Built in tiny numbers for the select few who can indulge in such things, the Caparo T1 is the ultimate road legal track day machine. It may have had a difficult and sometimes public development period, but nine years on it’s still one of the most extreme road-legal track cars ever built.
The T1 may be allowed on the roads but it is about as far removed from your average road car as is automotively possible. It has four wheels, two seats and a set of headlights but that’s where the similarities just about end. In a world of crossovers, SUVs and other multipurpose vehicles, the T1 is focused on just one goal. Just like Ricky Bobby of Talladega Nights fame, the T1 just wants to go fast. Really fast.
Forget other supercars, with a 1075bhp per ton power-to-weight ratio you will need to strap a set of rockets to a Veyron to keep up. Referred to as the spiritual successor to the McLaren F1 by Gordon Murray, it is a truly special vehicle. Built in tiny numbers, few come up for sale but for those who appreciate the uncompromising focus of the Caparo read on to see what to look for when buying one used.
Which one to buy?
This one is easy, there is one model with one engine option and very few extras to choose from. The bespoke 3.5-litre V8 engine produces 575bhp at the sort of revs that superbike owners will be familiar with. With a kerb weight of 550kg (that’s half a Mazda MX-5 or about the same as the original Fiat 500) the power-to-weight ratio is an astounding 1075bhp per ton. The 2.5 second 0-60 time may be on par with the very fastest hypercars out there but this figure hardly does the T1 justice as it is just getting into its stride. Evidenced but the fact that it then blasts through the 100mph barrier a mere 2.4 seconds later.
No road car can get even close to that number. Top speed is largely academic, especially around a track and dependant on the wing setup, 210mph is possible at its lowest drag setting. A six-speed sequential manual gearbox puts the power down to the rear wheels and while road tyres are standard, sticky track rubber is available and highly recommended on track. The suspension is height adjustable making it possible to navigate road bumps and uneven surfaces without damaging the undertray.
Designed to be a Formula 1 car for the road, the T1 has none of the extras one would expect to find. What you do get is a data logger, six-point harnesses and HANS device compatibility as well as traction control. The optional bubble cockpit cover is a highly recommended piece of kit, especially if you intend to drive your T1 to and from the track.
Despite looking like a single-seater at a casual glance, some clever packaging hides a small passenger seat slightly back from the driver. It’s best used for very short trips or as a repository for a tog bag and helmet...
Performance and specs
Engine 3496cc 32 valve DOHC Menard designed V8
Power 575bhp @ 10,500rpm
Torque 310lb ft torque @ 9000rpm
Top speed 180-210mph (downforce dependant)
0-60mph 2.5 seconds
Fuel consumption n/a
Gearbox Six-speed sequential
Dimensions and weight
Kerb weight 550kg
• Unlike our usual used guide advice the T1 is such a niche car that the standard recommendations tips do not apply. Evidence of a comprehensive maintenance record should still be available and since most are used as track cars one should be very careful when examining the bodywork for damage.
• Caparo Vehicle Technologies future is uncertain following the death of their parent company CEO, Angad Paul in 2015. Consequently finding parts and spares may become very difficult in the future.
• During its development phase the T1 suffered from a number of pre-production maladies. Catching fire, breaking a suspension arm and floor plates working themselves loose may seem alarming but they are all part of the development process and the fact that they occurred on TV shows and at launches blew the issues out of proportion.
• Servicing any vehicle that is to be used almost solely on a track means that maintenance intervals need to be far more frequent. Brakes, tyres and suspension components all take a lot of punishment; the additional downforce created by the T1 will mean more weight for these components to deal with.
• Carbon fibre construction and bespoke components mean that repairs will have to be done at a specialist and parts and labour will not be budget friendly.
2006: Caparo T1 concept car unveiled – Chief designers ex-McLaren engineers
2007: Caparo T1 launched. Powered by bespoke 575bhp V8 3.5-litre naturally aspirated engine. One model only with Six-speed sequential gearbox and race derived suspension and bodywork
2014: Plans announced for Caparo T1 Evolution with over 700bhp – shelved indefinitely
2015: Company CEO dies and the future of the Caparo group remains uncertain
Owners clubs, forums and websites
Summary and prices
Priced at £210,000 when new, pricing gradually increased over the years to around £300,000 by 2012. With 16 cars having been sold since the T1’s inception in 2007 finding a used one takes patience.
Most T1’s remain unregistered, being used purely as track day weapons and while mileages may be extremely low they will have more than likely all been accrued around a race circuit. This is what they were designed for and perfectly normal as long as maintenance records are in evidence.
Values though are a secondary concern in this context, if you are in the market for such a machine it is clear that the daily driver, special occasion supercar and classic weekend toy are already in the garage. The focus is rather on what can do this specific job better? In the case of the T1, there are few rivals that could genuinely compete. The value of that sort of ability is up to each individual. Just like Ricky Bobby said, ‘If you’re not first you’re last’.
Words: John Tallodi