Cult Cars Road Tests

Cult Car: Caparo T1

Time 7:44 am, March 7, 2010




Colloquially known as the car that burned touring car hero Jason Plato on national TV, there’s far more to the Caparo that just being, er, a bit of a hottie.

Designed to demonstrate cutting-edge British technology, it’s thoroughly deserving of Cult Car status. Indeed, its fiery habits maybe even only enhance this…

The designers, both ex-McLaren F1 men, proclaimed it at launch back in 2006 to be an F1 car for the road. You don’t say. Look at it. How would we have guessed! With a twin-element front wing, single-element rear wing and ground effect diffuser similar to that which got Brawn all the 2009 F1 headlines, the only thing missing is a 250-strong race crew seeing to its every need.

It doesn’t need them because it’s fully road legal. For £235k, you too can have one of the most dramatic cars in existence. Rarity is guaranteed, too – it’s built in numbers fewer than the cars set to line up on the F1 grid next year. But, believe us, it’s not looks and rarity that make it truly cult-worthy.

No, try this: the dry weight of the thing, thanks to aluminium/carbonfibre monocoque construction, is less than 500kg. The mid-engined, two-seat rear-drive monster seriously challenges the strength of this at 150mph too, by generating almost twice this kerbweight in downforce alone.

Which, to Car Dealer Magazine’s lame physics brain, suggests to us that you can drive it upside down through a tunnel at this speed in complete confidence. Which would be Men In Black cool.



Even cooler would be getting there. Behind the two passengers – with one sitting slightly behind the other, to make it narrower and more aerodynamically smooth – is a nuts 3.5-litre V8 engine. This, the spec sheet says, can produce 575bhp at a dizzy 10,500rpm… and there isn’t even a turbo to help it along. Mad. 

Such power is sufficient to see it from 0-60mph in, and we believe this is correct, around 2.5 seconds. Even that’s not enough for Caparo, though. Word is, the version fuelled by Methane is even faster, due to its power boost up to 700bhp. Helps it get to 100mph even faster than the standard car’s 4.9-second time, and illustrates just how stupidly potent it could be.

We’d stick with the standard version, mind. Even this has a power-to-weight ratio which, at 1,045bhp/tonne, is twice that of a Bugatti Veyron. That would do for us.

A six-speed sequential gearbox, five-way adjustable race dampers and a full set of digital data-logging instruments complete the F1 racecar experience. Blimey, you can even strap yourself in with a six-point race harness if you so wish, and fit a full neck-protecting HANS device. Well, the M25 is usually a pain in the neck, so…

Seriously though, you probably wouldn’t guffaw if you got the Caparo onto a track, and fitted the optional track-orientated wing setup. With a juicy set of tyres, the designers claim it can generate 3G in corners. 3G! That really is F1-level, and thus cements it for us. The Caparo T1 is a cult car, and no mistake. 

It may be surrounded by controversy – and Clarkson may have been terrified of it on Top Gear – but, to we batty journos, that only adds to its cult-ability. Besides, at £235k, even a middling lottery win would be enough…


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Caparo T1

Engine: 3.5-litre V8

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Power: 575bhp

Top speed: 200mph-plus

0-62mph: 2.5 seconds

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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