The ultimate supercar? Gordon Murray Automotive T.50

The ultimate supercar? Gordon Murray Automotive T.50

Gordon Murray – the designer of the McLaren F1 – claims to be creating the ultimate driving machine. Who’d bet against him?

 The McLaren F1 is the finest driving machine yet built for the public road… The F1 will be remembered as one of the great events in the history of the car…

Autocar -1994

You don’t need to have driven a McLaren F1 to know that it is one of – if not the – greatest supercar ever built. A car that needs no introduction. Forget that it held the production car speed record for 22 years. Forget the naturally-aspirated BMW V12 mated to a manual gearbox. Forget that a car originally designed for the road beat racing prototypes to win the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans at its first attempt and filled four of the first five places. You only have to listen to the reverence afforded it by those in the know – racing drivers, motoring journalists and uber-wealthy petrolheads to know that the McLaren F1 is the greatest driver’s car of the modern era and probably of all-time. So how do you improve on it in the era of turbocharged, hybrid hypercars where purity of driving experience is at the mercy of strict environmental and safety legislation? Gordon Murray has the answer.

Professor Gordon Murray CBE has form. He is the guru of contemporary high-performance automotive design. Appointed by Bernie Ecclestone as Chief Designer at the Brabham Formula One team, Murray’s Brabham Grand Prix cars won 22 races and gave Nelson Piquet two world championships. He then spent four years with McLaren as Technical Director, helping them to win four consecutive constructors’ titles as well as the drivers’ titles – three for Ayrton Senna and one for Alain Prost.

In 1991 he left the McLaren Formula 1 team to head up McLaren cars, where he and his team designed the McLaren F1 and Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR. In 2007 he set up his own design consultancy – Gordon Murray Design. In 2017, Gordon Murray Automotive was founded and he has been teasing us ever since.

Gordon Murray Automotive T.50 in numbers

  • 0-60 – unknown… Gordon Murray Automotive is not chasing power or top speed figures
  • 3 seat, driver-forward configuration
  • 3.9 litre naturally aspirated V12 powerplant
  • 100 road cars to be built (+25 track cars) – half the production run is already sold
  • 654 bhp
  • 986 kg – about 50 kilos heavier than a Lotus Elise and 650 kg lighter than the 650 bhp Porsche 911 (992) Turbo S
  • 2020 – first cars delivered to customers
  • 12,100 rpm – the highest-revving naturally-aspirated road car engine ever
  • £2,360,000 before taxes

Rewriting the supercar rulebook

The two things… I score a sportscar on are – when you get out of it, walking away – you really want to have another look… and within an hour you really want to get back in again.

Gordon Murray

Murray’s relatively lofty ambition was to create the ” purest, lightest, most driver-centric supercar ever”, in the knowledge that this may be the last opportunity for anyone to do so – anyone who wants to build that driving experience around a manual V12, at least.

We’re perfectly placed – after 30 years – to do another ultimate driver’s car.

Gordon Murray

Daily usability was one of the key design objectives. The car is road oriented, not a track car – Murray describes it as a hyper-GT – with all the necessary creature comforts inside, pliant suspension with plenty of travel and 19/20″ wheels. ” The 22″ wheel thing is nonsense… I haven’t bothered with anything that’s fashion”. There are no touch screens and it has an analogue rev counter.

Design

Roughly the same size as the McLaren F1 and with the footprint of a Porsche Boxster, the T.50 isn’t a big car. The shape is elegant, with no ducts, splitters, wings or even wing mirrors. This purity of design has been achieved through the use of “the most advanced aerodynamics of any road car” which incorporates a 400mm ground effect fan similar to that on the Brabham BT46. For more detail, watch Gordon Murray himself explaining it to Harry Metcalfe.

Inside, the central driving position originally chosen for the McLaren F1 allows for two further passengers either side and the T.50 has 300 litres of luggage and storage space which is considerable for a supercar.

The T.50 has dihedral doors and a twin gullwing engine bay.

Engineering

Let’s start with the V12.

This is categorically the best V12 made in the history of the motorcar.

Gordon Murray
  • 100% bespoke 3.9-litre V12 Cosworth GMA enginePower: 663PS @ 11,500rpm
  • Torque: 467Nm @ 9,000rpm (71% of max torque available from 2,500rpm)
  • The highest-revving naturally-aspirated road car engine ever (12,100rpm)
  • Most-responsive naturally-aspirated engine ever (28,400 revs per second pick-up)
  • The most power-dense naturally-aspirated engine ever (166PS-per-litre)
  • The lightest road-going V12 ever = 178kg
  • The best V12 sound ever
  • Engine fully on show beneath gullwing-opening ‘viewing gallery’

This is mated to a 6-speed Xtrac manual H-pattern transmission weighing just 80.5 kg and the car is rear-wheel drive. The engine has no belts or ancillaries – even the airconditioning is independently driven by a 48v power supply, rather than the engine.

The chassis and body are made from high grade carbon fibre (unsurprisingly), with a combined weight of less than 150 kg.

Aerodynamics

A unique 400mm ground-effect fan combines with active underbody aerodynamics and two dynamic rear spoilers to aid performance and help deliver an unrivalled driving experience. The McLaren F1 also featured two (much smaller) electric fans to control movement of the Centre of Pressure – a concept originally seen on the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix-winning Brabham BT46B ‘Fan Car’ driven by Niki Lauda, which generated massive aerodynamic downforce in part by fan assistance. Formula 1 rules were quickly altered to dismiss such devices.

Six aero modes enable the driver to optimise dynamic and outright performance – Auto / High downforce / Streamline / Braking / Test / V-Max Boost. Streamline Mode creates a ‘virtual longtail’ and V-Max Boost Mode and ram induction raise the T.50’s power output to 700PS

All engineering, design and styling is by Gordon Murray Design. The powertrain, body, and chassis will all be made in the UK and all major components are UK-sourced. A true UK supercar, then.

Verdict

A compact, sub-1000 kg, 650bhp rear-wheel drive supercar with a V12, manual transmission, no turbos, some amazing aero trickery and impeccable heritage. If it isn’t quite the ultimate supercar, it is almost certainly the last of its kind….