Inside Gordon Murray’s incredible lightweight car collection

Inside Gordon Murray’s incredible lightweight car collection


The father of the McLaren F1 cashed his in and spent the proceeds on expanding the finest collection of lightweights on the planet. Fancy a guided tour? Series 30: Geneva Online Motor Show: First Look: Want to watch a bit of on the internet? Welcome to the most comprehensive collection of official clips you’ll find on YouTube. Whether you’re searching for a caravan challenge, Ken Block in the Hoonicorn, cars versus fighter jets, Stig power laps or the latest Chris Harris Drives, you can find all the iconic films here.Want to share your views with the team? #T50 #TopGear #GordonMurray

when we filmed our first video with gordon murray the mclaren f1 he used to own and his t50 about six months ago he showed us around a room he called his toy box an aladdin’s cave containing a collection of his own cars each with a fascinating story everyone evidence of his obsession with lightweight i knew we had to come back and shoot another film showing you all around and the recent reveal of the track only t50s provided the perfect excuse gordon thank you so much for having us down here again um now obviously we’ve talked about the t50 at length so we’re going to focus more on the t50s today before we have a look at this extraordinary collection of cars but before we do that this room what’s the vision behind this room what’s the purpose of it this is where people will come to spec the car so upstairs uh we have a seating buck where everybody gets fitted ergonomically for the car just like we did with the f1 and we choose things like color and trim and talk through the cars and then the idea was rather than just come to see the car you know this is a bit of an immersion if you like in in our culture and and where we come from yeah so we’ve got the historic bit and then we’ve got some of my car collection here and of course it’s pretty much uh the sort of background to these cars absolutely i’m very much looking forward to this um immersion so the t50s then um how would you sum up this car in a nutshell in just a few sentences i think this is going to be the best track experience there has been to date and probably likely to be in future as well um the focus was exactly that the same as the road car was how do we make the best driving experience on the road available to people and this is the same thing but on the track so we had a lot of fun you know no regulations of course yeah so a lot of fun basically as as fast as you can go without road limits now unlike the mclaren f1 the the gtr and the lm which were projects that kind of came after the road car this is very much a parallel project with the t50 the road legal t50 yeah very different actually very different because uh you know it’s well known i didn’t want to go racing with the f1 because i didn’t want to compromise and and you do i mean if you’re a car designer and particularly if you’re a racing car designer you would compromise the road car so i didn’t want to do that with the f1 so you’re absolutely right the variants were forced upon us by people wanting to go racing and then of course we did the lm to commemorate winning le mans yeah this was just a parallel design so right from the beginning we said we’d make 25 track cars and so we didn’t corrupt the road car we had a separate team working on on this one which was the more challenging strand then road car or track oh well i think the road car because of course it’s fundamentally based on t50 so all the all the the basic uh conceptual stuff and detail engineering on 50 carries over to this i suppose the bandwidth of that car has to be much wider it needs to be comfortable on the road and drivable for road trips but equally that car can handle itself on track as well yes that’d be fun on the track yes definitely just not quite to the same level um as the t50 yes all right so the name t50s nikki louder i’m sure there’s an interesting story behind it probably something to do with the fan car but um yeah i said well the phone call actually the connection with nikki and the fan car was secondary i have to say it was when we started this program about 18 months ago we have to put something different on drawings because it’s a different model if you like from the 50. so we said right we’ll we’ll stick a suffix we’ll call it the t50s working title yeah and we’ll think of something cool later and then of course as time went on it was the t50s and everybody in the company just referred to it as t50s um but it deserved a better name than that really and then of course in 19 we lost nikki and it was really an inspiration one day i just suddenly thought wow that was when i made the connection you know uh nikki drove for us for a couple of years at brabham um we had great time together we became very good friends the guy was i mean three times world champion he deserves something to be named after him and then bernie ecclestone helped me find get in touch with the family again and they thought it was a great idea as well and then the final piece of the jigsaw was we’re about to launch the car around about now and then we discovered 22nd was nikki’s birthday so you know just all slotted together fell into place yeah and of course with the fan so uh the brabham car that that was fairly rudimentary compared to the technology that’s on the t50 which has all sorts of valving and modes and yeah different settings am i right in saying this is max downforce at all times yeah i mean this is a little bit more like 46b actually it’s a bit simplistic if you like the fan we don’t have all the complicated manifolds and valving that we need on the road car so this is uh this is optimized for the track max downforce yeah so as so is the diffuser shape okay so just some of the numbers correct me if i get any of these wrong 725 brake horsepower naturally aspirated v12 12 000 rpm 850 kilos and 852 at the moment 852 might be lighter by the time we get into production and then 1500 kilos of downforce which is a lot for such a light cast so are there any plans to drive this on the ceiling yes we keep we could keep the oil in the oil tank that would be fun uh yeah i mean it’s going to give it’s going to give an experience that i don’t think any other car can can give you unless somebody else makes an 850 kilo car with a naturally aspirated v12 not so much a downforce actually but just those two facts you know an n a engine with instant response and 850 kilos what would happen just play with me here if you threw this car into the lemon grid this year in june as is how would it do well it’ll do pretty well actually because the uh the powder weight is slightly better than the car the rebellion car that came second at