You almost pity any hypercar manufacturer trying to drum up excitement for its wares right now. Since Gordon Murray Automotive (GMA) revealed the T.50 in 2020, and then the T.33 in 2022, the idea of any supercar that doesn’t have a naturally-aspirated V12 and a manual gearbox just doesn’t really hit the spot in the same way.
Things are moving quickly with Gordon Murray’s pair of McLaren F1 follow-ups, and not just because one has a 641bhp, 12,000rpm V12, and the other a 592bhp, 11,100rpm V12 behind the driver. Because Murray himself has now signed off the three-seat T.50 for production, while the two-seat T.33 has gained an open-topped Spider variant.
GMA released a video to mark the occasion of the T.50’s sign-off, with development driver (and four-time Indycar champion) Dario Franchitti taking the car along to Murray’s home for the designer and engineer to assess.
Both are, perhaps unsurprisingly, pleased with how the car has turned out – not just as a performance machine, but as the video demonstrates, also a vehicle an owner could use every day, thanks to its compact size, tractability, good visibility, and other qualities you don’t necessarily associate with supercars.
What it doesn’t have is a gap above your head to let the world inside, but that’s where the T.33 Spider will come in.
The T.33 is effectively the T.50’s smaller, slightly less potent sibling, and doesn’t have the T.50’s prominent ground effect fan emerging from its rump or its three-seat cabin. But it’s arguably prettier as a result, with simpler lines and with the need to package only two seats, more ‘tumblehome’ to its glass area – the appealing effect of the glass leaning in towards the roofline when viewed from the front or rear, less perpendicular to the body’s sides.
Designed in parallel with the Coupe the Spider is actually unique from the A-pillar backwards. “From the very beginning I knew that one of the biggest challenges in designing the T.33 Spider would be keeping the purity, balance and overall beauty of the T.33,” says Murray. “That’s why I sketched both versions at the same time to make sure that the proportions would work”.
In place of the Coupe’s rear window the Spider has a flat deck with cooling louvres integrated into the engine cover, while the ram air intake sits atop bold buttresses. The design has been optimized to reduce both drag and buffeting when the cockpit is open and, like the Coupe, the T.33 Spider also benefits from a so-called Passive Boundary Layer Control system which makes use of ground effect to create downforce without drag through ingenious management of airflow.
The T.33’s ram-air roof scoop – attached to the engine, rather than the body – remains in place, so with the roof off, induction noise should be quite something.
The Spider is built on Murray’s iStream carbon monocoque and his obsession with weight saving means that the Spider tips the scales at 1110lh – only 18kg more than the Coupe. The driver-focused cockpit is essentially the same, with a combination of analogue and digital instrumentation, and tactile aluminium switchgear. Spider buyers get a body-colored rear bulkhead which brings the outside into the cabin.
Unadulterated driving is the name of the game, so the T.33 Spider is fitted with double wishbones all round, and the rear suspension is mounted directly to the transmission casing. Electro-hydraulic power steering is installed which uses an electric pump to provide assistance when required rather than sapping power from the engine. Carbon ceramic brakes with six-piston callipers at the front and four-piston units at the rear deliver exceptional stopping performance.
Just 100 examples of the £2 million, T.33 Spider will be hand built at Murray’s new HQ in Windlesham, UK and every one will be personalised to its owner’s wishes.
One thing is for sure: in an age of turbo-V6-hybrid and EV supercars, this is something of a last hurrah for the combustion-powered breed.
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