An Ode To Joy.

in GEMSlast month

I often times keep using the term, "swansong", when trying to chronicle cars, as we all keep thinking that this will be the last of the V12s, or the last of the manuals. We hear it all the time, and being typically old-school, it will no doubt be a heartfelt and teary moment for me should we come to that point of having to say goodbye. Yet, we can't always be entirely certain as to when the penultimate chapter of internal-combustion will close for good.

Just when we think that it's going to be the end, someone boldly steps in to save the day, saving a storied tradition for another day to live on, even as the world around them changes. This time, it's the brainchild of a man who I would consider to be the grandmaster of the automotive industry, with a cultural impact that remains awe-inspiring as ever. Gordon Murray's goals have always aligned the same way; to tickle the heart of every enthusiast on the planet.

To do this, he would create the most pure, unadulterated, wholesome, and focused driver's cars of all time. His latest act would follow in the footsteps of his previous such creation, the legendary McLaren F1; a car so monstrously powerful, yet it delivers horsepower with grace. Just like Jesus on Christmas, the T.50 marks the 50th anniversary of the Gordon Murray's illustrious career in the automotive industry, and it's a gift from the prophet, to every car-lover on the planet.



The Swansong Of Our Times.

Credits to: Gordon Murray Automotive T.50

This certainly isn't the first time I've written about their exploits, as I went into detail two weeks ago. But at the time, it was only facts and numbers on a PDF file, without any flesh to show for it. Now, they've finally lifted the curtain, and simply put, it's just as exciting as I hoped for it to be. I'm so ecstatic, that the only thing keeping me from jumping up and down, is to sit down, and share more about it, all over again.

First, we start with the T.50's beating heart; the engine. This magnificent gem is the primary reason for calling the T.50 a swansong, as it has something that we might never be allowed to experience, ever again. It's a naturally-aspirated, mid-mounted 3.9-litre V12. Already its earning accolades for being the lightest, highest-revving, and most power-dense engine, with all its bespoke twelve-cylinders carefully crafted from scratch by Cosworth, and not a single part shared anywhere else.

It naturally produces 654hp, but it can periodically boost up to nearly 700hp with the help of a 48-volt starter/generator. More than a few carmakers are using this kit to improve fuel efficiency, but it has the side effect of increasing power as well, turning the T.50 into a hybrid, but only sometimes. Torque is rated at 344lb-ft (467Nm), which is fairly healthy for its size and heft. Just as well to put a big grin on even the grumpiest face, this compact V12 revs to an ear-shattering 12,100RPM.

Credits to: Autocar - T50

In fact, it can rev from idle to redline in just 0.3 seconds, a blink of an eye, with a mind-blowing response of 28,400 revolutions/second. If that's not amazing enough, then consider the fact that this engine is bolted onto an equally bespoke Xtrac-built H-pattern, 6-speed manual at a time when nearly every carmaker swears by the rapid shift of automatics. In the T.50, the enjoyment isn't about the adrenaline rush at speed, but the engagement you have with the car.

Another form of driving fun is through the application of noise, of which there's plenty of it. There's an exhaust system made from motorsports-grade Inconel and titanium, while the roof-scoop guarantees a rush of lovely induction noise into the cabin. On that note, it not only feeds atmosphere into the engine, but it also acts as a ram-air intake, naturally compressing and supercharging the air, contributing to its many horsepower.



Do A Barrel-Roll!

Credits to: Gordon Murray Automotive T.50

Not that it should matter much, given how little mass the engine has to move about. That's another important highlight of achieving that ultimate driving experience, and that's by shaving mass everywhere possible, even by ounces. You can read my previous post to know exactly how much weight they've saved. Overall, the T.50's kerb-weight is a featherweight 986kg (under 2,200lbs). For context, that's about the same weight as the smallest of city cars, and about half the mass of some supercars.

