Photo: Gordan Murray Automotive
The legendary designer of Formula One racing cars and the unique McLaren F1 has created a revolutionary sports car with a simple name – T.50.
He spent two decades in Formula One, and the racing cars he designed won five championships and recorded 50 Grand Prix victories. The masterpiece of Gordon Murray’s sports career is the McLaren MP4/4, the most successful racing car of all time, in which Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost racked up a whopping 15 wins out of 16 races in the 1988 season, securing 15 pole positions, with the Brazilian also winning his first world title.
Outside the world of Formula One, Professor Murray is famous mostly for the McLaren F1, a 1990s road car that has become one of the milestones in the history of automotive technology, and, over the years, collectors’ Holy Grail. The latest creation of the 74-year-old legendary designer is the T.50, an old-style supercar with an atmospheric V12 engine with dizzyingly high revs and electronics reduced to a defined minimum – a model in which Murray went back to some of his historical solutions such as a central driving position and fan-assisted aerodynamics, but also once again expressed his obsession with the ratio of mass to power.
Can we call the T.50 the spiritual heir to the McLaren F1?
Absolutely. I embarked on the project with that intention. Looking in 2017 for an idea to celebrate the anniversary of the McLaren F1, I was inspired by what Ferrari did with the F40 and F50, and I realised that no one had tried to bring this formula back to life, to focus on lightness and the pleasure of driving. In the world of sports cars, the focus has been, for some time now, on strength and speed, which have entered fantastic spheres. After so many years, and with tremendous advances in technology and materials, an excellent opportunity has arisen to do something like the McLaren F1 again, before everyone starts driving electric and hybrid cars.
In the late 1970s, you created quite a stir in Formula One by introducing the fan. What has changed since then that would make it possible to use such a system on the road?
The solution with the fan may resemble the one I designed for Brabham Alfa, but its operation and effect are completely different and much more sophisticated. Of course, there are also similarities, since basically both allow for better airflow underneath the car and the creation of downforce. At that time, I did not have the time to fully develop this solution because I did not have a wind tunnel at my disposal, but I promised myself that I would deal with this when I was making a new sports car.