Gordon Murray

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Gordon Murray

Ian Gordon Murray

(1946-06-18) 18 June 1946 (age 76)
Alma materDurban University of Technology
OccupationExecutive chairman
Employer(s)Gordon Murray Design (2005–present)
McLaren Group (1987–2004)
Brabham (1969–1986)
Known forBrabham Motor Racing
Team McLaren
McLaren F1

Ian Gordon Murray[2] CBE (born 18 June 1946 in Durban, Union of South Africa),[3] is a South African-born British[1][4] designer of Formula One racing cars and the McLaren F1 road car. He is the founder and CEO of Gordon Murray Automotive.

Early life[edit]

Born to Scottish immigrant parents, Murray was born and grew up in Durban, South Africa. His father was a motorcycle racer and later prepared racing cars. Murray studied mechanical engineering at Natal Technical College, now Durban University of Technology. He built and raced his own car, the IGM Ford, in the South African National Class during 1967 and 1968.

Formula One career[edit]

Brabham: 1969–1986[edit]

Murray moved to England in 1969, hoping to find a job at Lotus Cars. But Murray was offered a job at Brabham after coincidentally meeting then Brabham designer Ron Tauranac. When Bernie Ecclestone took over the Brabham team, he appointed Murray Chief Designer. There Murray designed many Grand Prix cars, some of which were World Championship Grand Prix winners. These designs include the extraordinary BT46B, also known as "the Brabham fan car", as well as the World Championship winning BT49 and BT52. Murray developed a reputation for an innovative approach to design, applied not only to car concepts and details but also to race strategy.[5]

Between 1973 and 1985 Murray's Brabhams scored 22 Grand Prix wins, finished 2nd in the Constructors' Championship in 1975 and 1981,[6] and gave Nelson Piquet Drivers' Championships in 1981 and 1983.[7] For the 1986 season, Murray designed the radical and highly ambitious lowline Brabham BT55 in an effort to increase downforce without adding excessive drag by lowering overall ride height. The car however was not a success, and the year proved disastrous for Brabham, with the team's 1985 car, the Brabham BT54 called into use for the British Grand Prix in a desperate effort to get results.

McLaren: 1987–1991[edit]

In 1986 Murray received an offer from Ron Dennis to join McLaren as Technical Director, taking over the role formerly held by John Barnard. Murray brought his Brabham experience into the McLaren design team, led by Steve Nichols, working on the MP4/4 car for the 1988 season. This Honda turbo-powered engine car won 15 of the season's 16 Grands Prix, and gave Ayrton Senna his first Drivers' Championship.[8] In the Constructors' Championship McLaren's points score of 199 was (at that time) an all-time high. Murray also oversaw the design of the naturally-aspirated engined 1989 MP4/5 and 1990 MP4/5B with lead designer Neil Oatley.[9] The MP4/5 and MP4/5B won the driver's and constructor's championships in both years. Over the period 1988–91 the McLaren team won four consecutive Constructors' and Drivers' Championships: Alain Prost won the Drivers' Championship in 1989, Senna won further Drivers' Championships in 1990 and 1991.[10]

List of Formula One designs[edit]

A list of cars designed by Gordon Murray and actually raced in Formula One:

McLaren Cars[edit]

From 1991 to 2004, Murray headed the offshoot McLaren Cars team to design road-going supercars such as the McLaren F1.

Gordon Murray Design[edit]

In July 2007 the Gordon Murray Design consultancy was established, and released initial details regarding its upcoming T.25 (Type 25) prototype city car along with mention of a future lightweight, economical supercar project.[11][12] The T25 would be smaller than a Smart Fortwo.[13]

On 17 November 2008 Gordon Murray won the 'Idea of the Year' accolade at Autocar magazine's annual awards ceremony for the manufacturing process for the T.25.[14]

In November 2009 Gordon Murray Design and Zytek Automotive announced plans to develop an electric-powered version, the T.27.[15] The car being a product of a partnership between Murray's company and British technology company Zytek, in charge of building the powertrain.[16]

