Gordon Murray’s new T.50 supercar is his successor to the McLaren F1 that uses the Brabham BT46B’s party piece
We have known since his 2017 ‘One Formula’ exhibition, that Gordon Murray has been working on a replacement for the iconic McLaren F1 that fully went on sale 25 years ago. And there was lots you could have hazarded a guess at, just by what we know of Murray. You’d probably not have got great odds on it having a central driving position, that both its body and structure would be crafted from carbon fibre, or that it would be exceptionally light. And you’d have been correct on every score.
But now there’s no need for any further speculation because Gordon Murray Automotive has just released all the salient details of the new T.50. And in its own very Gordon Murray way, it looks like being one of the most remarkable cars ever built.
His aim was the produce the ‘purest, lightest most driver-focussed supercar ever’, so don’t go ferreting around for 0-60mph times or top speed claims. Such things are of no great interest – I can remember when I first asked him how fast the F1 went he told me ‘I have no idea, it will do what it will do.’ Years later it was discovered that was 240mph.
Nor should you expect Bugatti Chiron-busting power outputs. On the contrary, the T.50 has less power than a common or garden Ferrari 488GTB. But it is how it makes that power and what it will do with it that will likely make the T.50 a car like no other.
The engine is a bespoke design by Cosworth, a 4-litre V12 developing said 650bhp at, wait for it, 12,100rpm. That’s more power than the F1 developed from an engine over half as large again, yet it has no turbochargers. What it does have is a specific output of 163bhp-per-litre. And a manual gearbox. An H-pattern six-speed design by Xtrac. Yes, you read that right.
What sets it apart from every other road car however is its approach to aerodynamics: Gordon wanted to keep its upper surfaces completely clean, so the car derives almost all its downforce from under the car with the aid of a 400mm fan at the rear, just like his BT46B Brabham of 41 years ago. His claim is that it will have ‘the most advanced aerodynamics of any road car.’
And here’s the crucial thing: the whole thing weighs just 980kg. Now you may look at this and think ‘well hang on, but that’s only 100kg or so less than an Aston Martin Valkyrie, which has around 500 additional horsepower’. And once more I couldn’t fault your thinking. But in fact another line in the press release shows what different cars they are: “it will set new standards of supercar packaging, providing driver and two passengers with exceptional comfort, safety, practicality and luggage space.”
The Valkyrie is intended to be a machine to deliver ultimate performance in all areas without compromise; the T.50, like the F1 before it, is aiming to provide maximum driver engagement with maximum opportunity for those drivers to enjoy it. It is tiny too: offering a smaller footprint than a Porsche 911. One is not right and the other wrong, they are just different.
Inevitably however because of its specification, price (the T.50 will cost at least £2 million before taxes), scarcity (just 100 will be built making it rarer than the F1 if you include racing versions) and most of all its illustrious designer, T.50 and Valkyrie comparisons are going to come thick and fast. The idea of an Adrian Newey/Murray stat-off is just too delicious for us journos to ignore.
And until someone is able to put the two together on road or track for the first time, probably at least two years from now, that’s what we’re going to have to live off.
Gordon Murray T.50 specification
Two doors, three seats, rear mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
3.9-litre Cosworth-GMA V12 naturally-aspirated
Maximum engine rpm
Double-wishbone front and rear
Active ground-effect, wide diffuser and fan-assisted underbody airflow