the mall last year and was nearly on pole until i turned the wick up a bit um the only thing that would be different would be downforce i suppose we’re probably a bit short on that but when we were in the cfd wind tunnel we actually got up to 1900 kilos and we reckon we could have gone beyond two tons so with a few tweaks it would have the same downforce uh as an lmp1 car as well suppose at that level you’re you’re putting so much pressure on the tires and the suspension that was our problem that was well we had two issues actually one of them was to package i didn’t want the car to be this is a bit wider but i didn’t want to be too wide and over tied to take away the fun and uh we would have had to put much bigger tires on to take two tons of downforce the other reason is it has to be accessible for a good amateur driver and 1500 kilos don’t forget his maximum speed so it’s at 210 miles an hour sure so you know the 120 mile in our corners are still going to be fun with that much downforce but you can overdo it as well you know you can have the thing glued to the rails like a formula one car and then you’ve got to be a professional drive racing driver to drive the thing which is not what we wanted now just on the numbers so the t50 over there you’re building 100 of those 25 of these and i read that you’re sold out well oversubscribed that’s right yeah we sold out in 48 hours after the launch and we we had interest from around 200 other people yeah wow that’s incredible any build slots left for this well this we we actually pre-sold before the launch like like t-50 a lot of the cars were pre-sold and i haven’t checked today but we i think yesterday we had just a handful that weren’t spoken for so oh really so there’s still a chance and the price three this is 3.1 uh without tax okay so there’s no getting around the fact that’s quite a lot of money yeah can you give us some insight into how you arrive at a number like that yeah it’s easy actually because um as we said earlier this is a very different motor car so it’s got a completely new um gearbox which has to be developed from scratch for 25 cars the engine configuration is very different from 50. it’s got no variable valve timing completely new exhaust and induction system cylinder heads cams 15 to 1 compression ratio and a lot lighter and lower center of gravity so that’s been that’s another 12 months development sure that we’ve got to pay for and then the monocoque is different because this air scoop here and the oil ducting that we had in there is completely different that’s all part of the monocoque so we’ve had to retool the spider and redo the layup to get some weight out of the monocoque and every single body panel is different so if you add or add up the design development and tooling cost for that and against 25 cars that sets the price design development tooling your hourly rate and a bit three point three point something million there you go you get there and just in terms of a build timeline so i know you’re have you finished building the prototypes for the uh uh we’ve built the first three and we’re building i think eleven okay um uh so that run that bill runs up until about june july okay and then we build pre-production cars in october in this building yeah so come july this building gets converted the customer experience center stays here but this building gets converted into production for 50 and that’s the whole of next year yeah and then as the last 50 runs off the line we start the first one of these so there’ll be a short gap for uh re-fixturing uh the cars the same wheelbase so most of the fixturing will stay the same for production but there’ll be there’ll be different body panels and things so so um all being well and covered um restrictions notwithstanding customer cars coming off the line beginning next year yeah january january yeah that’s that’s if we can get the testing done with the covert that’s our only uh potential problem is if we can’t travel so we’re hoping that’s going to free up for i mean for example right now we should be cold testing in scandinavia so as soon as we can travel we’ll be up there fantastic right so let’s leave these here and let’s start having a look at the um the rest of the toy box i think you call it um the first thing but this is just part of your collection right um yeah it’s a big it’s a big part of the collection i have i at home i’ve got um quite a few garages so you told me last time i saw you you lived in a one bed house with a 23 car 22 gallons i thought you were pulling my leg no no no i’m not they’re not all cars unfortunately some of them are gardening equipment and stuff like that but i think about 14 of them are for classic cars but just as you said this sort of immersion for customers into your world it’s just a fantastic journey through your head really an obsession with lightweight what’s the heaviest car we got here probably the um the slr the mercedes slr next door yeah and that’s heavy by a huge margin yes that’s 1600 kilos so that’s next heaviest after that oh um maybe t50 at nine yeah probably 250. yeah yeah so the rest of them under a ton yeah yeah yeah i think three quarters of them are under 800 kilos wow there we go well let’s have a look through here because this is the nostalgia corner isn’t it yeah yeah this is so tell us a bit about what we’re looking at here well this is this whole area we’ve recreated um to speak a little bit about our our history this is going back to my years in south africa growing up in south africa and i grew up in a racing family so my dad my dad used to race motorbikes before the war and he was a motor mechanic and so i grew up from five or six years old being taken to race meetings bikes and cars and in those days durbin had a sort of um around the houses along the beachfront a bit like a sort of bad monaco and so i can remember i can remember being at races from as i say five or six and also watching my dad work on cars um helping people build specials you know in those days um the reason i bought this is a mark iv 1951 cooper 500 single this was formula 3 in those days in the 50s and the very first car can remember my dad working on it was a friend of his was a mark for cooper which is why i’ve managed to find one of these and it’s it’s really nostalgic for me and then we’ve got my first racing car which i designed and built when i was 18 19 years old um i did most of the engi all the engine work myself actually it was based on a 105 e anglia but i did my own pistons cams imagine you designed and built it yourself a for the experience because you could but c because you didn’t have the money to just go out it was mainly money yes i had to borrow the most expensive thing on the car the whole car cost me 200 quid the most expensive thing