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A McLaren F1 for a new era: Gordon Murray T50 promises to be the purest supercar

Gordon Murray Automotive wants this to be a proper send-off to the analog supercar.

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Gordon Murray Automotive T50

This... this is shaping up to be something special.

Gordon Murray Automotive

The automotive industry is going through a wild period. Electrification is the buzzword and autonomous driving wants to upend the motoring experience as we've known it.

Then there's Gordon Murray Automotive, with Professor Gordon Murray himself at the helm. This is the man who brought us the McLaren F1, if you don't recall, and he wants to take us back with something different. Not old, just a greatest hits collection of what makes a supercar before technology has its way with things. 

This is the Gordon Murray Automotive T50.

The first image was revealed on Tuesday and it shows off the car's most interesting feature: a nearly 16-inch large fan. Murray, who's designed fan cars in the past, said this iteration of the "fan car" will be the most powerful yet.

Why does a big fan help with performance? Air travels all around a car while driving, and it's up to designers and engineers to figure out the best way to channel it. For a supercar like the T50, aerodynamics are key. At its core, the fan channels air from the underbody and forces it through ducts that make up part of the rear diffusor. Here, depending on the aerodynamic mode, the fan works with conventional ground effects systems to increase downforce (keep the car planted) or reduce drag (increase straight-line speed).

Gordon Murray Automotive T50 aerodynamics

Here's your crash course in fan car aerodynamics.

Gordon Murray Automotive

The T50 features six aero modes, and two of them work without any driver input: Auto and Braking. The former reads driver inputs to maximize the system in the best possible way, while the latter enhances downforce and helps create shorter braking distances. The other four are driver-selectable: High Downforce, Streamline, Vmax and Test.

High Downforce mode increases the amount of downforce available by 30%, while Streamline reduces drag by 10% to boost speed. With a button push, Vmax mode will activate, which dials the fan's aero skills up to eleven. It projects the same aero profile as Streamline, but activates the 48-volt mild-hybrid starter system and unlocks another 30 horsepower for up to 700 hp. Finally, Test mode shows how the aero system works while the T50's parked.

The single photo shows the fan system is absolutely the design centerpiece, with the center line of the rear deck making up the clockwork that is the fan assembly. Murray said the goal was to create the supercar's "purest form," and mentioned this aero system will allow for a clean front fascia. If you're getting McLaren F1 vibes from the overall profile, you're not alone. The inside will also boast the three-seat formula the F1 introduced decades ago -- the driver will be front and center, with two seats flanking them on each side.

As for what will power the supercar, a unique Cosworth V12 engine will spin up to 12,100 rpm. Again, this is truly the closest we've gotten to a proper F1 successor. 

Air tunnel testing with a 40% scale model will begin early next year, thanks to a partnership with the Racing Point Formula One team. We'll see the covers come off this radical thing at a debut event in May.

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