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Freestream: A Small Big That Out-accelerates The Biggest And Best - Articles Surfing
Coming soon from England is the Caparo Freestream supercar, which will have a power-to-weight ratio of 1,000 bhp per ton! The Bugatti Veyron which has 1,001 bhp manages about 560 bhp per tonne, so how you can see that the Caparo is streets ahead of any other supercar in power-to-weight ratio, and that is what makes cars accelerate fast. And fast acceleration is very exciting, and can also improve safety of the car in some circumstances.
So how does the Caparo do it? Not with 2,000 bhp because the car would weigh at least 2.5 tons, which would miss the target. In fact, Bugatti has demonstrated that sheer power means a lot of weight, particularly in the transmission and brakes.
To get a high power-to-weight-ratio you need a light car. And why is a high power-to-weight-ratio important? Because it dictates how fast the car accelerates flat out. A car with a high power-to-weight-ratio can cover the ground quicker because it gets out of corners fast and accelerates up the straights faster. So long as the handling is good, the car will be very fast anywhere.
Instead of going for a big engine with masses of power, the designers, who worked on the McLaren F1, have gone for ultra lightweight and a compact V-8 engine based on F1 technology. The result is a pencil-slim car with 480 bhp at 10,500 rpm from a supercharged 2.4 liter engine, and a weight of under 1,100 lb. Both the new engine and transmission are very light, as are all the components. The very narrow body without fully enclosed fenders also reduces weight.
The whole design concept has been aimed at reducing weight, ore not putting in things that add weight. First, the power train is very light compared with mass-production units. Then, the carbon fiber body/chassis is also much lighter than most, as designers without Grand Prix experience tend to over-design their structures. Also, because the power train is light, the loads on the body are lower, so again less weight does not need to be built into the structure.
It has a very narrow cockpit, with the passenger sitting slightly behind the driver to reduce width, so this is more of a track racer or trackday special than a road car. Even so, this car changes the concept of exotic cars to where it should be - ultra-lightweight, compactness and exciting performance round twisty roads or circuits.
To save weight they have adopted a narrow coupe body with cycle-type front mudguards, and side-mounted radiators which flow into the rear fenders.
In fact, these are all factors used by Colin Chapman to design the early Lotus cars, and since used by all racing car companies. In other words, the Caparo Freestream really takes advantage of Grand Prix technology to build a supercar.
The Caparo Freestream looks very unusual, but if you want sheer performance this is it! The makers say the car will hit 200 mph, and accelerate from a standing start of 100 mph in 5.5 seconds!! Holy mackerel that is fast. Oh, and they also say that owing to the downforce available, the T1 will be able to corner and brake at 3g - incredible. This tremendous cornering power and braking would not be possible without the use of Grand Prix design principles.
On top of all that, Caparo, which produces a lot of components for the auto industry, have priced the Freestream at about $320,000 (*176,000).
Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).
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