McLaren genius joins supercar project

Published: 11 August 2006

Gordon Murray – the engineer behind the 240mph McLaren F1 – is now working on a racer that could dethrone the F1 as the ultimate lightweight supercar.

Murray has joined forces with former colleagues from McLaren Cars who left to create the Caparo T1, a highly focused, ultra-lightweight sports car. Murray becomes director of advanced concepts at Caparo Vehicle Products. The move will add even more credibility to the high-flying T1 project. The stripped-out, Formula 1 car for the road is constructed from composite materials to keep weight down. The target is to create a staggering power-to-weight ratio of 1000bhp per tonne, double the ratio of Bugatti's 252mph Veyron, the world's fastest car. With 480bhp from a rear/mid-mounted V8 engine, the two-seater should crack the 0-62mph sprint in 2.5sec, and slingshot past 100mph in a breath-taking 5.0sec. Ground-breaking aerodynamics should allow cornering at extreme speeds, which should make the T1 the ultimate trackday tool – although it's road-legal too.

But Murray hasn't joined the £725m Caparo Group only to work on the T1. He is evangelical about extending the use of lightweight technologies in mainstream cars, to reduce fuel consumption. The T1 is a test-bed to prove Caparo's expertise in this field, as the company seeks to extend its business as a supplier to major car makers. 'The biggest challenge facing the automotive industry today is the need to improve fuel economy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions,' said Murray. 'The only way of tackling this issue is through major weight reduction. In all other areas of the vehicle, including powertrain, the efficiency gains will be quite small. That's why I'm excited by this project.' At Caparo, Smart-fan Murray will also step up his long-held ambition of creating a lightweight city car, to revolutionise urban transport.

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine

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