When Gordon Murray says he's working on a new supercar, the world listens. Why? Because the South African native has designed multiple championship-winning Formula One race cars, helped introduce numerous technologies in car construction, and perhaps most notably was the chief designer of the McLaren F1.
Murray is now running his own U.K.-based design skunkworks, Gordon Murray Design, which in June announced plans for an automotive division, the aptly named Gordon Murray Automotive, or GMA for short. The first product will be the T50 supercar, billed as the last great analog car, and it's set for a debut in May 2020. Deliveries won't commence until January 2022, however.
Ahead of the full reveal, GMA on Tuesday released the first photo of the T50 revealing the car's rear-mounted fan. The technology is the same used on the famous Brabham BT46B “fan car” that Niki Lauda drove to victory in the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix. It proved effective in F1, and Murray said it will also ensure the T50 has the “most advanced and most effective aerodynamics ever seen on a road car.”
The fan, which measures 15.75 inches in diameter, literally sucks air from below the car and directs this through various ducts that form part of the rear diffuser. This create an area of low pressure that results in incredible levels of downforce. It also means the T50 won't need to rely on excessive scoops and wings that create drag.
The fan also sucks air from above the car, to enhance engine cooling but also to further boost downforce. There's also a pair of active rear wings, one either side of the fan, that also boost downforce. The various fan functions, combined with the underbody ducting and rear wins, are controlled seamlessly as part of the car’s six distinct aero modes.
These include specific modes for top speed, high downforce, low drag, and a test mode where all aero functions can be tested while the car is stationary. The final two modes include an auto mode, which is the default setting, and a brake mode where all the settings are designed to help slow the car as much as possible. In brake mode, GMA said the T50 can stop from 150 mph in a 32.8-foot shorter distance than normally.
So far GMA has only tested the T50's advanced aerodynamics in the simulator. However, the company on Tuesday also announced a partnership with the Racing Point F1 team to use the Silverstone-based squad's wind tunnel and aerodynamicists to validate the design in real-world conditions, albeit using a 40-percent scale model.
“Formula One remains a deep passion of mine, so partnering with Racing Point to develop the T50 is hugely exciting,” Murray said in a statement. “I’ve dreamt of delivering a road car with a ground-effect fan since I designed the Brabham BT46B F1 racing car in 1978. The system on the T50 is much more sophisticated than the Brabham’s and will benefit enormously from Racing Point’s expertise and resources.”
As previously announced, the T50 will be powered by a naturally aspirated 3.9-liter V-12 developed by Cosworth and capable or revving to 12,100 rpm, or higher than any previous road car. The engine will be mated to a 6-speed, H-pattern manual transmission and spin the rear wheels only.
Peak output will normally reside at 650 horsepower but a mild-hybrid system, in this case a 48-volt motor-generator, and ram induction system will see peak output boosted to 700 hp. The mild-hybrid system alone adds 30 extra horses for three minutes when the vehicle is in its top speed mode.
The weight of the car is expected to be just 2,160 pounds, or about a third less than most supercars on the market. The T50 will be small, too, with the footprint to be smaller than a Porsche 911. The length will be about 172 inches. Nevertheless, the cabin will be big enough for a McLaren F1-style three-seat layout. The controls will be all analog. Don't look for touchscreens here.
Production of the T50 will be handled at GMA's headquarters in Dunsfold Park, home of the Dunsfold Aerodrome, aka the Top Gear Test Track. Just 125 (100 road cars and 25 track cars) will be built, each priced in excess of $2.5 million. A significant number of the cars are destined to customers in the United States, with Canepa of Scotts Valley, California, handling North American distribution.