaker. The press release says that VT Holdings is one of Japan’s largest retailer groups, with over 200 showrooms nationwide and investments in the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand and South Africa.

Aside from Caterham, VT Holdings also brings in a number of other British car and motorcycle brands, including Lotus and Royal Enfield. The enthusiast- and motorsport-focused brand is certainly in good hands, as the group’s chief executive Kazuho Takahashi has raced competitively in the All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship (JGTC), its successor series Super GT and the Super Taikyu Series for the past 20 years.

“VT Holdings is proud to welcome Caterham to the group,” said Takahashi. “We have not only purchased a globally renowned performance car manufacturer but become custodians of a motoring legend. We will protect and develop the Seven to meet the legislative challenges that lie ahead.”

Caterham bought by Japanese importer VT Holdings, taking over from AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes

Caterham raced in Formula 1 under Fernandes’ ownership from 2012 to 2014

Caterham chief executive Graham MacDonald added, “Takahashi-san and the team truly understand the DNA of the Caterham brand, our heritage, our customers and our passions. As a team, we’re all excited about starting to write the next chapter for this very special brand.”

This brings to an end Fernandes’ stewardship of the brand, having stemmed from his Team Lotus’ dispute with Proton – the latter revoked a licensing deal to use the Lotus name back in September 2010. The team raced under the Caterham banner starting in 2012 following the purchase, and even after the team was sold and eventually folded in 2014, the carmaker remained in Malaysian hands. Well, until now.

Fernandes had big plans for Caterham, going so far as to tie up with Renault to produce a more civilised sports car (at least, compared to the ultra-raw Caterham Seven). While the deal fell through a couple of years later, the two companies’ efforts would ultimately produce the revived Alpine A110.

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Jonathan Lee

After trying to pursue a career in product design, Jonathan Lee decided to make the sideways jump into the world of car journalism instead. He therefore appreciates the aesthetic appeal of a car, but for him, the driving experience is still second to none.



  • Ahmadjr on Apr 06, 2021 at 8:14 pm

    How much??

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • Vanguard on Apr 06, 2021 at 8:33 pm

    For many months, AirAsia is in the red… need to sell to minimize losses.

    Such nature of business.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
  • super JPJ on Apr 07, 2021 at 8:32 am

    funny an advanced country like Japan allows simple cars like the caterham to be sold and registered to be driven on the road.

    but the caterham cannot be sold in malaysia as JPJ does not now allow it because it does not meet UNECE regulations!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • Lolwhut? on Apr 07, 2021 at 8:55 am

    Good brand being spoiled by TF

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

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