The McLaren F1 is still quite possibly the greatest supercar of all time, measured by much more than numbers. The fact it’s creator Gordon Murray calls his McLaren F1 success at Le Mans his greatest ever triumph despite producing multiple championship winning F1 cars under his belt, speaks volumes. The F1 was of course, a road car first and race car second despite drawing heavily on race car principles.
That same mind is busy back at work creating two significant cars for different markets but with one overriding theme: pure driving enjoyment. With ‘peak supercar’ having seemingly reached its conclusion despite the plethora of electric wannabes cropping up, the focus is coming back to driving enjoyment. The T50 and T43 are Gordon Murray’s answers to the mindless pursuit of headline figures which of course is finite and only expressed in numbers, whereas driving enjoyment rarely is.
The T50 is his concept for what driving enjoyment should be for a supercar. Hypercar perhaps? Not really, as again, this car won’t be about headline figures however, it will be very fast. Billed as a natural successor to the original McLaren F1, the T50 employs similar themes such as a three seater layout, powerful and high revving engine, and importantly, most importantly, a manual gearbox. Engagement is the order of the day.
The same level of driver involvement is promised for the T43, of which Murray openly admits is influenced by the Lotus Elise and quite possibly the Alpine A110 he’s been piloting around. “If it was 100 mm narrower, it would be the perfect car,” he said in an interview with Road & Track.
The comment about size is spot on. Half the problem with modern cars is their size especially when set against road width and the limitations this places on driving enjoyment. Compound this with the weight required to lug around technology and luxuries and you can see what Gordon is getting at.
Inside the three seat layout of the T50 gives way to a conventional two seat layout in the T43 with all the creature comforts necessary to make it a daily driver. Powering the car is not a Cosworth V12 but a Ford 3-cylinder turbo producing around 215hp. Combine those figures with the projected weight of 850 kgs (1873 pounds) and Murray suggests it will have similar performance to the outgoing Porsche 911 Carrera S. One wonders if a Honda engine may have been more poetic, or if a strategic partnership with Mazda to pilot one of their promising new SkyActive engines.
Reflecting on what we know so far, the recipe looks brilliant.
• Lotus Elise style handling and engagement.
• A manual gearbox.
• A petrol engine (its fast becoming a feature!).
• Enough comfort for everyday driving.
Tick, tick, tick, and tick. We don’t know much about the styling, however if we were to draw upon the way the McLaren F1 has aged so utterly gracefully, one could assume the styling is in good hands.
So what is left then? The price. And this is the gob smacking headline. The price Gordon is aiming at is £40,000. Whether or not he achieves that remains to be seen of course, but the intent is there. Considering the Supra is around the same price and the level of collaboration needed with another manufacturer to make it see the light of day, he has a huge mountain to climb.
Driving a ‘Gordon Murray car’ could certainly be perceived as a privilege
However, between Toyota’s GT86 and the Alpine A110, there sure aren’t many drivers cars on the market which adhere to the lightweight philosophy, with the price in the vicinity of the BMW M2, Porsche Cayman, Toyota Supra, and Alpine A110.
The good thing is this is not yet another supercar for the 1%, Gordon is creating this for ‘the people’. Granted, it’s still expensive for most of us, but for what is promised, coming from one of the worlds greatest automotive designers and engineers, I’d say it’s an exciting prospect. Driving a ‘Gordon Murray car’ could certainly be perceived as a privilege.
One of the challenges Gordon must overcome is the increasing demand on interior design and technology. Yes this is to be a drivers car but today the expectation is for a minimum level of technology. What that technology looks like, feels like, is going to be a challenge. The recently released Toyota Supra has been heavily criticised for lifting and shifting BMW’s infotainment architecture, but the costs of designing a bespoke system where just to high for Toyota to consume.
As with all small manufacturers, there will be a large degree of trust placed in Gordon and his team by customers to deliver and service the product long term. Somehow, despite the challenges, one feels Mr F1 can pull it off.