The Gordon Murray T.50 Is Automotive Aural Bliss
This is the first car to actually live up to the old cliché of sounding like an old F1 car.
Gordon Murray’s T.50 supercar has felt like a long time coming, with tantalizing teases trickling out from the storied mind and brand behind the indomitable McLaren F1. Journalists haven’t quite driven them yet, not in an official capacity. But now the T.50 is complete enough that Dario Franchitti hit 175 mph on Top Gear’s legendary runway. And they recorded what that sounded like.
It’s a tired cliché amongst us auto writers that a given car sounds like an F1 car. And honestly, most of them don’t live up to that, save for the most special hardware. But there’s a unique tonality and pitch to a high-revving motorsport-grade engine that typical road car engines can’t achieve. Some come close, like the Ferrari F140 V12 in the 812 Superfast, but don’t have the revs to really hit that pitch shift above 9,000 rpm. The T.50’s 12,100 redline lets the engine breathe and truly scream like a ‘90s Ferrari F1 car.
Top Gear's video starts with the good stuff, a run all the way to the top of fifth gear where Jack Rix says he saw 175 mph indicated on the speedometer. Then Franchitti drives Rix and Ollie Marriage around the English countryside, and even opens the engine covers for a walk around. But the real star is just listening to how it sounds, revs, and shifts. The flywheel is clearly light, and shifts are aggressive, tight, and snappy.
The T.50's Cosworth V12 that crucial zone of revs that feels like it never ends. At 9,000 rpm, you’d think that surely Franchitti would shift up, but then the V12 that powers the T.50 just keeps soaring. It changes from what sounds like a Ferrari F140 to a completely different kind of anger. It’s a siren song, an otherworldly howl that is truly unique to precious few cars. It’s also completely different tonally from the low-revving but guttural induction of the McLaren F1.
It sounds like Murray has another icon on his hands. Much like the F1, the T.50 isn’t the most stunning design object. But with a sound like that, it will hopefully etch its scream into the brains of people everywhere, just like the S70/2 V12 in the F1 did for me as a kid. Folks, this is true peak internal combustion.
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