It takes a lot for the Retropower staff to ‘lose their (collective) head,’ particularly over something as out of reach and impossible to own as a new supercar, but that’s what happened when details of Gordon Murray’s latest creation broke. As a rule, we’re far more interested in real world cars, the kind of motors we lusted after when we were all in short trousers, with the odd slice of homologation special exotica thrown in for good measure.
Murray’s latest creation, the T.50, changes all that – and this despite the fact that no one at Retropower will ever be able to sit in, much less buy, one. The spiritual successor to the McLaren F1 (and another rare example of a supercar generally coveted by those with oily hands and visions of rear-wheel drive Escorts pulling lurid slides) has fired our imagination like little else, and it’s only partly due to its, doubtless impressive, spec.
First up, some background. You’ll all doubtless be aware of Gordon Murray’s lofty standing in the automotive world and just how polished his car building CV is, with a litany of F1 championships for both Brabham and McLaren, plus the aforementioned mid ‘90s supercar icon. All of these were powered by resolutely old school internal combustion engines, a form of propulsion that’s rather fallen out of favour with recent hypercar makers – Ferrari SF90, we’re looking your way.
With above in mind, we were all thrilled to learn that the T.50, a car its creator is happy to be called the F1’s successor, will be pushed along by an engine powered by long dead, liquidised dinosaurs. And what an engine it is: a Cosworth designed 4.0 V12, the sum total of everything the eponymous Northampton engineering legends know about internal combustion motors, and with the ability to rev to 12,100rpm while making a thumping, Prius-scaring 650bhp.
Ok, so calling this particular car the last gasp of the traditional, naturally aspirated internal combustion engine might be stretching the truth somewhat. Doubtless there will be other cars powered by such arrangements in the years to come, but we very much doubt there will another hypercar, let alone one built to such fanatical standards of engineering excellence as the T.50.
Another charmingly old school element of the new car is its transmission. Well, as old school as an exquisite, Xtrac built gearbox costing countless millions can be, but in concept and layout it most certainly is something of a throwback: a H-pattern, six-speed manual. And not a flappy paddle or sequential ‘box to be seen.
This is all well and good, but these details pale into insignificance when ranged against the most interesting and exciting aspect of the T.50, its rear-mounted fan. That’s right, for his latest and greatest road car Murray is once again looking to his motorsport past for inspiration, in this case the infamous Brabham BT46 ‘fan car’ of 1978. That car utilised a crank-driven fan to create an area of low pressure beneath it, effectively ‘sucking’ it to the track and permitting hitherto unheard-of cornering speeds.
F1 fans will know that the BT46’s career was successful but short, the fan-car grounded for good after one, solitary victory for the recently departed Nikki Lauda at Sweden’s Anderstorp circuit. That Murray has revived the idea says much about his love of the concept itself, and also how much of an impact it will have on the driving experience offered by the T.50.
In news that will surprise no one at all, Murray’s new hypercar will be light – seriously light. It’s mooted to tip the scales at a scant 980kg, while the ‘footprint’ of the car will be less than that of a Porsche 911.
We’ll conclude by bringing you, and ourselves, back down to earth with something of a bang. A mere 100 T.50s will be built, and all will retail for over £2 million pounds. This makes it more expensive than the McLaren F1 when new, and also rather more exclusive.
Incidentally, does anyone fancy helping us plan a Brink’s-Mat style bullion heist…?