Gordon Murray’s long awaited McLaren F1 follow-up revealed
Weighing a mere 167 kg, the normally aspirated 3.9-litre Cosworth V12 produces 488kW/467Nm and can rev up to 12 100 rpm.
Nearly 22 years after the final McLaren F1 rolled-off of the production line in Woking, its creator, South African born Gordon Murray, has released a spiritual successor in the form of the equally simple named T.50.
Designed by Gordon Murray Automotive (GMA) the Durban-born former Brabham and McLaren Formula 1 designer established 13 years ago, the T.50 takes more than a more styling hints from the F1 when viewed in profile, albeit with a number of unique touches, some drawing parallels with his stint at the team once owned by Bernie Ecclestone.
Measuring 4 352 mm in overall length, the 1 850 mm wide T.50, which GMA claims has been “engineered to be the purest, lightest, most driver-centric supercar ever”, is made entirely out of carbon fibre and weighs a mere 986 kg, a drop of 150 kg compared to the F1, with the chassis being a unique monocoque made out of carbon and aluminium.
Devoid of any wings or vents and featuring the same upwards opening dihedral doors as the F1 and more recently the BMW i8, the most distinctive and striking feature resides at the back in the form of a 400 mm fan. Unmistakably derived from the controversial Brabham BT46B ‘fan car’ that raced and won its solitary F1 outing, the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix before being banned, the fan is motivated by a 48-volt electric motor and helps with downforce by working in unison with the diffuser and side skirts while reducing drag by a claimed 12.5%.
Spinning at 7 000 rpm, the fan, according to GMA, adds an additional 37 kW to the overall power output and increases downforce by 50% depending which of the six aero modes are selected. These are the default Auto, Braking that sees the concealed rear spoiler rise by 45 degrees to aid stopping, High Downforce that deploys the spoiler at 10 degrees and opens up the diffuser valves to generate the mentioned 50% and Streamline which results in the T.50 becoming a ‘virtual longtail’ with no design creases or spoilers featuring.
Completing the modes, the Test function only applies when stationary and sees the fans spooling up and the diffuser ducts opening, while the sixth and final setting is called V-Max Boost that unleashes the T.50’s full power and serves as its most extreme setting.
Riding on 19-inch forged alloy wheels at the front and 20-inches at the rear wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber, the T.50’s most noteworthy interior feature is the central driving position with two outer seats Murray famously included on the F1.
Boasting a three-spoke carbon fibre steering wheel that resembles that of the McLaren, the T.50 does come with modern day comforts such as an infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a custom Arcam 10-speaker, 700-watt sound system and materials bespoke to each buyer’s requirements.
Billed as being an everyday car, the T.50 can swallow 228-litres of luggage or 288-litres with two people inside, while the ground clearance is rated at 120 mm at the front and 140 mm at the rear. According to Murray himself, “Everything about the interior starts with the driver. Purity of design was our goal, with the utmost quality applied to every element”.
The most enticing aspect resides underneath the gull-wing opening engine cover. Made by Cosworth and GMA, the T.50’s 3.9-litre V12 is normally aspirated like that the F1’s BMW-derived 6.1-litre bent-twelve, and produces 488kW/467Nm. Weighing a mere 167 kg, which is reported to be the lightest V12 ever, the engine, which can rev up to 12 100 rpm, comes with two modes of its own; GT, which restricts the amount of twist to 441 kW and Power that unleashes the full 488 kW. No performance figures were released.
Unlike most current hypercars, the T.50 has a manual gearbox made by renowned transmission firm Xtrac, which conforms to the lightweight principle by tipping the scales at a mere 80 kg. Unique to the T.50, the six-speed unit features a stubby gear lever similar to that of the F1, with the housing being made out of aluminium.
In terms of stopping power, a six-piston air-cooled Brembo monobloc alloy design is used at the front and four-piston at the rear, with the carbon ceramic discs measuring 370 mm and 340 mm respectively. Even more interestingly is the lack of power steering similar to the Alfa Romeo 4C, although assistance is provided at low speeds, while the Electronic Stability Control can be turned off completely.
Like the F1, production of the T.50 will be limited with only 100 examples planned for manufacturing from 2022. As mentioned, each will be buyer bespoke and retail from £2.3-million (R53.2-million) before taxes.