What Gordon did next: GMA T.33 supercar breaks cover

Gordon Murray Automotive’s second supercar loses active aero and central driving position, but keeps atmo V12 and manual transmission.

It’s feels wrong to be mildly disappointed with a supercar featuring both the unlikely combination of a naturally-aspirated V12 engine and a manual gearbox.

Yet your first reaction to the 2022 GMA T.33, the second road-legal supercar created by legendary automotive designer Gordon Murray’s eponymous company, will likely be to notice the things it lacks compared to the T.50 that was first shown in 2019.

Gordon Murray Automotive’s first car took clear inspiration from Murray’s most famous road goer, the McLaren F1, sharing its central driving position but adding active ‘ground effect’ aerodynamics provided by a 48-volt electric fan. Whereas the T.33 just has the regular supercar pair of seats and misses the electric suction.

It weighs more, too – although still less than any obvious rival. Just 100 will be built, with deliveries starting in 2023.

Drive got the chance to talk to Murray about the T.33 at GMA’s new HQ in Surrey, England – walking around the styling concept you see here. My first question was meant as a gentle warm-up which actually got a telling answer: as Murray gives all of his projects numbers prefaced with T, why is the T.33 following the T.50? Basically because he’s been thinking about this one for longer.

“I thought one day I might do my own car [so] I went through the numbers with Kev Richards, who is now my creative director, and we banked some we liked the sound of,” Murray says, “I said to Kev that if we’re going to do our own car it has to have a small capacity engine and I wanted to do a 3.3-litre car.”

That didn’t work out when engine partner Cosworth announced they would need a larger naturally-aspirated V12 to meet GMA’s targets, but the T.33 name survived the switch to a 4.0-litre engine. This is shared with the T.50, although it has been revised with a slightly reduced rev limit and a lowered torque curve to improve drivability.

But the peak 452kW still arrives at a ludicrous-sounding 10,500rpm – the same speed that the bigger Cosworth-created V12 in the Aston Martin Valkyrie makes full output. The T.33’s limiter calls time at 11,100rpm, that being 1000rpm below the T.50’s.

And although the maximum torque of 451Nm happens at a altitudinous 9000rpm, Cosworth has ensured that 75 percent of this is available at just 2500rpm. That will work against just 1090kg of mass, 100kg more than the T.50.

“What they’ve achieved blows my mind,” Murray says, talking about the Cosworth engineering team, “in the ‘sixties if an engine went to 12,000rpm – and none did – then there would have been nothing at all below 8000rpm.”

Buyers will be able to choose between manual and automated gearboxes, both built by British motorsport specialist Xtrac, and with the choice of an optional taller overdriven sixth gear for more relaxed high-speed cruising with both. The manual ‘box is the one from the T.50, and weighs just 82kg.

The paddleshift uses Xtrac’s Instantaneous Gearchange System which allows the mainshaft to select two gears simultaneously, with one freewheeling until engaged at the same moment the other is released. Amazingly, despite needing a power clutch for starting and stopping, the ISG gearbox weighs 4kg less.

Yet enthusiasm for the lighter, faster transmission has been muted among early hand-raisers. “I may well have shot myself in the foot,” says Murray, “because we’ve pre-sold half the cars already and so only two people have ordered a paddle shift. So I’ve committed myself to millions of pounds in development spend and could end up with 97 manuals and three autos.”

While the T.50 uses a carbon-fibre monocoque the T.33 is switching to a new structure with a central cell that has honeycomb carbon-fibre pieces bonded into an aluminium frame, a solution that Murray says is stronger and lighter than using press-formed carbon for a road car tub.

Suspension is double wishbone all round, with the rear arms hung directly from the gearbox. Dampers are passive and there is no rear anti-roll bar.

“If you’ve got a very lightweight car with a very low centre of gravity and a very low unsprung weight there’s absolutely no reason why you need to complicate it,” Murray says. “To prove it I’d invite anyone to drive the Alpine A110. I’ve got one, it’s my everyday car, and it’s the best ride-handling compromise out there. Start adding active dampers, active roll control and all the rest and you’re suddenly at 1500kg.”

Aerodynamics might look less advanced than the T.50’s fan-assisted set-up, but the T.33 is hiding its own patent-protected underbody innovation.

This diverts low pressure air from behind the car to the diffuser to help boost its efficiency, the effect controlled by the hinged flap at the back of the rear deck – the only moving aerodynamic element on the car. This Passive Boundary Layer Control is about 30 percent as effective as the T.50’s electric set-up, but should also be much quieter.

I didn’t get to see any interior – the styling model doesn’t have one – but Murray says this will follow the same functional logic as the T.50’s cabin, with a large analogue rev counter and rotary controls in finger range rather than any form of touchscreen interface. (There will be a display screen, too – one that can run Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – billionaires have the same connectivity concerns as the rest of us.)

Murray promises plenty of stowage spaces in the cabin, the lack of which is a constant frustration in his A110, and there will also be two side luggage panniers (accessed by flaps behind the dihedral opening doors) plus a frunk under the bonnet. Together they will have 275 litres of luggage space.

Although the T.33 is more affordable than the T.50 – its £1.37 million ($AU2.59 millon) pre-tax price in the UK representing a £1m saving – it will be equally exclusive. Murray says production will be limited to the same 100 examples, although he acknowledges it would probably be easy to sell more than that given the early demand.

But restricted volumes is one of GMA’s core tenets, as is the ability of customers to talk to the boss. Murray says he has personally done specification sessions with almost all T.50 customers, and intends to continue with future models.

More of these are already planned. The T.33’s core structure and mechanical package will underpin two other models to follow it, although Murray is at pains to say they will be substantially different – “the next one isn’t going to just be this with a different rear bumper”.

He confirms the T.33 will be the last without any form of hybridisation, something that will be necessary to meet future emissions standards.

He also hopes that owners will regularly drive and enjoy their T.33s. Unusually for anything this exotic it’s been designed for ease of maintenance, its underbody shields easily removable and sitting on standard compound off-the-shelf Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres rather than bespoke rubber.

“I don’t want to use the word GT too much,” Murray says, “but this is a GT supercar in the sense that we want people to use it over longer distances. It’s got real luggage space, great fuel consumption – it will go 450 miles on a tank – and I really hope that buyers will use it for proper journeys.”

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