GORDON Murray unveiled the much anticipated T.50 at the Goodwood Motor Circuit at the annual Members’ Meeting. Behind the wheel for the dynamic debut was racer and Indycar legend Dario Franchitti.
With a broad smile, Franchitti told the audience that he sold a couple of his kids and is living in a tent having bought one. He was clearly joking, but this gives you an indication of the desirability of this car which has been widely seen as the natural successor to the F1, the car Murray designed for McLaren.
Image credit: Jayson Fong/ Goodwood
It may also be a canny investment for those lucky and, of course, rich enough to have their names on the 100 build slots for a car with a price tag of £2.4 million. If it performs even a fraction as well as the F1 it will prove to be one of the better automotive investments of recent years. An F1 bought in 1992 would have cost £540,000; they are now fetching north of £15 million.
The static car was unveiled months ago and there is no denying the DNA link to its famous predecessor. The exterior design feels related and the obvious similarity is the three seats in an arrowhead formation, with the driver front and centre. The recent McLaren Speedtail aside, it seems strange we have had to wait almost thirty years to see this seating layout return.
The other less obvious link is an H-pattern manual gearbox. There was no other viable option for the F1 in the nineties but these days, most self-respecting supercars and hypercars have flappy paddle semi-automatic transmissions. Yet, that is not the Murray way and this car is all about the driving experience and keeping it as analogue as possible.
“The car was wheel-spinning under acceleration down the straight in fifth gear”
He is so keen on this being a driver experience car as opposed to a driver boasting car that he has not released the usual gasp-inducing top speed and acceleration figures. It’s as if Murray realises that these Top Trump bragging rights are no longer relevant in a world where anything over 200mph is frankly meaningless … and just a little bit vulgar. It’s not about the terminal speed anymore – it’s how you get there that counts. And at 650bhp and only 986kgs, it gets there in a frenzied hurry.
The party piece is without doubt the engine. At only 178kgs the Cosworth GMA V12 is the lightest, highest-revving, most power-dense naturally-aspirated V12 engine ever fitted to a road car. The facts may delight the nerds but it is the sound that cheers the masses. This car screams, or should it be sings all the way to a glorious 12,100 RPM redline.
Image credit: Jayson Fong/ Goodwood
The sight of Franchitti wrestling the car around a damp Goodwood circuit had the crowds attention, but it was the spinetingling noise from that tiny V12 that brought them to their feet. The Scotsman did an admirable job of keeping the T.50 on the black stuff in challenging conditions and he later admitted the car was wheel-spinning under acceleration down the straight in fifth gear.
Safely back in the paddock, it sat alongside the T.50S ‘Niki Lauda’ track version with its naca ducts, rear wing and front splitter. By most standards, it’s hardly an overdone or fussy race version of the car, but what it does serve to do is remind you of how pure the form of the road going T.50 is. It’s such a clean, compact design.
Image credit: James Grindel/ Goodwood
Standing alongside was its creator and he had every right to feel as proud as he looked.
Speaking to him about the car bearing his name he pointed out something remarkable that makes him smile and seems to sum up what he tried — and succeeded — in achieving: creating a powerful, V12 hypercar that comes with 280 litres of luggage space and room for three people, but in a package that’s lighter and within the same footprint as a Porsche Boxster. Now that’s a car to stamp your name on.
David Green is motoring editor of Times Luxx magazine.
Main image by Phil Hay for Goodwood
- If you enjoyed reading about the Gordon Murray T.50’s dynamic debut at the Goodwood Members’ Meeting, you might be interested in the full lowdown on the spiritual successor to the McLaren F1.
- You might also like to hear the GMA T.50’s V12 revving to 12,100rpm.
- And don’t miss this story about the ultra low-mileage McLaren F1 that set an auction record earlier this year.