But to all intents and purposes the T1 feels unmistakably like a racing car from behind its flat bottomed (and topped) steering wheel. And that’s because to all intents and purposes it IS a racing car. A very fast racing car. Which just so happens to wear number plates and a tax disc on its windscreen…
How fast is it, precisely? The T1’s creators – ex-McLaren engineers Ben Scott-Geddes, Graham Halstead and none other than Gordon Murray himself – reckon the T1 weighs not a gram more than 550kg without a driver on board. Seeing as it is powered by a mildly detuned 3.5-litre Indycar V8 with 575bhp and ‘at least’ 310lb ft of torque, that means the T1 has monumentally more power-to-weight than any other road car in history. It also makes it more potent than any F1 car up until the turbo era in the later 1970s.
As yet no one has actually timed the T1 on a full bore acceleration run but, according to Caparo’s own computer generated data estimates, the 0-60mph time is around 2.5sec while 0-100mph takes less than five seconds. And to do 0-100-0mph takes ‘approximately 7.2sec.’ If correct – and there’s absolutely no reason why Caparo’s maths would be wrong – that means the T1 can do to a Veyron what a Veyron can do to a Porsche 911. Namely, blow it clean into the far side of the undergrowth.
Whether it’s also a car you’d ever genuinely use on the road is another matter entirely, what with the ground clearance being so poor and the turning circle being so pathetic. In reality, therefore, what we’re talking about is not a road car at all but the ultimate track day weapon. And so long as you keep that specific purpose in mind it’s hard not to be impressed, no, blown away by what the T1 can do.
To climb aboard you need simply to vault up and then down into the cockpit, just like you do in any other single seater racing car. Except, of course, to the left and slight aft of the main driver’s seat there’s also a second seat in the T1 which, in theory, can be occupied by terrified passengers. But be warned, it’s not exactly a pleasant experience being a passenger in the Caparo T1 (I know, I’ve tried that too), and that’s not merely because there’s so little room beside the driver. The g forces this thing can generate through corners and under brakes mean that, as a passenger, you will almost certainly want to get out soon after you have squeezed yourself in.
The driving position is also just like that of a single-seater in that you feel almost to be lying on the ground rather than sitting on it, with your feet stretched way out in front of you, above your backside, and your arms out-stretched to reach the wheel. And when you notice how snugly your feet embrace the pedals and how precisely your shoulders fit the seat, the first thing that strikes you is how pure it feels, looking out of the T1’s tiny cockpit.
Almost instantly the V8 settles to an idle of around 1500rpm, and once it’s warm it’s neither as noisy nor as rough as you were expecting. In fact it’s peculiarly smooth to begin with. Ease the clutch out on idle and the T1 starts to move, all by itself,no extra revs required.
The clutch is heavy (it will be lighter on production versions) but the T1 is not an especially difficult car not to stall. First impressions? The ride is ridiculously stiff, the steering is incredibly heavy but also hyper-precise, the paddle shift gearchange appears to work surprisingly smoothly on upshifts between 4000-5000rpm, and the throttle response is absolutely instant, catapaulting the T1 forwards at the merest hint of an extra dose of revs.
And there’s absolutely no let up as you shift into third, then fourth, fifth and sixth, almost as quickly as you think it. Only right at the top of sixth gear does the acceleration start to fade, and then only slightly. In fourth gear at a steady 100mph you put your foot down and the T1 takes off with the same wallop to the kidneys as a Porsche 911 turbo does off the line. Up to around 180mph, which is when the high downforce configuration of this particular T1 starts to hold it back, a Bugatti Veyron just wouldn’t get a look in.
And the moment you introduce a few corners into the argument, the gap grows wider still. Much wider. Because through corners and – even more obviously – under brakes the T1 is even more mind-blowing than it is in a straight line.
Thanks to its aero package and huge Michelin tyres Caparo claims the T1 can pull over 3g through a corner – even the fastest Ferraris will start to slide off the road at around 1.2g. From the way you can hear yourself groaning against the strain through a fast corner, you don’t feel inclined to doubt their claims. The limitation of how fast the Caparo will go through any given corner is, therefore, you and not the car itself.
Put it another way, the car that won Le Mans for Bentley a few years ago is barely any quicker than the T1 around Snetterton race track, which is a power circuit if ever there was one. A Formula 3 car is several seconds slower round Mallaroy Park. What we’re talking about is the sort of speed that will enable you to obliterate Ferrari F430s and 911 Turbos on track days as if they didn’t exist, make them look as if they are standing still. In light of which £211,000 doesn’t seem quite so ridiculous. In fact, it almost sounds like something of a bargain…