were the weber carburetors which was 60 pounds of the 200 pounds and i had to borrow that from my aunt and my brother and i had a year to pay them back um so i campaigned that for two years in south africa hill climbs sprint races national sports car racing class a and uh won a few races won a few hill climbs but then after a couple of years i thought i’m getting it was about 68 and i was in the early 20s and i thought you know the the center of the universe for racing uh here it’s you can win a ratio quite easily in south africa in those days uh is is the uk and that’s when i sold everything and packed up and just a quick mention in there because this this room’s set up fantastically a lot of your old um drawing instruments drawing boards and yeah that’s pretty original that’s yeah that’s been fun putting that together because i keep everything happily so that drawing machine pantograph drawing machine on that board was a present from my my parents for my 18th birthday and the the vilt swiss instruments on the um on the desk were also from my 18th birthday and that was a present from my folks and those those instruments drew the mclaren f1 and all the brabham formula one cars wow so that’s the 18th birthday present yes they knew what they had set in motion there yes you know pat on the back yeah and they weren’t those things weren’t cheap in those days you know a lot of money for them wow and the special mention for the jukebox um oh yeah that’s another thing i i just i love not just the styling but the mechanism because they’re all i only collect 50s and 60s and that’s before transistorization so they’re electromechanical so i love the mechanisms you get all these cams and belts whenever i buy a new one i turn it around take the back off for a month and watch all the mechanisms oh brilliant and you were saying that they were you know tens hundreds of thousands of these built but no one looks after nobody kept them in fact they were so heavy um when when the new one came out they picked the old one up from the cafe they got an allowance for the old one they used to take it out the backyard and smash them up because it was easier than trying to cart them away so yeah i’ve got 16 of them i’ve got all my it’s a bit like the car so i’ve now got all the ones i really like am i collecting things i use and for a good reason i don’t have collections that don’t mean anything what’s the gordon murray criteria for for buying a car let’s focus it on cars what’s the tick list what does it have to do for you to spend your own money on well initially um it was when i started the collection after i sold the f1 was cars that i’ve always lasted after i mean petrol head through and through cars i’ve always lusted after since i was a teenager really that’s you know cars that’s the main reason but then beyond that i i really like design i like styling obviously but i like design that’s simple lightweight and purposeful and that’s central to just about every car my collection okay well let’s have a walk around because we’re going to start seeing this as we a few racing cars to begin with because as well as the road cars that have all those attributes talked about there’s a story here about your racing career isn’t it yes indeed yeah so these are pretty pivotal cars in my in my racing career so this is a bravon bd44b my first car was a 42 which was this rather radical triangular shape and it had a lot of firsts and formula ones very small for a start much smaller than most grand prix cars at the time bang on the weight limit of course um but it was the first car to attach a suspension directly to the engine and do away with big rear frames and fabrications people had the triangular shape the aerodynamics that was trying to push all the air over the top of the car and exclude everything from underneath to reduce lift and therefore increase the lift over drag figure move the driver a long way forward and put a lot of fuel behind the driver for the first time so it has a lot of firsts pull rod suspension which every racing car on the planet now has um uh this was the first racing car with pool rod suspension and how did you find this car um how did you get your hands on it uh this is rebuilt so this is actually we only ever built four 44s and 44 b’s and i think only two exist and uh bernie ecclestone very kindly lent me one of his 44s and and of course i’ve got a lot of the drawings and uh we rebuilt this from scratch and am i right in saying uh that there was a bt46 that you threw out yes and you’ve been kicking yourself ever since yeah i know that was the that was the fan car the 46b so we built we built three of them yeah we built three of them but we only had time the boys only had time to assemble two so we took the third one the monocoque and all the bits in the truck so in case we had a an accident we could repair you know use the bits and then when we got back and they came and tested the car and they said yep you can race it till the end of the year then we’ll close the loophole and then bernie came to me and said you know i’m at a lot of pressure here i think we need to withdraw the car so reluctantly we’re not happy with it no no i guess we would have won the championship easily you know and uh i i reluctantly agreed and we withdrew the car and then about a week later the boys came to me and said look the third car is out in the car park we didn’t have much room at chessington in those days is that it’s taking up space in a box in the car park what should we do with it and i said chop it up yes give it the boot i don’t want to see that thing again oh well we can’t we can’t dwell on stuff like this let’s let’s keep on moving down here what’s the story behind this it was built on a shoestring it was yeah so this was my first trip to le mans so this was 1972 and late in 71 i was approached by alan decadent of course he’s now famous for not just racing driving but commentary and stuff we became very good friends after that and he and chris craft up until then had raced uh you know the latest ferrari or porsche that allen had bought to go to the mall and alan was very very keen that he wanted to do an all-british car 100 british car and use a formula one dfe because prototypes in those days lmp1 equivalent was three liter in those days and uh he approached me to design a car he bought a brabham bt-33 from the factory and he wanted to use as many bits as he could and in the end all we could use was the engine uh the gearbox we had to put a heavier gearbox on for them all and i used some of the suspension but that was about it everything else was new and we only had about four months to design and build the car and he had a budget of 5000 quid for everything so my fee was going to be 250 quid to design the car and uh in