When full details and images of the Gordon Murray Automotive T.50 were released last month, the internet came close to breaking under the strain. Now we're getting some detail on what Murray is planning next, and it's even more radical.
While the market for any track-only hypercar is always going to be limited, the lack of regulation has allowed Murray's team to really take their gloves off. The T.50S is set to be 100kg lighter than the already super-svelte T.50, just 890kg on GMA's numbers, and will also have a more potent Cosworth V12, this able to make up to 730hp thanks to internal changes and a ram-air intake. But those numbers are merely impressive; the next is stunning: the car's combination of active and passive aerodynamics mean it will be able to generate up to 1,500kg of downforce.
It could have been even more than that. Murray's team actually created an aerodynamic package capable of generating 1900kg of downforce. But, as Murray puts it, "the tyre sizes that we could fit on the car just couldn't support it, so we had to bring it back down to 1,500kg. Which is still pretty impressive."
That means the T.50S will be capable of that perennial pub discussion favourite - having more than enough negative lift to support its weight while travelling upside down. Murray says it would be theoretically be able to do this at any speed above 175mph, when it is making the 1050kg necessary to offset the weight of car, driver and fluids. That's a viral video we're looking forward to watching.
The T.50S uses the fan-blown diffuser of the regular T.50 with a 48-volt 400mm diameter electric fan, but also gets a sizeable delta-shaped front wing which Murray says bears a clear similarity to the shovel-shaped profile of the Brabham BT52 Formula 1 car also designed by him. You'll have to use your imagination for that one, as the only image that has been released is a side-on technical drawing. This also confirms the presence of an LMP1-style fin that runs down the length of the car, one that improves high speed stability.
While the road-going T.50's aerodynamic fan can run at different speeds, the track version's will operate permanently at its 7,000rpm peak to create maximum downforce. Murray says offering some kind of DRS system to boost top speed doesn't really make sense. "Unless you're on a circuit with long straights it just didn't seem worth it." Top speed will be aero-limited to around 210mph.
Saving 100kg from the T.50 has required the loss of pretty much all trim as well as the air conditioning system and the right-hand passenger seat - meaning the track car will be a two-seater. Mass has also been saved from the carbon structure and bodywork, Murray emphasising that this car has been designed from the ground up alongside the road car. "It's not just another version of that," he says, "it was conceived at the same time to be different. It's very much its own motor car, and it has been like designing a racing car, it's not a conversion... The McLaren F1 LM we built to celebrate wining Le Mans was basically a road car with a fire extinguisher and a wing on the back. This is a much more serious car and has been right from the beginning."
The S's Cosworth naturally aspirated V12 engine has also been substantially modified with redesigned cylinder heads and camshafts, a higher compression ratio plus new intake and a cat-free exhaust. Peak power is 700hp - a 50hp improvement on the T.50 - with that arriving at a slightly higher 11,700rpm, but both cars have the same 12,100rpm limiter. A ram air induction system is able to increase that to 730hp when the car is running at speed. It has also lost the road car's glorious six-speed manual gearbox and gained an X-Trac IGS transmission which will be paddle activated and offer near-instantaneous shifts.
While initial plans are for the car to be used at high end track days, Murray is very keen to take it racing - indeed he refers to it as "the racing car" at several points during our conversation. Initial hopes were that it might be made eligible for the officially sanctioned "supercar" endurance class that the FIA and ACO were discussing with each other and manufacturers, but those plans seem to have died. Nevertheless, Murray is still hoping for competition.
"I've been talking to Stephane Ratel of SRO, which is probably more pertinent because he runs about 90 percent of the world's GT championships," Murray says, "he's working on an idea called the GT1 Club where people who own these sort of cars could end up racing them. That's what we'd love to do."
Who wouldn't love to see the T.50S battling with the Aston-Red Bull AMR Valkyrie Pro, enthusiastic amateurs at the wheels? Murray admits that any battle with rival cars would likely require some kind of balance-of-performance system to ensure fairness. "To be absolutely blunt the numbers on the T.50S are quite ridiculous - 890kg, a ton and a half of downforce and 700hp," Murray says, "one of the problems we always had from the FIA was the minimum weight of around 1200kg - you can't safely put 300kg of steel ballast into a car. So it would need some kind of balance of performance, because otherwise we'd win everything."
Murray says that GMA sold out the remaining allocation of the 100 T.50 road cars within 48 hours of the car being announced last month, and that more than 15 of the 25 T.50S slots are already spoken for - despite a price tag of £3.1m before tax. So if you've got that much burning a hole in your pocket and want to dominate any track day you turn up to, don't hang about for too long.
One thing we don't know is the car's final name; T.50S is just a development code at present. We're promised that the car's "historically significant official name" will be announced later this year at a global unveiling event. Anyone want to guess?
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