Exclusive images and details: Legendary designer’s £2.5m three-seat T.50 will weigh 980kg, be powered by a titanium atmo V12 and use fan car technology to create downforce
Steve Cropley Autocar
5 June 2019

Legendary designer Gordon Murray, who created the trailblazing McLaren F1, has unveiled an all-new £2.5 million three-seat ultra-lightweight hypercar that, he believes, will beat all rivals – including the Aston Martin Valkyrie and Mercedes-AMG One – for “purity, sense of purpose and ground-breaking technology” when it appears in 2022. 

The car will be made in a batch of 100 units over one year by Murray’s own manufacturing company, Gordon Murray Automotive (GMA). It will feature revolutionary ‘fan car’ technology to generate aerodynamic downforce and improve cornering grip. The system is similar to one pioneered by Murray in the controversial 1978 Brabham BT46B Formula 1 car, which won its only grand prix before being withdrawn from competition. 

Called the T.50 in recognition of the British designer’s half century of building own-design cars, the new hypercar is an all-carbonfibre, mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive design. It is slightly longer than his 1993 F1 but still smaller than a Porsche 911, at just under 4.4m long. 

The T.50 is also remarkably light, at 980kg. That undercuts the then-featherweight BMW V12-engined F1 by a cool 120kg and beats today’s supercar crop by 400kg to 600kg. 

The T.50 is powered by a compact and lightweight 641bhp 3.9-litre normally aspirated V12 engine, created by GMA in co-operation with Cosworth. The transmission is a classic six-speed stick-shift manual gearbox built by Xtrac. Although the T.50 uses a 48V electrical system to power the 400mm-diameter fan that creates most of its downforce, the car will not use hybrid tech because Murray feels it’s too heavy and complex. He noted that the T.50 draws efficiency from a lightweight design. 

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The T.50 is expected to have a power-to-weight ratio equal to the specially lightened F1 GTR race car that won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1995 and the hybrid-powered McLaren P1 and Ferrari LaFerrari

But Murray said he won’t be chasing particular performance statistics or circuit times because he believes such exercises compromise the car. “The F1 turned out to be quick,” he said, “and T.50 will be quicker.” 

Chassis and suspension

Like the F1, the T.50 has an all-carbonfibre tub chassis, clad with carbon panels. All are designed to meet current crash legislation and the car has a single airbag for the driver. The three-seat layout allows it to be radically cab-forward. 

No subframes are needed to carry the suspension. The rear suspension mounts directly onto the aluminium gearbox housing and the front suspension’s mountings are bonded, race-style, into the carbonfibre chassis structure. 

Murray decided against using carbonfibre for suspension components or wheels, believing they wouldn’t offer the durability a road car needs. All suspension parts are aluminium except for the steel rear lower wishbones. The brakes are carbon-ceramic discs, with ABS. The car also has traction control, but in line with Murray’s desire for maximum driver control, there’s no chassis stability control. 

Suspension is by double wishbones at each end, with coil-over units mounted inboard and connected by linkages designed to provide rising rates that resist aero loads as speed increases. There is generous static and low-speed ground clearance. 

Wheels and tyres are modest for a supercar: 235s mounted on 19in wheels in front and 295s on 20in rims behind. “We’ve chosen these because they’re all we need,” said Murray. “It’s another part of the virtuous circle. They save static weight, unsprung weight, and intrude less into the body.” 

Engine and transmission

The T.50’s 3.9-litre engine is extremely small and light for a V12. According to the designer’s instruction, it is also very high-revving, redlining at 12,100rpm with a hard limit of 12,400rpm, and it produces slightly more power than the F1’s 6.1-litre V12 engine of 1993. Internal details are secret for the time being, but Murray did say “everything’s titanium”. 

Engine flexibility and torque (341lb ft) are “no problem”, said Murray, because the engine’s variable valve timing – working with driver-selectable high or low-speed engine maps – should ensure it works as well in traffic as on track. He added that, when a car weighs 980kg, you don’t need as much torque as with a heavier machine. 

The choice of a six-speed manual gearbox, built by Xtrac, is perhaps the T.50’s only less than progressive aspect. The decision to use it follows requests from a “secret list” of potential clients who prefer the “involvement” of a stick-shift, a view that dovetails with Murray’s own preferences. 

Aerodynamics

The T.50’s most eye-catching feature is its 400mm-diameter, electrically driven fan, which creates downforce under the car to increase stability and cornering power, literally sucking it onto the road. 

Murray described its functioning as “active and interactive”: it automatically configures the car for different conditions but can also be controlled by the driver. It can create high-downforce modes for wet roads, or low-drag modes for very fast cruising, and everything in between. It can even produce low drag for straights and high downforce for corners while you drive. 

Another vital advantage, Murray said, is that the car can retain a purity of design simply not possible in existing supercars, which are covered with “unsightly wings, outlets, vents and bulges”. 

Cockpit layout

Murray’s preference for a central driver’s seat, with a passenger seat on either side, gets full expression in the T.50, whose credentials as “the last great analogue supercar” are stressed by its traditionally styled analogue instruments and switches, dominated by a large central tachometer. 

