With two legendary names associated with one car, this will be epic.
Gordon Murray's T.50 has a singularity of purpose the likes of which not even the McLaren Speedtail can claim. As the true spiritual successor to the iconic McLaren F1, the T.50 is one of the most exciting new cars on the planet. With a glorious noise courtesy of a naturally aspirated V12 and a highly limited production run, it's something special. But Gordon Murray isn't the type of man to stop chasing perfection. Thus, he has unveiled this, the even rarer T.50s Niki Lauda. If that name doesn't tell you how special this car will be, nothing will. Sharing no body panels with the "regular" T.50, this is the sort of specially-produced, limited-edition racer we fully endorse.
Murray called the T.50 the "the ultimate roadgoing supercar." So why is there a new version of it? Well, the McLaren F1 designer says that he "always dreamed of taking it one step further... to build a version that will deliver an on-track driving experience like no other car in history." But this isn't just a modified version of the T.50; it's not a car that they decided to make to generate more income. Instead, this is a car that was always meant to be, not an afterthought, and there are benefits to this.
"When we created the McLaren F1 GTR, it was developed from the F1 road car. From its inception, the T.50s Niki Lauda, though, was designed in parallel with the T.50. For the T.50 our target was clear, to make the best driver's car for the road. With the T.50s Niki Lauda, it was equally clear, to make it the best driver's car for the track."
But Murray and the team are not chasing lap times with this car - it's only about sensation, and that sensation has to be attainable even if you're not an F1 driver. So what are we looking at, exactly?
The most obvious feature is the central fin, which bears a Niki Lauda logo and is designed to enhance stability. The T.50's fan is retained and is joined by an even larger rear diffuser and a new delta wing, while the rear grille features a stylized 'Fan Car' script and a T.50 badge. At the front of the car, barge boards improve airflow to the side ducts while a splitter and dive planes add to the aerodynamic properties.
Despite not sharing any panels with the road car, you can still tell that this is a car developed alongside the T.50. But if you want it to really stand out, a choice of colors and liveries will be offered so that no two cars of the 25-strong production run are alike.
Let's talk performance. Although similar, the engine in this is not the same as that in the T.50. The Cosworth 3.9-liter V12 is even more powerful, developing 701 horsepower at 11,500 rpm, on its way to a 12,100-rpm rev limit. At 178 hp/liter, it has a higher specific output than even the Cosworth DFV F1 engine, and with a power-to-weight ratio of 823 hp/tonne, it's even better than a naturally aspirated LMP1 car.
Furthermore, a newly-designed ram induction airbox on the roof can increase maximum power to a whopping 725 hp with 357 lb-ft of torque. Changes here include completely revised cylinder heads and camshafts, along with a higher compression ratio of 15:1. A bespoke Xtrac Instantaneous Gearshift six-speed paddle-shift gearbox handles the ratios.
The body panels are all made from carbon fiber, and even the windows use a lighter type of glazing. For better track performance, the springs, dampers, and anti-roll bar have all been revised while ride height has been lowered by 87 millimeters at the front and 116 mm at the rear. As part of the Trackspeed package, the T.50s Niki Lauda's chassis can be adjusted to suit the driver since both the chassis and aerodynamic settings are fully adjustable.
This package is included and offers engineering support and all required equipment from tools to refueling equipment to make the most of your track day. A revised steering ratio also helps with handling ability on the track, while Brembo carbon-ceramics handle stopping. New ducts around each wheel are also designed to improve brake cooling.
Inside, dihedral doors lift to expose the same central driving position as that of the T.50 with a full carbon fiber racing seat featuring a six-point harness. But only one passenger seat is provided, offset to the left of the driver and fitted with a four-point harness. This seat is optional, and that space on the right is now taken up by a fire extinguisher system. If you needed any more clues as to this car's track focus, the lightweight, rectangular steering wheel featuring only the essential controls should ram the point home. The displays are race-oriented too, offering engine data, aero info, a gearchange indicator, telemetry, lap times, tire pressures and temps, g-forces, and a camera video feed.
So there you have it. A truly special car with the singular focus of delivering track racing pleasure in its purest form. As a final nod to motorsport, each of the 25 examples will be named after a Gordon Murray Grand Prix win, with the first being named Kyalami 1974. The 24 other cars will follow the chronological order of Murray's wins and each car will come with a specially commissioned book about the race that it is named after.
Murray explains the car further: "The T.50s is named in honor of Niki to commemorate his famous win with the Brabham BT46B fan car in the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix. Niki was a great racing driver and he was also a good friend and it is absolutely fitting that we are launching the T.50s Niki Lauda on his birthday. The T.50s is inspired by my love of motorsport, so it seemed entirely fitting to create this special connection to iconic races from the past."
Customer cars will be built a year on from the regular T.50's production commencement in January 2023, after the run of regular T.50 models is complete, and each will bear a cost of £3.1 million ($4.3 million) before taxes. But to get behind the wheel of a car built solely to satisfy enthusiasts, we think it's worth the money.
"It was essential to me that the T.50s Niki Lauda is easy to live with and enjoy. You will own the car, you will be completely in control of where and when you enjoy it. My vision is that owners will take it to a circuit, check the tire pressures, climb in, fire it up and have fun. That's the way it should be."