the end i think alan paid me 200 pounds he didn’t have the 50 quid but i got a hewlett-packard scientific calculator as part of the payment and i worked uh my wife and i were then living in a in a unheated uh rented place in clay gate uh literally no heating no not nothing so we had ice this was winter i was designing this there was ice on the inside of the windows and i had a little drawing board tiny little drawing board in the bedroom and i i worked all night because i was at brabham until about eight in the evening i got home and started working on this at nine until three or four in the morning we finished it on budget five thousand quid chris craft who was the other driver did 15 laps at silverstone with a bit of setup work and then they they took it to the m4 at midnight and did 200 miles an hour down the m4 to test the stability put it on the trailer went to le mans and we qualified reasonably well but once the race started it was very very small low frontal area in low drag because to try and finish the race with the dfe which were about 460 horsepower in those days we had to detune it nicholson detuned it down to about 390 and took a thousand revs off the top to try and finish because the dfe hadn’t finished lamore up until this race yeah and uh we did 212 miles an hour down mulsanne so we suddenly found ourselves catching all the worx alphas all the all the porsches the three mattress the v12 mattress had just disappeared they were out three or four they were gone you know but we slowly caught and passed everybody and we were lying two hours to go we were lying fourth or fifth on five grand behind the mattress and uh and it rained on part of the circuit and we we had slicks on and chris spun off and we it took a long time to repair the car but we got out in the end finished 12th and the first british car home got the autocar motor trophy for first british car home but it was a great grounding for me wow to be to get to do a whole car for the first time so you know alan was very instrumental in kicking my career off really with this and giving you the confidence that even on a tight budget time scale everything else it was hilarious though because i you know i saw what broke in in two hours in a grand prix so when i did all the stress calculations for this i made everything heavy the suspension half of the rivet space yes yeah and the monocoque thicker panels for the monocoque um two batteries two electrical systems and we got there and we were the lightest three liter by 60 kilos and i was just terrified i think i should have beefed it up i thought i’m gonna kill these guys you know but it ran the whole race without missing a beat incredible and from from a from a nearly le man dominating prototype oh yes this is this is one of my favorites so when i got to when i first got to the uk in 1970 i still had the racing bug really i still wanted to drive myself um i i should have probably looked in the mirror and seen i was six foot four and what what am i probably not too clever and of course i had no money again always the story of my life you know um so i looked around and the only formula that really suited um my budget was formerly 750 where you used the reliant engine gearbox and back axle but it was pretty free from regs you had a couple of fundamental rigs but it was you could do what you like so this was a massively advanced design for the time lay down driving position rear radiator in those days the driving positions were quite upright and the cars were quite clunky and this was very aerodynamic 10-inch wheels and this was actually the first car to use my pool rod rising rate suspension right um which nobody knows because they all point to the brabham yep but actually i designed it in 72 for this and then i just copied it across to the formula one car so this is a very historic motorcar and there’s a isn’t that didn’t you circumnavigate the rules quite yes to keep the cost down they didn’t allow monocoques so you had to use uh in the old days there was two austin seven chassis rails but then they changed it to two 50 mil square steel tubes with about a one and a half mil wall thick quite heavy tubes for your two chassis rails and then you could build up a body um so i’ve used the two rails are in here but they’re just full of holes they like swiss cheese so they’re just a little angle that sits in the corner of the 20 and 18 gauge so this is looks like body this is actually the monocoque so it’s the beginning of jordan murray reading the rule book and yeah probably yeah reading between the lines i can’t wait to get in this and drive it and i’ve only just been around the car park in it but it’s going to be so much fun at this it’s only 280 kilos yeah so do you get to drive all of them very often i imagine they’re certain yeah before lockdown yeah absolutely yeah yeah in fact in summer i i don’t use modern cars summer i’m in a classic car every day or on or on a motorbike okay yeah so you’re sort of rotating through them yeah seeing how you feel let’s move down here to the lcc rocket yes a very interesting road car this um only 47 of them made yep what was the what was the brief behind this well this again was chris craft ever since i’d chris drove that car which he loved the handling of the ducklings the more car he wanted to do a road car with me and he pestered me from 72 for 20 years he pestered me to do a road car he wanted to do a sort of a chevron v8 on the road that sort of car you know and i i to be honest i just didn’t want to do another sports car but when we started talking about uh something a bit different and lightweight then i got interested in in around 1990. seems like that word lightweight is what really gets your ears well my hero was colin chapman and the record was still held after all these years for the lightest road legal car by the loader 7 or katrin which was around 500 kilos and it got heavier and heavier but it was around 500 kilos so i wanted to beat that basically and i said 130 kilos yes job done yes so i i said to chris you know um i’ll do it but it’s got to be something like this and i styled all sorts of modern interpretations of the lotus seven and you know what nobody else has ever been successful it’s such a classic shape though everybody that’s tried to outdo the seven has failed including lotus with the series four the square one just looking like a pastiche just doesn’t work so i thought right forget that i’ll go back to a bit of nostalgia and all my favorite racing cars from the 50s and the 60s and i’ll just do a melange of of those and do a car like this um but i did warn chris that to get to that weight everything would be bespoke so it wouldn’t be like a normal kid car where you carry over suspension and brakes and stuff so everything on this