Developing a two-pedal setup would have cost a fortune. Thankfully, only a handful of buyers were interested.
Following the reveal of the GMA T.33 Spider, Gordon Murray has revealed why that car is available exclusively with a manual gearbox and why its coupe sibling will no longer be getting the option of an automatic transmission as was initially promised: because it would have been ridiculously expensive and not enough buyers actually wanted one.
The below video from Top Gear explains that the original decision to offer an automatic transmission of some sort seemed to be the right one at the beginning because Murray felt the lineup needed a broader audience; perhaps worried that people might view the T.50 and T.33 in the same light and therefore be unenthused by the prospect of a manual gearbox. But as it turned out, the vast majority of buyers were only interested in three pedals. Those adamant they needed an automatic only said so because they simply could not operate a manual due to "leg problems" (injury, disability, et cetera).
"I have to take 100% of the blame," says Murray. "I just thought, [there are] three variants of this car, of this platform. That's 300 cars. You know, T.50 is a completely different story. That's our halo car, will always be our halo car. And that had to be as extreme as we could get [...] and that was never gonna be anything but manual. But when I came to think about 300 cars - three 'one-hundred' variants, if you like - I thought we'd better just [...] appeal to a wider audience, and we'd better do a paddle shift box. And we got a few million quid down developing it, and of course, the economics of that... You don't need to be a mathematician. If only three people order one, and it's gonna cost you three million quid, it's a million-pound option."
Murray explains that the team even had a now-discontinued Lotus Evora fitted with the experimental paddle shift 'box, but it just wasn't worth pursuing any further.
Thankfully, only "two or three" people wanted the automatic, and of those, two of them only wanted it because they had problems with their clutch legs. Everyone was very understanding, and those who did not want a manual had their deposits refunded.
When speaking with Harry Metcalfe of Harry's Garage in the below video, we also learn that the color seen in the reveal photos was apparently inspired by "a photograph of a kingfisher" and that the windscreen design seen here will change slightly to create a larger roof opening, which Murray says will make the car look slightly better too.
As for pricing, Murray explains that the reason the T.33 Spider costs £1.89 million (approximately $2.4 million) - up from £1.37 million/$1.8 million for the coupe - is that the cost of raw materials and parts has increased by some 40% since the coupe was announced.
Other interesting tidbits revealed include that the GMA T.50s Niki Lauda is too light for Le Mans, with a curb weight of just 852 kilograms (1,878 lbs). Most LMP1 cars tip the scales around 1,100 kg/2,425 lbs. With the addition of a hybrid system, the car could probably make up that difference without much ballast, but that would be an entirely new development program. However, GMA is involved with a smaller GT-like supercar program that may someday pit the T.50s against the likes of Aston Martin's Valkyrie. Fingers crossed...
GMA has always said from the beginning that the T.33 platform would spawn three variants, and as expected, the third T.33 will be a "more focused" take on the existing supercar. It will still be usable on the street, unlike the T.50s Niki Lauda, but it will be more compromised toward performance. If the first three GMA cars are anything to go by, a hardcore T.33 will surely reset the bar again, and if it takes the unit from the T.50s, perhaps this version of the T.33 will have just two pedals.
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