First details of the Gordon Murray Automotive T.50 hypercar revealed
New V12-powered, rear-wheel drive, mid-engined supercar – with a manual gearbox – from the man behind the legendary McLaren F1
Gordon Murray has revealed details of his-generation car, a carbonfibre-tubbed supercar with a naturally aspirated V12 engine that powers the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. It’ll seat three people, with the driver in the centre, and it’s promised to be the purest, lightest and most driver-focused supercar yet. Of course, it’s not 1992, so those attributes do not belong to the McLaren F1, rather its true successor – the Gordon Murray Automotive T.50.
One might mistakenly think that this is a purely nostalgic exercise, but Murray’s decision to eschew hybridisation, dual-clutch transmissions and even turbocharging is not for tradition’s sake, rather because of his continued desire to create his idea of a true driving machine. As a result, the headline figures are perhaps not quite what one would associate with a modern hypercar, with that V12 destined to produce ‘just’ 652bhp and 341lb ft of torque. But in the same way a Patek Philippe is less ‘useful’ than an Apple Watch, it’s the way those numbers are delivered that is key.
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The engine is bespoke, designed and produced by Cosworth to a specific set of benchmarks set by GMA. The 65-degree V12 will be naturally aspirated, displace 3980cc and rev to a startling 12,100rpm (1000rpm more than the 6-litre unit being developed for the Aston Martin Valkyrie, also by Cosworth). The power unit will be rigidly bolted to the rear of the carbonfibre tub and will act as a stressed-member part of the chassis, much in the same way as a Ferrari F50’s engine, not to mention the Aston Martin Valkyrie’s.
The six-speed manual gearbox is another bespoke commission, this time designed and built by XTrac. As in the McLaren F1, the traditional manual gearlever will sprout from a console to one side of the centrally mounted seat. In total, the T.50 is said to weigh just 980kg – a reduction of more than 150kg compared with the F1, and around 700kg less than the recently revealed Ferrari SF90 Stradale, which might be considered a more typical modern hypercar.
A unique feature of the T.50 will be its use of technically challenging ground-effect aerodynamics. A 400mm fan mounted in the tail of the car will essentially ‘suck’ the T.50 to the ground by drawing air up into the bodywork from underneath the car and accelerating it out the back. This approach to downforce production means the car can go without large wings and spoilers jutting into the airstream, and the drag penalty that’s associated with them. This technique was first seen on Murray’s Brabham BT46B Formula 1 car in 1978 – and was banned after just one race – but here it will work in conjunction with sophisticated underbody management to trim and manipulate the airflow when needed. Fine-tuning of the set-up will be completed in a windtunnel borrowed from an unnamed F1 team.
Like the McLaren F1 that came before it, the GMA T.50 will also exploit its three-seat packaging to make it a more practical proposition than you might expect. Exceptional visibility is key, while the ability to carry two passengers and luggage are further benefits.
Production is scheduled to commence in 2022, with a total build run of 100 units, each costing £2million (plus local taxes). How can a car – especially one with such modest outputs by today’s hypercar standards – possibly be worth that amount of money? Because it’s an exercise in engineering that even Gordon Murray himself is calling the last ‘true’ supercar, and a car that promises to excite, inspire and thrill like no other. Given the changing ecosystem around us, we have plenty of reason to believe that its impact will not fall short of the F1 that came before.