14.06.20 Liveryman John Kendall

GMA T.50 Lightweight Supercar

Last year, Gordon Murray Automotive (GMA) announced details of its plan to create the world’s lightest, most driver-focused supercar. With a total vehicle weight of just 980kg, the GMA team undercut the typical supercar (approx. 1,436kg – calculated using information from Autocar magazine’s 10 best supercars 2020) by almost a third. To achieve this, the team chose not to present a stripped-back track vehicle, but to deliver a car that is comfortable, practical and drivable every day.

Commenting on his ‘every component counts’ approach to ‘lightweighting’, Professor Murray said: “Designing a lightweight sports car does not come from specifying exotic materials alone, it comes from a state of mind, from absolute focus and control, and from a deep understanding of lightweight, optimised design.”

Weight-to-power, not power-to-weight

In the T.50, every 100hp only has to propel 150kg of car, whereas for the typical supercar (1,436kg with 684hp) the weight it has to propel is 210kg. It is this weight-to-power calculation that drives the development of the T.50, with every component designed and engineered to achieve the lowest starting weight.
Powered by a 650hp V12 engine, the T.50 sets a challenging benchmark for rival supercars. To match the T.50’s 663hp/ton, the typical 1,436kg supercar would need an additional 300hp. The 950hp required to match the T.50 on paper would add cost, complexity, and require larger, heavier components (tyres, drivelines, transmission, brakes, etc.) to handle the extra power.

Every component counts

With a compact footprint of just 4,380mm long and 1,850mm wide, the T.50 is smaller than a Porsche 911 but offers comfortable space for three passengers and luggage. Its fully carbon fibre monocoque and body panels weigh less than 150kg in total. Inside, the three racing-inspired seats are also constructed using carbon fibre. The centrally-positioned driver’s seat weighs less than 7kg, while the passenger seats that flank it to the rear each achieve a weight that is under 3kg.

The T.50 is equipped with a naturally-aspirated V12 engine, the world’s highest revving road car engine (12,100rpm), which produces 650bhp. Through exacting standards, innovative engineering and the expertise of Cosworth Powertrain engineers, the weight of the GMA 4-litre unit is less than 180kg. This makes it the lightest road-going V12 ever made and more than 60kg lighter than the BMW S70/2 V12 in the McLaren F1 – while generating more power.

To minimise weight at every stage of development, GMA’s senior design and engineering teams hold a weekly ‘weight watchers’ meeting to review the weight of the car and its components. Monitoring the weight of every part, down to nuts, bolts and washers, the team keeps close checks during every stage of the development process.

This method has seen countless designs, revisions, trials and refinements of components large and small. Highlighting the team’s fanatical mindset around minimising weight is the approach the engineers took to specifying the car’s fixings (nuts, bolts, screws, etc). On many cars, these fixings are generic and far larger than they need to be. For the T.50, the diameter and length of each fixing (around 900 in total) was optimised by calculating the forces to which each would be exposed.

For the Gordon Murray Automotive team, no saving in weight is considered insignificant. For example, the pedal box is 300g lighter than the F1’s and the glazing is 28% thinner than usual while remaining a strong structural component.

Build of the first T.50 prototype will be in September this year, with the first T.50 deliveries made to customers, on time, in January 2022.