OF COURSE it’s amazing. You knew that already. How could anything that weighs 986kg, that’s powered by a 487kW 3.9-litre atmo V12 that revs to 12,100rpm, yet retains an H-pattern manual gearbox driving the rear wheels be anything but?
That the Gordon Murray Automotive T.50 also features three seats with a central driving position, intriguing fan-assisted aerodynamics and can carry a decent amount of luggage in a footprint no bigger than a Boxster is testament to the genius of the man who designed the iconic McLaren F1.
“For me, car design is packaging,” says Murray. “That’s it. Twenty years in Formula 1 teaches you how to package a car.” Indeed, the T.50 is a lesson in shrink-wrapped space utilisation, the 288-litre luggage capacity being one of the first figures Murray will quote you.
Utility might seem an odd concept to stress for a run of 100 cars that cost A$4.3m each, the majority of which may well disappear into airconditioned cocoons for a couple of decades at least, but Murray is singularly uninterested in top speed figures, 0-100 times or Nurburgring lap times. These are not his metrics of excellence. Instead, the T.50 features the world’s lightest V12 engine (178kg), a gearbox that weighs just 80kg, a roof that has been acoustically tuned to amplify the induction sound in the cabin, and a 10-speaker 700W stereo system by Arcam that weighs 4.35kg. While the quest for engineering rectitude through light weight is a noble aspiration, has the world moved on? Is Murray merely reprising a 30-year-old trope?
“Governments saying all internal combustion engines will be dead by this time or this period. That’s nonsense really,” he says. “The current battery technology is just so awful from a power density point of view. The cars get heavier and therefore the brakes get heavier, the tyres wear out quicker. The road damage gets worse, everything gets worse [and] spirals out of control as any car gets heavier... I think the IC engine is going to be around for a long time.”
Indeed, Murray is equally combative when asked whether the time is right for such a plutocratic creation.
“This is the perfect time to do the last great analogue supercar because 15 years ago it would have been completely wrong. First of all, nobody had caught up with the F1 and secondly, the technology, materials and systems hadn’t advanced enough. Doing a ten percent better F1 is completely pointless.
“This is a new statement, based on the F1’s principles using all the modern systems, technology and materials to move the game forward, in my opinion as much as the F1 moved it forward in 1992. The difference now is in the tool box that’s available to me. The new car will deliver what the F1 delivered, but it’s better in every area.”
05 THINGS GORDON MURRAY GOT RIGHT IN THE T.50
1 Mangusta-style gullwing doors on engine bay
2 ‘Streamline’ aero mode creates a virtual long-tail
3 Most-responsive naturally aspirated engine ever (28,400 revs per second pick-up)
4 Three cameras remove the need for mirrors
5 Electric power-steering is active at parking pace, then cuts assistance once up to road speed