Back in 1992, McLaren Cars (yep, the same chaps from Formula One) came up with the McLaren F1. A mid-engined, record breaking car that solidified McLaren’s standing as one of the best performance brands in the world.
The F1 was powered by a mid-mounted 6.1 litre BMW V12 engine producing 618 horsepower, all in a car that weighs just under 1070 kilograms. Zero to 60mph takes just 3.2 seconds, and it would go on to surpass 240 miles per hour which at the time, was the world record for a production car.
A record that stood for over a decade, until the Bugatti Veyron came along.
But even by modern standards, it was an impressive car by any standards. But to drive it hard on the track took courage. And gumption. Rear driven wheels, a 6-speed manual transmission, dihedral opening doors, and a central driving position with seating for two other passengers, it was one of most striking and iconic cars of the decade. The McLaren F1 was built with rather extreme weight reducing measures in mind, including using thinner sheet metal in the cockpit, magnesium wheels, down to a customised lightweight Kenwood audio system. The insane attention to detail was not limited to just weight savings though. It even had an engine bay which was lined with gold, to deflect the heat produced by that naturally aspirated heart of the beast.
Now, 18 years later, Sir Gordon Murray, the chief engineer behind the McLaren F1, has produced a successor to that legendary car under his own marque. The Gordon Murray Design T.50. Or the GMD T.50, for short.
This time however, the naturally aspirated V12 engine is built by Cosworth instead of BMW and has just 3.9 litres of displacement. But it now revs to over 12,000rpm and it is rated at 650 horsepower. Not huge numbers by hypercar standards. But in a car that weighs just 986kg, it has more horsepower per tonne than most hypercars of this decade. Including the already insanely fast McLaren P1, or the more track focused McLaren Senna.
In addition to the V12 engine, the T.50 carries over several design traits from the older F1. A mid-engine layout, a central driver’s seat, a newly designed 6-speed manual transmission designed by UK-based firm Xtrac, and dihedral doors. Gordon Murray’s obsessive attention to detail wasn’t lost on this car either, with the team at GMD employing weight saving measures in every aspect they could; thinning out the windshield, reducing the weight of the engine and transmission, even reducing the weight of the pedal box.
One new feature of the T.50 that sets it apart from the McLaren F1 (and most production cars for that matter), is a new “Fan Car” system that is designed to improve aerodynamics by controlling the airflow on the car’s undercarriage. According to Gordon Murray Design, the ground-effect fan is 400mm wide and modelled after Murray’s Brabham BT46B Formula One car. Details are scarce at the moment, but it should be interesting to see how this car performs on track when production begins.
Should you want one, it’ll set you back a pretty penny. £2.36 million plus tax to be exact (or just under 4.3 million SGD). But with just a hundred of these T.50s slated to be built, you’d be hard pressed to get a placement for this magnificent machine.
Its expensive, sure. But for one of the last hurrahs of analogue driving experiences, it might be a bargain.