Maker of the extreme T1 track special plans to go mainstream
26 March 2008

Caparo, the UK car component company that will supply the body structures for the Tata Nano, is planning use the success of its £200,000 T1 track car to develop two new and very different vehicles.Sales of the carbonfibre track car, which have reached 20, have given the company confidence to start work on a pair of concepts. One is a high-performance car evolved from the T1 that will be usable on the road. The other is the complete opposite: a small, ultra-light town car. Caparo will carry on building full-spec T1s, but it will make the car a limited edition.For the small car Caparo will be building on the skills it is learning as a supplier of body parts for the £1500 Nano. "Because we handle body structures here and in India, made from steel and aluminium, we understand the dynamics and will be able to apply composites knowledge," said Caparo chief executive Angad Paul. But he conceded that it will take several years to develop carbonfibre pressings to get the price below the cost of metals. "All of our development is about saving cost without compromising safety," he said. "The carbonfibre route is not just for expensive cars. We are thinking of the Fiat Punto class."The £4 million raised from T1 sales so far is more than the car cost to develop, according to Paul. He said, "Demand for T1 is there. We intend to price the car in a way that will reflect the fact that only a small number will ever be built. If we think the world market is 299 then that's what we will build, but we haven't decided yet."Single Vehicle Approval kits can be fitted to the T1 to allow it to be driven to track events. But Paul admitted, "We are not going to spend a lot of money getting T1 approved for the road. We will market it for the track because there is nothing like it short of a Formula 1 car. It has been tested with the McLaren F1 race car and it blows the McLaren away."Caparo's principal business is aluminium and steel car body parts, and the development of a carbonfibre showcases was to extend the choices. Paul formed Caparo Vehicle Technologies, the car development subsidiary, with Ben Scott-Gedes (one of the development team for the McLaren F1) taking charge of development. Gordon Murray, the Mclaren F1's designer, is now also on the board of CVT.

Rob Golding

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