Gordon Murray Automotive unveiled its T.50s Niki Lauda track-focused supercar this week, tipping its hat to the Formula 1 triple World Champion, the Brabham fan car in particular.
Lauda and Murray worked together at Brabham during the 1978 and 1979 season in which the Austrian legend drove Murray’s cars – in 1978 the Brabham BT45C, Brabham BT46B, Brabham BT46C; in 1979 the BT46 and the BT48 with Auto Covers.
Before the end of the 1979 season, during practice for the 1979 Canadian Grand Prix, Lauda declared that he no longer desired to “continue the silliness of driving around in circles.”
Fast forward more than four decades, former F1 design guru Gordon Murray announced: “The T.50s is named in honour of Niki to commemorate his famous win with the Brabham BT46B fan car in the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix.
“Niki was a great racing driver and he was also a good friend and it is absolutely fitting that we are launching the T.50s Niki Lauda on his birthday. Niki would have appreciated the innovation and engineering detail in our car.”
The Lauda family added: “We are proud that Gordon Murray Automotive has named its new car after Niki. He 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.”
A limited-edition of twenty-five T.50s Niki Lauda’s will be built and sold at a cost of €3.6-million (before taxes) to buyers, with production set to start January 2023 at Gordon Murray Automotive’s Manufacturing centre in Dunsfold, Surrey, UK, after the run of 100 T.50 supercars is completed.
Professor Gordon Murray CBE said of the project: “The T.50 is the ultimate road-going supercar, but I always dreamed of taking it one step further… to build a version that will deliver an on-track driving experience like no other car in history.
“When we created the McLaren F1 GTR it was developed from the F1 road car. From its inception the T.50s Niki Lauda, though, was designed in parallel with the T.50. For the T.50 our target was clear, to make the best driver’s car for the road.
“With the T.50s Niki Lauda it was equally clear, to make it the best driver’s car for the track. Putting it another way, we asked ourselves what would be the coolest thing to drive on track and create a track driving experience like no other car in history?”
“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.”
The press release boasts that the car will rev at 12,000rpm, producing over 700 horsepower and with an even faster response time than the T.50, downforce limited to 1500kg and a weight of under 900kg. 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.
Murray continued: “In my view, it doesn’t get better than that and is driving in its purest form. The T.50s Niki Lauda will give a visceral connection between driver, car and track, the like of which has not been experienced to date.
“I can just imagine going round your favourite circuit, sitting in the middle with that unsilenced V12 screaming just behind you – the driving experience will be something special. With a power to weight ratio better than that of a naturally aspirated LMP1 car, itis also going to be searingly quick and, with such a low weight, will change direction like an F1 car.
“With the direction of travel of the automotive industry, it’s hard to imagine that there will ever be another car quite like this. Especially not one with a central driving position, a high revving naturally aspirated V12 engine and that is so lightweight. I believe it will go on to define its era.”
The design and styling are startling with a fan-style rear end to a car that has ‘mega-supercar’ written all over it, with aerodynamics playing a role in shaping it.
“The styling of the T.50s is completely aero driven, but still attractive,” Murray explained. “There’s not one body panel carried over from the T.50, but the road car has such a strong and classic shape that it still manages to shine through.
“Engineering the ultimate track-focused supercar has to start with the driver. It was essential that we retained a central driving position, with every control arranged within easy reach and with no distractions or unnecessary information on display.
“And in my opinion, you don’t get a better view than that from the central driving position and one which allows you to place the T.50s Niki Lauda with millimetre precision on any circuit. You are left with nothing to take away the pure pleasure of pushing this car as hard as you can on your favourite race circuit.”
“Racing drivers are often uncomfortable, they just put up with it because they’re trying to win a race. The McLaren F1 had a really nice driving position and good visibility.
“I think that helped the guys at Le Mans because it made it more comfortable for them,” explained Murray with reference to the McLaren F1 GTR-BMW he penned which Yannick Dalmas, JJ Lehto and Masanori Sekiya raced to victory at the 1995 Le Mans 24 Hours.
“In the T.50s, the driving position ergonomically is just about as good as it gets. This is a car you can drive all day.”
Additionally, each of the 25 cars’ limited edition chassis will be individually named after one of Gordon Murray’s grand prix wins on different circuits.
The first car will be designated Kyalami 1974 and further cars will be named after the 24 subsequent wins, in chronological order.
Each car will also come with a specially commissioned book about the race that itis named after, with Murray’s view and memories of the victory, “Each car will carry its own individual story, being forever linked to the grand prix victory it is named after.
“The T.50s is inspired by my love of motorsport, so it seemed entirely fitting to create this special connection to iconic races from the past.”
About Gordon Murray Automotive
Gordon Murray Automotive creates exclusive, low volume sports cars – the T.50 supercar will be the brand’s first model with customer cars built from January 2022. Its sister car, the T.50s Niki Lauda, goes into production one year later. The company is a sister company to Gordon Murray Design and was first announced in November 2017 during an exhibition, named ‘One Formula’, which celebrated Murray’s 50 years of car design.
About Professor Gordon Murray CBE
Having spent 20 years as Technical Director to two Formula One teams from 1969-1990, Gordon Murray has a wealth of technical, design and engineering experience.
At Brabham, he was instrumental in two world championship wins (1981 and 1983), before three consecutive championship wins with McLaren Racing (1988, 1989 and 1990). In 1990 – after 50 grand prix wins – Gordon moved away from Formula 1 to concentrate on establishing a new company for the group, McLaren Cars Limited.
His first project there, the F1 road car, is still regarded as one of the world’s best-engineered cars. A racing version won two world sports car championships and the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1995. McLaren Cars then completed several other successful projects, culminating in the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.
Gordon left McLaren in 2005 to set up Gordon Murray Design Ltd (in 2007), of which he is Chairman.
The innovative British company is a world leader in automotive design and reverses the current industry trend for sub-contracting by having a complete in-house capability for design, prototyping, and development.
In 2017, Gordon Murray Design celebrated the company’s 10-year anniversary, along with that of the iStream manufacturing process, at a special event named ‘One Formula’. Gordon also marked the 25th production anniversary of the McLaren F1 road car, as well as his 50th year of design and engineering.
In May 2019, Professor Murray was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) by the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, in recognition of his contributions to the motorsport and automotive sectors over the past 50 years.