Currently reading: Gordon Murray T50: V12 supercar makes track debut in video
“Purest, lightest supercar ever built” has a 650bhp atmospheric V12 and a three-seat carbonfibre cabin

Gordon Murray’s new V12-engined T50 supercar, the “logical successor” to his seminal McLaren F1 of 1992, has been tested at Surrey's Dunsfold Aerodrome, close to the workshop where it will enter production next year.

Murray himself took to the wheel for the first development drive, and said: “The XP2 prototype is currently running at considerably less revs than its 12,100rpm limit, yet the T.50 felt fantastic on my first drive. The car was responsive, agile and rewarding to drive.

"It was a fantastic experience to be sitting in the centre of the car once again with great all-round visibility and I can see how much the owners will enjoy this experience. Obviously, there’s still a lot of development miles to be completed and many more prototypes to build. But the trajectory of the T.50 development is where we want it to be.”

Like its revered McLaren predecessor, the rear-wheel drive T50 places its driver centrally in the cabin, as in a jet fighter. Its footprint is similar to that of the Mini Countryman (it’s smaller than the Porsche 911 and lighter than the Alpine 110) and it forgoes door mirrors for cameras to avoid adding to its 1.85m body width, so it should feel highly manoeuvrable in tight going.

The T50 was styled entirely in-house, with Murray himself the leader of the tiny design team. There are obvious references in its shape to the F1 — such as the compact size, the arrowhead front panel, the roof-mounted air scoop, the dihedral doors and the use of ‘ticket windows’ in the side glass — but strenuous efforts were made to make it look even more petite than its forebear.

There’s a major contrast between the graceful front end of the T50 and the extreme functionality of its rear end, which features large exhausts, business-like mesh for engine bay cooling, a giant underbody diffuser and a 400mm fan. The fan is driven by a 48V electrical system and its job is to develop downforce by rapidly accelerating the flow of air under the car. Murray says this “rewrites the rule book for road car aerodynamics”.

The fan, the diffuser and a pair of dynamic aerofoils on the body’s upper trailing edge combine to develop far more downforce than any natural system could and therefore develop levels of cornering grip hitherto unknown in supercars. There are six aerodynamic modes. Two of them, Auto and Braking, work automatically, depending on the car’s speed and the driver’s input. The others — High Downforce, Vmax, Streamline and Test — are selectable from the cockpit.

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High Downforce is self-explanatory, while Streamline and Vmax are similar in that the former configures the aerodynamics with a “virtual long tail” by running the fan at full speed and retracting the active flaps on the top and bottom surfaces. Vmax runs the V12’s crank-mounted 30bhp integrated starter-generator flat out to contribute extra power in three-minute bursts. At speeds of above 150mph, the roof-mounted induction air scoop boosts maximum engine output to around 700bhp.

Impressive interior space is another theme of the T50. Its cabin is even roomier than that of the F1 (not to mention all modern rivals) and access to the centre seat is easier, because the floor is now flat. The analogue switchgear and instrumentation – very much designed in jet fighter style – are relatively simple but crafted to Swiss watch quality.

The two side-mounted luggage compartments are as roomy as those of the F1 but can now also be top-loaded. Murray may be selling a £2m-plus collector’s car, but he’s determined that it will be usable day to day.

“The T50 is entirely road-focused,” he said, “which is why it sets new standards for packaging and luggage space. It betters the F1 in every way: ingress and egress, luggage capacity, serviceability, maintenance and suspension set-up. Also, driver-selectable engine maps ensure a driving mode to suit every situation.”

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Murray said the supercar his team benchmarked against most often during the T50’s development was actually the 28-year-old F1. That was because no one has since attempted to build a car with the same credentials: an ultra-light, centre-seat supercar with a turbo-free V12 and a manual gearbox.

The T50 is said to weigh just 986kg at the kerb – about two-thirds of the weight of what Murray insists on calling “an average supercar”. Keeping control of weight isn’t just about using exotic materials, he said; it’s a state of mind. The design team held weekly meetings about it. The T50’s carbonfibre tub chassis weighs less than 150kg with all panels. Every individual nut, bolt, bracket and fastener — about 900 of them — was individually assessed for weight-saving.

The transversely mounted six-speed manual gearbox, supplied by Xtrac and designed with a new thin-wall casting technique, is 10kg lighter than the already-featherweight ’box used by the F1. The Cosworth V12, meanwhile, saves another 60kg over the F1’s BMW-derived engine and much more compared with that of a Ferrari. Even the carbonfibre driver’s seat weighs only 7kg, and it’s 3kg for each passenger seat.

Why take such trouble? Because a heavy car can never deliver the benefits of a light one, said Murray. The lightness and the 650bhp potential of the new V12 give the T50 a power-to-weight ratio that most conventional supercars could only match with a power output of close to 950bhp. Originally claimed to be 3890cc, the engine is now confirmed to be 3994cc in capacity.

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Despite the figures, Murray won’t be aiming to break Nürburgring lap records or set blistering acceleration times. “I have absolutely no interest in that,” he said. “Our focus is on delivering the most rewarding driving experience of any supercar ever built. But rest assured, we will be quick.”

Murray counts himself lucky that the T50 wasn’t already in production when the Covid-19 upheaval began. Time lost from the development schedule is already being made up, thanks to co-operation from the company’s supplier base.

“We’re using the finest British component suppliers we know, including Cosworth and Xtrac,” he said. “I’m determined that the T50 will be one of those cars that make people proud to be British.”


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nt277i 16 March 2021

I'm glad it exsists and I admire Mr Murray for making it happen but I don't get the design at all. From the front it looks like a McLaren f1 with Toyota MR2 headlights glued on and from the rear it looks like Adam West's Bat Mobile from the 60's TV show.

xxxx 16 March 2021

There has been more articles on this car than the ultimate number that will be made. Overpriced and beginning to look dated before it even hits the streets, also noticed they are still not quite sold out yet.

si73 16 March 2021
I think it's a stunning design, it's a shame, as with others of its kind, that I will unlikely ever actually see one.
I wish his istream and T25 went somewhere though, and as said by Typos1 it'd be great if he did something within the realms and reach of lower budget car purchasers, something we may actually see and maybe own.