The GMA T.50s is a track-only monster

22nd February 2021
Bob Murray

As sure as night follows day, Gordon Murray is following up his T.50 supercar, unveiled only last summer, with a track variant. The last time he did that his car then, the McLaren F1, took outright honours at Le Mans on its debut. This time round the Gordon Murray Automotive model revealed today as the T.50s Niki Lauda is more about giving amateur drivers “an on-track experience like no other car in history”.


Lofty ambitions then and coming from anyone but the esteemed engineering professor and legendary race car designer they could be seen as hyperbole. After all, no one has even been allowed behind the wheel of the roadgoing T.50 yet. But first things first, and what’s Niki Lauda got to do with it?

The clue is in another part of this car’s nomenclature: in script on its rump is the word ‘Fancar’. Prof Murray has done one of those before – the Brabham BT46B fancar that Niki Lauda drove to victory in the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix.

“The T.50s is named in honour of Niki to commemorate his famous win,” Gordon tells us, adding that debut day today (22nd February) was chosen because it would have been the late three-times F1 world champion’s birthday. The Lauda family says that Niki “would have been extremely honoured” by having the car named after him.

The roadgoing T.50 is also built around a ground-effect fan, but for the ‘s’ version the giant extractor at the rear of the car – in layman’s terms, sucking the car down to the tarmac – has been cranked up to max. As has the rest of the machine, although as Murray points out it has all been achieved with some restraint:

“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.”

Just as well then the T.50s Niki Lauda boasts “only” 1,500kg of downforce! It could have been as high as 1,900kg, but they backed off to keep things “manageable”.


The new aero goes with less weight and more power than the already exceptionally light and powerful T.50. Weight is down to 852kg and power from the normally-aspirated V12 is quoted as 715PS (725bhp or 526kW). The power to weight ratio is 825 horsepower per tonne which is said to best that of a naturally-aspirated LMP1 car and will allow the car to “change direction like an F1 car”.

Obviously, then, a car for mere mortals to routinely push to its high limits. That actually is not so far from Murray’s concept for it: “My vision is that owners will take it to a circuit, check the tyre pressures, climb in, fire it up and have fun. That’s the way it should be. In my view that’s driving in its purest form.”

Typically, performance figures are not quoted; the company has never made acceleration claims for the road version either, just saying it is fast enough. The T.50s Niki Lauda will clearly be faster; “searingly quick” they say. Only one figure is quoted: top speed, gear-ratio dependant, can vary between 170mph at somewhere like Brands Hatch, to a much longer-legged 210mph at, say, Le Mans.

Optimising the T.50 for track use has involved changes to more or less everything, while retaining T.50 USPs: the central driving position, glassy cabin, balanced proportions and, to our eyes, the exceptional good looks. In fact all the carbon-fibre body panels are different, and the aero that delivers such astonishing cornering downforce is all new.


Along with familiar aero elements – splitter, dive planes, NACA ducts, sculpted bargeboards and huge rear diffuser – are two that really set the car apart. One is the central fin, running from roof to rear lip, to increase yaw stability, and the other is the delta rear wing. It’s 1,758mm-wide and inspired, says Murray, by the front wing of another of his F1 cars, the 1983 Brabham BT52.

A lot of the really clever ground-effect aero you can’t see of course, just the 400mm fan outlet dominating the car’s rear. It’s the same fan as the T.50 uses, but it runs constantly in high downforce mode, spinning at 7,000rpm. Like the chassis, the T.50s’s aerodynamics are adjustable.

The engine is still the Cosworth-designed 3.9-litre V12 but with plenty of changes. They include revised cylinder heads and camshafts, a higher compression ratio of 15:1 and a straight-through exhaust with no catalytic converters and smaller silencers. It should sound awesome. There’s no turbo of course.


At 162kg, the V12 is 16kg lighter than the T.50 engine thanks to titanium valves and the ditching of the variable valve timing. Power is 711PS but this can be boosted to a max of 715PS thanks to a redesigned ram-air induction airbox on the roof. Peak power is therefore 52PS more than the road car offers, still at 11,500rpm. The redline stays at 12,100rpm and torque is marginally up, at 485Nm (359lb ft) at a heady 9000rpm.

The old school in Gordon Murray insisted on a manual gearbox for the road car but the track version understandably gets a ix-speed paddle-shift unit, still sending power to a Salisbury mechanical limited slip diff. The bespoke Xtrac IGS (instantaneous gearshift) saves 5kg in weight.

Few are better at saving weight than Murray, who says he used to make his F1 drivers take their watches off before a race to save some grams. Body panels, engine, gearbox, magnesium wheels (an almost unbelievably light 6kg each), thinner glazing, pared-back interior and a whole lot more that probably only Murray knows about all contribute to that 852kg total, 134kg less than the road car.


Steering and carbon-ceramic disc brakes of the T.50 are carried over to the T.50s, as is the double wishbone suspension, suitably recalibrated. Those ultra-light centre-lock 18-inch wheels are wrapped with Michelin slicks.

At the car’s heart is the same carbon-fibre monocoque structure with its carbon and aluminium honeycomb core. The passenger safety cell offers the same room, ergonomics and view out as the T.50, claims the company, and of course it still has Murray’s trademark central driving position. But the T.50s Niki Lauda is no longer a three-seater. The space to the right of the driver is taken up by a fire extinguisher system and, in a nod to the F1 GTR, a chunky switch panel.


The driver gets a full racing carbon-fibre seat, with fore and aft adjustment and six-point harness. Ahead is a single digital screen (showing vehicle, engine and aero data along with a video feed) and a rectangular carbon-fibre steering wheel. The only knobs on the wheel are for traction and launch control, radio and to select neutral.

Murray says it has all been designed, engineered and developed in parallel with the road car, in marked contrast to the F1 GTR of 30 years ago which was something of an afterthought, albeit a Le Mans-winning one.


Alas Murray’s first serious track car since the F1 GTR is unlikely to be in a position to win Le Mans again. This is a track car but not, at this stage, a race car, though Murray says he is looking into backing a future supercar race series. A Trackspeed package comprises what’s needed for track day driving: pit tools, refuelling equipment and engineering support.

Price? £3.1m (before taxes). There will be just 25 of them, each themed after one of Gordon Murray’s F1 race wins and all with different, individually specified liveries. Production in Dunsfold, Surrey, will start two years from now after the 100 T.50 supercars are completed.

With such a price tag and rarity, the T.50s Niki Lauda takes its place in the track car stratosphere. But we trust that the 25 owners, like owners of the F1 GTR before it, will delight in demonstrating it to the rest of us. You never know, maybe we’ll be in for “an on-track experience like no other in history”.

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