Gordon Murray reveals plans for the next benchmark in supercar design


It has been two decades since production of the McLaren F1 ended, but its creator, Gordon Murray, has finally announced details of its spiritual successor: the T.50, a supercar which Murray says will be the purest, lightest, most driver-focused supercar ever built. Even the name of the car is special: every race or road car designed by Murray has featured a ‘T’ designation, and the T.50 will be the 50th.

The engineering planning, plus all interior and exterior styling of the car has been carried out by Gordon Murray Design, and Murray states that the T.50 is much more than just a nice sketch, as development of T.50 is at “an advanced stage”, with full production and customer deliveries set to commence in early 2022. The car is planned to be manufactured at a new, purpose-built facility in Surrey, UK by Gordon Murray Automotive (another of Murray’s companies). Continuing the British supercar theme, all major components will be bespoke and UK-sourced, including the powertrain, body and chassis. The bad news? Just 100 examples of the T.50 will be built – and they will be priced in excess of £2 million before taxes.

Murray is renowned for his passion for minimising vehicle weight, and he promises that the T.50 will set a new benchmark in vehicle lightweighting, achieved through a focus on making every component as weight-efficient as it can be, and the application of carbon fibre wherever possible. The result is a projected weight of just 980kg – around one-third lighter than many supercars.

“Automotive enthusiasts and road-test editors have discussed the concept of ‘peak supercar’ for some time,” stated Murray. “The reality of chasing top speeds only adds weight, notably through ever-more powerful engines, which increase the requirement for larger, heavier ancillaries. We are taking a very different approach.”

He added that minimising weight, “is the key to achieving enhanced performance and dynamics, and refocusing the supercar on the driver and the thrill of driving. We’re not interested in simply chasing numbers, and never will be.”

Indeed these words echo Murray’s thoughts that he shared with us in this exclusive interview, when he explained how the F1’s amazing performance figures were born out of simple goals.

“Just as with the F1, we have no specific targets for acceleration, top speed or lap times,” explained Murray. “The F1 was fast because it was light and relatively small. The T.50 will deliver performance and dynamic characteristics simply out of reach for other supercars, not least because of its low weight. Once again, I have focused on the complete driving experience, not horsepower or top speed.”

Gordon Murray t.50

“I have absolutely no interest in chasing records for top speed or acceleration,” says Gordon Murray. “Our focus is instead on delivering the purest, most rewarding driving experience of any supercar ever built – but, rest assured, it will be quick”

Indeed the T.50 will be lacking in neither power nor speed, with its all-new mid-mounted, naturally aspirated V12 engine developed with Cosworth Powertrain. This 3.9-litre unit will develop 650hp and 450Nm torque, and will be capable of an extraordinary 12,100rpm. With the car weighing 980kg, that means the T.50 achieves a power-to-weight ratio of 663hp/ton.

That power will be readily usable due to the car’s modest dimensions, which at 4,380mm long and 1,850mm wide are smaller than the footprint of a Porsche 911.

The T.50 is also equipped with advanced aerodynamics, including intelligent under-body active aerodynamics, which employ continuous, dynamic and interactive underbody ground-effect systems to optimise the driving experience. The car will feature a 400mm ground-effect fan, similar to that on the famous Brabham BT46B Formula One ‘Fan Car’ – another Murray design. With all the car’s intelligent aerodynamics housed beneath the car, the upper surfaces are free from wings, outlets, vents and bulges, enabling a more elegant exterior design. To ensure the aerodynamics perform well, the Gordon Murray Automotive team has established a technical partnership with an unnamed Formula One team, which is also making its rolling-road wind tunnel available to the T.50 development team.

As Murray said, “An unflinching dedication to lightweighting, highly advanced active aerodynamics, and world-leading standards of advanced engineering will ensure the T.50 rewrites the supercar rulebook.”

A brief evolution of Murray’s engineering genius, from the 1978 BT46 Brabham fan car, to the 1992 McLaren F1, to the 2022 T.50

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About Author

Adam divides his time as an editor between the worlds of aviation and motoring. These worlds may seem a little diverse today, but autonomous technology and future urban mobility is bringing them ever-closer. Adam is also chairman of the Vehicle Dynamics International Awards.

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