The Caparo T1 technology flagship – a high performance and highly aerodynamically efficient track car – will make its debut in the US at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show running Tuesday 31 October to Friday 3 November 2006 at the Las Vegas Convention Centre.
The T1 track racer will be displayed by Michelin (booth 42912) as part of an agreement with the French tyre manufacturer for it to become the car’s exclusive supplier of tyres. As a focal point on their stand, the T1 will help draw attention to the tyre maker’s own technical prowess and innovation skills.
When the show opens on Tuesday morning, the T1 will be officially unveiled by Oscar Pereda high performance marketing manager for Michelin North America and Chad Mann president of Mann Motor Company, whose company will import and distribute the car.
“I believe the Caparo T1 project has the potential to redefine the track going sportscar,” said Pereda in the run up to the show. “Michelin is the most committed tyre company in the world for sportscar racing and is in the vanguard of sportscar evolution. Therefore, collaboration between our two companies has great potential.”
“SEMA will be the first opportunity in North America for 100,000 business and trade visitors to see close-up this phenomenal car developed using Britain’s world renowned motorsport engineering expertise,” said Caparo Vehicle Products chief executive Richard Butler. “The US already offers the world’s largest tuner aftermarket for high performance vehicles, and with private race tracks springing up all over the country the T1 is ideally placed to meet the needs of enthusiastic weekend racers.”
“In addition, the fast growing corporate hospitality market has a need to provide clients with the ultimate ride and drive experience with a professional race driver at the helm. For this you need a two-seater similar to the demonstrators developed by the Formula One teams for their sponsors and VIP guests. This altogether makes the US a strong potential market for the T1.”
Commenting on the car and the most frequently asked question from prospective US customers Sean Butcher commercial director at Caparo Vehicles Technologies, said:
“The T1 has been designed with aerospace and F1 technology know-how to meet the needs of privateer race drivers wanting to experience the maximum possible track performance, but without incurring the cost or reliability issues of running a high formula racecar.
“In the UK, where weekend events have long proliferated, customers have been expressing their desire for an affordable high performance track day experience. Technically, you can only go so far in extending the performance of a road car to the track, so instead we designed the ultimate track car that could be driven on the road. It’s obvious really.
“In its home market the car will be street legal through the well-established process of obtaining single vehicle approval and I’m frequently asked whether we can similarly make it street legal in the States. At this stage we’re not sure. In the US, the comparable approval process is far more complex, varies from state to state and ultimately may prove simply too expensive. The advice we’re receiving from our US distributor Mann Motor Company is to focus on the track opportunities and possibly a race series, especially given the car’s exclusivity and extraordinary performance.”
Commenting on the next most commonly asked question Butcher added: “Given its performance and the fact that many supercars can reach stratospheric prices, we think the Caparo T1 offers exceptional value for £165,000 which is approximately $311,000 at current exchange rates. This excludes sales and value added taxes, which vary from country to country. Most of our prospective customers are probably in a position where they don’t even need to ask the price; the fact they do simply shows their understandable desire to extract maximum performance value for each dollar they spend, which we think the T1 offers in abundance.”
The Caparo T1 is a 2-seater that delivers 1,000bhp-per-tonne, which is twice the power to weight ratio of a Bugatti Veyron. The high power to weight ratio has been achieved by applying the principles of lightweight vehicle design resulting in a compact 2.4 litre V8 engine delivering a high specific output of 480bhp to a hybrid aluminium, steel and carbon composite car whose entire vehicle mass is no more than 465kg (1,025lb). In other words, the Caparo T1 shares the same power output of a typical American muscle car, but has only a quarter of the weight … and much better performance on the track.
Not surprisingly T1 promises the customer phenomenal dynamic agility with exceptionally rapid acceleration, braking and cornering. The combination of high engine output and ultra lightweight design endows the car with extraordinary performance characteristics including 3g cornering and a 0-60mph time of 2.5 seconds. Proving the point that reducing vehicle mass is the best way to enhance performance the T1 can accelerate from zero to 100mph and then brake down to rest again in approximately 8.5 seconds.
The idea for the car comes from Caparo Vehicle Technology design director Ben Scott-Geddes and engineering director Graham Halstead. The two honed their design talents with Gordon Murray, who in turn was inspired as a teenager by the genius of vehicle lightweighting guru Colin Chapman.
Professor Murray, who has recently joined Caparo Vehicle Products as director of advanced concepts said: “Ben and Graham both worked with me as young engineers on the McLaren F1 project. They represent the next generation of designers able to carry forward the principles of lightweight vehicle design. This is clearly demonstrated in their T1 project, which 14 years on from the F1, is less than half its weight. That’s progress for you.
“As a technology demonstrator the Caparo T1 is a new beacon for the automotive industry for the simple reason that whether you’re racing on the track or picking up the groceries from the supermarket, vehicle mass is the single biggest enemy of so many aspects of vehicle performance – not the least being carbon emissions. And the same principles of lightweight vehicle design applied to the T1 can be similarly applied to the average family car.”
Caparo has embraced the T1 project to highlight its ambition to become a leading supplier of advanced composite materials to carmakers needing to reduce CO2 emissions.
“The point is you can reduce carbon emissions without compromising vehicle performance,” says Caparo group chief executive Angad Paul: “Irrespective of where cars are designed, manufactured and sold – whether that’s North America, Europe, India or China - our view is that the global automotive industry really has no alternative but to embrace lightweight materials technology. It may take 15 to 20 years to achieve, but in the end we will see an increasing number of carbon composite applications in series production vehicles as material costs are driven down. Already, we’re seeing it in low and medium volume vehicles.”