car is bespoke the space frame painted weighs 21 kilos for example you can pick it up on one finger look at that and the engine revs to eleven five and am i right that when you were talking to cosworth about the v12 and the t50 you said right the rocket does 11.5 this has to do 12. yeah that was because this held the record for the highest revving road car for for many years yeah and i said to cosworth we’ve got to beat that and then we can move four liters 12 000 revs mm-hmm but then they’ve done it 12-1 yeah there we go and and and i assume the this is sort of part inspiration for the rockets yeah yes indeed indeed but this is much more to do with me growing up these two cars so from as a as a four or five year this is late 40s but actually the sprint car stayed the same shape for about 15 years you know beautifully made handmade aluminium bodies and growing up as a kid this shape in in england there was eras and things like that but growing up as a kid this shape was racing car to me and i i just i love americana as well and the combination of this sort of lovely round tail and these proportions with no front overhang at all and then the tail hanging out the back gorgeous i just love the whole concept so i’ve always wanted one of these looks heavier than it is it’s a sort of yeah american hefty it’s clunky but there’s not much to it 490 yeah yeah it’s got a flatted v8 in it yeah and i do plan to drive this one day i’ve had to modify the brake pedal i couldn’t get my foot on the brake pedal modify your foot um this is and then this is just an era once again exactly that you know this is where unfortunately this is one of the few cars i’ve got i can’t fit in but i grew up you know i started following motor racing big time in the 60s and actually formed this is a formula three car lotus 31 and formula three formula two and formula one looked virtually the same particularly low ti in this um in this period and i just wanted an example you know that i could drool over and of course it’s it’s all it’s all prepared so if i i’ll get somebody smaller than me to um to race it one day well i’m not sure i’ll do very well but i’d enjoy myself immensely so that that’s a sort of racing history if you like in in six cars uh some road cars now yep what’s this one so actually this this was one of the very first cars on on my list when i started looking for my ultimate collection and i’ve always rarely admired zagato and what makes this incredibly interesting is it’s a zagato body but it was the two of the maserati brothers after the big split in maserati that set up oscar and they designed their own little 1600 cc twin cam from scratch and uh it’s a beautiful little engine you know i’m i’m a great fan of the lotus um 15 1558 twin cam in the in the lotus cortinas and the lands and things and uh this this is a beautiful little engine so this was my perfect car really it’s uh definitely usable you know very very usable motor car lightweight all-aluminium body zagato shape and a beautiful little twin cam it doesn’t get any better than that right and your your love for zagato runs deep doesn’t it because you’ve you own a modern uh alcoholics yeah that’s the latest addition to the collection really was um yeah they built me that one of their gtars that they built um all the underpinnings which i didn’t realize actually when i first approached uh max at alphaholics all the underpinnings are exactly the same so basically it’s it’s one of the gta ours in a zagato junior body it’s a gorgeous thing in sort of viper green isn’t it it’s it’s no it certainly gets noticed gorgeous as is yeah this is a very rare machine actually um it’s the first car that it tomaso made valla lunga and and the plan behind it was he was going to design this little rare mid-engine car uh the first production car to have a backbone mid-rear engine guard a backbone chassis so like the europa his idea was he he produced five prototypes and then sell it to ford or a big company and he couldn’t shift it yeah so he took it to uh gear and uh they they made a bunch of them i think depending on who you listen to it’s around 50 cars i think they made but i’ve always loved it because it’s quite a sort of joke actually because you’ve got this beautiful italian body and it’s got a cortina gt engine in the back that’s everything you love all in one isn’t it it is it is and actually you know some people put twin cams in them uh but i i just love those five bearing crack uh ford kent engine so much and it’s uh it’s a great combination of a small beautiful little motor car reasonably practical again to use and drive i’ve driven this quite a lot and uh and this lovely engine in the back moving into the the our bath collection so our bath of course famous for small highly tuned engines so this is another zagato this is yeah so once again you know small lights zagato body double bubble yeah i remember these when i was at when i was a very young kid early teens probably and just looking at these and thinking wow one one day i’ve got just such a cool it can’t be easy to track one of these down there yeah they made a few they’re actually based on a fiat um 600 platform i think it is okay um they made quite a few but of course a lot of them just rotted away you know all got crashed and racing these were highly successful in racing and is this all you just late night scrolling on car and classic or have you got people keeping eyes out for you on auctions it’s a lot of it’s me and and uh simon porter who heads up um part of the prototyping office he’s uh he’s helped me a lot it’s just finding stuff and also i’ve got a few friends in the business and you put the word out you know but it’s finding the right one for example um not just anyone yeah um rather distinctive yes so this is a 2000 ot they were called periscopia and the reason of course is that i wonder why and all that is is driver cooling that’s all it is oh really it’s just to get some just to get some what an eccentric way of doing it it just pipes it straight in yeah around your face i like the abba story um carlo abarth was a very prolific designer if you look at what he did and he did some he did some really highly successful and pretty cars all lightweight all very technical very simple and this this is quite a rare car actually because most of these were 1300s he had a 1300 twin cam and a 2 liter twin cam 90 of them were 1300s and they won lots of races but then he put the 2-liter engine in the car and i think depending on who you listen to and what you read i think they only made six and i think there’s only four left in the world so this is one of the four okay don’t bash into this with the cameras four of those left and this i just spotted the the gear shifter in here these are baths have been a lot of