By on September 11, 2008

The New York Times’ Wheels blog recently convinced Gordon Murray to answer a few questions posted by its readers. With the journalists safely out of the way, what followed was a broad, frank and fascinating conversation about the future of the automobile. Sure, there are questions about the past, like how he would update the McLaren F1 vis a vis Veyron and company. Carbon fiber brakes, admits Murray, but he “wouldn’t envisage any other change.” He’d much rather talk about his current project, the T.25 city car. It’s a plastic-bodied attempt at “the next iconic city car, from a styling point of view, as was the 1957 Fiat 500 and the 1959 Mini.” The inevitable question comes: “Why do you want to work on this type of car now, after building the worlds greatest supercar? Murray appears to have been thinking about this thing for a while. “I have built performance cars all my life, and their time, unfortunately, is pretty much over. What we’re working on is a car for the future. It has been a gradual evolution of thought, which started in the summer of 1993 when I was stuck in traffic jam on the way to work.” And he swears it’s for real. “Building an ultra-light but safe and efficient car at a very low cost and sales price requires the exact same lateral thinking and philosophy we applied to the McLaren F1.” And the rule book does seem to have been thrown out. The T.25 has been designed to “to accept any powertrain or fuel,” and Murray claims his firm “can license out our manufacturing process whether we undertake the engineering work for the program or not.” Working with speed freaks (and T.25 investors) Caparo to develop low-cost composites, Murray hopes to kill enough weight and friction to get 80 mpg on a European combined cycle. “The design,” he says, “is small, low-cost and efficient. If this comes close to living up to its potential, it’s going to be a big deal. Given Murray’s history, it’s got as good a shot as any other modular, poly-powertrain, lightweight, iconic city car currently in development. Seriously, read the whole thing.

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13 Comments on “The Car, According To Gordon Murray...”


  • avatar
    Bunter1

    I have been watching the T.25 items for a while. Like Mr. Murray I have concluded some time ago that there is a lot of opportunity to rethink how vehicles are designed and manufactured from a “clean sheet” approach.
    Time will tell but automobile time maybe measured in a new era from “model T.25″.
    I wish Gordon “Godspeed”.

    Interestingly I also recently saw a quote from a Fritz Henderson at GM saying that cars had been built the same way for 100 years and there weren’t going to be any revolutions there, the leaders would be those that refined the process the best. Always thinking forward at the General!

    Bunter

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    It was very nice of Mr. Murray to answer my question on turbines. I wish him the best of luck on his T.25 project. If it is as modular as he is planning (which probably means it will be) there will be much room for after-market stuff on that car.

    I bet within three or four years of the T.25 showing up in market (even though it won’t be here in the States, sigh)there will be some mod powerplant out there you can just drop in a T.25 and make it wicked-fast and very un-PC. I can’t wait.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Oh please, who does Gordon Murray think he is? Everyone knows its takes an egomaniacal Silicon Valley software engineer to come up with game changing automotive technology.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    I believe in Mr Murray. He’s a kind of designer/engineer not seen very often these days. And he is related in spirit to other eccentric geniuses like Colin Chapman, Alec Issigonis and Ferdinand Porsche. If Gordon Murray says something is true, I believe him.

  • avatar

    If this T.25 is as awesome a city car as the McLaren F1 is an awesome supercar, then I’m ready to fall in love. No, I’m not expecting a 240 MPH top speed like the F1, but I would like it to be a little fun in the twisties.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    I have no reason to disbelieve a man who designed one of, and possibly “the”, greatest supercar to date. What does 80mpg combined european cycle translate into for the US? If they can produce a car for $11,000 to $12,000 that looks good (in contrast to a Prius or “Smart” car) and gets 50+ mpg combined, I don’t see how it wouldn’t sell and sell in large numbers.

    I bet within three or four years of the T.25 showing up in market (even though it won’t be here in the States, sigh)there will be some mod powerplant out there you can just drop in a T.25 and make it wicked-fast and very un-PC. I can’t wait.

    Something like an Ariel Atom, but with lightweight body panels and roof.

  • avatar
    Nemphre

    “Building an ultra-light but safe and efficient car at a very low cost and sales price requires the exact same lateral thinking and philosophy we applied to the McLaren F1.”

    Wow, I really like this guy.

  • avatar
    Usta Bee

    If anything building a light, cheap and fuel efficient small car with a flexible powertrain would probably be harder than designing the F1. The F1 could take advantage of high cost high tech materials to meet it’s design objectives, whereas the city car will have to make do with standard materials and excellent engineering to overcome their shortcomings.

  • avatar
    SAAB95JD

    In a word: BRILLIANT.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    A non-car friend of mine mentioned that he was more impressed with small simple economy cars than Lambos and it made me think of all the considerations a small cheap car has to take into account. I have faith in Gordon’s ability to get this project done, and the results will definitely be interesting to see in the next few years.

  • avatar
    allythom

    “…The F1 could take advantage of high cost high tech materials to meet it’s design objectives, whereas the city car will have to make do with standard materials and excellent engineering to overcome their shortcomings…”

    Yep, no gold heatshields here…

  • avatar
    Campisi

    I absolutely love dirt-cheap economy cars. Such is why whenever I try to imagine what my imaginary car company would build and market to the public (don’t judge my imaginings; you’ve all done it), it’s always low-end and unique. I await the T.25 with baited breath.

  • avatar

    Gordon Murray has always had the right ideas conceptually and is well respected in the UK


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