On the 22nd of February 2021, the former legendary Formula 1 driver of yesteryear, Niki Lauda would have turned 72. The late three time World Champion and personality for the historically based movie Rush, has a legacy that lives on in the automotive world as Gordon Murray Automotive’s latest creation commemorates the decorated driver’s career.
The Durban-born Gordon Murray has easily cemented himself as one of the modern all time greats in automotive design – which should instill a sense of pride for us South Africans. With extensive experience in Formula 1 and an impressive CV working on some truly incredible machines (yeah, the Mclaren F1 is one of them), he decided to channel his talents into a creation that bears his own name. If you were under a rock during August of last year, you would be none the wiser that the Gordon Murray Automotive T.50 was released. In summary, the T.50 is a lightweight, 488kW V-12 powered, manual transmission supercars with a price tag north of £2.4m (before tax – not that it really matters if you can afford it). If you’re able to snag of the 100 built.
On Niki Lauda’s birth date, Gordon Murray tributed the next iteration of his personal masterpiece after him by giving it the name: the T.50s Niki Lauda. To add context into the naming convention, Lauda raced the Murray-designed Formula 1 challengers in the late 1970’s, including the iconic Brabham-Alfa Romeo BT46B (appropriately named the fan car because of the massive fan mounted to its rear cowling).
“The T.50s is named in honour of Niki to commemorate his famous win with the Brabham BT46B fan car in the 1978 Swedish GP,” said Murray. If you play spot-the-difference between the rear of the BT46B and the T.50, you will be hard pressed to find many – both iconically wearing Murray’s fan to aid ground effect.
With only 25 of these to be created, they will have a chassis plate with a story equally as romantic as their name. Each car produced will be designated after one of the Murray-designed F1 Brabham or Mclaren winning challengers. In other words, the first car to be completed: Chassis 1, will bear a chassis plate with the engravings of Kyalami 1974, crediting Murray’s first victory in Formula 1 when F1 driver Carlos Reutemann emerged victorious behind the wheel of the BT44.
If history isn’t what you came for then the numbers might be. To carry the weight of the Austrian born Ferrari and Mclaren-TAG champion requires a substantial justification, which the Gordon Murray Automotive T.50s Niki Lauda on paper should live up to. The power in the 3.9-litre, naturally-aspirated Cosworth V12 has been uprated to 540kW. Which is a lot – especially in a car that only weighs a measly 852kg. Power upgrades are thanks to higher compression ratio (15:1), new camshafts and revised cylinder heads with air being fed through a roof-mounted RAM induction box. This all helps the lightweight V12 reach a glorious 12 100rpm (just imagine the deafening sound with the factory straight piped exhaust). While the T.50 is manual, gearing in the Lauda is offered in a six-speed sequential paddle-shift with a choice in ratios getting the vehicle to approximately 330km/h or 275km/h with the short-ratio cogs.
If you thought the stock-standard T.50 came with a hefty price, take a seat because the T.50s Niki Lauda comes in with a whopping price of £3.1m. While both variants of the T.50 have been developed in tandem, the 25 Lauda’s won’t begin production until the last of the 100 road-going T.50’s roll off the production line in early 2023. There is hope that the Gordon Murray Automotive T.50s will compete in the World Endurance Series and not exclusively be reserved for opulent-climate controlled garages after Murray expressed interest in 2019.