inspiration for 50 funnily enough because i just love the really simple instrument clear instrumentation and you know the tacos the rev counters and the little thin gear levers and everything’s there for a reason you know this spider and this one i can fit in easily this one i cannot unfortunately by the time i had it rebuilt uh we were in lockdown again and i haven’t taken it to a circuit yet but i’m desperate to because this is very short wheelbase and the engine hangs out the back so it’s not mid-engine so you can after you have your wits about yes and it’s it’s uh under 600 kilos but it’s um 250 horsepower from two liters at 8 000 revs so this is going to be oversteer with a capital o and you change gear with your little finger yes brilliant this is one of my favorite abbas i think and the shape too i mean it’s just it’s that late 60s you know that the prototype sports cars in the late 60s were just all fantastic um fantastic yeah now you’ve probably been seeing all these motorbikes in the in the background we’re going to save that story for for the other room when we go through okay um because we came here to see the t50 the t50s and the collection in this room the hand over space and then behold there’s an entire another room of cars so we’re gonna go let’s go through this door um and have a look through there as well because there’s some fantastic stories over here as well sure wow there’s more yes the lotuses i assume the these are these are the lotuses you love yeah well particularly this period was all small chapman wasn’t it small when chapman was focusing only on cars before he went off on airplane engines and boats and deloreans and things starting with the 50s really and when these came out i mean and you think this car is 1958 and i think they came out in 56 this at lotus 11 went to le mans of course and won the index performance i think at le mans and uh these looked like spaceships you know when they in in the 50s when everything was quite sort of square and clunky and these things turned up and this was all the work of costan so costing was an aerodynamicist i think with de havilland and he was a very good friend of uh chapman’s and all the early low tie were were costing so that’s why it’s it’s concentrating like crazy on aerodynamics but this is a quite a rare one with the glass screen um it’s called a sport uh chapman tried to sell them as road cars i think they probably only sold about six yeah a glass screen on and a one wiper there you go it’s a road car yeah but it sounds fantastic it’s got a little one liter screamer in it and uh i i drive this to work a lot from my house and it’s um it’s brilliant and i noticed the the low the low tie stop at a certain era so that was there a point when you said yeah definitely i’m not interested definitely the uh the europa was my even last esprit was a bit sort of starting to get angular and stuff the esprit is borderline for me but then after that i just i think they lost the plot and i think chapman had lost interest in not lost interest but he was spreading himself too thinly by then um so i’ve got i think you know what certainly all my favorite cars from that period i’ve also got a europa twin cam which is at at home um yeah um and what about a modern elise uh yeah i’m just going out production yeah i love them but i don’t fit i’ve never driven one i’ve tried several times i keep thinking maybe my i’ve changed shape but i just can’t get my legs under the steering wheel so i’ve never driven one which is a shame really that’s such a shame i feel like in terms of lightweight that’s it it’s a seminal car for yeah you know for in terms of modern motor cars um wow i’m sure if you spoke to latest nicely they’d modify it for your legs this uh this has always been one of my favorites when you think uh this is another costing of course aerodynamics but this is a great example of if you style a car with good proportions and classic shapes it never dates it never ever dates i mean this car still looks pretty today you know great little thing when i first saw it uh it came out earthquake motor show 1957 october and it was once again it was just relative to everything else in the mid 50s it was just so streamlined and so perfect you know you type about the sort yeah it is it is that sort of yeah period and the one thing that used to drive me mad was as a as a as a car designer and stylist if you like i used to look at this glass this lovely angled glass all this tumble home and think how the hell do they drop that glass into the door because that’s always something you fight with as a car designer absolutely right and of course it doesn’t they’re plastic and they unclip and they go in in a pocket behind the seats [Laughter] so when i finally and i didn’t know that until i bought one i thought you’re going to say they it doesn’t they open an inch and that’s it no you’ve got to take them out you take them out yeah oh fantastic that’s been we’ve already designed the doors i’m not i’m not compromising on the windows fabulous i i wanted to talk about this honda actually which i’ve spotted over here yeah gorgeous gorgeous little car again high revving and you’ve obviously lightweight high reps that’s the thing yeah i mean when i was a i was a sort of teenager i think when this first came out and i remember reading at this there was this road car that it was quite affordable you know that riff to ten thousand revs and and that was formula one revs in those days in the sixties and uh i thought then one day i’ve gotta own one of these things just to have a road car that rests n a engine that revs to 10 000. and actually it’s been a wonderful surprise the way it drives uh it’s not just the revs it’s the the engine is quite tractable as well very light of course but the gearbox is an absolute delight it’s one of the best little road car gearboxes i’ve ever driven just a little bit like that the the rbar 2000 yeah just click click just click click click yep um and these are becoming quite popular so you haven’t owned it for for that long no probably five or six years okay i think yeah they’re becoming sort of cultists i’ve read recently back in japan are becoming a bit of a cold car now yeah um well you can see why yeah it’s it’s fantastic and speaking of high revs actually let’s let’s jump over here because this is going to take some explaining but but this was follow-up to the rocket yes so um chris chris craft and martin bahrain who was one of the backers with chris uh in in the leichhardt company after the rocket they wanted to do something more conventional because the rocket the tandem seating position is not for everybody you know it’s quite intimate shall we say and they wanted to do a more conventional car so by then i was very busy in formula one so i