Automotive

Gordon Murray is building the T.50, "the purest, lightest, most driver-focused supercar ever"

Gordon Murray is building the ...
The T.50 will be Gordon Murray's 50th design, but his first car as a manufacturer
The T.50 will be Gordon Murray's 50th design, but his first car as a manufacturer
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Gordon Murray's sense of automotive style is even better than his taste in shirts
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Gordon Murray's sense of automotive style is even better than his taste in shirts
The T.50 will be Gordon Murray's 50th design, but his first car as a manufacturer
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The T.50 will be Gordon Murray's 50th design, but his first car as a manufacturer
The iconic Brabham  BT46B "fan car" – an F1 racer that won its first and only race before being withdrawn from competition
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The iconic Brabham  BT46B "fan car" – an F1 racer that won its first and only race before being withdrawn from competition
The McLaren F1 – Murray's first street car design and one of history's most iconic supercars
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The McLaren F1 – Murray's first street car design and one of history's most iconic supercars

The man behind the magnificent McLaren F1 is starting up a new company to produce something even more lightweight and extreme than his most famous creation. The 980-kg (2,160 lb) Gordon Murray Motors T.50 will begin deliveries in 2020 at a price around US$2.2 million.

After more than 20 years at the forefront of Formula One car design through the 1970s and 80s at Brabham and McLaren, Murray went into road car design in the 90s with one of the most extraordinary CVs in automotive history. We thoroughly recommend you take a look through Mike Hanlon's excellent 2014 article that puts his accomplishments in perspective.

Murray's first street car has gone down in history as one of the greatest supercars of all time. Many years ahead of its time, the McLaren F1 (pictured below) was not only the fastest car in the world when it launched (240 mph/386 km/h), but also the first to top the million-dollar mark and the first to use a full carbon monocoque chassis in the name of lightweighting and razor-sharp handling. It weighed just 1,140 kg (2,513 lb), had a bizarre three-seat layout with the driver in the middle, and set the automotive world on fire.

The McLaren F1 – Murray's first street car design and one of history's most iconic supercars
The McLaren F1 – Murray's first street car design and one of history's most iconic supercars

Now, after more than a decade running his own automotive design studio, Murray has decided to move into manufacturing, and he's launching Gordon Murray Motors with an all-new supercar with a similar focus on lightweighting, aerodynamics, exceptional handling and pure driving fun. He's calling it "a spiritual successor to the F1" so it's fair to expect this will be an absolutely epic machine, even if McLaren has already used that tagline on its swoopy new Speedtail.

Don't expect the T.50 (Murray's 50th car design, including race and road machines) to go smashing any top speed records when it hits the road in 2022. With the Koeniggsegg Agera closing in on 450 km/h (280 mph), and an almost total absence of roads or tracks where such speeds are possible, Murray sees this as an irrelevant goal. "I have absolutely no interest in chasing records for top speed or acceleration," he says. "Our focus is instead on delivering the purest, most rewarding driving experience of any supercar ever built – but, rest assured, it will be quick."

In the spirit of the F1, it'll be powered by a mid-rear mounted, naturally aspirated V12 – although this time, instead of a BMW engine, it'll use a specially developed, 650-odd horsepower Cosworth unit capable of revving to a ridiculous 12,100 rpm, faster than any V12 road engine in history. Without a turbo dampening the audio, this thing will howl like a banshee on heat.

Gordon Murray's sense of automotive style is even better than his taste in shirts
Gordon Murray's sense of automotive style is even better than his taste in shirts

It'll also keep the "jet fighter" style driving position, putting the driver front and center of the cabin, with two passenger seats set back and out to the sides. And Gordon Murray enthusiasts (yes, this man has quite a fan club among petrolheads) will be delighted to learn that the T.50 will also bring across one of his other most famous and controversial design concepts from Formula One: a 400 mm (15.7-inch) fan underneath the car that can spin up and actively suck the bottom of the car down onto the road.

Murray rolled this idea out on the notorious Brabham BT46 Formula One "fan car" in 1978 (pictured below), making the sneaky claim that it was there to help cool the engine, and the fact that it generated enough downforce to visibly pull the car down on its suspension when the throttle was blipped at a standstill? That was merely a side effect. With Niki Lauda in the driver's seat, it won its first race, and caused a bit of an uproar among the other teams. It wasn't technically against the rules, and the FIA cleared Brabham to use it for the remainder of the season, but the team voluntarily withdrew it from competition, much to the tacit relief of the drivers, who might've been happy that they were able to overtake other cars on the outside in a corner, but who were suffering physically from the effects of extreme g-force loadings.

The iconic Brabham  BT46B "fan car" – an F1 racer that won its first and only race before being withdrawn from competition
The iconic Brabham  BT46B "fan car" – an F1 racer that won its first and only race before being withdrawn from competition

That's the kind of device the T.50 street car will be running, as well as an active rear flap spoiler, a set of extra fans behind the motor to evacuate air from the engine bay, and a scoop air intake on the roof. It's fair to assume this thing will stick like a bowel movement to a blanket, despite its lack of showy, external wings and the like.

In terms of lightweighting, this thing is next level. Murray calls the design's approach "unflinching," and says every component has been frisked in search of unnecessary grams. He says the carbon tub chassis on this thing is "unique," but gives no further details apart from a total weight figure of 980 kg (2,160 lb).

To be fair though, that's a pretty extraordinary weight figure. The McLaren 720S, for example, is more than 300 kg heavier. Even the mighty Aston Martin Valkyrie is expected to be somewhere between 50 and 150 kilos heavier than the T.50 – although it can probably be forgiven, given that it makes twice the horsepower and packs in a whole electric powertrain that the Murray car doesn't have to lug about.

Gordon Murray Motors will be manufacturing them out of a brand new, purpose-built factory in Surrey, England. A pricetag "in excess of £2 million" equates to somewhere in the region of US$3.2 million. That's before taxes, and if you can get your hands on one of the 100 that will be made. Which, let's face it, you won't. Nerny nerny ner ner, as the young folk would say, if they weren't all saying yeet these days.

Design sketches are all we've got at this stage, we'll be looking forward to seeing more as the project develops.

Source: Gordon Murray Motors

4 comments
jerryd
He does great things but could do better. On composites he could use Kevlar style fabrics replacing 2x as much CF to increase crash strength, the controlling spec, he could lower the tub weight. I'm building a 63 Vette Coupe looking all composite monocoque version which with Tesla 3 subframes, EV drive, suspension systems give supercars a run for the money. And it'll weigh under 2k lbs. I did like the ground effect trick. Besides the extra cornering it'll clean up the airflow under the car cutting aero drag along with lowering the car. Such could cut power needs by 100hp at 170mph, leaving that for acceleration or longer range.
noteugene
Oh no. Another DC 10. Or is it DC11?
Easy
Nice Jerryd, I hope the corvette is Emerald green. I just saw a Youtube vid yesterday about someone who was converting classics, said there were a lot of 'connected' things to discover as you disassemble ICE. No matter, this is the American ingenuity that's been missing since the Beach Boys. The McClaren guy is on the wrong track. I hope he recoups his efforts, but it would be nice to see his talent go to something more useful.
owlbeyou
Fans accentuating the down force and cooing the engine, the lightest possible main frame and a non-turbo V12 kicking ass. Now that's what I'm talking about.