As the world’s first road car to exceed 1 000bhp per tonne, the Caparo T1 will surely grab attention. Currently being developed by engineers that helped deliver the iconic McLaren F1, the T1 concept is a road going, two seat sports car using formula racing technologies whilst delivering safety and accident protection.
”To demonstrate our understanding of these fundamental vehicle engineering issues we set out to design an optimum package for delivering 1,000bhp-per-tonne,” says Caparo co-founder Ben Scott-Geddes. ”Interestingly, the sweet spot on the curve that satisfies many of these issues is 500 horsepower in a vehicle with a mass of 500kg.”
Halstead and Scott-Geddes share an impressive track record and formed part of the small engineering team that worked with McLaren. In terms of sheer vehicle performance, their vision for the T1 is an ultra-lightweight car capable of reaching 100mph in five seconds, with a top speed exceeding 200mph depending on the adjustable aerodynamic set-up which will offer enough downforce to corner at more than 3gs, the same as a Le Mans prototype!
However, in terms of addressing industry issues such as safety and CO2 emission, the car will showcase the consultancy’s core credentials. ”Concept vehicles are ten-a-penny and this is more than a one-off prototype,” says Scott-Geddes. “The only way to truly convince car makers that we have the experience and skills to design and engineer a safe, reliable, cost-efficient albeit high-performance car is to actually design and build one. We then have something to discuss.”
The T1 powertrain comprises of home-grown 3.5-litre Caparo V8 engine, which produces 575bhp (425kW) at 10,500rpm and 420Nm (310lbft) at 9,000rpm. Similarly, the 6-speed sequential transmission with magnesium casing is a bespoke design with a mass of approximately 30kg. The carbon/aluminium honeycomb monocoque features a separate composite crash structure at the front, while the rear sub-frame specifies aerospace grade steel.
The non carbon-fibre steel suspension, for example, illustrates the company’s ability to specify structural materials that can deliver the maximum performance at the lowest possible cost. Overall, the 190 000 GBP price tag underlines the company’s ability to design and build an exclusive car at a relatively low price despite its ultra high performance.
Were absolutely delighted with the progress weve made throughout the test and development programme, says engineering director and T1 co-designer Graham Halstead. The aerodynamic efficiency was already well established through wind tunnel testing of a scale model even before we built the first prototype. With tens of thousands of miles of durability trials and specific testing now under our belts we have progressively fine tuned the specification of the vehicle to meet and exceed even our high performance objectives.
Given the cars performance potential – the engine has already been successfully bench tested to 700bhp on methanol – we are now looking into the possibility of introducing for our customers an international T1 race series, says commercial director Sean Butcher. Our objective is to give customers an affordable and reliable season on the track without incurring the extraordinary costs of running a real Formula One car.
Releasing full details of the cars specification during the final stages of prototype testing and development, the company has revealed that while customer cars are being readied for start of production, preparations are also well in hand for the T1s first public appearance as a running car and star attraction at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on 22-24 June 2007 which effectively becomes the vehicles launch date.
Story by Caparo Cars Limited, edited by Supercars.net
Caparo T1 Videos
Jeremy gets behind the wheel of the insanely fast Caparo T1. With its advanced carbon fibre construction, the Caparo has twice the power-to-weight ratio of the Bugatti Veyron.