If you name your car after Formula One great Niki Lauda, it better be good. Thankfully, if there's any company likely worthy of building such a car, it's Gordon Murray Automotive, the company responsible for bringing theto life. Without further ado, this is the GMA T50s Niki Lauda, meant to be the be-all and end-all for a track car.
GMA and its man in charge, Professor Gordon Murray -- yes, that Murray from the iconic McLaren F1 program -- revealed the T50s Niki Lauda on Monday, which also happens to be the late Lauda's birthday. He would have been 72 years old. The T50s is a fitting tribute to the F1 legend, but unlike Murray's work on the McLaren F1 and F1 GTR programs, where the latter was based on the former, the T50s came to life alongside the standard T50.
"For the T50 our target was clear, to make the best driver's car for the road," Murray said in a statement. "With the T50s Niki Lauda it was equally clear, to make it the best driver's car for the track."
The professor's same clear-eyed way of thinking comes through in the T50s as it does in the T50. When we saw the T50 last year, it was not about chasing a top speed record or anything like that. Instead, its 3.9-liter Cosworth V12 engine makes 654 horsepower and 344 pound-feet of torque, which is more than plenty to move the 2,174 pounds of mass. It's a driver's car, more about the connection than anything. For the T50s, Murray explained there was never a focus on building a time-splitting lap record setter with wild bodywork to fit ginormous tires.
"Instead, I laid out some parameters to create the ultimate driver's car and experience on track: a central driving position, a V12 just behind your ear revving to over 12,000 rpm, producing over 700 horsepower and with an even faster response time than the T50," Murray said of the T50s program. If you caught that, power is up to 700 hp from 654 in the T50, and the company said this track superstar weighs under 1,984 pounds. Somehow, GMA found a way to shave at least 190 pounds from the already dainty T50. And although the 3.9-liter V12 sticks around for the T50s, GMA said it's a distinctly different beast. With revised cylinder heads, camshafts and a compression ratio of 15:1, Murray and his team sweat the details.
What you won't get is a manual transmission. Instead, a bespoke Xtrac IGS (Instantaneous Gearshift) six-speed paddle shift gearbox handles the work. Have no fear, though. Flicking through the gears will help you reach an estimated top speed of 210 mph. Brembo carbon ceramic disc brakes are then capable of producing 3.5 G's to bring you to a stop.
At its core, like the T50, the T50s starts life based on a superlight carbon fiber monocoque, but after that, it shares absolutely no body panels with the original T50 supercar. It's incredible to see the car look so similar, but in the end, be something completely different. Most notable is the large central fin, which features a Niki Lauda logo, the big front splitter, a new rear delta wing and a giant rear diffusor. GMA worked to keep the design looking pure, but also wanted to accentuate its track prowess. It's certainly nothing like some supercars decked out in gills and cutouts in the name of drag coefficients and aero. Most of that comes from the fact the T50s does share a roughly 16-inch fan at the rear. The fan helps move air where it needs to go, which frees up the exterior design to hold more classic, timeless looks. The track-only version also gets a cheeky nod to the history of fans in supercars with a "fan car" script on the rear.
Inside, if you thought the T50 was no-nonsense, the T50s Niki Lauda goes further. A single digital screen greets the driver after you enter through the dihedral doors. A full-blown racing seat, complete with a six-point harness, becomes the driver's office and a rectangular carbon fiber steering wheel sits ready for input. And the display on the screen shows only the most critical information. Ditto for any button or switch to the right of the driver on a panel. The photos speak better to the simplicity than my words ever could, but it remains a gorgeous-looking and defined space for the driver.
While GMA plans to build 100 T50 supercars, it only plans for 25 T50s Niki Lauda track machines. The company didn't provide prices, but it's fair to imagine each one will cost more than the $3.08 million price tag the standard T50 carries. Like for its road-going sibling, customers will have every opportunity to choose colors and liveries and receive expert setup from the factory. And with the T.50s Niki Lauda, the Professor fulfills his promise to build spiritual F1 successors completely.