Motors

Gordon Murray Automotive T50s Niki Lauda: 'Driving in its purest form'

Gordon Murray Automotive T50s Niki Lauda

WITH electrification steadily tightening its grip, it is possible that history will judge this car from Gordon Murray Automotive as the pinnacle of the internal combustion engine-powered motor car, writes William Scholes.

Supercar makers, including Ferrari and McLaren, have already thrown in their lot with hybrid drivetrains and there are a number of electric-only hypercars on their way from Lotus, Rimac and others.

Gordon Murray, whose achievements include Formula One championship winning cars as well as the legendary McLaren F1, didn't want the analogue sports car to go down without a fight.

The T50, which was revealed last year, was the product of his fertile mind. It is designed for road use.

This car, on the other hand, is a track special. Even lighter, faster and with more downforce, it's called the T50s Niki Lauda.

Gordon Murray Automotive T50s Niki Lauda

It takes chutzpah to name your car after the late three-time F1 champion, but it seems entirely well placed here.

Adding to the authenticity is the fact that Murray and Lauda were long-time friends.

There's another connection between the two men and the new car; Murray designed the Brabham BT46B fan car in which Lauda - controversially - won the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix.

The fan innovation helped suck the car to the track surface, making it far faster than rivals; such was its advantage that team owner Bernie Ecclestone decided himself to pull it from competition before it was banned...

Murray has revisited the fan idea with the T50 - it has a 40cm fan at the rear of the car which helps it generate up to 1,500kg of downforce.

Gordon Murray Automotive T50s Niki Lauda

Gordon Murray Automotive T50s Niki Lauda

"Niki was a great racing driver and he was also a good friend and it is absolutely fitting that we are launching the T50s Niki Lauda on his birthday," said Murray.

"Niki would have appreciated the innovation and engineering detail in our car."

The Lauda family said Niki would have been "extremely honoured to have been associated with a car designed and engineered by Gordon, with whom he had such a long association and friendship".

Just 25 will be built, from 2023. The specification is outrageous; it weighs just 852kg, is powered by a V12 engine which makes 725bhp and revs to a heady 12,100rpm. Even the carbon fibre construction is a step beyond that found elsewhere, using something called 'part-binding technology', with the carbon fibre wrapped around a honeycomb aluminium core.

Gordon Murray Automotive T50s Niki Lauda

Murray promises an "on-track driving experience like no other car in history". From anyone else, that would sound like hubris; from Murray, it just sounds like a statement of fact.

"We had no interest in achieving the ultimate lap time or creating an over-tyred and over-downforced spaceship at the expense of driver involvement, because ultimately you have to possess an F1 driver level of skill and fitness to get the best out of them," he explains.

"Instead, I laid out some parameters to create the ultimate driver's car and experience on track: a central driving position, a V12 just behind your ear revving to over 12,000rpm, producing over 700 horsepower and with an even faster response time than the T50, downforce limited to 1,500kg and a weight of under 900kg.

Gordon Murray Automotive T50s Niki Lauda

"Plus the ability to turn up at any track, make a few basic checks and have fun, without the need for an entire support crew.

"In my view, it doesn't get better than that and is driving in its purest form.

"The T50s Niki Lauda will give a visceral connection between driver, car and track, the like of which has not been experienced to date."

Each of the 25 cars will be named after one of Murray's grand prix wins on different circuits - the first is Kyalami 1974.

As you would expect, this most special car comes at a most special price - £3.1 million before taxes...

Gordon Murray Automotive T50s Niki Lauda

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