Whenever Gordon Murray’s biography is written, I do hope the author doesn’t get too away with the carried with all the fast car and grand prix stuff, and gives due time and space to Murray’s attempts to reinvent personal transport for a new age.
What he's proposing is new, much more efficient system of designing, making and using the cars that govern so much of our lives (and, in the case of us car enthusiasts, our waking moments).
The F1 cars and the McLaren F1 were extremely important, of course, because they gave this most gifted of engineers the oxygen he needed to get on with what he believes will be his most important contribution to our lives, the invention of the iStream manufacturing process, and the cars that utilise it.
When I think of Murray, I think of what I read as a child about Barnes Wallis, another of Britain’s most gifted engineers who was guided not by some customer demand, but by a remarkable inner certainty that gave him the spur to bring extraordinary inventions to life, to make things better for us all.
I thought of these things again while driving Murray’s T25 prototype around Dunsfold aerodrome – a Barnes Wallis-like location if ever there was one.
It is, as you see, a funny little snub-nosed metal box riding on two pairs of narrow-tracked wheels. Other commercial entities would never have let a hack anywhere near such an undignified-looking work in progress. Yet here was Murray and his henchmen, concerned only that I appreciated that this buzz-box (sized and loaded to replicate his forthcoming T25 city car) had the potential to set new ride/handling standards among little cars, and had amazing stability despite its oddball dimensions. If I hadn’t been having such a good time in the company of such quality people, I’d have found it quite a choker.
Around the corners and over the bumps of Dunsfold, the car WAS brilliant. For handling, ride, performance feel, control sensitivity and comfort – plus the simple, vital pleasure of driving – it completely demolished the already-in-production Mitsubishi i and Smart ForTwo, which Murray’s men had thoughtfully brought along for comparison purposes.
I don’t think I’ve ever driven a prototype whose driving characteristics were better honed, whatever it looked like. Murray has proved the concept and the car is ready to be assessed by third parties. Now it needs a loyal, dedicated, well-funded, far-sighted partner company to help him.