Design guru turns to record revs and a Brabham fan in battle of the hypercars
GORDON MURRAY’S F1 REBOOT
Designer of the legendary McLaren F1 is planning a reprise of the formula
In terms of pedigree, there aren’t too many vehicles that carry the clout of the iconic McLaren F1. This no-compromise exercise forever established the bona fides of its visionary designer, Gordon Murray. So when Murray sets to work on a second act – a A$4m, three-seater hypercar with an atmo 3.9-litre V12 – the world sits up and takes notice. Branded the T.50, Murray’s next project is a self-proclaimed Aston Martin Valkyrie and Mercedes-AMG One beater. Just 100 units will be built, with all examples to be completed within a year at Murray’s own manufacturing company, Gordon Murray Automotive (GMA).
Apart from assisting the innovative aerodynamic fan, there won’t be any hefty hybrid tech attached to the new vehicle’s powertrain, as Murray believes it’s too heavy and complex. While the aforementioned hypercars major on headline-grabbing power, the T.50 is different, instead boasting a lithe 980kg mass and aerodynamic tech made infamous by Murray’s 1978 Brabham BT46B – the ‘fan car’.
That sub-tonne kerb weight makes the T.50 120kg lighter than the original F1. Proof of the car’s potency comes courtesy of the fact that its power-to-weight ratio is expected to match that of the McLaren F1 GTR that won Le Mans in 1995.
While it’s without forced induction, it will rev to screaming 12,000rpm the highest-revving engine currently in production
The T.50 shares ideals with the controversial Brabham Formula 1 car, too, with revolutionary tech that helps create aerodynamic downforce for increased cornering grip. Using a 48V electrical system, a 400mm-diameter fan reduces pressure beneath the vehicle, in effect accounting for most of the downforce.
Backing up the hypercar status is the fact that the mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive T.50 features a lightweight carbon chassis clad with carbon panels, while there’s also no need for subframes to carry the suspension.
The front suspension is bonded straight to the carbonfibre chassis, while the rear suspension connects straight to the aluminium gearbox housing. All the suspension is made from aluminium and the brakes are carbon ceramic.
The V12 powerplant is developed by British Formula 1 engine builder Cosworth (under strict instructions to make it light and compact), and without forced induction, it will rev to a screaming 12,100rpm, and looks bound to claim the title of the highest-revving production car engine.
The make up of the internals is yet to be divulged, but according to sources, a lot of the hardware is titanium. Despite a relative lack of overall torque from the V12, t e featherweight figure on the scales helps elevate the T.50’s performance credentials. Interestingly, and uniquely against its competition, Murray’s offering will feature a six-speed manual from Xtrac.
While the T.50 has a single airbag (for the driver) and ABS and traction control, there’s no stability control, with Murray proclaiming that maximum driver involvement is paramount.
Mind-bogglingly, the driver-focused T.50 is so compact that its footprint is smaller than that of a Porsche 911. The name T.50 was chosen to celebrate the British designer’s 50 years of self-designed cars, a history that includes the Light Car Company Rocket, the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren and the legendary McLaren F1. But don’t expect internet-crashing ’Ring times. Murray believes such antics detract from the purpose of the car. “The McLaren F1 turned out to be quick, and the T.50 will be quicker”, he said.
Ultimately it’ll be interesting to see If Murray’s latest ambitious plan comes To fruition. Much of the design is said to be finalised, while an unnamed F1 Team is rumoured to be locked in for win tunnel testing. Work is under way on a test mule, with the planned consignment of 100 cars to be finished by the end of 2022.
Taking it back
It might be a cliché, but there’s a theme of a back-to-basics, analogue supercar at play here. A large central tachometer features, along with analogue instruments and switches in a traditional design. Despite being a three-seater, the cabin is actually quite spacious, with twin dihedral doors. Even the seats have been sculpted and thinly padded in such a way as to save space. Close attention has also been paid to visibility and to ventilation of the cabin.