WORDS BY ROB HANSFORD | IMAGES BY PHD PHOTO
Earlier this month, at Goodwood’s 79th Members’ Meeting, Formula 1 icon Gordon Murray unveiled his second road car, when he pulled the covers off the all-new T.33.
I know what you’re thinking. What is a motorsport publication running a story on a road car? But bear with me. The T.33 may well have only been designed to run on the road, but the world of motorsport is completely entangled in the DNA of this beautiful machine.
Every F1 buff will know Gordon Murray as the designer that introduced the world to the legendary fan car. The Brabham BT46B is an iconic car, but only ever managed to grace the racetrack in a competitive manner once.
The car was almost immediately outlawed in 1978, with the fan attached to the rear of the car helping generate so much downforce that others simply couldn’t keep up.
But while the fan was confined to the history books almost immediately, the philosophy lives on in the GMA T.50 and now the T.33.
“When I left Formula 1, we were so tight on regulations and suddenly with road cars you can do anything you like. So when I did the McLaren F1, I thought right, I’ll have a fan assisted aero on the F1,” Murray explained to The Pit Stop.
“It’s got two small fans that help with ground effect, and it worked quite well but it only gave us about 5% more downforce than a standard ground effect car.
“So I banked that idea and thought one day, we’ll have a bigger fan, we'll use the whole diffuser and that’s of course what 50 is.”
"THE SPORTS RACING CARS IN THE ’60s I THOUGHT WERE SOME OF THE PRETTIEST EVER AND STILL ARE"
The T.33 carries the same philosophy in regards to the fan technology and this has been coupled with a design influence from the 1960s. And while it is similar in vein to it’s big sister, the T.50, there’s still plenty of differences.
Of course, plenty of road cars influenced Murray’s design of the T33, but he also looked towards the world of sportscar racing for influence.
“I grew up watching racing in the ’60s, and the sports racing cars in the ’60s I thought were some of the prettiest ever and still are,” he said.
“Not just the Ferraris, but the little Abarth’s and things like this, and they influenced me a lot.”
“The T.33 is a very different motor car, completely different architecture and different suspension.
“It only has four carryover components, so physically it’s very different from 50. But the ethos of the driving experience and the lightweighting and the high level of engineering has all been directly carried over.
“We have seven principles we run GMA by and those seven principles apply to every single car we build.”
Murray had the fortune of immersing himself in the world of F1 when eardrums were regularly blown by the deafening V12 engine screams. Brutal engines that not only packed plenty of punch, but did it with one the most evocative noises.
It was a period he loved working in, and therefore it’s no surprise that an all-new V12 engine has been built purely for the T33.
“I said to everybody, if we do another F1, it has to be normally aspirated and it has to be V12.If it’s not, I’m not interested in doing the car.
“Honestly, that was the starting point. But to do a brand new V12 in the face of the onslaught of electric vehicles is quite a big decision.”
For now, there’s no plans for the T.33 to be raced in anger, but if the opportunity arises, Murray would be all for it, sighting an SRO based championship as the most likely destination for his cars.
“Four or five years ago, the ACO promised us a supercar category and of course, Aston Martin got all excited with the Valkyrie, and we got all excited with the T.50, but when the regulations appeared for their hypercars, it’s nothing to do with road cars. So that was a disappointment.
“But we are working with Stephane Ratel who's runs most of the world’s GT championships and he’s got a longer term plan for genuine GT car racing again.
“A bit like BPR in the ‘90s where we competed with the F1 against F40s and things like that.
“So we are keeping in touch with Stephan and it would be lovely to do a little competition version of 33 for example. It would be a perfect little motor car.”
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