Gordon Murray Automotive(GMA) has unveiled its T.50s Niki Lauda - named after the late three-time F1 champion - which is essentially a track-focused supercar version of the T.50 that was made public in November 2020. Developed as a track tool from the onset, the spec sheet also attests to the fact. For starters, the weight has been reduced from the already featherweight 986 kg of the roadcar to a very scant 852 kg.
The GMA design team has worked extensively on the T.50s body design to achieve its aerodynamic performance targets, whilst retaining the T.50’s balanced and classic proportions. The dramatic aerodynamic features of the T.50s Niki Lauda instantly give away its performance potential. A striking central fin designed to enhance stability features a Niki Lauda logo. At the rear, the distinctive 400mm fan from the T.50 is retained, accompanied by an even larger rear diffuser and a new delta wing. The rear grille features a T.50s badge and ‘Fan Car’ script.
The aerodynamic elements continue at the front of the car. Barge boards are sculpted to improve airflow to the side ducts, which house the oil cooling systems for the engine and transmission. A splitter and dive planes are also prominent and further reflect the car’s aero-influenced design. At the same time, the purity of the T.50 is not lost, creating a purposeful yet elegant look.Owners will be able to individualise their T.50s Niki Lauda through their choice of colours and liveries, so that no two cars will be alike.
Powering the T.50s is the same Cosworth built 3.9-litre, normally aspirated V12, although with the power wick turned up to 540 kW 11 500 r/min and 485 Nm at 9 000 r/min - maximum engine speed is a dizzying 12 100 r/min. All this is allied to a 6-speed paddle shift gearbox, which
The state-of-the-art V12 pushes the boundaries of engine design even further, with many new components. Changes include completely revised cylinder heads and camshafts, plus a higher compression ratio of 15:1.
Through further tweaks, this new iteration of the Cosworth GMA V12 weighs just 162kg, 16kg less than what was already the lightest road-going V12 engine ever. The weight-saving measures extend to the intake, exhaust and control systems, as well as the engine itself. All the valves are made from titanium, while there is no variable valve timing due to the additional weight of the geartrain and electronic control system.
A simpler induction system features 12 throttle bodies on top of the engine, fed directly by the racing-style air box. The exhaust system does without catalytic converters, has thinner Inconel walls and, with only track noise limits to meet, benefits from smaller silencers.
“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,” says Gordon Murray,
“Instead, I laid out some parameters to create the ultimate driver’s car and experience on track: a central driving position, a V12 just behind your ear revving to over 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,” says Murray.
The Brembo carbon ceramic brakes of the are carried over items from the T.50 roadcar and measure (370mm x 34mm front/340mm x 34mm rear), with six-piston front callipers and four-piston rear callipers. The braking system and aerodynamics combine to produce incredible deceleration of 3.5g.
Just 25 T.50s Niki Laudas will be made, costing £3.1m (R64m) (before taxes). Production will start in January 2023 at Gordon Murray Automotive’s manufacturing centre in Dunsfold, Surrey, UK, after the run of 100 T.50 supercars is completed.
Additionally, and very intriguing we might add, each of the 25 cars’ 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 it is named after, with Murray’s view and memories of the victory.
Every aspect of the T.50s Niki Lauda reads like a geeky technical engineering piece and we absolutely relish such stuff here at TopGear SA. Mzansi-born Gordon Murray's résumé is the stuff of petrolhead dreams, with outstanding engineering feats to back it. The critically acclaimed McLaren F1 roadcar of the 90s is still revered as one of the best driver's cars of all time, and we have little doubt that both the T.50 and the more focused T.50s, which are spiritual successors to the McLaren F1, will deliver in driver enjoyment. Now we wait to see how tangibly these models perform in real-world terms, but one thing's for sure - these will be a rare sight on the roads, especially price withstanding.