Ultra-light and ultra-responsive, with a central driving position, downforce enhanced by a fan that sucks the car onto the road and powered by a screaming naturally aspirated V12 engine that revs to 12,100rpm and drives through a six-speed manual transmission, Gordon Murray’s new GMA T.50 hypercar promises to be as fast and thrilling as the McLaren F1 he designed 30 years ago.
A hard act to follow? Not if you’re Gordon Murray. Meet the GMA T.50s Niki Lauda.
The T.50s Niki Lauda (named after the three-time F1 world champion who drove the Murray-designed Brabham BT46B, which had similar fan-driven ground effects system, to victory in the 1978 Swedish GP) is the track only version of the road-going T.50.
Only 25 will be built, each costing the equivalent of $5.6 million (plus tax), or roughly 30 percent more than the 100 T.50 road cars currently under construction.
What that buys you is an intriguing mix of more and less T.50 – more power, more downforce, less weight.
The Cosworth-built 4.0-litre V12 makes up to 60kW more than the regular T.50 engine, punching out 522kW at a dizzying 11,500rpm, and as much as 541kW when the roof-mounted scoop of the ram-air induction system starts working at speed.
A completely revised aero package – every exterior panel has been redesigned – delivers a staggering 1500kg of downforce. And the T.50s Niki Lauda is 134kg lighter than the already feathery T.50 road car, weighing just 852kg.
The T.50s Niki Lauda is not just a T.50 with road car luxuries removed and race car goodies added.
“The T.50s Niki Lauda was designed in parallel with the T.50,” says Murray.
“For the T.50 our target was clear – to make the best driver’s car for the road. With the T.50s Niki Lauda it was equally clear – to make it the best driver’s car for the track.”
The T.50S Niki Lauda’s carbon-fibre monocoque is therefore built using a lighter construction method than the regular T.50.
In addition to adding titanium inlet valves, a 12 throttle body induction system, and a straight-through exhaust with thinner-wall Inconel tubing, Cosworth also redesigned the V-12’s cylinder heads and dumped the variable valve timing system to reduce the engine’s weight by 16kg to just 162kg.
And instead of the conventional six-speed manual of the road car, the T.50s Niki Lauda has a bespoke Xtrac six-speed paddle-shift transmission with a patented gear pre-selector system that delivers ultra-fast shifts.
The T.50s Niki Lauda shares its forged aluminium multi-link suspension with the road car, but the springs, shocks and anti-roll bar have been respecified to optimise track performance, and the ride height lowered to 87mm at the front and 116mm at the rear.
The 400mm ground effects fan at the rear is the same as that of the T.50, but it only operates in high downforce mode, spinning at 7000rpm.
Also carried over from the road car are the Brembo carbon ceramic brakes with six-piston calipers up front and four-piston units at the rear, though new ducting has been added to improve cooling.
A large delta rear wing straddling the central dorsal fin, a new splitter and barge boards up front, and a redesigned diffuser help deliver race car levels of downforce.
Combined with the grip from the bespoke Michelin tyres mounted on forged magnesium alloy wheels that weigh less than 6kg each, Murray says the T.50s Niki Lauda can generate 2.5-3.0G of deceleration under brakes.
What he won’t talk about, though, are potential lap times. “It's pointless all this business of being fastest round the Nürburgring,” Murray insists.
“I want the car to be accessible to good amateur drivers. Take it to the circuit, check your tire pressures, start the engine, warm the oil up and off you go.”