There are supercars, and then there's the McLaren F1. When it launched back in 1992, it might have seemed at first like just another exotic ride in the vein of the Lamborghini Countach, Ferrari F40 and Porsche 959 — but designer Gordon Murray's singular vision of an all-conquering sports car led to something extraordinary even by the standards of the wild cars of that era, setting acceleration and top speed records left and right while still managing to be (comparatively) easy and fun to drive.
Murray and McLaren may have gone separate ways, but the ambitious Brit hasn't left his passion for speed machines behind. If anything, his newest supercar proves that he's still looking to push the envelope.
The Gordon Murray T.50, as the new car is officially known, resembles something of the McLaren F1's child at first blush. It has the same basic layout: low face with big headlamp in front of a bubble canopy-like cabin, with driver's seat front and center and two token passenger chairs mounted back on either side; behind that, a might V12 engine that sends power to the rear wheels. The doors open upwards and forwards for both ease of entry and maximum effect; an intake on the roof helps cram air into the engine; a six-speed manual gearbox connects the engine to the road.
But to call the T.50 a McLaren F1 2.0 undersells it a bit. Take the naturally-aspirated V12 between driver and rear axle, for example. If you were simply recreating the F1 for the modern day, you might simply do like the old car did and use an uprated BMW V12; after all, the M760i's twin-turbo 12 already makes 601 hp and 627 lb-ft. But Murray wanted something new and naturally aspirated for his latest creation, so he convinced the folks at Cosworth to whip up a bespoke new V12. The new engine makes 654 horsepower at a stunning 11,500 rpm (redline, for what it's worth, is 12,100), as well as 344 lb-ft of torque at 9,000 rpm, although 241 lb-ft or more is available as early as 2,500.
If that sort of output doesn't impress you in this era of 760-hp Mustangs and 800-hp Dodges, well, here's something to put it in context: Murray claims the T.50 weighs in at just 2,174 pounds, less than half as much as a Challenger Hellcat Redeye. Even if that proves to be a measurement of dry weight (i.e. without fluids like oil, as opposed to curb weight, which measures a car in ready-to-drive condition) and something of an exaggeration, the carbon fiber-bodied T.50 will still likely be one of the lightest new supercars money can buy today.
Another example of the T.50's novel nature: its aerodynamics. Active aero, where moving spoilers and the like are used to shape the airflow passing around a car, is nothing new in the sports car realm, but the T.50 takes it to a new level. That turbine-looking apparatus at the rear that gives the car a bit of a Batmobile vibe? That's actually a fan that helps keep the car glued to the road. Putting it simply, the fan blows at up to 7,000 rpm to strategically blast air and clean up the airflow under the car, helping it grip better by producing less lift. Combined with the rear spoilers and other aero tricks, the fan can boost downforce by up to 50 percent versus having all the features off.
Inside, the T.50 has a surprisingly old-school feel, due to its long shift lever and minimalist layout. Look closer, however, and you'll find all sorts of high-tech touches. The instrument panel is all glass, apart from a giant centrally-mounted analog tach. Likewise, there are no conventional side view mirrors; instead, screens and cameras provide views past the flanks.
If all this has you slobbering all over your phone right now, well, you may not feel quite as excited when you know the purchase details. Each Gordon Murray will cost around $3 million at current exchange rates — and while 100 examples will be made, most of them have already been spoken for. Still, if you happen to win the Powerball this week, we'd say pick up the phone and call Gordon Murray Automotive at +44 (0) 1483 484700 ASAP.