It's a big enough difference, that you can truly feel the loss of weight. This is thanks to its construction, comprised of a carbon-fibre monocoque (read: a single-piece tub) sandwich chassis, with an aluminium honeycomb core. Weight is saved from every single component, inside and out, like the windows, fixings, and even the pedal box. However, it hasn't turned the T.50 into an ugly, stripped-out, Spartan race-car either. To keep all this weight to the ground, aerodynamics play a huge roll in its design.

Even the single windscreen wiper acts as an aerofoil spoiler for adding downforce, which is air pushing down on the car, onto the front. Most prominently however, it has a 400mm ground-effect fan in the rear, alongside active aerodynamics courtesy of twin-spoilers, and active rear-diffusers. These are panels of the car that are motorised and actuated to go up and down, depending on how much air you need. As for that fan, it helps to create suction, essentially forming a vacuum and sucking the T.50 onto the ground.

Credits to: Gordon Murray Automotive T.50

Together, they can provide 50% of the T.50's weight in downforce under ordinary conditions, while minimising aerodynamic drag. Keeping its seemingly analogue driving experience, you can go completely unhinged and turn off the computer aids like the traction-control and electronic-stability programme (ESP). If you do this, better pray that you don't overdo its rear-wheel traction, and shove it into a hedge. There are also 6 different driving modes that you can play around with, ensuring that it doesn't get out of hand.

Two of them are automatic; 'Auto', being the default setting; and 'Brake Boost', which uses the aerodynamics as an air-brake to stop the car, increasing downforce by another 100%. 'Streamline' makes your car as slippery as possible for high-speed driving, as 'V-Max' activates the 48-volt system to add an extra 40hp temporarily to reach top-speed. 'High Downforce' will optimise the aero to improve handling, while 'Test' is similar to a plane dancing its flaps around and making sure they work.



Beauty Is Timeless.

Credits to: Gordon Murray Automotive T.50

Now, or technically yesterday, we can now see the sculpture that defines what could very well be the greatest supercar in existence. Echoing the simplistic, purposeful, and singular-minded approach, the T.50's bodywork is pure in its design; smooth and without the interruption of unseemly wings, spoilers, or skirts. You mileage may vary, but I think it looks gorgeous and timelessly elegant, with a silhouette that'll age well in the coming decades. It's also fairly compact, equal in dimension to a Porsche Boxster.

The front looks very similar to a McLaren F1, with simple ducts and little else. Here, there proudly sits the 'mermaid' emblem that's been used by Gordon Murray's family clan from Scotland since the 12th-century. The side-profile is dominated by dihedral doors, with a no-cost option for glass panes on the roof to let more light into the cabin, attributing its airy-ness. There's also a large channel to ventilate the front wheels, and moving air around to the rear, where there's plenty of details to admire.

Least of all is the large fan, which could be the worst place to be at, given there's a large blender ready to suck you in. The rear gullwing doors open gracefully like the old De Tomaso Mangusta, hinged in the middle. Here, there's access to your luggage on either side, and a glorious view of the engine bay, with the many mechanical bits and pieces strewn about. Gordon Murray, like myself, doesn't like plastic covers on the engine, so there sits its V12 as exposed as it can be; mighty and topless.

Credits to: Gordon Murray Automotive T.50

The interior has a lot of thought put into it, being arranged in a way as to make sure the driver is kept focused on what's ahead. However, it's also made to be compromisingly comfortable for such a beast, being easy to get in and out, with modest room for luggage, and seating for three. The central seating reminds me you of sitting in the cockpit of a fighter-jet, hugging you tightly around carbon-fibre bucket seats; finely measured and fitted for the driver. The two passenger seats are also apparently rather snug, but able to fit someone tall-ish.

The controls are also placed ergonomically to hug around the driver, meanwhile providing a pleasing and tactile feedback to each single one. From using the buttons and switches, to operating the lovely gear-knob; the weighting and feel has been refined meticulously for that crisp, and satisfying sensation. The focused dashboard is dominated by an analogue tachometer, flanked by two screens for vital statistics, and infotainment stuff, respectively. Also, since the T.50 had its wing-mirrors replaced with cameras, there's two more screens for that.



