It’s the Gordon Murray show. James Elliott visits a one-off exhibition of his work.
A once-in-a-lifetime gathering of 38 cars designed by Gordon Murray was brought together for a week at the start of November to mark a trio of changes to his business and the announcement that his company will start work on a state-of-the-art sports car in the new year using the innovative iStream platform.
The invitation-only One Formula exhibition took place at the Gordon Murray Design HQ in Dunsfold Park, Surrey, as he unveiled a new 1500m² building, a new wing to his company (Gordon Murray Automotive) and revealed that the new cars would be marketed under the IGM brand. IGM is the moniker under which Murray built his first car, a 440kg Ford-powered racer, in 1967. It was also the brand applied to his first bonded and riveted car, the 1971 IGM Minibug that was his daily driver in the UK for three years, and the Midas Alfa. The exhibition featured everything from his first Le Mans racer, the ex-Alain de Cadenet and Chris Craft Duckhams-Ford LM, to the brand new TVR Griffith. In between was a welter of Brabhams – a dozen on loan from the Bernie Ecclestone Collection – and McLarens, including both Piquet and Senna Championship cars, plus the fabulous 1978 Brabham BT46B fan car.
There was every variant of McLaren F1, including a road car, the Lehto/Dalmas/ Sekiya F1 GTR Le Mans-winner, and the F1 LM reputedly painted in Bruce McLaren’s orange livery solely to irritate Ron Dennis. While huge emphasis was put on the great design and engineering advances made by Murray, the more modern era focused on the OX – his low-tech flatpack car for Africa – and a roster of city cars.
Said Murray, who is working on a book called One Formula for Porter Press: ‘I thought we’d get about 12 cars together and have a press day, but everybody around the world has been so generous. I think it is going to be a one-off, so it’s been quite an emotional experience for me. When the first Brabham came through the door I was flabbergasted.’
He was tight-lipped on the new car, saying only that it would be driver-focused with a surprising powertrain and built via the iStream Superlight method, which offers a 50% weight-saving. He predicted: ‘This is going to be the primary body structure for the next two or three, maybe four decades. Weight is important with all cars, but with electric cars it is really really important.’
To honour several anniversaries including Murray’s 50 years in design, a decade of his business Gordon Murray design and the 25th birthday of the McLaren F1, Murray also showcased more than 20 cars and a similar number of motorbikes from his private collection. From a pair of Lotus Elans (including one he has owned for 30 years and used as the benchmark for the McLaren F1’s steering) to a BMW 700, they followed the theme of lightweight driver’s cars, and also included a Ford Sprint car, Lotus Eleven, Abarth 1000SP and 750 Zagato, Alfa Romeo SZ2 and a gorgeous De Tomaso Vallelunga. A pink 1957 T-Bird was a concession to Murray’s love of Americana, and he said of the only Ferrari on show, a 308 GT4: ‘I have never really been a Ferrari driver or collector… when I did see a Ferrari I wanted, the GT4, it was a model that nobody else seemed to like!’
Find out more about Gordon Murray in our interview.
Left and below, from top The Duckhams-Ford LM; in 1976 Murray designed the Brabham BT45 to house the Alfa type 115 flat 12, for Carlos Pace and Carlos Reutemann; Murray’s own Abarth and Alfa; inimitable McLaren F1.