'The GMA T.50 will be brilliant, but could the Aston Martin Valkyrie be a more exciting car?'
I can almost imagine what the T.50 might feel like. But the Valkyrie? It’s a whole new world
Have you stopped drooling yet? GMA’s T.50 broke the internet. Dozens of videos hit YouTube discussing the sophisticated fan-assisted aero, bamboozling us with astonishing facts such as the engine’s theoretical ability to gain 28,400rpm per second and treating us to millions of other bits of trivia chiefly concerning the chasing out of weight wherever possible. Gordon Murray is a genius. On that we can all agree. A McLaren F1 Mk2 could be the greatest road car ever. No question. It costs £2.36m plus taxes. That’s £2.83m in the UK. So why do we care so much? I have a secret. I don’t. And I’m struggling to explain why that might be. Is questioning the T.50 even allowed?
Let me be clear: Philosophically I adore the car. It’s everything this magazine stands for in one understated, minimalist package. The spidery carbonfibre cradle that supports the six-speed gearbox lever and mechanism makes me go weak at the knees. The delicate, organic elegance of the pedal box is mesmerising and I have no doubt that chasing the 12,100rpm limiter will be a life-affirming experience. It’s light, compact and – everyone’s favourite expression – promises a truly ‘analogue’ experience. Do I want to drive it? Absolutely. But still the T.50 hasn’t quite fired my imagination.
Maybe it’s because I’m way more excited about relatively ‘normal’ cars that have embraced old-school driving thrills in a modern package. Porsche reverting to a normally aspirated flat-six for the 718 Cayman GTS is oddly inspirational. I still daydream about owning the fantastically pure Alpine A110 and can’t wait to try the hardcore S version, and the M2 CS has me frothing at the mouth. I hope and pray these cars and others like them continue to value the principles to which we all cling. Maybe that’s it, then. I’m just too poor to feel like a T.50 is anything other than a far-fetched dream. Then again that’s never stopped me falling in love before.
Could it be the rather simplistic notion that’s run through all the T.50 coverage suggesting this simple, driver-focused approach will revolutionise sports and supercar development for evermore? I hear it will act as a beacon to the likes of Ferrari, McLaren, Porsche and BMW and they’ll instantly realise the error of their ways and revert to a pure, interactive approach. I don’t buy it for a second. More than that… who says they should? Drive an F8 Tributo or SF90 (according to my learned friend R Meaden) and I can almost guarantee you will not miss a thing. They embrace technology to empower the driver to experience new sensations. Frantic yet unbelievably intuitive, they almost seem to give you superpowers yet still reward skill and finesse. Maybe that’s the way forward. Is the T.50 just too safe? Too… unimaginative?
I think that might be it. The T.50 is surely going to be a glorious driver’s car. But we’ve seen its like before. It even looks like a rebooted F1. I’m fully bought into the T.50’s execution but there’s another hypercar that in concept seems so much more exciting – Aston Martin’s Valkyrie. Faster than a Formula 1 car, they say. Its 6.5-litre V12 is a stressed member of the chassis and produces 1000bhp at 10,500rpm. The AMR Pro version should pull 4.5 G in corners. It will be impossible to even scratch the surface of its capabilities on the road. The Valkyrie will cost way north of £2m. And yet I’m fascinated by it. If I close my eyes I can almost imagine what the T.50 might feel like. The Valkyrie? It’s a whole new world. One conjured inside the brain of the most gifted F1 designer ever.
Newey’s involvement is key, of course, and lends the project instant credibility. For me it’s just as important that he loves driving and has raced historics in the past. The Valkyrie isn’t a science project or a G-force-generating experiment. It’s Newey’s vision of the ultimate road car, and in some ways he shares Murray’s core values. Valkyrie has a small footprint, it’s exceedingly light and Newey has worked incredibly hard to create a unique driving environment.
It’s in the execution that T.50 and Valkyrie diverge wildly and the Aston’s path seems entirely fitting. He has embraced an extreme aero concept, active suspension, KERS-style hybrid technology, a new seven-speed paddleshift transmission and countless other bleeding-edge solutions. It’s in his DNA to do so. Does this mean Red Bull and Aston’s joint project will be less of a driver’s car? I don’t think so.
We shouldn’t fall into the trap of believing that anything new and technology-driven is ultimately an erosion of why we love cars and driving. Instead of constantly looking behind us for inspiration let’s put faith in guys such as Adrian Newey to redefine what a driver’s car can truly be. The Valkyrie might well be a spaceship. But I’ve got a feeling that flying it might be the most exciting road car experience yet devised.