Almost fast enough to keep up with an F1 car and road legal with it; the T1 is simply unbelievable
  • First Drive

    Caparo T1 review

    Almost fast enough to keep up with an F1 car and road legal with it; the T1 is simply unbelievable
29 August 2007

What is it?

On paper it’s the brain child of ex-McLaren employees Ben Scott Geddes and Graham Halstead, who have recently been joined in their quest by none other than Gordon Murray himself (he who created the McLaren F1 road car).

In reality it’s also the fastest accelerating road car in history, and therefore the only car to find yourself in, sitting next to a Bugatti Veyron, waiting for the traffic lights to go green.

That's right: 'it' can only be the awesome 1075bhp-per-tonne Caparo T1. And this is the first place in the world where you can reliably find out what it's like to drive

Tell me more…

The T1's headline figures are all just about unprecedented for a road car, which is kind of what you’d expect given the team of people that has created it.

The chassis-tub is made entirely from carbonfibre and the suspension, brakes, steering, engine and gearbox all bear an uncanny resemblance to the sort of items you’d find on a cutting edge single seater racing car.

Except, of course, the T1 isn’t a single seater, it’s a one plus three quarters (fat blokes – or birds – might well be able to squeeze themselves into the second seat but, without disassembling the car around them, that’s where they’ll stay for the rest of their lives).

The engine was meant to be a 2.4-litre V8 with 430bhp, but as the car evolved the engine grew to become a 3.5-litre V8 that’s essentially a mildly detuned Indycar engine with 575bhp at 10,500rpm and “around” 310lb ft of torque.

All up, the car we drove – one of just two pre-production models in existence – weighed just 535kg, giving a power-to-weight ratio well beyond the magic (and planned from the very beginning) 1000bhp per tonne. A 2007 F1 car has no more than 1350bhp per tonne, just in case you wondered.

The gearbox is a six-speed paddle shift manual, and although it features new software that makes it smoother for road use, again this is very much an established competition item, similar to the straight cut Hewland ‘box used in Indycar racing.

What’ll it do then? We haven’t yet strapped our timing gear to the car, but Caparo says the T1 will get to 60mph in 2.5sec, 100mph in less than five seconds and do 0-100-0mph in a quite staggering 7.2sec (we timed the Veyron at a piffling 9.9sec for 0-100-0mph).

Top speed is limited by the aero package and on the car we drove was somewhere around 190mph, but if a customer wants a low drag car that’ll do over 200mph that won’t be a problem, sir. Oh yes, and the price is £190,000 plus local taxes, so call it £211,000 in the UK.

What’s it like?

In a word or three, absolutely un-flipping-believable. At a stroke it makes other track day specials such as the Lotus 2-Eleven feel like they are stuck in first gear.

To begin with the acceleration is so massive it borders on being uncomfortable. I’ve driven a Jaguar R3 F1 car that had one of the sport's older, more powerful V10 engines, and I’m not joking when I say the T1 isn’t a million miles away on raw acceleration. And it has phenomenal traction to go with it, despite the test car having no form of traction control beyond your brain and your right foot (a full TC system will be made available on production cars).

But what really blows your mind are the brakes. And the amount of grip the T1 can generate through a 140mph fifth gear corner. They say it’ll pull over 3g – most road cars start to slide off the road at not much more than 1g. And from the way you can hear yourself groaning against the strain through a fast corner, you don’t feel inclined to doubt the claims.

The brakes are also borderline ridiculous compared with those of other, supposedly fast road cars. You think a Porsche 911 GT3 RS feels tidy when you lean on the middle pedal?

Be prepared to have your imagination completely recalibrated, because the T1 is in an entirely different league again.

It’s one of those cars in which you can drive right up to the apex of a corner at full noise and then simply dump 80mph in a heartbeat. And it’ll make track days very much a case of; “Is there a Caparo turning up? Because if so I don’t think I’ll bother, thanks…”

Should I buy one?

Do you want a road legal runabout that's also the absolute last word in track day speed? The let's put it this way; the car that won Le Mans for Bentley a few years ago was barely any quicker than the T1 around Snetterton, and an F3 car is several second slower round circuits such as Mallory and Oulton Park.

What you’re talking about is the sort of speed that will enable you to lap people in their Ferrari F430s and 911 Turbos as if they were standing still. In light of which £211,000 doesn’t actually seem quite so ridiculous. And because there is nothing – and I really do mean nothing – else like it available, £211k could even be something of a bargain.

Join the debate

Comments
3

28 December 2008

Very aerodynamic car that and this thing does 200mhp so not bad but if they want to make this car really sporty then I'd take that Limiter off. But good first car.

My Overall for this car is 4.12/5

29 December 2008

Aceman, were you drunk when you wrote that post?

9 November 2015

The money behind it, Angad Paul, is dead after falling from his penthouse flat.

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