Gordon Murray is the automotive designer who gave the world the McLaren F1. He was never fully happy with that. Now he has given the world something he is happy with. The T.50.
In the world such as the one we find ourselves in today, you'd be forgiven for thinking that providing it with a V12 power supercar would be the work of a madman. Given that the automotive world has been heading down the EV/hydrogen rabbit hole with economy as their watchword, what is Gordon and the team thinking?
The McLaren F1
Twenty-eight years ago, the supercar rulebook was re-written by Gordon Murray with the release of the McLaren F1. Questions were asked then too. Who in their right mind would part with £650,000.00? At one point, the F1 could be bought at auction for £350,000 which seemed to underpin the error of their ways. Today, they can reach up to $23m.
When many cars in this segment have pushed limits of both design and taste, the lightweight McLaren has continued to remain relevant. To many of us, it is a representation of automotive nirvana. For the man who designed it, he was never completely happy with it. His engineering preference is to make cars lighter and not add more power. The main promise with this car is that Gordon is giving us a perfect drivers car.
"This isn't for a lap time at the Nurburgring or what top speed it can do" he says with a slight smile, "this is the ultimate drivers car."
On a diet
The new T.50 shares the same central drivers seat configuration of the F1, but the first target this car had was its weight. It had to be below 1,000Kg's. "The original F1 had the same target but with an increased 6.1 litre engine and non-ceramic brakes, it ended up over 1,100Kg. I was determined to do better this time."
Sitting at 980Kg, first target has been achieved. You drivers will smile will at the sight of three pedals in the footwell. A manual supercar. I checked, it is definitely still 2020. What about the engine that powers the T.50? Cosworth has produced the V12 which is the worlds smallest and lightest ever produced for a road car. Video's released ahead of the car launch showed us what to expect and the soundtrack is an aural pleasure. (Video is here of that) As a partner to F1, we need to whisper the next bit. It sounds like a real car should.
Today, it is over 30 years since the drawing board had the scribbles of the McLaren F1 etched upon it. Lightweight material technology has leaped forward and they have been well utilised. The T.50 engine is around 60kg lighter than the BMW unit in the F1. The gearbox is also 9.5kg lighter too.
I'm a big fan
Sitting central to the rear of car is a fan housing. A throw back to his classic F1 car perhaps? "No. That car needed to have skirts keeping the air under the car and the fan allowed us to suck it to the floor. This system allows us to manipulate the downforce. It makes use of it a lower speeds" he explains. "No need for the hydraulic roll compensation or electronic adjustable suspension." If you are after the technical details of this car, we will be producing a more detailed look at it as the car enters its next phase of production. Testing.
When they first announced the car, it was estimated that they would sell around 12-15 cars before the launch. With a production run of 100, they are already into the final quarter being available. At £2.36m before taxes Gordon is overwhelmed at the response. "I've been flabbergasted that using Zoom to share the design people have paid £600,000 deposits for a car they've not yet seen."
Forty percent of the buyers are aged under 45. "They tell me that they were teenagers with a poster of the F1 on their wall" Gordon says. He has single-handedly confirmed my belief with many cars in this segment over the last few years have been wide of my own gauge. Would it be something I would put of my bedroom wall as a child and one day dream of owning?
Few cars pass that test. The F1 did. As a middle-aged boy today, I think I now have another poster to add to my want wall.