GRR

The cars that inspired Gordon Murray’s T.33

08th April 2022
Ethan Jupp

“This is an all-new platform. It’s the beginning of our longer-term future” Gordon Murray says as he introduces GMA’s latest model, the T.33, at the 79th Members’ Meeting presented by Audrain Motorsport. Indeed, the T.50 was by his reckoning intended to address unfinished business with the McLaren F1 – the perfect supercar formula reforged with 2020s technology. The T.33 on the other hand is inspired not by the cars of Murray’s own design, but the classics that he loves. It’s both a love letter to the distant past, as well as the first step in GMA’s near- to mid-future.

gma-inspiration-joe-top.jpg

From the De Tomaso Vallelunga, to the Porsche 904, Lamborghini Miura and the Abarth 2000 OT ‘Periscopio’, the elegance of the time-worn coachwork on these 1950s and 1960s sports racers and supercars is manifest in the trend-bucking clean and unfussy lines of the T.33; their lightweight principles and effervescent character instrumental in forging what Murray sees as important in the design of a car. These and a number of other cars, from Gordon’s own collection and beyond, joined the T.33 at Goodwood, to illustrate the breeding and inspiration behind GMA’s latest supercar.

We find them lined up behind the marquee in which GMA unveiled the T.33. As we walk down the paddock from the Jackie Stewart Pavilion, the first car we’re met with is a 1964 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS. Only in this line-up would a 904 look comparatively large in terms of footprint, but it does, despite weighing just 655kg. Murray describes the 904 as “one of my favourite sports racing cars from the 1960s” with “perfect proportions for a small rear-engined racing car”. We can see those ‘60s influences shining through in the T.33.

abarth-periscopio-joe-01-2600.jpg

Influences that can also be seen in the Abarth OT 2000 ‘Periscopio’ from 1966. A part of Murray’s personal collection, he describes it as “a favourite Abarth”. You can see elements of the curved snout and hewn rump of the Abarth in the T.33 but perhaps the most obvious parallel can be drawn between the snorkels. The T.33’s feeds the 615PS (452kW) 11,100rpm-revving 3.9-litre V12, being bolted directly to it. By contrast the Abarth’s provides cooling air for the driver. Obviously it wouldn’t be a favourite of Murray’s without being lightweight, with the little OT 2000 weighing just 710kg.

You can’t talk lightweight without talking Lotus. Of course, Murray’s goal in his initial journey over to the UK in search of a career in Formula 1 was a job at Lotus. On the road car side of the Lotus business, he’s just as much of a fan, describing the next car in this row, a Lotus Elite S.1 from 1960, as “in my top five best-looking cars ever”. Appeal is never just skin-deep for Murray, whose admiration of and fascination with Lotus and Colin Chapman is rooted in innovative lightweighting principles. The Elite as it sits weighs just 503kg – 207kg more than the aforementioned Abarth. Even with only 1.2-litre 70PS (51kW) engine the Elite boasts a 140PS/tonne power to weight ratio. That’s thanks in part to the Elite being the world’s first composite monocoque car. In this it shares a lineage as a groundbreaker with the  McLaren F1, which was the first carbon composite car.

de-tomaso-vallelunga-joe-02-2600.jpg
osca-joe-04-2600.jpg

From Hethel to Bologna, the Maserati brothers and O.S.C.A. Murray describes this 1600 GT Zagato as “a favourite”, in part for its stunning design but with an emphasis on a love of the aluminium-blocked 1.6-litre four-cylinder twin-cam engine. Murray is well-known for believing that the heart of a car is a charismatic engine, a principle that’s central to his GMA supercars so far. The T.50 and indeed T.33 are in part defined by their Cosworth-developed high-revving V12 engine, which claims Murray, has been conceived to be an all-time peak for internal combustion.

Next up is another lightweight and classically beautiful innovator, the De Tomaso Vallelunga.  Murray highlights his admiration of it being “the first production rear-mid-engined car” featuring “a backbone chassis and all-round wishbone suspension”. Weighing just 695kg, the 1.5-litre four-cylinder Vallelunga has just over 100PS (74kW) to shift its diminutive mass along. There’s a lot of the Vallelunga’s Giugiaro-penned style in the T.33 – its carefully tapered lines and hewn-out snout live on in the new GMA, as does the classic curvy silhouette and bluff rear end.

porsche-550-spyder-joe-05-2600.jpg
abarth-1000sp-joe-01-2-2600.jpg

One of the lightest cars in this line-up is still not the lightest. The Abarth 1000SP from 1968 weighs a scarcely believable 490kg. A full-on racer, it holds a firm place in Murray’s collection and affections, as a fan of 1960s sportscar racing. “I used to attend the Kyalami Nine Hour race every year where the latest Ferraris and Porsches were brought over from Europe. The 1000SP for me has shade of Ferrari 250 LM in its bodywork”. Likewise the Porsche 550 Spyder, a successful 1950s racer, pioneered a lightweight sports racing formula setting a template for some of the cars mentioned previously. “It’s another car I can remember loving from the first time I saw it”.

The Lamborghini Miura is in the grand scheme of things not a heavy car. In this company, though, it’s positively rotund. At 1,292kg it easily doubles the weight of a number of the cars mentioned here but its place in Murray’s affections is nonetheless safe because of its place in history, and its timeless design. “The Miura represents the beginning of the modern supercar – small, beautiful, mid-engined and V12-powered. It looks just as good today as it did in 1966”.

igm-ford-joe-03-2600.jpg

We said at the opening that these cars that inspired the T.33 weren’t designed by Gordon Murray’s hand. In the case of the IGM Ford T.1 and indeed the stunning red T.50 that’s sat next to it, this is not the case. The IGM was Murray’s first design – hence the T.1 name – weighing just 440kg and with just 90PS from its Ford 105E engine. He used it to go club racing in the 1960s. This was a taproot for Murray’s principle of finding performance through clever engineering and lightweighting, that is the backbone of what makes his supercars as special as they are.

These cars are an automotive mood board, that plainly shaped the sensibilities of one of motoring and motorsport’s all-time great designers. As above, the T.33 pays homage to the past, while being the beginning of the future of GMA. We can’t wait to see where it leads.

Photography by Joe Harding.

  • Gordon Murray Automotive

  • T.33

  • De Tomaso

  • Porsche

  • 904

  • Abarth

  • 1000SP

  • gma-t.33-gordon-murray-79th-members-meeting-main-15032022.jpg

    Members' Meeting

    See the GMA T.33 at 79MM

  • gms-t.33-spider.jpg

    News

    Video: Gordon Murray’s new T.33 Spider revealed

  • joe-t.33-debut31.jpg

    Members' Meeting

    Gallery: Gordon Murray T.33 supercar makes debut at 79MM