Welcome to the Hooniverse News! As always, this is a weekly recap of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. This week: Gordon Murray debuts the true McLaren F1 successor with a modern engineering marvel and I write a lot of words about it, Mazda gives some additional info on the Mazda3 2.5 Turbo including its price, Cadillac debuts first all-electric crossover with plans for production and a really dumb name, a car guy will soon be at the reigns of Ford again, and your news for the week.
Gordon Murray Automotive T.50
You’d be forgiven for looking at the lede image and rolling your eyes so hard that it hurt. “Another stupid supercar”, you’re probably saying to yourselves as you grab another drink to ease your headache. “We just got two new Twitch streamer edition Lamborghinis last week and we still haven’t recovered”, you say as the light inside you slowly diminishes once more. Trust me though, this one is different and it has everything to do with the man whose name is on it.
Gordon Fucking Murray. I actually don’t know his middle name but it’s appropriate here, because the absolute legend of supercar and motorsports design has done it again. The man behind many of the most successful F1 cars from Brabham and McLaren, including the legendary MP4/3, 4/4/ and 4/5, and that record-breaking McLaren F1 road car you may have heard of – that guy. He’s back. As has long been promised, he’s introduced a home-grown project that aims to be the one true successor of the McLaren F1. It’s a breath of fresh air in a crowded world of hypercars that’s become dull and uninteresting. Hypercars are all about numbers today, but they’re the wrong kinds of numbers. The numbers behind the T.50 are the right kind of numbers. I’ll explain.
Numbers that matter
Two very noticeable numbers were left out of the T.50’s debut: its 0-60 time and top speed. Surely any limited run, multi-million-dollar hypercar needs the best top speed to sell. But not GFM. The T.50 is not a car that’s aiming to be the hardest-accelerating or the fastest, it’s aiming to be the best experience. Plenty of cars have beaten the records set by his crown jewel, the F1, but they’ve all done so while being infinitely more complex. GFM was determined from the get go to prove that pure, simple, and maybe call it old school engineering could still build a better, more exciting car. While other manufacturers turned to turbochargers and hybrid power to make their cars faster with raw power, GFM is doing it the other way. One could argue the correct way.
This car is a true featherweight that tips the scales at an unbelievable 2,173 pounds. That’s up to ~200 pounds lighter than a current Miata, depending on the Mazda’s specification. Extensive work was done to cut weight through meticulous engineering, but their work was made slightly easier by choosing to just not make the car that big. Truly a groundbreaking idea. Our friend and former motorsports editor Bradley Brownell noted that it’s got a smaller footprint than the Porsche 911 in his excellent writeup on Jalopnik. It is 171.3 inches long, 72.8 inches wide, and 45.8 inches tall.
The battle against weight even rages on in the engine, which is claimed to be the lightest engine in any road car. And it’s a great one too. Cosworth developed a naturally-aspirated four-liter V12 exclusively for the T.50 with its needs for weight reduction and driver engagement in mind. It produces up to 690 horsepower and revs to 12,100 RPM. It’s responsive enough to rev from idle to redline in three tenths of a second and produces a great sound while doing so. In total this V12 weighs just 392 pounds, which is less than the weight limit on some of those two-person inflatable towables you see spreading coronavirus on the lake. Imagine a V12 riding on in inflatable tube and not popping it. That’s how light this thing is.
Built to be a driver’s car
Its lightness and naturally-aspirated V12 are enough to make any driving enthusiast weak at the knees, but there’s more to it than that. The gearbox and the lengths GFM went to in order to make it fun to drive truly set it apart from the rest of the world’s hypercars.
While Bradley was interviewing GFM (which you should also read), he noted that the car was never going to use an advanced dual clutch gearbox but rather a hardcore sequential manual setup. However, the buyers that lined up after the project was formally announced begged him to go with an old school H-pattern. GFM happily obliged, and here we are. A high-revving, ultra responsive V12 and an H-pattern with nothing synthetic to get in the way.
But the passionate focus on driver engagement goes beyond that and begins with GFM’s team taking apart his personal Alpine A110. GFM told Jalopnik the A110 “gets all the basics right” and would serve as an excellent starting point when building a true driver’s car. And as we’ve seen countless times in this industry, things are better when they’re built for a singular purpose right from the get go.
