Why the Gordon Murray T.50 is the Last True Analog Supercar

What can I say about the T.50? Well, there’s so much that needs to be said, but at the same time, I honestly don’t even know where to begin. Some of you may remember that a while back I wrote about the Koenigsegg Gemera, calling it the most important new car of the year, but I think with the T.50 we now have a challenger for that title. So, time to examine a car built by a man famous for wearing shirts.

While Gordon Murray does garner attention for his eccentric collection of shirts, he is quite good at designing cars as well. Murray started his career as an automotive designer with the Brabham Formula 1 team way back in 1969 before moving to the McLaren team in 1987. At McLaren, he teamed up with Ron Dennis and designed the car in which racing legend Ayrton Senna won his first Drivers’ Championship. As if that wasn’t enough to solidify his place in automotive royalty, Murray then went on to design one of the most revered road cars ever made: the McLaren F1. From the moment it was unveiled back in 1992, the F1 was an instant hit. It was touted by many as the greatest driver’s car ever made and to this day, still holds the record for the fastest naturally aspirated production car in the world. From whatever angle you choose, the McLaren F1 is an extremely impressive car and a milestone in the automotive industry. Many gear heads say no car will ever be able to eclipse the legendary figure forged by the F1, yet that hasn’t stopped Gordon Murray from trying. 

The new T.50 has been released not by McLaren, but instead, by a firm called Gordon Murray Automotive, which was started in 2007 by the man himself.  The car is in every way Murray’s attempt at improving the F1 and many automotive journalists are labeling T.50 as the last analog supercar that will ever be manufactured. No computer aids, no gimmicks, just a pure driving experience. So, right off the bat, we can be sure that the T.50 shares one trait with the F1: its spirit. Murray himself categorizes his latest creation as a hyper grand tourer, a car that obviously has other-worldly performance but is still very comfortable, spacious, and practical. 

Looking at pictures of the T.50, you get a sweeping sense of Deja vu. I wouldn’t necessarily call it pretty, but the more keen-eyed car enthusiast will quickly be able to pick out that much of the profile and proportions that define the T.50 have been strongly influenced by the F1. In the cabin, you get that same funky three abreast seating arrangement originally introduced in the F1 and the car is even powered by a V12 engine just like the F1. So you may be wondering then, is this just a carbon copy of the F1 redressed in a new costume, or did Gordon Murray truly create something not only newer but better? 

Well, to answer my own question, he did. Like I said before, the T.50 does use a V12 engine, but it’s not just any V12. It has been built completely from scratch, which is rare in today’s automotive market with everyone focusing on EVs and hybrids. This new custom-built Cosworth V12 redlines at 12,100 RPM (for reference, the F1 redlined at 8,500 RPM) and has a pickup speed of 28,400 RPM per second (yes, that’s a real unit). This means then, that the throttle repose is quite good. The new T.50 also produces 654 hp which doesn’t sound that great for a modern supercar, but pair that with a weight of only 2,160 pounds and you have a vehicle with a better power-to-weight ratio than a McLaren P1 GTR, LaFerrari, and Porsche 918. Now don’t get me wrong, the engine is phenomenal and it is mind-boggling to think the people who created it could get that sort of performance out of analog technology, but I still think the true party piece of the T.50, the mark that sets it apart from any supercar on the market today, is its aerodynamics. 

If you go to the official website of Gordon Murray Automotive, you will see that they label the T.50 as a car that has “the most advanced aerodynamics of any road car.” And on principle at least, I would probably have to agree. As a basic rule, Gordon Murray believes in working with simple shapes. No gigantic rear spoilers or air intakes, just a clean shape that makes airflow simple and easy to manage. But, of course, you still need elements such as downforce and efficient airflow to design a high-performance car, so that is why Murray decided to bolt a fan to the back of his latest creation. This may make many Formula 1 fans think of the Brabham fan car that he designed back in 1978. However, Gordon himself is adamant that this is nothing like what he used on the fan car, but instead, an evolution of the active aero system he used on the McLaren F1. The fan on the T.50 is powered by a 48-volt motor that, at its peak output level, can spin the fan at 7,000 RPM. In addition to creating 33 pounds of thrust, the fan also creates a ground-effect (sucks the car to the road) and an invisible rear spoiler which aids in the performance of the car. There are six aero modes that the driver can mess around with to get whatever result they desire, and there is even a V-Max Boost Mode in which the fan helps increase the power output to 690 hp. The aerodynamics of this car are incredibly complex and equally brilliant. I could honestly write another article solely on the aerodynamics employed on the T.50, but I’ll spare my readers for now. 

The more you take the time to discover the T.50, the more convinced you become that it will become yet another milestone in the industry just like it’s big brother the F1. I could continue listing facts and figures, but at the end of the day, this is a car that is meant to be driven. Gordon Murray, quite rightly I think, pointed out that if your goal is simply to create the fastest car in the world, “some guy in a garage in America will come and beat it in a month.” He considers top speed and track times to be irrelevant, and instead focuses on creating the greatest driver’s car, a title that doesn’t change from week to week. Everything that Murray and his firm have tried to accomplish with the T.50 is unheard of in today’s automotive industry, but what he has done is provide one last hurrah for every purist gear head in the world. I do genuinely believe that this will be one of the best cars that we discuss this year and for years to come, but it makes me a bit sad to recognize the T.50 as a milestone. While it is a magnificent feat of engineering, I’m afraid it marks the end of an era. Due to changing technology and environmental regulations, it seems unlikely that there will ever be another car like the T.50 that offers such a pure driving experience. So, it seems fitting that we just appreciate the Gordon Murray T.50 for what it is: the last true analog supercar. 

Citations:

Petrány, Máté. “How The Gordon Murray T.50’S V12 Can Hit Its 12,100 RPM Redline In Just .3 Seconds”. The Drive, 2020, https://www.thedrive.com/news/35622/how-the-gma-t-50s-cosworth-v12-can-hit-its-12100-rpm-redline-in-just-3-seconds. Accessed 15 Aug 2020.

“654-HP Gordon Murray T.50, Inspired By Mclaren F1, Revealed “. Car And Driver, 2020, https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a33501563/gordon-murray-t50-revealed/. Accessed 15 Aug 2020.

“Gordon Murray Design”. Gordonmurraydesign.Com, 2020, https://www.gordonmurraydesign.com/. Accessed 15 Aug 2020.

“Brabham BT46”. En.Wikipedia.Org, 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brabham_BT46#:~:text=The%20Brabham%20BT46%20is%20a,the%201978%20Formula%20One%20season.&text=The%20%22B%22%20variant%20of%20the,dominant%20ground%2Deffect%20Lotus%2079. Accessed 15 Aug 2020.

Petrány, Máté. “Here’s How The Giant Rear Fan Works On Gordon Murray’s T.50 Supercar”. The Drive, 2020, https://www.thedrive.com/tech/35407/heres-how-the-giant-rear-fan-works-on-gordon-murrays-t-50-supercar. Accessed 15 Aug 2020.

“Gordon Murray”. En.Wikipedia.Org, 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Murray. Accessed 15 Aug 2020.

youtube.com. 2020. Gordon Murray T50 Supercar – Details And Interview About The ‘New Mclaren F1’. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oavyKN479Qw [Accessed 16 August 2020].

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