Sometimes we wonder whether we have reached a saturation point regarding the hyper-car and the whole concept of an automotive creation with astronomical power output and ludicrous price-tag. The hypercar madness reached its peak when the trio of the LaFerrari, Porsche 918, and the Mclaren P1 hit the streets. However, after that, there has been a seemingly endless array of cars sprouting wings and what not to produce a million horsepower and being stuffed with electric motors and batteries. Make no mistake; we love the Lotus Evija or even a Koenigsegg or even a Rimac. Still, the allure of a back to basics modern-day interpretation of the legendary McLaren F1 is just the stuff of dreams for any petrol-head. The Mclaren F1 is now part of automotive folklore and is a unicorn that exists only in the hearts of enthusiasts all over.
When it rocked up in 1992, it tore apart the supercar rulebook and obliterated the goalposts. It became an instant icon and changed the performance car landscape for good. A lot of it is due to the ethos of the F1 and the approach to building a fast car. Then there is the iconic 3 seater layout and the driver sitting in the middle plus the BMW V12 that has a soundtrack that tingles your spine. The McLaren f1 was a freak occurrence, and no other car has captured the imagination since then as there has never been a McLaren F1 2.0, and Gordon Murray has not replicated its magic in any car since then. Until now, that is.
Meet the Gordon Murray Design T.50, and it is very much a modern-day successor to the F1 minus the $20 million price-tag. Still being limited to 100 cars and at $3 million each, the T.50 is always going to as rare as the F1 with Gordon being particular about its owners being able to drive their cars and not be keeping them as garage queens. To understand the T.50 and why the automotive world is currently swooning over it, you have to understand the man behind this creation himself. Gordon Murray is a legend and being the father of the F1, his design, and his fanatical approach to weight saving along with the pure sensation of driving.
The T.50 is not about Nürburgring lap-times or doing 0-300 km/h in some mind-bending time as Gordon Murray wants to show that supercars are beyond top trumps or pub stats. Numbers do not make a supercar great, and it is the devotion at the altar of the pure sense of driving is what sets it apart.
The basics are eerily similar to the F1 with a naturally aspirated 3.9 liter V12 by Cosworth, along with a 6-speed manual. Those words which I used in the last sentence would seem impossible to do for any other modern-day supercar maker like Ferrari, but Gordon Murray’s approach is something very different from the norm. The V12 is the lightest such engine in the world, and it is also the highest revving while it revs to a glorious 12,100 rpm redline. The car also features Direct Path Induction Sound, where it channels the sound of the throttle-induced induction growl into the cabin. The 6-speed manual is lightest also. In-fact Gordon Murray was even more persistent on the aspect of lightness this time than with the F1, and that means it even has the lightest headlamps fitted to a car plus a super light music system. The T.50 weighs 986 kilograms, and that’s half of the current fastest hypercar. It makes them look a bit silly, frankly.
Then there is the design, which is wonderfully restrained as it has no massive ducts or spoiler sprouting from its body, plus it is roughly the size of a small two-seat roadster. Carbon-fibre is heavily used, and perhaps the only two extrovert styling elements are the massive 400mm fan at the rear and the remotely-released dihedral doors. There are two automatic and four driver aero modes; the T.50 can increase down-force by 50%.
‘V-Max Boost’ is the most extreme setting in the T.50, which unleashes 700 bhp in tandem with the 48-volt integrated starter-generator. However, more than sheer speed, the various attributes of the car ilk the steering or suspension along with the gearshift was paid more attention too. The six-speed H-pattern manual transmission was honed and fettled until getting the perfect gearshift. A dual-clutch automatic was never in consideration.
Inside the cabin is beautiful with analog controls and reveling in its simplistic ethos. It is easier to get in and out than the F1 with more space. The driver gets a unique view out with the central driving position, and all controls are within reach, thus without the need to festoon the steering wheel with buttons.
The T.50 is very much a reminder of how far wrong things are going in the supercar world. Cars are getting fatter and more powerful, with headline-grabbing figures being more important than anything else. Thus many modern-day supercars are rendered useless as you cannot access even 10 percent of its potential on the road. The T.50 is easy to see and out of with ample luggage space and all the luxurious, including an ‘excellent’ air-conditioner. It is also tuned for road driving and is certainly not a track diva.
I could go on and on, but the T.50 is perhaps the last great analog supercar and has a completely different and a fresher outlook at what a supercar should. The F1 did it many years ago, and now the T.50 will do the same. The prodigal son returns.