Famed designer Gordon Murray is best known for developing the McLaren F1 and more recently, his own brand of driver-focused, V-12-powered mid-engine supercars. But in the mid-to-late 2010s, he seemed poised to release a more affordable sports car, codenamed T.43.
The mid-engine machine sounded like every enthusiast's fantasy: A mid-engine layout, a 215-hp turbocharged engine, a manual transmission, a curb weight under 1873 pounds, and a base price under $50,000.
Murray told Road & Track in a 2019 interview the car would be "a Lotus Elise, but usable every day."
"You can get in and out," he said. "It's got a roof. It's got air-conditioning that works, sound system, sat nav, airbags, (etc.)."
Murray and his team joined forces with Yamaha to put the car into production, telling Road & Track at a recent interview at Laguna Seca during Monterey Car Week the team got as far as running prototypes before a change of leadership at Yamaha forced the car out of development.
"It would've been in production now for four years," Murray told us. "The business plan we did for them, it was going to be 5,000 units a year. So there would be 20,000 of them out there now."
When asked whether he would restart development if another manufacturer approached him to collaborate, Murray shut the idea down.
"The problem [is] now they want electric," Murray told Road & Track. "The time [to build the car] was then." Now, it's too late.
You might be thinking, why doesn't Murray build the car himself? His own company, Gordon Murray Automotive, is currently producing the T.50, the modern interpretation of the McLaren F1.
"We don't have the capability to make high-volume [cars]," Murray says. "But we can make it happen for other [manufacturers]."
Murray is striving to keep his cars exclusive, so expanding his company to build something more mass-market and affordable wouldn't make sense.
"We promised we'll never do more than a hundred of anything," Murray told us. "That's one of our principles. We might go less, but we won't go more."
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