Climb inside, fix the wheel to the dash. Thumb the starter switch and the V8 erupts just a few millimeters behind your back, with a roar that tells you this is no namby-pamby cruiser. You need to use the clutch pedal for first gear but once you’re on the move it isn’t needed. What’s needed is a huge dose of bravado before you unleash hell.
My first experience is en route to an airfield where we’ve been granted permission to conduct some high-speed runs. You don’t so much sit in the T1 as lie in it. And this means you don’t get to see much of your surroundings. There’s no chance you’ll see the guy driving that truck you’re sharing road space with as the car is no taller than his tires.
Once the road clears I squeeze the throttle and BAM! The Caparo catches up with the rest of the traffic in a heartbeat. The world becomes a blur and it’s difficult to keep the nose pointed in the right direction because of the physical forces at work. There’s nothing to insulate the car’s occupants from the engine’s vibrations and every gear change results in a jolt that would have lesser cars disintegrating.
There are mirrors housed in the top of each front wing/mudguard and these also house the front headlamps. Rear lamps and indicators are LED items incorporated into the rear wing. It has adjustable dampers and you can raise the ride height to overcome uneven road surfaces, but that’s where concessions to real world usability end. There’s only one thing on the T1’s agenda: speed. Truly shocking speed.
I’ve driven a Veyron and while the power of that thing never leaves you, it’s an easy car to drive. In fact that’s the most impressive thing about it--it’s no more difficult to pilot than a GTI. In the T1, however, you’re totally exposed to the elements, which simply serves to heighten the feeling that you’re being assaulted. Don’t think that’s a criticism, though. It’s a life-affirming experience, one that never fails to have you reeling in shock, horror, and utter joy. It’s like sex used to be before you got married and everything went steadily downhill.
Speed this instant needs to be able to be wiped off in an instant, too. And the Caparo’s braking is almost as shocking as its ability to gather pace. That they decided to fit steel discs here must cast a shadow of doubt over the current obsession with carbon items because they are incredibly effective. When a car can reach 100 mph in less than five seconds, they need to be. The car’s wings and splitters generate colossal downforce and you can feel it being pushed harder onto the road the faster you go.
Reaching the airfield, things get even more hairy and the T1’s development over the past three years is obvious. It takes corners as if they aren’t there thanks to its revised suspension geometry, and its adjustable traction control gives it frankly stunning levels of grip. Turn it off and the T1 leaves longer black lines on the runway than a 747 could manage.
Those early critics have been silenced. The T1 can corner with supernatural tenacity, at least with the adjustable traction control fully on. There’s so much grip, generated not only through downforce, but by its humongous tires, that there’s no way it’ll come unstuck in the dry. Reduce the input of that traction control, however, and the things snakes around like a sidewinder, turning its rear boots into molten rubber. Which is fun enough but experiencing the g-forces at work when you’re giving it some is what it’s all about here.
The T1 is many things: pointless, irrelevant, impractical, expensive, noisy, brutal, unforgiving. But bloody hell it’s a thrill machine like no other and completely addictive. Many have said there’ll never be another McLaren F1 or Bugatti Veyron, that these cars are destined to be viewed as some kind of ultimate in car design. You can now add the Caparo T1 to that exclusive list. It’s utterly astonishing.
At just 1,200 pounds, its power-to-weight ratio is double that of a Veyron.
Longitudinal mid engine, rear-wheel drive
3.5-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve
Six-speed sequential manual
Fully independent front and rear
Ventilated steel racing rotors (13.9-inch front and rear), six-piston calipers (f), four-piston calipers (r)
Length/Width/Height (in.): 160.1/75.7/42.4
Wheelbase: 114.2 in.
Curb Weight: 1,200 lb
Peak Power: 575 hp @ 10,5000 rpm
Peak Torque: 309 lb-ft @ 9000 rpm
0-62 mph: 2.4 sec.
Top Speed: 205 mph (limited)