did a concept for this this was called the lightning i did a concept for this and then tony monday who had built he was a formula forward designer in those days he built the chassis and everything for the rocket prototypes i gave him the sketches and he took over it and and did this but the concept was very similar to the rocket as light as possible but of course a little four cylinder engine wasn’t going to cut the mustard so we worked with a guy called russell savory and we built our own v8 so this is a two liter v8 with two yamaha f7r cylinder heads but our own block and crank dry sumped and it pulled it pulled 10-5 on the dyno and made 305 horsepower and the target weight for this was under 500 kilos so this was going to be uh the world needs to see this is there um are there plans in place to build it up to finish oh yes no no all these cars definitely yeah and we’re going to this is we’re going to finish this yeah i’d like to do it for chris and for martin bahrain actually and to get it finished because that was their vision um and i’ve still got drawings for the body i did for it yeah it was going to have an aluminium body so uh yeah it wouldn’t take much to finish probably three or four months well you could then have anybody you like on top of it yeah this could be your your coach built platform yeah v8 and then whatever you want and speaking of cars that needed a little bit of putting together yes to run this the the min bug um yeah just a fantastic story this yeah so when when we first when i first got to england the winter was 69 and i got my job at brabham in about june may june 70 and i started earning some money i was desperate to own some sort of sports car or sporty car of course all we could afford was in those days were like 50 50 pound minis 850 engines um so i designed this thing called the min bug and it’s uh it’s a stressed it’s not really a space frame it’s a steel tubular frame but with bonded stressed and riveted uh bony riveted aluminium panels to keep it light and the whole body is aluminium and uh by this time i got married and we built these on a shed in heat on heathrow airport but there wasn’t any security in those days literally at the end of the runway a friend who of mine who worked at brabham uh he’s his father had a shed at heathrow and we built four of these and sold sold the cars to pay for ours as kits as kits so he sold three as kits uh and that covered the cost of our cars because they were they were around 200 your brain doesn’t work the same as other people i’ll build more of them and sell them so this is essentially my first production car in 1971 and it was our only car after we got married it was our only car for three years we did 38 000 miles in it and ran really reliably including losing it in the rain and your wife’s either very very tolerant or as into cars well she did all the riveting and it was there were 1 500 rivets in each car and she did all the pop riveting on the car really and there’s a hot engine in it as well yes i mean the original one we bought a minivan for 60 quid and the idea was uh it was all designed so it took the whole wiring harness the fuel system the front’s up frame the rear subframe you could drive in on a thursday or friday into the shed area turn the mini on its side and you put the bits in and drive home in one of these three days later which is exactly what we did unpainted of course and everything um and that had so that had a minivan 850 which i think was around 30 horsepower on a good day this has got a 1340 cooper s so this is um around 100 horsepower so it’s uh and it’s it’s 80 kilos lighter than the mini yeah and the weight distribution is 10 percent better 10 more on the back axle and the center of gravity is about six inches lower so it’s it’s literally a go-kart that’s wonderful if you thought a mini was fun yeah this is another level another level yeah and it’s got a boot in the back yeah this is this is yeah we traveled around the uk for three years in in one of these yeah brilliant and another one of your creations here yes this was again hankering after designing a sports car so you see the the f1 you know people think i suddenly did a sports car but actually it’s been it’s been in the in the head for a long time so this was late 70s evolution of the mclaren f1 minbo yes there you go so this was late 70s we were using alfa romeo engines in the 70s mid 70s and carlo kitty who ran auto delta became a very very good friend and harold dermot who then owned midas cars was producing these kits and they had a bmc engine front-wheel drive and i actually got i think it was richard oakley that did the design from memory i actually love the design but more than that i love the fact this is a grp monocoque like the original lotus elite so there’s no metal in it it’s all fiberglass and i love that it’s very rigid very light but i hated the front wheel drive so i spoke to harold and i said you know can i have the drawings please because i want to redesign the floor pan and the bulkheads and put an engine in the back and he said there are no drawings we just made it so he lent me a body shell and i spent two months measuring it and drawing it and then i redesigned the floor pan the bulkhead and it’s got an alpha a flat four alpha sud 1500 in the back and it just handles beautifully i mean it’s i think it looks right it’s still not bad is it i mean it’s heavily square the square headlights uh nail it to the sort of 70s and 80s but apart from that it’s a great little design and it drives i mean i can’t tell you how well balanced this is you can drive it on the throttle it’s good little car and a one-off yeah slr mclaren last job i did for mclaren yeah yeah controversial car i mean yes we’ve had having yeah it’s not my sort of motor car it never was to be honest having said that i’m really proud there were bits of it of the engine the engineering you know what makes this car um with an na engine it would have been under 1600 kilos um and the the actual carbon chassis and the cast um the hollow cast engine cradle and stuff it’s it’s very stiff and the engineering part of it is very light and pure i really are still very proud of the team that produced this you know as a motor car styling an image not quite my scene but uh well i was good it’s interesting because it sticks out like a sore thumb in here normally you go and see someone’s collection and it’s yeah the latest ferraris and porsches and and bugattis and mclarens um for you it’s a lot more eclectic than that it’s it’s not your normal car collection um you know supercars um yeah it seems like they’re just not your thing yeah you know unless f1 t50 you’re going for yeah well this this is the only car i’ve done that i didn’t style so i’ve headed up the styling on every other