It must be hard to follow up the McLaren F1—a car with the most iconic three-seater arrangement with a literal gold-plated engine compartment—but Gordon Murray is giving it a shot. The $2.6 million GMA T.50 celebrates Murray’s 50 years designing cars, and it’s bringing a giant fan mounted to its butt to the party.
This is our first good look at the T.50, and it’s a glory shot render of the rear-end design treatment showing off all the real estate that massive cooling fan takes up.
The car copies the trident seating layout of the F1, and the rest of the car is surprisingly old-world as well, with Murray going so far as to tell Car And Driver the T.50 sets out to be the “last great analog supercar.”
Murray’s definition of “analog” is a four-liter naturally-aspirated V12 gloriously linked to a six-speed manual transmission, with a claimed peak output of around 700 horsepower revving to a whopping 12,000 rpm in one of the two engine settings. From Car And Driver:
There will also be two engine modes: one that moves torque lower down, and, as Murray put it, “runs out at what we call Ferrari revs, so around 9500 rpm.” Murray says the more aggressive setting is “the one for when you say to your mate, ‘Do you want to hear 12,000 rpm going through the tunnel?’ “
Cosworth’s work on the engine is said to be totally different from the naturally-aspirated V12 it has going in the Aston Martin Valkyrie, and has resulted in a powerplant Murray claims is 132 pounds lighter than the powerplant of the McLaren F1.
So then what’s the fan for? Inspired by Murray’s own 1978 BT46B Formula One “fan car” with a similar setup, it’s for d0wnforce. And cooling. But also downforce. As much of it as you want:
“Normally, diffuser air won’t follow anything more than a gradient of about 7.5 degrees. It just separates, so your diffuser shape has to be gentle,” Murray explained. “Every designer on the planet would love to have a very aggressive diffuser like this, but the air will just say ‘No, thanks,’ and you end up with a pool of stagnant air where the diffuser has stalled, and the flow will just do its usual thing.”
The electric fan is used to suck the dirty air from this disrupted boundary layer away from the top of the diffuser. “Once that’s out of the way, the air has to follow the surface,” Murray said. “At lower speeds you can generate much more downforce because the fan does the work. It’s not literally sucking the car down, but it is creating a much more efficient diffuser.”
The T.50's is a 48-volt electric fan, so less powerful than the old F1 car design, but will still get the job done with three modes; auto adjusts fan speed to shift downforce on the car automatically, high downforce mode increases downforce overall by about 30 percent, and the automatic braking mode applies full downforce to help bring the car to a stop a claimed 30-feet shorter from 150 mph than without it. I hope this sounds like the reverse thrusters when a plane lands. The fan also creates a “virtual longtail” at speed, reducing drag by about 10 percent, claims Murray.
Murray claims the customers he sought for the 100 road-legal versions of the T.50 mostly demanded a manual when offered a paddle-shift, and so far only one customer had an issue with the six-speed. There’s also plans for 25 track versions with a sequential gearbox.
The car is set to cost around $2.6 million and deliveries should begin in 2022. American cars have to enter the country under “show and display” restrictions. Murray, when complaining about the skyrocketing price of original McLaren F1s, said he hopes the T.50 offers buyers something they’re more comfortable thrashing to death. Check out the full conversation over at Car And Driver.
Since this fan is more for the diffuser and less about literally sucking the car to the ground, I wonder if it fixes the issue with rocks. You know, how older cars that used fans for downforce used to launch rocks out behind them?