Unusual. But why was Gordon Murray’s Formula 1 « vacuum cleaner » banned?


We are in the 60s. A young Englishman, totally unknown, a graduate in mechanical engineering at the Technical College of Durban begins to get noticed by designing, building and racing his own cars in British regional races.

In 1968, he was hired by Hawker-Siddeley, one of Aerospatiale’s main subcontractors. For a year, he will design airplane parts and study their aerodynamic functioning.

But the young Englishman already has an idea behind his head and his feet firmly on the ground. He wants to design F1 cars.



An F1 with a turbine, you had to think about it

An F1 with a turbine, you had to think about it

Brabham, first stroke of genius

His little experience brought him through the back door to Brabham as a designer. Quickly became technical director, he built the BT44 single-seater before tackling his first masterpiece, the Brabham BT46-B.

Gordon Murray has the idea of ​​designing an F1 car with a huge rear fan. By generating ground effect, the car is literally glued to the ground. The Lotus, so far unbeatable, must face the facts.

Murray has just created the best F1 in history. A technology that will quickly be prohibited by the regulations. But now everyone knows who Gordon Murray is.

McLaren’s finest years

In 1987, the new team to beat was called McLaren. Team boss Ron Dennis, obsessed with performance and cleanliness, decides to grab the best engineer in his eyes. Supported by Steve Nichols, Murray creates the McLaren MP4/4 intended for Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.

The two drivers literally crushed the 1988 F1 season by winning fifteen victories, fifteen pole positions and achieving ten one-two finishes, in sixteen Grand Prix. The single-seater designed by Murray will run in the lead for 1003 of the 1031 laps in the season.

No car has ever dominated F1 so much. After three years, and more than fifty grand prix victories, Gordon leaves F1 for a big challenge, still with McLaren.



In 1992, Gordon Murray created the McLaren F1, the best sports car in the world

In 1992, Gordon Murray created the McLaren F1, the best sports car in the world

The best sports car in history

Two years later, on the eve of Christmas 1992, the first monocoque carbon prototype of the « XP1 » will perform its first laps in the yard of McLaren Cars. The F1 team will indeed launch into the production of production cars.

The brand wants to start from scratch and compete directly with Ferrari. With Gordon leaving for the airport to join his family for Christmas a few hours later, Gordon wants to make sure he’s built the best sports car in the world.

He starts the engine of the future road-going McLaren to cover the 300 meters that separate the workshop and the scale from the F1 team. The car is weighed, it weighs 1003 kilos! A ton is the ideal weight that the engineer had calculated.

The McLaren F1, with its cockpit with central steering wheel, will be the most powerful supercar in the world. Engaged in competition, it even won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and two world championships. Gordon succeeded in designing the ultimate car.



This car is called Rocket and there is a good reason for that.

This car is called Rocket and there is a good reason for that.

A small rocket

The year before, Gordon had discreetly launched the “Light Car Company” and especially the only model of this small brand: the “Rocket” in other words, the rocket.

At only 386 kilos, the car was even lighter than a Lotus Seven. But with a Yamaha 1000 cc 165 horsepower engine, it was indeed a real rocket.

This little Rocket will be produced in about forty copies, with the sole aim of “building the purest car ever built” as Murray said. But the engineer is not only obsessed with performance.



Gordon Murray's small OX truck can be made as a kit and sent to countries in need

Gordon Murray’s small OX truck can be made as a kit and sent to countries in need

The perfect utility

He is also the author of the first truck intended specifically for remote regions of Africa or developing countries.

With its high ground clearance, its excellent all-terrain approach angles, and its cabin for three people, it offers great advantages. But with its flat shapes, it can also be transported and delivered with a very reasonable price and reduced lead times.

The machine is as simple as possible, can be transformed into a transporter for thirteen people or a hard-working utility vehicle.

Delivered in kits, it requires less than six hours of labor by three people. With its flat design, you can ship six trucks in one container!



With his latest creation Gordon Murray wants to perpetuate the spirit of the McLaren F1.jpg

With his latest creation Gordon Murray wants to perpetuate the spirit of the McLaren F1.jpg

An ultimate supercar

In 2017, Gordon Murray, aware that the good years of the combustion engine were coming to an end, decided to design the ultimate supercar.

Fitted with a V12 engine, a manual gearbox and a driving position that can accommodate three people abreast, the T-50 is furiously reminiscent of the McLaren F1. All copies sold out within days.

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