Accompanied by massed ranks of press photographers, video cameramen and media journalists, all vying for exclusive pictures and interviews, His Serene Highness Prince Albert II unveiled the exclusive Caparo T1 following the official opening yesterday of the prestigious Top Marques show held in Monaco.
The media were drawn to the event by the appearance of the world’s first ever 1,000bhp-per-tonne ultra high performance road and track car. The T1 was the first car at the show to be visited by Prince Albert, who was introduced to Caparo Vehicle Technologies’ design director Ben Scott-Geddes and engineering director Graham Halstead by Angad Paul chief executive of Caparo plc. The £650m multinational manufacturer and supplier of components to carmakers worldwide, is backing the two ex-McLaren engineers whose inspiration helped create the car.
"Prince Albert was particularly interested in how we’d achieved the car’s high power-to-weight ratio and what composite materials we’d used to reduce weight," said Scott-Geddes. "He was also fascinated to see the car was a two-seater in such a compact package."
Another visitor impressed by the Caparo T1 was celebrity commentator Murray Walker who speculated on what it might feel like to be a passenger by referring to his famous drive in the McLaren two-seater formula one racecar, another high performance vehicle project handled by Scott-Geddes and Halstead, and possibly the closest comparison to the T1 in terms of sheer dynamic performance. Whereas the McLaren had a panic button for VIP passengers unaccustomed to 3g cornering, the Caparo T1 passenger will simply have to tap the T1 driver on the shoulder if he or she – like Murray Walker – feels that one more lap at such high performance would be one too many!
This is the first time that Caparo Vehicle Technologies has exhibited at any event. The stunning T1 was created not only as a high performance road and track car but also to demonstrate the company’s technical know-how and competence in vehicle design.
"With deposits received beforehand and cheques taken at the show the order book continues to grow and if a mere fraction of the letters of interest we’ve received turn into additional orders then the demand could soon outstrip our ability to supply," said commercial director Sean Butcher.
Commenting on the build schedule and prospects for meeting customer orders managing director Mark Findlay added: "We completed the build of the first prototype in less than seven weeks to meet the show deadline, which is something of a record even in our industry. We will now build a second prototype for a busy test and development schedule to ensure the car meets our quality and reliability goals. We have started to recruit the engineers and technicians we need to grow the company and our intention is to start building production cars later this year for delivery to customers in 2007."
The ultra lightweight T1, which weighs less than 500kg, is a British designed 2-seater which has been developed using aerospace and high formula racing technology. The compact V8 engine develops approximately 500bhp and the resultant 1,000bhp-per-tonne power-to-weight ratio endows the car with an extraordinary 0-60mph time of 2.5 seconds, 0-100mph time of 5 seconds and 0-100-0mph time of less than 10 seconds making it the world’s fastest accelerating and braking road car. It is also fast round corners with 3g cornering ability equivalent to a Le Mans Prototype.
The T1, which defines an entirely new breed of ultra high performance car that is lighter than a Caterham but with almost twice the power-to-weight ratio of a Bugatti Veyron, forms an eye-catching centrepiece to the show held at the Grimaldi Forum in the heartland of Monte-Carlo; one of the world’s most glamorous locations. Caparo will present the prototype for the duration of the show, which runs from Thursday 20 April to Sunday 23 April 2006.