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Watch the GMA T.50 Prove It’s a Worthy Successor to the McLaren F1

Improving on the McLaren F1 is an almost impossible job. But if anyone can do it, it's Gordon Murray.

How the hell do you improve on the McLaren F1? Gordon Murray’s central-seat masterpiece broke all sorts of performance records when it first debuted in 1992, but none of those broken records or magazine covers were the best part. Instead, what it became famous for was being the finest driving machine ever created, a title that it still arguably holds. Attempting to make something better isn’t an enviable task but, thankfully, Murray was mad enough to try it. What he created, the long-awaited GMA T.50, proves that it’s a worthy successor.

In Hagerty’s latest video, automotive journalist Henry Catchpole gets to do something I’m extremely jealous of: Drive the McLaren F1 and GMA T.50 back-to-back on a gorgeous, serpentine road.

Given that the T.50 is the spiritual successor to the F1, they’re naturally quite similar on paper. Both have mid-mounted, naturally aspirated V12s, both have manual transmissions, they’re within a few centimeters of each other in size, and both have central driving positions with three seats total. However, as Catchpole points out, when you get the two cars back-to-back on the road, they’re incredibly different machines.

When the McLaren F1 first debuted, it blew the car world away. Not only was it a stunning technical achievement thanks to its extraordinary lightweight design, extensive use of carbon fiber, and magnificent BMW-made engine, but it was the best thing anyone had ever driven. Being the perfectionist that he is, though, there were so many things Murray wanted to fix—and fix them he did.

Instead of the F1’s 6.1-liter, BMW-built V12, the T.50 uses a Cosworth-built, 3.9-liter V12 that makes 664 horsepower and revs to a spine-tingling 12,400 rpm. While the F1 sounds deep and growly, the T.50 shrieks through its rev range like a ’90s F1 car. Just listening to its engine through my laptop speakers sends chills down my spine. Catchpole must have been drunk on noise. Murray also improved the air conditioning, so it’s livable on a hot day. The T.50 has brakes that don’t squeal, better visibility, and headlights that illuminate more than a few feet.

Technically, almost everything the T.50 does is better than the F1. It’s lighter, more powerful, more comfortable, more capable, and even has more luggage space. Oftentimes, when car companies make a successor to their brilliant car that’s technically better in every way, it can lose the actual driving magic of the old one. But Gordon Murray Automotive isn’t just any other car company and the T.50 is no ordinary sports car. Despite having the unenviable task of trying to improve upon a legend, the T.50 seems to have done it. Catchpole is a self-proclaimed McLaren F1 fanboy (aren’t we all?) but he doesn’t hesitate to say that he’d choose the T.50 over the F1 if handed the keys to both. And judging by the ear-to-ear grin on his face and trembling voice as he drives it, I believe him.

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