GMA T.50S Niki Lauda First look: a track-focused mic drop with 12,000 rpm
Gordon Murray designed his brand new GMA T.50 as the ultimate driver’s car. The GMA T.50S Niki Lauda accelerates this mission to 11. Although it shares much of its DNA with the ultra-light, ultra-reactive T.50, the T.50A Niki Lauda has been redesigned from the wheels up to provide maximum track-day thrills deliver. Think about these numbers for a moment: The T.50S Niki Lauda packs 89 ponies less than McLaren’s tremendously fast rat, the 814 hp Senna GTR, but is almost 30 percent lighter and can generate 50 percent more downforce than this car.
The heart of the T.50S Niki Lauda is a revised version of the tailor-made 4.0-liter V-12 with a naturally aspirated engine and Cosworth drive that powers the roadworthy T.50. In the T.50S Niki Lauda, the engine has titanium inlet and outlet valves, a racing car ram air intake system with 12 throttle valve housings and a straight Inconel exhaust with a thinner gauge. Cosworth also redesigned the cylinder heads, increased the compression ratio to 15: 1 and removed the variable valve timing system used in the road vehicle.
As a result, the V-12 puts out 725 horsepower at a screaming 11,500 rpm (Redline is 12,100 rpm), with its 357 lb-ft max torque at a dizzying 9,000 rpm, 11 percent or four percent over the street car engine. More importantly, the 12-cylinder weighs only 357 pounds, roughly 35 pounds less than the T.50 version – and due to the redesigned intake system and cylinder heads, as well as the omission of the variable valve timing gear, almost all of the weight has come from the top of the engine, which helps lower the car’s center of gravity.
In the T.50 road car, power is transferred to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission, as Murray wanted to maximize the car’s interactive, tactile feel. With the T.50S Niki Lauda, however, the focus is on ultimate performance. A six-speed Xtrac paddle gearbox with a patented pre-selection system is therefore used instead of the gearshift box. With the variable valve timing removed, the V-12’s torque curve below the 4,000-5,000rpm range isn’t quite as meaty as it is in the street car, but the tight gear ratios and ultra-fast shift times of the new transmission mean it isn’t a problem on the line, says Murray. “I don’t think if you change gears you will drop below 9,500 or 10,000 RPM, so you will never know.”
Inner Beast: The structure of the T.50S
The pursuit of further weight reduction is in the truest sense of the word the core of the T.50 Niki Lauda. The car’s carbon fiber monocoque was constructed using a lighter layering technique than in the road car. In addition, all body panels are made of carbon fiber and are fundamentally different from those of the T.50, not least because of the rail vehicle’s radical aerodynamic hardware, which includes a front splitter with a central wing section, diving planes, diffusers, and barge boards and a dorsal fin that goes back to leading to a delta wing that is nearly six feet wide. Murray says the wing she inspired from the front wing of his 1983 Brabham BT52 F1 racer is just as effective.
Under the cut-off rear body of the T.50S there is Niki Lauda a massive diffuser, above which is the same floor effect fan with a diameter of 15.7 inches as on the T.50. However, unlike the street-car version, the fan runs in a single, high-down mode, spinning at 7,000 rpm.All of these aero extras give the T.50S Niki Lauda up to 3,300 pounds of downforce – 1,100 more than the McLaren Senna GTR – at high speed. It’s an impressive number. But not as impressive as the number Murray’s team reached while developing the car.
“We actually have up to 4,200 pounds of downforce,” laughs Murray, “but we can only pack 10” wide front tires and 12 “wide rear tires, and Michelin said they couldn’t give us any of those sizes that could do that.” support this mass. Also, I think it would probably have been too much for an amateur rider so we took it back. “
The T.50S Niki Lauda shares its forged aluminum multi-link suspension with the T.50, although the springs, shock absorbers, and anti-roll bar have been redesigned for optimal track performance and the ride height has been reduced to 3.4 inches front and 4.6 inches at the rear . Also in common are Brembo’s carbon-ceramic rotors, as well as the six-piston front brake calipers and four-piston brake calipers with new channels around each wheel to improve brake cooling during the hot chain movement. This is the car’s mechanical and aerodynamic grip. Murray says the setup is good enough to produce 3.5g of deceleration under maximum braking.
What Murray doesn’t talk about, however, is one time. “It makes no sense to be the fastest on the Nürburgring,” he says. “I do not care. What is important to me is that the car is accessible and easy to drive. You don’t need a team of people from the factory to start the bloody thing. Just take it with you on the racetrack, check the tire pressures, start the engine, warm up the oil and off you go. There is nothing special to know. “
Only 25 GMA T.50S Niki Laudas will be built, each priced at about $ 4.3 million plus tax. Production is scheduled to begin at the end of this year. Three-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti is helping with dynamic development, and owners are given all the support they need to customize the car to their own driving style.
“There are no rip-offs,” says Murray, who notes that some mega-dollar automakers then charge six-figure amounts for mining equipment and technical support. “I hate this, I really do,” he says. “Our car comes with a complete tool kit, all tank equipment, jacks … everything you need to run it.” A Trackspeed package included in the price offers training for a technician and a day on the racetrack with one of the test drivers from GMA.
The name Niki Lauda? It’s not just a reaction to McLaren’s Senna. “The Niki Lauda thing really means a lot to me,” says Murray. “It’s not a gimmick.”
Lauda, who died in 2019, drove a number of Murray-designed F1 cars in the 1970s and 1980s, including the Brabham BT46B, which he led to victory in his only race, the 1978 Swedish GP. (The car was later banned from F1 because its fan-powered ground effect system, which is similar in concept to that of both T.50 variants, was classified as illegal.) Over the years, the three-time world champion had become a close friend of Murray. “When Niki died, I just thought, let’s celebrate the man,” he says. “And he would have loved the car. He would absolutely have spiced it up. “
You might think that after decades of working at the forefront of automotive performance for Gordon Murray, the GMA T.50S Niki Lauda is just one more set of arcane engineering problems that have been resolved. But his enthusiasm for the car is palpable.
Murray talks about being at Le Mans in 1972 and hearing the 3.0-liter V-12 Matras on Mulsanne Street, which at the time had no bullying and stretched 3.5 miles. “They were spinning at 12,000 rpm and I remember thinking that was the nicest sound I’ve ever heard,” he grins. “If you had told me back then that one day I would build a car with such a tall V-12, I would not have believed you. And I can’t wait to ride it. “
Neither can we.
The article GMA T.50S Niki Lauda First look: A track-focused mic drop with 12,000 rpm came first on MotorTrend.