Pure mechanical grip only gets you so far though. Something with this kind of power also needs downforce for it to be faster around corners and stable enough that drivers will actually want to push limits on a track. There is no giant wing on this car – just a fan, two small aero wedges at the rear that can deploy and retract, and adjustable diffuser ducts. That fan is definitely the first thing you notice at the rear though, but it isn’t just for show.
According Brownell again, GFM for his part wanted the fan to be contained entirely within the engine bay to reproduce the same bit of magic that he did with the McLaren F1. To combat underbelly aero wash that would ruin the effectiveness of the rear diffuser, the F1 had two fans integrated in the engine cover that would pull the air where it needed to go in order to mitigate that effect. That same tactic is in play here but it’s far more advanced than even the famed Brabham BT46 “Fan Car” was. It was only going to work to the extent they needed with the fan being as large as it is, thus forcing GFM to extend it outside the car a little bit. But the benefits are substantial.
Combined with the two small aero wedges on either side of the fan and some flaps tucked in the diffuser, they can precisely control airflow going over and under the back of the car. In its most streamlined configuration, the wedges are stowed, the fan spins up to its maximum speed of 7,000 RPM, and they stall the rear diffuser to remove as much drag from the car as possible. Expect a big number on the speedo with that mode enabled. Going to the other end of the spectrum, it can also use those tools to increase downforce on demand and double the amount of downforce on the car under braking.
Fun fact: the fan generates 33 pounds of thrust at its max speed.
The true F1 successor
One of the things that makes the McLaren F1 such a legend is that its achievements and its design still hold up today. It’s a car that is so coveted that not even Rowan Atkinson’s driving can total one. That’s led today’s McLaren to come up with more than one “F1 successor”. The mighty McLaren P1 was a “spiritual successor” of sorts and the recent Speedtail was constantly referred to one as well because it was going for the F1’s speed record and it had three seats. This week though, Gordon Fucking Murray proved that he and only he (and his team of extremely talented engineers and enthusiastic partners and suppliers) can claim that title.
Yes, it has a central driving position and it even sort of looks like a modern day take on the F1’s absolutely timeless styling. But it’s the way the car was designed and built with the kind of ingenuity you only get from designing championship Formula 1 cars that makes it the truest of McLaren F1 successors out there. The McLaren Speedtail needed an elongated, almost longtail-like body, an added electric motor, and 437 more horsepower to beat the F1’s speed record from 1998. And they only beat it by 10 mph.
While we don’t know what the T.50 will do in that regard, don’t be shocked if you see it beat both of them. However it could still be one of the most memorable and beloved supercars of the modern era even if it doesn’t break a single speed record. Cars this pure are a dying breed in general, even more so when you get to this level of performance where everything has to be about 0-60, how fast the gear changes are, and how it looks with a wrap and HRE wheels.
This may be one of the last great supercars we ever get in the internal combustion era. I don’t think it could possibly end with a better swan song than this.
[Source: Gordon Murray Automotive on YouTube and Jalopnik– many thanks to Bradley Brownell for providing a wealth of knowledge on this car – be sure to check out his interview with Gordon Murray here]
2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo
Now let’s change gears and talk about something you and I have any hope of owning some day. Mazda recently confirmed that the Mazda3 was finally getting a turbo variant again but didn’t go into many specifics. We knew it would be a sportier, more premium model that wouldn’t quite be a modern Mazdaspeed 3 but still offer plenty of performance. But now we have a few more crucial details to help us make an informed decision as to how much we should like it.
A lot. The answer is a lot. As implied by the name of the trim, the Mazda3 2.5 Turbo is equipped with a peppy 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It delivers 250 horsepower and 320 lb.-ft. of torque to all four wheels through a standard i-Activ AWD system. It’s not been confirmed what transmission we’ll get, partly because Mazda still hasn’t provided us with an interior shot of the damn thing. But with it being AWD and marketed as a more premium offering, it’s looking very likely that an automatic is the only one available. Again, not sure if it’s a snappy dual clutch or a recalibrated slush box. They still haven’t clarified. They did mention though that you’ll have two aero kits to pick from. One features the standard front air dam and roof spoiler while an upgraded version adds a rear diffuser and side sill extensions.
