In an age where autonomous cars and electric vehicles are dominating headlines, it's good to see that someone wants to stick with tradition. It just so happens that this "someone" is Gordon Murray, the man behind the McLaren F1 and a number of world-renowned Formula 1 cars. He has some pretty lofty goals for his upcoming T.50 supercar - of which only 100 will be made - and even the broad strokes are left-field enough to raise some eyebrows.
The supercar in question will be powered by a Cosworth developed and built 3.9-litre V12 engine that revs to 12,100 rpm, to produce 650 hp and 450 Nm of torque. These figures aren't revolutionary by today's standards, but the T.50 is set to weigh just 980 kg, which will give it a pretty phenomenal power to weight ratio. Power will be sent to the rear wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox, to the joy of enthusiasts. It will even have a 400 mm fan at the rear to assist with downforce - a nod to the Formula 1 fan cars that were banned for being too quick.
While this sounds like a purist's dreams come true, one wonders how realistic these ambitions are. It won't be packaged which a hybrid system, which in turn helps to keep the weight down as well without the dead weight of batteries and motors. But that in itself can pose a very significant problem when it comes to driveability: anyone who has ridden a superbike or driven a car with a very high revving engine knows that low speed maneuvering can be jerky and difficult.
Compound that with the fact that the T.50 is packaged with a manual gearbox and you run into more problems. It's easy to puff your chest out and say "a real driver can handle it", but there is a reason real racecars are awful to drive on the road. The closest rival to the T.50 would be the Aston Martin Valkyrie, but that hypercar is packaged with a hybrid system where the electric motors can handle the crawling and start-stop nature of real world road conditions.
The weight itself also raises questions. 980 kilograms would require an incredibly light chassis, and McLaren is already known for their carbon-fibre tubs but even their kerb weights sit around the 1300 kg mark or more without hybrid gear. Even the featherweight Lotus Exige V6 with its bare bones interior and bonded aluminium chassis sits at 1,110 kg. One wonders how exactly Gordon Murray plans to make the T.50 so light, let alone packaging it with all the creature comforts of a modern car.
With the car still in the early phases of development and due for deliveries in 2022, there is still time for Gordon Murray to figure out all of these engineering problems. There's no doubt that the man is a visionary, but people speak of Elon Musk in the same vein and he has been known to overpromise and underdeliver at times. Expect pricing to be in excess of 2 million GBP (RM 10.5 million), and units will be snapped up before the covers are pulled off the launch car.