To the generation that worshipped the McLaren F1 as the pinnacle of sports cars, there was no reveal quite like that of Gordon Murray Automotive’s T.50 last summer. A 12,000 rpm, naturally aspirated, 3.9-liter V12 producing 650 horsepower, sent through a manual gearbox in a package that weighs just under 2,200 pounds — it all sounds too good to be true, and that’s before you even consider the fan.
At the time the T.50 was shown to the public, Murray promised a track-focused version — “more GTR than track day” was how he described it. GMA would build 25 of them, in addition to the 100 T.50 road cars. Today, we’re getting our first look at it, and it’s called the T.50s Niki Lauda.
Right there in the name is a tribute to the triple-world-champion Austrian Formula 1 driver who Murray worked alongside during their tenure at the Brabham team. The BT46B “fan car” won the only race in which it participated — the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix — with Lauda at the wheel.
That explains the name, then. But given the road-going T.50 car’s uncompromising nature, you might wonder how the T.50s differs. Many of the changes are visible, of course — there’s a huge splitter on the front as well as an enlarged air scoop above the roof, gigantic barge boards just behind the front wheels and a big-ass rear wing attached to an equally hard-to-miss shark fin.
You do lose the rear bumper, though. In its place is a diffuser that rises higher than just about any track-built hypercar’s I can remember. Between it and the fan is a row of stacked elongated vents, which seem very reminiscent of those on the McLaren F1. The 15.7-inch diameter fan pulls air into that big diffuser, but unlike the road car’s fan, it’s on at full power all the time when traveling at 50 mph or above.
All told, the car’s aerodynamic accoutrements generate 3,306 pounds of downforce — more than one-and-a-half times the weight of the car.
The T.50s, at 1,878 pounds, is lighter than the T.50 by nearly 300 pounds. The Cosworth V12 itself is lighter — GMA says it’s the lightest V12 ever produced — and churns 50 more horsepower, for a total of 701 HP. Rather than being tethered to an H-pattern gearbox, the T.50s sports a six-speed Xtrac paddle-shift transmission that better suits the car’s competitive nature. The ride height’s been lowered and the suspension has been tuned more aggressively for the same reason.
Inside, the T.50s loses one of its two passenger seats. The seat to the right of the driver has been nixed, instead replaced with a fire extinguisher. Where that passenger’s legs would have gone, you’ll instead find a massive panel of toggle switches with big labels. It’s almost comical how minimalist the interior is.
The T.50s is a bit better than the T.50 in every way, and so it fits that it’s a bit more expensive, too. Whereas the road car costs $3.1 million, the T.50s will set you back $4.3 million. However, the track cars won’t hit production until after the 100 road cars are built, which isn’t due for completion until two years from now.
Looking at the T.50s, you might expect to see it bearing down the Mulsanne much like its predecessor did. As perfectly as it seems it’d fit the World Endurance Championship’s new hypercar rules, the T.50s would actually be too light to comply, not to mention it hasn’t been designed with any kind of hybrid system in mind like the cars by Toyota and Peugeot have. For what it’s worth, Murray has teased the possibility of the T.50s appearing in SRO’s GT1 Sports Club gentleman-driver series, though it’s criminal that it’ll never see endurance racing’s biggest stage.