The McLaren F1 remains to many the greatest supercar of all time. And now the man who designed it, is trying to do even better.
South African-born and -educated Gordon Murray, spent decades transforming F1 racing with a series of hugely influential, and successful, cars. When his attention turned to building a road-going supercar for his final F1 employer, McLaren, expectations were high.
Murray delivered the F1 in 1992 and it was extraordinary. Using advanced composite structures and aerodynamics, it posted a 386kph top speed and was unrivalled. For years.
Gordon Murray: ‘Lateral thinking genius’
The F1 illustrated Murray’s lateral thinking genius with its central driving position.
His reputation was so immense that BMW agreed to build a custom V12 engine programme to power the car. Only 106 were ever built and in today collector’s market, they trade for huge prices in excess of R100 million.
Now deep into his sixth decade, Murray has proved that his design inspiration is not fading with age. His new T.50 supercar is small, light and promises to deliver a purist driving experience like no other.
LIKE A 2020 MODEL YEAR F1
Uncompromised in its design, the T.50 looks remarkably like Murray’s antecedent McLaren F1.
The shape is unusually clean for a modern supercar, devoid of huge spoilers, dive planes and a huge rear wing. Murray believes that all the required aerodynamics could be achieved by managing airflow under the car and he uses an integrated fan-system to achieve this.
Meticulous engineering has extracted all unnecessary weight from the car. It weighs only 986kg, making it lighter than most compact city cars and guaranteeing explosive throttle response and handling agility.
Powering this inspired new supercar is a naturally aspirated 3.9-litre V12 engine, built by Cosworth. It produces 488kW and has a stratospherically high engine-speed ceiling of 12 100rpm, far greater than any production Ferrari or Lamborghini engine.
As an indication of how rapid the T.50’s throttle response is expected to be, Cosworth claims that its V12 will spin from idle to the 12 100rpm redline in only three seconds. Unlike rival supercar engines which are turbocharged, it will also offer completely linear responses, which are much more predictable when attempting to link tight corners on a challenging mountain road.
DESIGNED TO BE DRIVEN
Murray’s commitment to driving purity means that the T.50 uses a manual gearbox, instead of a dual-clutch configuration, which has become the default configuration for most supercars, which are nearly impossible to drive with a clutch pedal.
Due to it much lower weight and inertia, the T.50 can easily dawdle along at low speed, with a manual shifter changing gears.
The original F1 was an enormous achievement and there is no doubt that this T.50 is an evolution of it, with the benefit of modern technologies. Only 100 units will be built, with each featuring a custom crafted driver’s seat, which like the F1, is in the middle, with two passengers flanking the owner.
For a cool R50 million
Reflecting the technology and boutique design principles involved, Gordon Murray’s T.50 is priced at R50 million. It is very much the lightweight counter to most comparatively heavy hypercars from Bugatti, McLaren, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche.