Caparo T1

‘F1 car for the road’ too ambitious for its own good

WITH ALL the fuss about the Aston Valkyrie, you’d think the idea of a berserk British bullet was a new one. The likes of Caterham and Radical have long created super-focused specials, but in 2006 came a car like no other, the Caparo T1.

The work of ex-McLaren engineers, the T1 was intended to provide F1 levels of performance but, thanks to the UK’s liberal transport laws, remain road legal. The word ‘intended’ is used because the Caparo project never really took off. Originally, 100 cars were planned, but just 16 ended up being built. The impending GFC presumably didn’t help demand.

The T1 also had a troubled gestation. Early development cars were released to the press, resulting in Jason Plato catching fire and Jeremy Clarkson saying unflattering things on the TV. At the first press ride day, the two prototypes spent most of the day broken down before one crashed with a Dutch journalist on board.

Nevertheless, those final 16 production cars were quite something. The original targets were for a 321kW 2.4-litre supercharged V8 and a 475kg dry weight. The final 3.5-litre atmo V8 increased weight to 550kg, but also swelled outputs to 429kW at 10,500rpm and 420Nm at 9000rpm.

A six-speed Hewland sequential gearbox drove the rear wheels and the carbon fibre and aluminium monocoque body produced 875kg of downforce at 240km/h.

UK outlet Evo was the only media to ever record independent performance figures on the T1, its 6.2sec effort to 100mph (161km/h) by far the quickest it had ever seen. By comparison, the GT3 RS elsewhere in this issue took 6.8sec to reach the old ton, but when you consider the T1 was a second behind at 50km/h you get a better sense of its insane speed.

On track, the T1 was unhinged, its 1:10.8sec lap time around Evo’s Bedford test track was 8.6sec quicker than the Gumpert Apollo, which itself set a 7min11.57 Nurburging time. The Valkyrie has quite an act to follow.