This less expensive and more accessible version of the T.50 has a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter V-12 that revs to over 11,000 rpm.
When Gordon Murray Automotive launched the spectacular T.50, the company’s famous founder told that it was the start of a series rather than a one-off. The T.50’s inspiration from Murray’s most famous roadgoing design, the McLaren F1, was obvious — but so was its position at the very top of the market given a $2.5 million price tag.
The GMA T.33 you are seeing here for the first time is less radical but also considerably cheaper: $1.85 million at current exchange rates. Yet beneath its elegant exterior, it is shaping up to be different from every other supercar. The T.33 loses the T.50’s central driving position and ground-effective fan-assisted aerodynamics but keeps the otherwise unique combination of a high-revving naturally aspirated V-12 engine and the option of a manual transmission.
The lack of wings or intakes comes from Murray’s commitment to elegant minimalism. “There is nothing on this car that doesn’t have a function,” he said. “Point at anything on the car and it has a function.” We pointed at the GMA logo behind the side glass, only to discover it is actually the hidden handle for the dihedral-opening door.
While the T.33 is slightly heavier than the T.50, it will still be lighter than any rival. Carbon bodywork is mounted to a new central structure that uses honeycomb carbon-fiber panels bonded to an aluminum framework. Murray says the development team’s exacting "mass track" meetings, where the weight of every component is carefully scrutinized, means the T.33 should weigh just 2400 pounds, only 220 more than the T.50.
Suspension is by unequal-length control arms at each corner, these mounting directly to the gearbox at the rear. Unlike pretty much every other supercar from the last 20 years, the T.33 does without adaptive dampers. The T.33 doesn’t even have a rear anti-roll bar.
The Cosworth-built engine is closely related to the one in the T.50 (and the track-only T.50S Niki Lauda) but doesn’t have quite such a stratospheric redline. The dry-sump 65-degree 4.0-liter V-12 uses gear-driven camshafts, making its peak 607 horsepower at 10,500 rpm. The rev-limiter is set at 11,100 rpm (the T.50’s is 1000 rpm higher). While peak torque of 332 pound-feet comes at a predictably lofty 9000 rpm, the company claims that around 250 pound-feet of torque is available at 2500 rpm to help with drivability. According to Murray, the engine weighs just 392 pounds. Air is fed to the engine through four throttle bodies and a ram induction box, with the periscope intake behind the passenger compartment mounted to the engine rather than the body and therefore able to move separately when the car is revved. That’s right: this is a supercar with a shaker hood.
Buyers will be able to choose between manual or automated gearboxes built by British specialist Xtrac. They deliver power to the rear axle through a limited-slip differential. The six-speed manual is closely related to the one offered in the T.50, while the paddle-shift transmission uses Xtrac’s Instantaneous Gearchange System which uses a ratchet mechanism between hubs that can select and engage two gears simultaneously, allowing completely seamless shifting. At 172 pounds, the automatic actually weighs 9 pounds less than the manual gearbox. Both transmissions will be available with an optional overdrive sixth gear to improve high-speed cruising refinement.
Murray confirms that early demand has been almost entirely for the stick-shift. “I may well have shot myself in the foot,” he says, “because we’ve pre-sold half the cars already and so far we’ve only had two people order a paddle shift. I’ve committed myself to millions of pounds in development spend and I could end up with 97 manuals and three autos.”
While the T.33 lacks the T.50’s 48-volt fan-assisted diffuser, it does still feature plenty of innovative aerodynamic thinking, including a milder implementation of ground-effects assistance. This uses suction from the low-pressure area behind the car to improve the efficiency of the underbody diffuser, a pivoting rear flap at the back of the car helping to control the amount of assistance given.
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