The current darling of the automotive world is the GMA T.50. Could it ever be anything else? It’s Gordon Murray’s latest project and anything he puts his name on instantly becomes the stuff of legend. After all, he is the mastermind behind the greatest supercar ever made, the McLaren F1. As you may already know, for the F1’s V12 engine, Murray partnered with BMW M and another automotive legend in Paul Rosche. What you might not already know is that the two were originally going to continue working together after the F1.
In the most recent episode of the Collecting Cars Podcast with Chris Harris, Gordon Murray joined to talk about everything; the new T.50, his life in Formula One, the McLaren F1 and all sorts of other great stories sprinkled in between. It’s a fantastic episode and one you should go and have a listen to. It’s long but absolutely fascinating.
At one point in the episode, Harris asks Murray about the Mercedes McLaren SLR, a car that Murray actually designed but didn’t end up putting his name on, as it wasn’t really the car he wanted to make. However, the origin of that story actually starts out at BMW.
Following the mega media success that was the McLaren F1, BMW was extremely eager to work with Gordon Murray and McLaren Cars yet again. Considering that Murray was the 20-percent shareholder of McLaren Cars at the time (which was a separate entity from the McLaren F1 team) and ran the company, he started designing two new sports cars with BMW engines, cars that would have been far more affordable than the F1 and sold in much higher volumes.
However, at the last second, McLaren signed a deal with Mercedes-Benz to develop Formula One engines and, despite the F1 side and road-car side of McLaren being separate entities, BMW wanted nothing to do with the company after that. So the two cars that Murray had already designed and had ready to go were lost to history.
Following that messy deal between McLaren, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Gordon Murray ended up designing the SLR, a car that was monstrously fast but not the sports car he wanted to build. He wanted to build lightweight, simple sports cars and had two in the barrel, ready to go, with BMW but the entire world missed out on what those cars could have been due to business deals gone sour.
Obviously, Murray tells the story in fantastic detail and I’ve intentionally left some bits out so you can go and listen to it. The entire episode is worth listening to, as it’s packed to the brim with fascinating stories and interesting bits of info about Murray’s life. The part about the two BMWs that never were starts at the 50:47 mark but if you want to listen to the entire episode, there’s a link below.