Today, an eager millionaire can find multiple automobiles priced in the region of $3 million, yet one of the most anticipated of all the upcoming models has to be Gordon Murray’s T.50. It’s the spiritual successor of the McLaren F1 ready for the 2020s, powered by a 4.0-liter Cosworth V12 revving to 12,100 rpm in 0.3 of a second. Another ground-breaking feature of the T.50 is its rear fan system, consisting of an active diffuser, a pair of small wings and an 18-inch fan molded from carbon fiber, providing the car with six aero modes in total.
We did our best explaining this system in detail, including how a 48-volt sub-system spins the fan at up to 7,000 rpm to create downforce, or in fact reduce it on demand for safer runs at higher top speeds, all without depending on the airflow generated at high speeds only. Still, some see the T.50’s rear fan as a gimmick, while a fellow small volume manufacturer told me it won’t satisfy U.S. crash safety rules. We shall see by 2022, once the prototypes go through the validation processes, and get destroyed to give Gordon Murray Automotive a proper production car in the end.
What’s for sure is that either in mule, prototype, pre- or series production form, the T.50’s system has very little to do with the pioneering Brabham BT46B Formula 1 fan car that was promptly banned. Instead, it builds on the principle first applied to the McLaren F1 by the same team, cut short due to costs to only work on a section of the rear diffuser. It still made the F1 better, if only by providing the 1993 car with five percent more downforce and two percent less drag.
For the first time on the T.50, the entire rear diffuser is active, fed through a very steep channel without allowing the air to stall, thanks to that fan spinning as quickly as a fairly rev-happy gasoline engine can, speeding up the airflow through a filter.
As Professor Murray explains, seal up the rear of a car and you get a vacuum cleaner you wouldn’t want to drive behind. However, choose the T.50’s “most funky” mode called Streamline, which uses the combination of three elements—the fan, the rear wings and the diffuser flaps—to reduce drag by 12.5 percent.
Overall, the rear fan makes the T.50 30 percent more efficient against the air as normal wings and passive ground effects could, which is a remarkable achievement also allowing GMA to keep the car’s lines even cleaner than the F1’s could be just after the 1980s.
Is this something we will see more of in the future? Unlikely, according to its creator, given the system’s complexity, cost and the fact that it requires a mid-engine chassis to begin with. Can it be legal all over the world? You tell me, yet with only 125 units being made including the 25 T.50s track specials, finding customers won’t be an issue in today’s economy in countries where the T.50 passes homologation with flying colors. For everything else, there’s always Show or Display.
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