During 1988, only seven months into the project, a test unit was on the tarmac and prototype was put through its paces at the University of Pretoria and the SABS. Despite lacking a solid roof, torsional rigidity passed the grade thanks to a two-chassis set-up. All mechanicals were held by the first chassis and a second carried the body, which meant they were both completely isolated – a world first and testament to the Steenkamp/De Waal brain power.
A true sports car, the Caracal employed a rear-wheel-drive layout. IMM did this by taking the engine, gearbox and subframe from the front-wheel-drive Golf GTI, moving it to behind the cockpit and incorporating it with their own tubular chassis. This meant removing the original VW steering system and manufacturing purpose-built front struts to work with a combination of newly designed and Golf steering geometry.
Bodywork, which was contemporary when compared to the likes of Lotus, Saab and even VW’s Corrado of the time, was of fiberglass construction and mounted to the abovementioned ‘body’ chassis. The two chassis were coupled together with rubber blocks to reduce noise and vibration. Interior equipment was period VW Golf/Jetta so not only was fit and finish top quality, but the Caracal got electric windows, aircon, modern gauges and switchgear. Being more than just a design study, ample room for a spare wheel and large enough boot were provided for, and there was a working soft top, too.