A celebration of 50 years of Murray's involvement in the car industry was held called One Formula. Every one of Murray's F1 designs was on display along with the McLaren F1 roadcar and examples from his personal car collection, along with hundreds of rock band T-shirts that Murray had amassed over the years.[citation needed] The book One Formula - 50 years of car design details Murray's designs.[17]

On 4 August 2020, Murray released the T.50 sports car, the "logical successor" to the McLaren F1.[18]

On 27 January 2022, Gordon Murray Automotive announced the T.33 super car. A twin-seater 'day to day' super car with the same engine from the T.50, but built on a new platform to be used by three other future cars. [19] [20]

Other projects[edit]

In 1981, Murray was involved in improvements for Midas Cars.

Murray independently designed the Rocket, an ultra-lightweight, open cockpit roadster powered by a 1-litre motorcycle engine, which has an appearance similar to that of a 60's era Grand Prix car. Looking like a single-seater, it could accommodate a passenger in tandem with the driver, the second seat located beneath a removable cover. The Rocket was built by former racing driver Chris Craft at the Light Car Company. Murray is a contributing editor for American Road & Track.[21]

In September 2016 it was announced that Murray had been appointed to develop the OX truck, a flat pack low-cost vehicle, for the British charity Global Vehicle Trust (GVT).[22] GVT founded OX Delivers to utilise the design to make last-mile transport more accessible and reliable in emerging markets. Murray created four experimental prototypes; XP1-XP4. XP2, XP3, and XP4 are owned by OX Delivers, with two of the vehicles having been converted to fully-electric trucks. XP1 is owned by Murray for his private collection.

From 2015, Murray collaborated with TVR to design the upcoming TVR models,[23] with the TVR Griffith released in 2017.


His alma mater, Durban University of Technology, made Gordon Murray an Honorary Professor in 2002 and awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2011. In the 2019 New Year Honours list Murray was awarded a CBE for services to motoring.[24] In 2022 Murray was awarded the inaugural FIA President's Innovation Medal, 'for his constant innovative approach to race and road car design'.[25]


  1. ^ a b "Director Ian Gordon Murray, Designer Ian Gordon Murray". Directorstats.co.uk. 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  2. ^ "Racing principles' role in cutting emissions". BBC News. 9 June 2008. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
  3. ^ "Gordon Murray". oldracingcars.com. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  4. ^ "Nelson Piquet". Motor Sport Magazine. December 1981. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  5. ^ Cross, N. and A. Clayburn Cross (1996) "Designing to Win: the methods of Gordon Murray, racing car designer", Design Studies, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 91–107.
  6. ^ Henry, A. (1985) Brabham: The Grand Prix Cars, Hazleton Publishing, Richmond, Surrey, UK.
  7. ^ "F1 Team & Drivers Hall of Fame: Nelson Piquet". FIA. Retrieved 24 October 2007.
  8. ^ McLaren MP4/4 Owners' Workshop Manual: 1988 (all models) - An insight into the design, engineering and operation of the most successful F1 car ever built (Haynes Owners' Workshop Manual), ISBN 978-1785211379
  9. ^ Porter, Philip (2019) Gordon Murray: One Formula: 50 years of car design, Porter Press, Tenbury Wells, UK. Vol. 2. pp. 486-558. ISBN 978-1913089061
  10. ^ "F1 Team & Drivers Hall of Fame: Ayrton Senna". FIA. Retrieved 24 October 2007.
  11. ^ "T.25 - The Facts". Gordon Murray Design Limited. Archived from the original on 6 September 2009. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  12. ^ "New Models: Gordon Murray's ultra-lightweight microcar: first details". Channel 4. Archived from the original on 14 January 2009. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  13. ^ Tan, Paul. "5 Things We Know About Gordon Murray's T25 City Car". Paultan.org. Retrieved 2 October 2010.
  14. ^ Ed (18 November 2008). "Wins 2008 Idea of the year". Gizmag.com. Retrieved 2 October 2010.
  15. ^ "F1 Designer Unveils Electric Car". BBC News. 5 November 2009. