The designer of the new TVR and McLaren F1 is starting his own supercar company
Twenty five years after his McLaren F1 first saw the light of day the world is about to get a new supercar from road and racing legend Gordon Murray.
After a career racing, designing and, more than once, reinventing cars for others, Murray is going to make them himself, and the name on the bonnet will be his own. This week Britain’s most eminent automotive polymath launches his own car company, Gordon Murray Automotive.
And his first car will be? He says: “We will demonstrate a return to the design and engineering principles that have made the McLaren F1 such an icon.”
It will be a “flagship” model built at Murray Design HQ in Shalford, Surrey, as a limited-run special using Murray’s patented carbon honeycomb construction system, iStream.
Little more is known at this stage, but expect a large, heavy, hybrid, all-wheel drive hypercar and you are certain to be disappointed. Murray has in the past been forthright in his criticism of the latest high performance cars, seeing simplicity, compact dimensions and light weight – attributes epitomised by the F1 of 1992 – as the antidote to cars like the McLaren P1, Porsche 918 Spyder and LaFerrari.
Three years ago he told GRR: “Cars like this have gone in a completely different direction from the F1. I am not saying the P1 is not a good car but it is 180 degrees away from what the McLaren F1 set out to do.
“With bigger and heavier cars we are heading into oblivion. Finding more and more power can’t go on for ever. The big frontier is weight.”
When we asked him what he most wanted to design next he told us: “I have a hankering to do one more supercar, and I wouldn’t have unless these one-and-a-half-tonne hybrid monsters hadn’t come out. But now there’s a point to be proven: that you can still do a great driver’s car with an internal combustion engine and pure engineering.”
For a clue to his thinking you have only to look at his own collection: as well as an F1 he has a Lotus XI, Lotus Elan, Frogeye Sprite, Light Car Company Rocket, Fiat 500 and the Smart Roadster in which he has driven to work for many years.
We will know more about his new machine on Friday November 3rd at an exhibition of around 40 Murray-designed competition and road cars assembled at Shalford to mark 50 years of Gordon Murray car design.
The exhibition, which is not open to the public, is said to showcase familiar milestone cars – such as the F1, the Le Mans-winning F1 GTR and Formula 1 championship winners for Brabham and McLaren – along with designs not before seen.
In 10 years of Gordon Murray Design he has masterminded most things automotive for clients, including sportscars, city cars, electric cars, off-road trucks, luxury cars and, most recently, the new Griffith for a reborn TVR company, all based around his disruptive iStream manufacturing process.
Also sure to be on show will be his first car, the IGM (for Ian Gordon Murray) Special clubman racer that he built, from scratch, in South Africa as a student in the mid 1960s. A replica of that first car made its debut at the Festival of Speed in 2017.
We asked him then what his favourite car was of the ones he has worked on: “The IGM Special is the most fun but I am most proud of the F1 GTR – to win Le Mans first time out with a GT car was a bit special.”
The cars assembled for his one-man retrospective will certainly show one of the most diverse motor industry careers ever, one that in terms of success on both road and track mirrors that of greats like Mercedes’ Rudi Uhlenhaut and Lotus’s Colin Chapman.
Now, after 50 years, is he about to stun us again?