15 October, 2007

A platonic relationship with one's car

I've just watched some footage of Jason Potato getting slightly hot under the collar testing a Caparo T1 for Fifth Gear. I suspect he may take the time to don a pair of nomex gloves and a balaclava as well as the skid lid next time he drives something that was knocked up in somebody's shed.

I could bore for Britain about the indefatigable optimism of people who decide they've got something to bring to the supercar table and eagerly solicit deposits at the NEC with promises of beating Stuttgart and Modena at their own game. Automotive history is littered with their corpses, Horace Pagani arguably the only one of the lot who's even managed to get a toehold.

But enough of my carping. What's it to me if somebody want to burn up several millions creating another derivative two-seater that handles like a cow on acid and smells like a canoe?

What irks me is the way this vehicle was presented to the public was the continual insistence that it was "the ultimate trackday car" and "a racing car for the road".

The crux of the problem was that it really was designed as a racing car on the road, i.e. fucking useless.

Trackdays if you've never had the pleasure of taking part in one are supposed to be exactly that, a pleasure. You are not allowed to race, because it's dangerous and that is not what a trackday is about. Trackdays are still full up with Caterhams, a car designed by Brunel one spare weekend, because they are an absolute blast, a hoot, great big gobs of fun. And racecars are useless on the road for all the reasons so blindingly obvious it would insult your intelligence to list them.

A racecar designer doesn't give two shits about whether the driver is enjoying himself - the driver is paid (sometimes quite handsomely) to do a job of work, and if they can extract two tenths of a second per lap at the expense of some comfort... well boo fucking hoo.

The Caparo handles like a racecar, taught, twitchy unforgiving, but not actually as good as a racecar on it's road spec tires. All of the (very expensive) downsides of both worlds but none of the hilarious grin inducing fun you get in a modest Caterham at 60mph.

Still it's always fun when you know you're having approximately seveteen times as much fun in a vehicle that cost less than matey's toolkit (£5,000 for the Caparo - I shit you not).

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