Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

The Caparo T1 - the soon-to-be, fastest accelerating car in the world

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June 7, 2007

The Caparo T1 - the soon-to-be, fastest accelerating car in the world

The Caparo T1 - the soon-to-be, fastest accelerating car in the world

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June 8, 2007 The soon-to-be world’s fastest accelerating car has broken cover during the final stages of test and development. The Caparo T1 is a high performance two-seater sports car with highly resolved aerodynamics, which has been designed with the looks and performance of a Formula One race car. The T1’s 500 kg weight and 550 bhp give it a power-to-weight ratio of 1100 bhp/tonne – better than any current supersport motorcycle and approaching that of a genuine F1 car. With series production about to commence, the car will be built for discerning customers seeking the ultimate track day experience in a road driveable vehicle. In releasing full details of the car’s specification, the company has revealed that while customer cars are being readied for start of production, preparations are also well in hand for the T1’s first public appearance as a running car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on June 22-24 – which effectively becomes the vehicle’s launch date.

The Caparo T1 also serves as a technology flagship for demonstrating the company’s high level vehicle design and engineering capabilities.

“We said a year ago, at the outset of this programme, that the only way to truly convince carmakers that we have the experience and skills to design a safe, reliable, cost-efficient and high-performance car is to actually design and build one,” says Ben Scott-Geddes, the car’s co-designer and operations director at Caparo Vehicle Technologies. “We’ve now done so … we’re proud of what we’ve achieved … and we now have something real and tangible to discuss.”

With distributors appointed in the UK, USA, South Africa and Dubai and more dealers under evaluation the company has a fast-filling order book. The handover of the car to the first customer is scheduled for July.

The biggest attraction for customers and the most striking aspect of the car’s specification is its headline figure of 1,045bhp-per-tonne power-to-weight ratio. The Caparo T1 is the first series production car ever to break through the 1,000bhp-per-tonne barrier. This has been achieved by installing a home-grown 3.5-litre Caparo V8 engine, which produces 575bhp (425kW) at 10,500rpm and 420Nm (310lbft) at 9,000rpm, into an extremely lightweight body and chassis constructed of advanced composite materials and weighing just 550kg.

The Caparo T1 is around one-third the mass of the average family saloon. Its carbon/aluminium honeycomb monocoque features a separate composite crash structure at the front, while the rear sub-frame specifies aerospace grade steel. The non carbon-fibre steel suspension illustrates the company’s ability to specify structural materials that can deliver the maximum performance at the lowest possible cost.

This means the Caparo T1 is lighter and faster even than a race-winning Le Mans sportscar. In terms of power-to-weight ratio its closest rival would be the latest super-bikes, which are now capable of delivering 175bhp into 185kg thereby just falling short of the magic 1,000bhp-per-tonne figure. Apart from these two wheelers and Formula One cars, no other road or track car comes anywhere close to the Caparo T1’s power-to-weight ratio and highly efficient aerodynamic properties.

This supreme power-to-weight ratio results in a 0-60mph time of less than 2.5 seconds and the ability to reach 100mph within five seconds. Braking performance is no less impressive with 100mph to standstill being delivered in 3.5 seconds.

“We’re absolutely delighted with the progress we’ve made throughout the test and development programme,” says engineering director and T1 co-designer Graham Halstead. “The aerodynamic efficiency was already well established through wind tunnel testing of a scale model even before we built the first prototype. With tens of thousands of miles of durability trials and specific testing now under our belts we have progressively fine tuned the specification of the vehicle to meet and exceed even our high performance objectives.”

“The combination of highly resolved aerodynamics and chassis make the vehicle predictably safe and responsive to driver inputs,” adds Scott-Geddes. “The car drives and handles extremely well both on the road and track and this was the number one consideration in such an uncompromised high performance vehicle.”

“The Caparo T1 not only looks and performs like a Formula One car but it also helps us to demonstrate new and advanced technology to vehicle manufacturers in the aerospace, automotive, defence, marine and motorsport industries,” says Richard Butler director Caparo Vehicle Technologies and chief executive of Caparo Vehicle Products. “Already, we’re working on a number of highly confidential client projects, applying the same approach to aerodynamics, choice of materials and efficient vehicle design, which has allowed us to develop the T1.”

“Ultimately, our goal is to help carmakers to create a new generation of more fuel-efficient and lightweight family cars with significantly lower CO 2 emissions more in keeping with the needs of the 21 st century,” says Angad Paul chief executive of the $1.2bn turnover Caparo Group, a fast-growing automotive Tier 1 supplier, which created Caparo Vehicle Technologies to back the T1 project. “We will help carmakers achieve their objectives by continuing to invest in advanced technology in order to develop new lightweight materials and commercialise their manufacturing processes so they are affordable for mass production.”

