The Caparo T1 was one of the first cars I ever actually found out about, and properly, properly liked, when I was a young ‘un. It was first shown off in 2006 at the time when my love of cars really first started to bloom. And I thought it looked like one of the best things ever.
I still like the look of it today. The orange paint probably helps it. It’s such a nice shade and shows very well what is a mad looking car.
The mirrors are actually part of the wheel covers. The brake lights are on the sides of the rear wing. And that engine cover and those tailpipes are just magnificent.
The actual car itself takes the concept of lightweight track cars to its theoretical maximum. This really is as close to a race car for the road as you can get. A Formula race car, that is. With a 575bhp V8 put inside 672kg of car – that is well over what this actually weighs, I understand – the speed at which this thing goes is beyond any road car will go.
But this speed comes at a cost. You have to be very good to use all of it. As you might come to expect, this is a difficult car to drive, what with it being as unadulterated as it is.
Unless you chicken out and put on TCS or STM, probably the best way to help you actually drive this thing with a modicum of ability is to use the chase cam all the time. You really do have to be seeing what the car is doing at every moment to know what to do with it. You have no chance of doing that onboard or from either the hood or nose. With something this narrow, and with such a tiny wheelbase, that’s the name of the game.
To be fair, if there is somewhere all that extra weight is coming from, it’s probably all the downforce the car generates at speed. It makes a serious difference at speed. Through the fastest corners it’s unflappable, although you still have to be brave. Don’t lift or else it’ll be spinning out, again.
And of course, the car’s characteristics make it weakest in slow corners. Wheelspin, understeer, everything you don’t want is fighting against you at those points. So really the Caparo is strongest of all at courses with fast corners galore.
When you can get the thing in a straight line, its acceleration is magnificent. Speeding through the gearchanges with a whole mass of revs coming from the 3.5-litre V8, the car’s outright speed at around 100 is most impressive. Because even here it is still picking up speed at a remarkable rate. A longer straight might well thwart it with all the downforce it packs, but make no mistake; on the right track, the Caparo is very hard to beat.
But there’s no getting away from the fact that it is a seriously challenging car to drive at the maximum. There are a select few tracks the orange speedfreak would be very happy on, but many tracks would present problems for it. And it’s up to a properly good driver to get around them and make the Caparo among the very best cars in the entire game.
I am not one of those drivers. And as a result, I spent a fair amount of time spinning it around. And who knew something could be so hard to recover? You spin it around on the spot and it just decides to turn around again, leaving you in exactly the same spot as before and even worse off, because you’ve wasted more time. The Caparo is still awesome in my childish mind, but it’s not a car for me to drive. Just to look at, really.