motorcar and this one i didn’t it was taken out of our hands completely by by merck and i think that shows you know it’s got great road presence and a lot of people love them and i think it’s fine for this sort of car but it’s not my sort of car yeah you know let’s go and have a look at one of your sort of cars yes well this this is a reasonably rare car so this was um another zagato and this is uh some customers uh wanted to take the julia’s and julietas in particular racing and and of course the the production cars like like that uh spider there are were all steel so the customers used to buy the cars and take them to zagato and they would literally take the body off and make a streamlined aluminium body and so these were called seds after zagato um julieta s eds and most of them had a round tail um they made i think over a hundred of those and then they made a much smaller number of what they call the coda trunker which is the cam tail the square tail of this this is one of those that’s the shape i preferred even though it was rare as i took a bit of finding one um so these were built for racing but they built on a standard julieta chassis and uh it’s of course this this uh i like the lotus twin cam i’m i’m a great fan of falcon and the twin cam engines you know they they just lovely um the way this delivers torque and and uh the way it revs is is lovely so this took a lot of finding this particular one a friend of mine in the states um found this for me in an auction in the states have you ever seen windscreen wipers with a connecting rod like that yes well it saves having a heavy link underneath so you only drive one wiper and then this one’s a slave that saves a little bit of weight great solution yeah it stops them flying off on the motorways so i’ve done a couple of rallies in this it’s good good fun right now the 550 spider yeah so the spider is a replica but it’s a very very good replica there’s a guy in the states that made six and the aluminium and the rivet spacing and everything is is just like the real thing um and i’ve just always adored the shape it’s another lesson in how simple can be pretty you know it doesn’t have to be proportional everything about this car i love and this one’s got a 714 porsche in the back falcon under porsche and uh it’s great fun to drive i have to be honest i have no idea what this is this is a bit of history so this this one is a history lesson this is once again growing up in south africa technically speaking not quite the first because somebody else made a couple of sports cars but the first recognizable car company south african car company was gsm which stood for glass sport motors yes and it was guys in the 50s that discovered fiberglass they came over to the uk and learnt all about that and started designing a car called the dart a gsm dart in the uk but then took it all back to south africa where they came from and they built uh i think about 140 of them or so and they won everything they were light simple um and i remember i raced against a couple in the 60s that was built as a racing car was an open top car very crude i’ve actually got one of those as well but it needs restoring okay and and the reason why i bought that and this is just because of my history so they moved on and they thought they’d do a more sort of uh usable road car and a fixed head coupe this is called a flamingo gsm flamingo they made about 120 of them their naming department was on point they had dart the flamingo yeah yeah indeed this one’s got a 1500 cortina engine and they even the last ones they put a chevy v8 in them i think um but it’s it’s actually once again you know the styling sort of it was good enough to stand a test of time and the reason why i’ve got one is once again as a teenager when these came out i looked at it and i thought wow no that’s a real sports car it’s built in south africa and it’s really pretty is there anything from your youth or beyond that that you’ve got your eye on at the moment what’s what’s not in the collection that you’ve got i think i think i’m pretty much there to be honest you know there’s a couple of little abouts that i that i would still love to find um but they they come up so seldom yeah you know um the bikes we should touch on them there’s a few there’s probably still a few bikes to collect isn’t it what’s this indeed yeah well the story behind the bikes is i my first motorcycle was a maserati 50 which my dad bought for me is 10 pounds worth of non-runner and i had to rebuild the engine and the gearbox from from from 16 to 18 i rode i still ride bikes i love bikes and um i had that because you had to be 18 in an essay to get a car license crashed it for two years he lost skin because those days no crash helmets no shoes t-shirt and shorts you know and uh i just loved it again it’s styling you know i i’ve always loved good style and good proportion and they’re all little works of art you know and so i bought this mazer about 20 years ago and then i remember about four or five other there was etom uh beta garelli a few other manufacturers that imported into south africa and i thought well i’ll collect one of each not thinking there were dozens of manufacturers so it’s become a bit of a mission now to have one of each manufacturer and i’ve now got 40 of them how many more to go uh i think about eight yeah nearly there yeah nearly there so wow but but they’re all works of art you know at home i’ve got a lot more at home got about 16 at home and they’re all in my workshop on the walls i see them every single day it really is peaceful if one of them’s running i i run it for a bit just for fun but then they get hung on the wall and i must ask just before we finish we could talk all day but um uh what did you turn up in today it’s always fascinating to see you i turned up in my my everyday car which is an a110 lp yeah which is interesting because that’s probably the most modern or the newest the youngest car in your collection it is it is for 16 years that smart kept it in the collection because it was an important that was my everyday car until i got the alpine i couldn’t find anything else small and light and fun and it’s just it just ticks those boxes it does yeah yeah it would be even better if it was a little bit smaller n a engine and a manual gearbox it would be perfect but uh but it’s it’s probably in my in my view the best little sports car out there and that will stay your daily driver until the point when someone produces something better absolutely yeah well gordon thank you so much this has been absolutely brilliant no idea how long we’ve been talking for probably way too long but it’s been fascinating every single second yeah it’s been a pleasure thanks for having us

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