The Mazda3 2.5 Turbo will let you live out all your premium compact sports car fantasies, such as looking cool while walking away from it
Pricing for the Mazda3 2.5 Turbo sedan will start at $29,900 but can quickly jump to $32,450 by equipping the more luxuriously-appointed Premium Plus package. Hatchback prices start at $30,900 and $33,750 respectively. Comparing those prices to the totally standard Mazda3’s $20,500 MSRP gives you an idea of how much further ahead they’re placing this car in their lineup. That’s not even including the optional 18″ BBS forged wheels, which they charge $918.95 per wheel for. It can get expensive in a hurry and quickly get into Civic Type R or Golf R territory. But even at its base price of around $30,000, that puts it above the entry point of the Golf GTI (which is due for a refresh soon) and both versions of the Hyundai Veloster N while being more expensive than both and less powerful than one. It’s an interesting price point that’s sure to being some welcomed competition to a segment that deserves more love.
Cadillac Lyriq Concept
In other news, Cadillac is doubling down on the stupid car names again. It’s an important car for them though – it’s the first all-electric anything from the brand and will battle for market share in an increasingly competitive EV crossover space. It’ll certainly face an uphill battle though because of its stupid name. It’s seriously going to be called the LYRIQ because apparently Cadillac is still taking influences from the hipster part of NYC that their HQ was temporarily relocated to.
The crossover with the name that sounds like an app you would use for finding and analyzing the lyrics of a Billie Eilish song will be built on GM’s next-generation modular electric vehicle platform and driven by the “Ultium” propulsion system. This increased flexibility allows Cadillac, and GM on a grander scale, to use the same components to fulfill a variety of requirements for different types of cars that will all be identical-looking electric crossovers. The LYRIQ will offer a driving range of over 300 miles per charge and support a variety of fast charging options and come with RWD or performance AWD configurations. They’ll also be offering an enhanced version of their Super Cruise hands-free driver assist, an augmented reality-enhanced heads-up display, remote parking, and a massive LED screen that spans the entire viewing area of the driver.
If this all sounds familiar, it’s because this same kind of package has already been done or at least promised by several other manufacturers. It’s nothing groundbreaking, it’s just Cadillac’s version of every other crossover electric vehicle that’s due out within the next few years. But… and I can’t believe I’m saying this about a Cadillac again, but so far the design is one of if not the best of its kind. Keep in mind this is a concept that can easily be neutered when it moves to production, but it looks like it’s been able to make some sense of Cadillac’s recent design choices and form a futuristic-looking yet not terribly offensive style.
We’ll be seeing more of the LYRIQ and other pieces of Cadillac’s new electric car portfolio in the coming years. And if you’re enjoying LYRIQ, be sure to leave a five star review in the Play Store!
Ford CEO Jim Hackett is out, will be replaced by Chris Farley’s cousin
You read that right. Ford’s CEO since 2017 or so is taking an early retirement effective October 1st and they’re replacing him with late comedian Chris Farley’s cousin. Jokes aside, Ford’s incoming CEO Jim Farley has truly made a name for himself in the industry. Without being on the Ford board of directors to personally know what he’s like to work with and what his goals are, he seems like the best possible pick they could have made.
Farley’s automotive career began in 1990 when he joined Toyota as a strategic planner and eventually played a key role in bringing the wonderfully weird Scion project to life. He later moved on to do executive stuff for Lexus before making the jump to Ford in 2007 where he’s worked his way up to the top. He was promoted to COO in 2017 and has apparently made enough of a mark to be chosen for CEO just three years later.
As for what makes him so promising to me at least, it starts with his Twitter bio: “Mustang and racing fan”. And his banner pic is of him posing next to a GT40 that he’s presumably racing at Goodwood. Compare that to Jim Hackett who came from running a furniture company to being given the reigns of Ford in the middle of their most exciting era in decades. They were at Le Mans with the GT, they were selling the Fiesta ST, and the GT350 was a hit. A source with friends and family working within Ford told me he wasn’t so keen on that kind of stuff and wanted to scrap the GT500 project. Grains of salt of course, but it seemed Hackett was the worst person they could have hired during Ford’s most exciting few years since the 60s.
Contrast that to Jim Farley, a man who races GT40s and says he is a Mustang and racing fan while also posting links to stuff he finds on Bring a Trailer and gets personally congratulated by Dario Franchitti. I don’t want to count chickens before they hatch, but I have to say I’m very excited about this announcement.
[Source: Ford | Image source: Twitter]
What’s your automotive news?
That’s all I’ve got for you this week, so now it’s your turn. If you saw anything, fixed something, broke everything, or otherwise did anything even remotely car related that you want to share with your fellow hoon, sound off in the comments.
Have a good weekend.