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The Caparo T1 is launched today, and it's the most extreme supercar ever built, claim its creators. Out of the way Le Mans racer or superbike – the British designed T1 is mightier than both. Thanks to its featherlight structure and 575bhp V8 engine, the Caparo can crack 60mph in less than 2.5sec, and demolish the 100mph barrier in under 5.0sec. It piles on speed at such a phenomenal pace thanks to a staggering power-to-weight ratio of 1045bhp per tonne. That's twice as powerful as the world's fastest production car, the 252mph Bugatti Veyron, which musters 'just' 506bhp per tonne. The T1 is the first series production car to break the 1000bhp per tonne ceiling, a feat beyond even the most vicious superbike, say the Caparo team. Two prototypes are lapping the Goodwood Motor Circuit right now, as the new British hero is showcased to the press. Naturally CAR Online is there, and first to bring you all the details.
Sounds amazing. Let's have the juice then...
The T1 supercar is a showcase for automotive consultancy Caparo Vehicle Technologies. This British-based multinational designs, manufactures and supplies components to the automotive industry. Its dream is to get more parts from lightweight metals or composites into mass production, to bring down the weight of family cars. Just don't expect the average family hatch to be as exotic – and therefore as expensive – as the T1. The limited edition supercar will cost £190,000 plus taxes. For that price, you get a car that weighs a featherlight 550kg. That's around one-third of the weight of a family saloon, and an impressive 250kg less than a Lotus Elise. The T1's principal designer is Ben Scott-Geddes, who cut his teeth at McLaren cars working on the Mercedes SLR. Like the McMerc, the T1 is made of advanced materials carbonfibre and aluminium. The monocoque is made from carbonfibre, like an F1 car which it closely resembles.
The engine room
Two occupants can ride in the slender T1, with the passenger seat staggered just behind the driver's left shoulder. A bespoke 3.5-litre V8 engine is mounted just behind the passenger cell. The naturally aspirated unit kicks out 575bhp at 10,500rpm and 310lb ft of torque at 9000rpm. And there could be higher performance versions to come. 'In its current state of tune, the engine is well within its capability,' says Caparo Vehicle Technologies boss Richard Butler. 'It's very low stressed running at 10,500rpm – it could reach 17,000.' The thinking behind this is to ensure good reliability from the engine, which weighs just 116kg. The engine is a joint development between Caparo and Menard Engineering, rather than a familiar unit bought in. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed sequential manual gearbox. As the T1 is the ultimate track car, gearchanges are made by paddles. The T1 is designed to cope with one scourge of real-world roads – the speed bump. Although the T1 stands just 50mm high when pounding the track, the alumium pushrod suspension can be raised to provide 100mm of ground clearance. The suspension is a double wishbone design, the classic racing car set-up.
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Braking performance is awesome too, taking just 3.5secs to wipe 100mph off the clock and bring the T1 to a total halt. Surprisingly, the 355mm brake discs are not made of carbonfibre ceramics but more conventional steel. They are gripped by six-pot callipers up front and four-pot callipers at the rear. The T1's extreme form follows its function – to perform like an F1 car. Top speed is 187mph. In wind tunnel tests, aerodynamic aids such as the tall rear wing generated around 800kg of downforce at 150mph. No wonder Caparo is claiming this as the ultimate track car. But most impressive of all is the T1's development time. While a mainstream car maker can spend six years designing and developing a new model, the T1 should go from drawing board to the first customer's garage in a breath-taking 12 months. Now that's what we call fast.