• Sun. Dec 10th, 2023

Automotive Designer

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A Look At The Legendary Car Designer’s Personal Garage

Gordon Murray is an automotive legend who needs no introduction. After enjoying a five-decade career as an excellent car designer, he has significantly contributed to the auto industry. The South African-born giant started in Formula One, serving as Brabham’s F1 technical director, where he designed Nelson Piquet’s car and helped him win two F1 world titles. Later, he moved to the McLaren F1 team as technical director, where they won three consecutive world championships. But he’s more famous for designing the iconic McLaren F1, arguably the first hypercar.

RELATED: EXCLUSIVE – Gordon Murray Tells Us His Plans Beyond The T.50

Murray has also worked on many other magnificent cars, and today he owns Gordon Murray Automotive, formed in 2017, and has already produced the T50 and its more accessible $1.85 million T33 sibling. Murray owns a personal garage he calls “The Toy Box,” containing his cars, each with a fascinating story. He recently sold his McLaren F1, and the remaining vehicles show his obsession with lightweight. Here are notable cars in Murray’s impressive collection.

10 1963 Abarth 1000 GT Bialbero

1961 Fiat Abarth 1000 GT Bialbero
RM Sotheby’s

Murray adores Abarth cars, and he recently took delivery of the iconic 2000 Spider, which weighs just 1,268 lbs with 250 hp on tap. He also owns the rare Abarth 1000 GT Bialbero, named so, for its high-performance Gioacchino Colombo-designed twin-cam engine.

The Abarth 1000 GT Bialbero lies on the Fiat 600 platform but with significant modifications to the chassis, suspension, and engine. It achieved numerous victories in European motorsport in the 1960s, and held a Bonneville Salt Flats land speed record for vehicles with 1,000cc engines.

9 Alpine A110

Alpine A110 - Front

Since its inception in 2017, the Alpine A110 has received widespread critical acclaim for its combination of performance, handling, and retro-inspired styling. It is a modern interpretation of the classic Alpine A110 Berlinette, a motorsport legend produced from 1961 to 1977.

Gordon took delivery of his Alpine A110 in 2018, and realized it does the basics well and had a better ride and handling compromise than anything he had ever driven. So, he took it apart to benchmark it against the Gordon Murray T50 hypercar he was developing.

8 Alfaholics Romeo 1600 Junior Zagato

Gordon Murray's Alfa Romeo 1600 Junior Zagato

British company Alfaholics has become well-known for its restorations and modifications of classic Alfa Romeo cars, including the green Alfa Romeo 1600 Junior Zagato built for Gordon Murray.

Murray worked with Alfaholics to personalize his car with GTA-R upgrades and mods like moving the seat mounting point backward and lowering the floor, so he could fit into it, fitting Ferrari Dino door handles, among other cosmetic tweaks.

RELATED: Here’s What We Now Know About The Gordon Murray Automotive T50

7 1980 Ferrari 308 GT4

1980 Ferrari 308GT4 Gordon Murray Collection
Will Williams / Classic & Sports Car

Ferrari introduced the 308 GT4 in 1973, wearing a Dino badge, and it was their first mid-engined V8 car, which became the brand’s staple configuration in the following decades. The 3-liter V8 pushed 255 hp to the rear wheels via a five-speed manual transmission.

Outside, it featured a sleek, angular body designed by Bertone, with a wedge-shaped profile and sharp creases that gave it a distinctive appearance. Murray bought the 308 GT4 over the Lamborghini Urraco and found it fun to drive with excellent visibility.

6 1966 De Tomaso Vallelunga

The De Tomaso Vallelunga was De Tomaso’s first road-going production model, introduced in 1963, a year after the Lotus Elan launched. It drew influences from the Lotus, featuring a glass-fiber body and a backbone chassis.

At the mid-section of the lightweight car lies a Cortina GT engine pushing about 100 hp. Murray loves the shape of the Vallelunga, which is like a baby Ferrari and typical of the ’60s sports cars.

5 1970 Lotus Elan S4

Murray has always been attracted to Lotus since he is all about lightweight cars, and few brands do lightweight better than Lotus. He fell in love with the Lotus Elan when it first came out in the 1960s, and bought a battered S3 in 1969 and another in 1993 that he still owns. Recently, he added a red S4 to his garage.

Murray believes the Lotus Elan is the best sports car he’s ever driven. The relatively rare Elan S4 was the final iteration, with only 1,600 examples built over five years.

4 1959 Austin-Healey Sprite

1959 Austin Healey Sprite
Mecum Auctions

The 1959 Austin-Healey Sprite, also known as the “Frogeye” or “Bugeye” Sprite, is a small, two-seater sports car produced from 1958 to 1961 as a low-cost sports car that would appeal to a broader market. Under the hood is a 948cc inline-four engine that produces 43 horsepower.

It doesn’t sound like much, but given the car is lightweight, it provides lively performance with agile handling, making it a popular choice for racing and rallying. Murray loves it for its distinctive styling and claims the Sprite looks how a sports car should look.

RELATED: Why The Brabham Fan Car Was Gordon Murray’s Finest Work

3 Lotus Elite

Murray also owns the Lotus Elite, a 2+2 sports car built between 1957 and 1963, that was the first production car to feature a fiberglass monocoque body, which made it lightweight and rigid. It debuted as a truly driver-oriented ride thanks to its excellent handling and aerodynamics, with a drag coefficient of just 0.29, a top speed of 115 mph, and zero to 60 mph sprints in 11 seconds.

The Elite was also notable for its innovative suspension system, which combined wishbones and transverse links to provide excellent road-holding and handling.

2 Porsche 550 Spyder

The highly revered 550 Spyder is one of Porsche’s heroes of the past and one of the most collectible and expensive Porsches around. The German brand’s first purpose-built racing car earned the nickname “giant killer” thanks to an impressive performance from a 1.5-liter engine.

With a curb weight of just 1,213 lbs, it’s easy to see why Murray owns one. Few of its heavier competitors could keep up, especially in the corners, as it went on to win a class victory at Carrera Panamericana in 1954 and Targa Florio in 1956.

1 Gordon Murray T50s Niki Lauda

Gordon unveiled the T50s, a track-only hypercar named after Niki Lauda, as a tribute to the three-time Formula 1 champion and his former teammate. It is one of the most extreme cars on earth, weighing just 1,878 lbs and powered by a high-revving 3.9-liter V12 pushing 725 hp.

It is a different project from the road-going T50 and is faster and more fun with no regulation limitations. With a peak downforce of 3 300 lbs, the Niki Lauda can theoretically travel upside down at 175 mph.

Sources: GMA, Car and Driver, TopSpeed, Top Gear, Car Throttle


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