Access to the surprisingly large cabin will be via a pair of dihedral doors. The seats will be relatively thinly padded, but perfectly shaped, to save space. 

As with the F1, exaggerated attention has been paid to providing first-class visibility and ventilation, and Murray is currently deciding which audio provider to approach to create a special lightweight system. 

Production plans 

Murray said much of the T.50’s design is completed, with major masses now frozen into place. He has struck a deal with a yet-unnamed Formula 1 team to use their moving floor wind tunnel for aerodynamic testing. Work has just begun on the first mule car, while Cosworth works on early engine hardware. Everything is on schedule, said Murray, for the planned batch of 100 cars to be started and finished in 2022. 

“Back in the 1990s, I designed the F1 as a sort of super-GT car,” he said. “It was absolutely road-focused and we had no plan to go racing, which is why it set new standards for packaging and road space. 

“The T.50 has exactly the same focus and betters the F1 in every area. It’s hard to imagine anyone doing a car like this again. I certainly won’t.” 

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Comments
24

5 June 2019

Talk about a bombshell!

5 June 2019

Let's start by saying given the designer's pedigree, I am sure this will be a formidable automobile. Okay, that's the politically correct crap out of the way, so tell me this; 1st vehicle from a newly created entity, designed presumably to create a profit on each unit built, so why limited to 100 units? So only 100, repeat only 100 souls on this planet of 7.7 billion people can ever order or buy this vehicle? As custodians of their website should not Autocar be at least questioning this? In the meantime, 'All hail Gordon Murray' is so old school?

5 June 2019

Possibly Gordon doesn't want to be the CEO of a much larger GMA, expanded so as to make more cars; it would distract him from the fun of his other projects.  The alternative of launching the car then selling off control probably doesn't appeal.  Possibly he got funding in part by guaranteeing exclusivity.  He doesn't have to account to anyone so I am happy about the 100, it's better than none.

5 June 2019
Boris9119 wrote:

Let's start by saying given the designer's pedigree, I am sure this will be a formidable automobile. Okay, that's the politically correct crap out of the way, so tell me this; 1st vehicle from a newly created entity, designed presumably to create a profit on each unit built, so why limited to 100 units? So only 100, repeat only 100 souls on this planet of 7.7 billion people can ever order or buy this vehicle? As custodians of their website should not Autocar be at least questioning this? In the meantime, 'All hail Gordon Murray' is so old school?

How many of the were built....?

5 June 2019
Boris9119 wrote:

Let's start by saying given the designer's pedigree, I am sure this will be a formidable automobile. Okay, that's the politically correct crap out of the way, so tell me this; 1st vehicle from a newly created entity, designed presumably to create a profit on each unit built, so why limited to 100 units? So only 100, repeat only 100 souls on this planet of 7.7 billion people can ever order or buy this vehicle? As custodians of their website should not Autocar be at least questioning this? In the meantime, 'All hail Gordon Murray' is so old school?

 

The story talks about batch production, so I assume having an idea of total production numbers at the outset is fairly critical in terms of orders from suppliers and production processes.

Just over 100 McLaren F1s were built in total, a number replicated by the Speedtail, and I assume Murray already has a good idea about potential clients. The high end market is all about exclusivity and many such cars are announced with a limited build number.

The car itself sounds absolutely amazing. The Valkyrie has an incredible spec but almost all will end up as garage queens. This is a super sports car designed for road driving. Titanium naturally aspirated V12 and a manual box? Yes please!

 

5 June 2019

How nice to see a designer getting the funds to do what he wants.  It hasn't taken long for the combination of atmo engine and manual gears to become iconoclastic - best wishes!

 

5 June 2019

Never going to happen. 

5 June 2019
Bob Cat Brian wrote:

Never going to happen. 

Why would you be so sure that the man with one of the best records in the business, won't be able to do this? Elaborate please.

D-B

5 June 2019
Bob Cholmondeley wrote:

Bob Cat Brian wrote:

Never going to happen. 

Why would you be so sure that the man with one of the best records in the business, won't be able to do this? Elaborate please.

Why? Because T25, T27, iStream, LCC Rocket, Ox and even McLaren F1. None are so far commercially successful, yes, even the F1, it took years to sell them.

5 June 2019
I thinking this tech rich HyperCar environment I wonder how much this car will stand out against where Ferrari, McLaren and Koenigsegg are heading.

£2.5 million before options I'm guessing for a car with performance on apar with the Tesla Roadster - should that ever see the light of day - at around £300k, top speed that is unlikely to push the Jesko, I've no doubt it will handle second to none but a manual gearbox... really in this day and age.
The weight is sensational for such a car most hypercars are 600 to 800 kilos heavier

The SF90 was mentioned in the text - 789 hp from a turbo V8 and 3 batteries to come in at 1700kg but as a series production car for £450k that's a step forward in the market

2022 is a long way away in the car world and I dont think there is enough wow factor here

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