What Happened to Caparo? Brilliant T1 Seemingly Doomed from the Start

You remember Caparo. Their breakout T1 model from 2008 was huge news for any car lover.


It takes the track-attack ethos of similar English charms like the Lotus 2-Eleven, Ariel Atom and others, then fast-forwards the technology by 100 years.

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While the legendary 1950s-designed Lotus Seven continues forward with even more new Caterham models for 2014, it seems that the actual future of these race cars is in a rut.

A deep rut, followed by a speedbump in the road. Too low to pass over it, the Caparo T1 now appears to be stuck.

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Here is a mini timeline of events that doomed the Caparo T1:

~2005/2006 – Revealed to select car magazines as prototype renders

~ 2007 – First “production” models begin high-performance testing for the first time

~ 2007 – Caparo T1 business purchased by Caparo Atlas Fastenings as a showpiece of new tech and materials construction

~ 2007/2008 – First car starts on fire while taping of television show Fifth Gear, burning Jason Plato’s neck with second-degree wounds

~ 2008 – TopGear‘s Jeremy Clarkson also breaks the car multiple times before even completing a few short laps

~ 2009 – RenaultSport and other partnerships

~ 2010 – On sale in UK for about the equivalent of $300,000

~ 2011-2014 No news besides a new T1 Extreme Competition rendering

~ Emails to Caparo bounce back, but website is still up

Perhaps a case of bad timing for the T1, as this design really had shock value and real appeal to its performance.

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Alas, almost non-existent experience with road-car systems integration, durability testing, and road-legality doomed the firm.

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Using a proprietary “F1-derived” V8 was also problematic, for these high-strung engines are never meant to last more than a few hundred hours of track time – total.

Another problem for the Caparo team is, in fact, the claims initially made about the T1’s performance topping the McLaren F1 and Bugatti Veyron.

It appears the Caparo V8 may have been running nitrous oxide, based on one of the close-up mechanical images of blue tubing.

uh oh

As everyone knows, NOS is a very volatile racing companion.


Versus the second-hand Lotus Elise shells being converted by other vaporware firms, the Caparo T1 actually seems like a perfect fit for a giant battery back behind the driver.

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Track testing with Evo Magazine

2010 Caparo T1 – Exterior Gallery

2010 Caparo T1 – Mechanical Gallery


2010 Caparo T1 – Interior Gallery




Official performance specs below.




Anatomy of the world’s fastest production car…


  • Advanced carbon technology composites

  • Ultra high performance

  • Fully tuneable

  • 2 seater

  • Rear mid-engined


  • 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 – road and track


  • Carbon fibre multi part body with tuneable aerodynamics

  • Designed in sections for easy repair

  • Carbon/glass and Nomex panel construction


  • Magnesium cased light weight high ratio steering rack

  • Bespoke quick release steering wheel


  • Dry sump tank 6 litres

  • Fuel tank 55 litres


  • 2 seater carbon/aluminium honeycomb monocoque

  • Separate front composite crash structure

  • Rear tubular aerospace grade steel spaceframe


  • Streamline double wishbone front and rear

  • Tuneable front anti-roll bar

  • Five-way adjustable race dampers

  • Adjustable ride heights for road and track

Wheels & Tyres

  • Bespoke 10”x 18” Front and 11” x 19” Rear

  • Aluminium Road Wheels with P Zero Corsa 235/40

  • R18 Front, P Zero Corsa 295/30 R19 Rear road tyres

  • Magnesium 10” x 18” Front and 11” x 18” Rear track wheels with Pirelli Slick and Wet track tyres*


  • 3496cc 32v 90˚ V8

  • Longitudinal, mid, rear wheel drive

  • Normally aspirated, fuel injected

  • Dry sump

  • 575bhp @ 10,500rpm

  • 420Nm (310lbft) at 9,000rpm


  • Central safety cell with high strength steel roll hoop

  • Composite front crash structure

  • Head protection system

  • 4-point harness (6 point option available*) for driver and passenger compatible withHANS device

  • Fire system*


  • Fully tuneable engine ECU

  • Bespoke wiring aerospace grade loom

  • Multi-function race dash including data logging*

  • Speed sensors for traction and launch control


  • 355m drilled/ventilated race discs front and rear

  • Fully floating discs

  • Front 6 pot billet machined Caparo AP Braking calipers

  • Rear 4 pot billet machined Caparo AP Braking calipers

  • Fully adjustable brake bias pedal box*

  • Various Track Pad compound options available*

  • 355mm x 35mm Ceramic disc and pad option*

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  • 6 speed sequential

  • Bespoke magnesium with pneumatic gear shift system

  • Paddle shift gear change control

  • Limited slip differential

  • Equal length hollow tripodedriveshafts

  • Various gear and final drive ratios available*


  • Road legal SVA approved ** road version and full track versions available

  • Road and track parts fully interchangeable

  • Race screen standard with bib screen option*

  • or wet weather canopy*


  • 550Kg (dry weight)

  • * Optional extra **Subject to customer request after sale


  • 0-60mph / 0-96kmh

  • Under 2.5 seconds

  • (depending on tyre setup)

Top speed

  • 205mph / 329kmh (low downforce setup)


  • 575bhp @ 10,500rpm


  • 310lbft @ 9,000rpm


  • 1075bhp per tonne

Specific output

  • 164bhp per litre

T1 Cars Limited

Unit 6, The Ringway Centre, Houndmills Business Park

Edison Road, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG21 6YH

Telephone: +44 (0)1256 351340

Fax: +44 (0)1256 362837

e-mail: sales@caparo-t1.com


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