Less Is More.

Credits to: Gordon Murray Automotive T.50

As a whole package, the T.50 then is just like a minimalist's house, designed wholly around the concept of, "Less Is More". It has only the bare essentials, yet with great care taken to see to it that those basics are done right, with a wholesome connection between them. Nowhere would you find a piece of accoutrement or furniture lying about, and out of place. The T.50 is designed for those wanting to experience the relationship of man and machine, at its core.

You might've even noticed that there aren't any performance figures published. It's guaranteed to be fast as a bat out of hell, but Gordon Murray hasn't even bothered to measure the T.50's acceleration, or top-speed. Whatever it is, it's more than enough to give other supercars a run for their money. There are mentions of a theoretical top-speed beyond 220mph, though time will tell if that'll ever beat the F1's 240mph; still the fastest ever recorded for a naturally-aspirated car.

Credits to: Gordon Murray Automotive T.50

Currently, the T.50 is undergoing a period of putting in the final touches, and with prototypes going out into the wild soon. Production will come around later, and customers will get their hands on one come 2022. Unfortunately, it's fair to say that it won't be easy to get your hands on one, as it costs around $3.1million each, before taxes, and limited to just 100 units. Plus, Gordon Murray himself is making sure that those ordering one will actually drive their T.50s, and not just keep them locked in a garage, looking pretty with 0 miles on the clock.

It's one of those unicorns that we're glad they exist, but you'd be lucky to get close to one, let alone ride it. I guess that summarises the T.50 quite well, marking perhaps the final chapter of the V12 with a grand hurrah; the finest engine to have graced mankind. I certainly hope it won't be the last one, and I do keep wishing that there will be bold pioneers who could skirt them past ever tightening regulations on emissions and noise. If this really goodbye, then there's no greater way to end it on.



Thanks for reading! For more updates on my blogs, or the more minute things in life, feel free to follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Medium, and do give a shout there as well!

While you're at it, follow along @zacknorman97 for more, coming soon :-)

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Damn, that looks sick. I love pretty much everything on it... the rear side not so much but I guess that's need for such a potent car. Eh?

It looks really awesome indeed, and what's amazing about this car is the attention to very single, little detail. They've put thought into each one, and it should create this wholesome driving experience like nothing else since the F1.

I do agree though, the rear-side is the low-point of the design, but I guess they really need that fan for downforce. Otherwise, putting that much horsepower into such a light car could literally turn it into a plane! 😁

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To support your work, I also upvoted your post!

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Thanks for the support, @oldmans and @tipu :-D

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You are very welcome! 👍

Is that John Cleese driving that car?

Lol.

Haha, nope! But someone equally as awesome as the great Sir Camelot! That's Gordon Murray... The man, the myth, and the legend behind the McLaren F1, Brabham "fan-car" Formula 1 Car, and now the awesome T.50!

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I think it would have been better if it was John Cleese.

Speaking of Brabham, I mean Sir Jack Brabham once. It's a good story which I should get around to telling one day.

Lol, I better hope John Cleese puts on his knight's metal helm instead of a racing helmet! It must've been an amazing experience to have met quite the legend as him. I just remembered that he's from your neck of the woods down under, no? We MUST know the story!

He is Australian yes and yeah I'll tell the story someday. I've got so much to say I guess it's difficult to know what to write about next. The reason I haven't is that many don't seem to care much about motor racing and most wouldn't know who Sir Jack was.

Well, I can't think of anyone better to introduce this legend to the unknown world than you, the quintessential Aussie :-D

I'll give it a go someday.

Please do... We must read it!

Everything is beautiful in this car, instant legend ?
I like the design especially the attention to detail :

t50.jpg

You want to get your hands on that gear knob, don't you?

Oh my god, yes! Even before driving it, it's already an instant legend, and a future classic for sure. The attention to every little detail is simple astounding, and stuff like the feel of gear-lever actually needed Gordon Murray's express consent and feedback if it felt good or not. I really, very much want my hands on that knob ;-)