“Given the car’s performance potential - the engine has already been successfully bench tested to 700bhp on methanol - we are now looking into the possibility of introducing for our customers an international T1 race series,” says commercial director Sean Butcher. “Our objective is to give customers an affordable and reliable season on the track without incurring the extraordinary costs of running a real Formula One car.”

“Customers comprise private individuals with a passion and desire for ultra high performance and corporate clients requiring an affordable yet prestigious track car for the fast growing market of hospitality race experience events,” added Butcher.

In terms of colour and trim each of these highly exclusive hand-built cars, which has a starting price of £190,000 (excluding taxes), will be tailored to suit individual customer requirements.

Caparo V8 engine specification:

* Bespoke 3.5 litre normally-aspirated fuel-injected V8 * 575bhp (425kW) at 10,500rpm * 420Nm (310lbft) at 9,000rpm * Original concept tested at up to 700bhp (515kW) on methanol * Limited to 10,500rpm for reliability but designed for maximum 12,000rpm * 90 degree V8, 4 valves per cylinder, 4 overhead camshafts * 93mm bore / 64.3mm stroke * Finger follower valve train system * Lightweight titanium valves * Aluminium head * Aluminium block * Steel billet ‘flat plane’ crankshaft * Internal piston cooling system * Aluminium / Nikasil liners * Gas filled ring cylinder head sealing system * Dry sump with one-piece sump / ladder frame for increased stiffness * 8 butterfly throttle system * Electronic sequential fuel injection system with twin-spray fuel injectors * Engine concept is essentially to Indy racecar specification but with revs dropped to 10,500rpm for extended reliability in Caparo T1 * Pectel SQ6 engine control unit (ECU) * Engine is fully stressed but installed in T1 to take torsion loads only * Longitudinal, lateral and vertical loads taken up by tension and compression links to the rear of the chassis * Engine runs on 98RON pump fuel at a fuel pressure of 5bar * Fuel system is a return top tank system to eliminate fuel vapourisation * Engine bottom end modified from race engine specification to increase main bearing tolerances and help cold start of the engine * A bespoke carbon air-box and filter tray has been designed and installed to suit the Caparo T1 * Air filter is a mesh and washable filter system * All up engine weight with ancillaries is circa 116kg

Caparo T1 vehicle specification

* Advanced technology composites for ultra lightweight construction * 575bhp V8 engine / 550kg kerb weight * 1,045bhp-per-tonne power-to-weight ratio for ultra high performance * Fully tuneable aerodynamics * 2-seater * Rear mid-engine layout * Built for discerning customers but also technology flagship for Caparo Vehicle Technologies - demonstrating principles of lightweight vehicle design which can also be applied to everyday cars

Aerodynamics

* Front cockpit road aero screen, other options available for track use * Ground effect diffuser * Adjustable front twin element wing * Adjustable rear single element wing * Adjustable fowler flaps * Low drag body design * Range of wing options for road and track

Steering

* Magnesium cased lightweight high ratio steering rack * Bespoke removable steering wheel

Capacities

* Dry sump tank 8 litres * Fuel tank 70 litres

Body

* Carbon fibre multi part body with tuneable aerodynamics * Designed in sections for easy repair * Carbon/glass and Nomex panel construction

Chassis

* 2-seater carbon/aluminium honeycomb monocoque * Separate front composite crash structure * Rear tubular aerospace grade steel space-frame

Suspension

* Streamline double wishbone front and rear * Tuneable front and rear anti-roll bar * Five-way adjustable race dampers

Safety

* Central safety cell with high strength steel roll hoop * Composite front crash structure * Head protection system * 6-point harness for driver and passenger compatible with HANS (head and neck restraint system) device * Fire system

Electronics

* Fully tuneable engine ECU * Bespoke wiring aerospace grade loom * Multi-function race dash including data logging * Speed sensors for traction and launch control * Fly-by-wire throttle for optimum tuning

Gearbox

* Bespoke magnesium pneumatic paddle-shift gear change * Paddle-shift gear change control * Limited slip differential * Equal length hollow tripode driveshafts * Various gear and final drive ratios available

Brakes

* 355mm diameter steel race discs front and rear * Fully floating discs * Front 6 pot billet machined race callipers * Rear 4 pot billet machined race callipers * Fully adjustable brake bias pedal box * Pad compound options available

Equipment

* Road legal SVA approved road version and full track versions available * Road and track parts fully interchangeable * Wet weather canopy/bib screen or race screen * Further bespoke options to individual customer requirements

Weight

* 550kg (dry weight)

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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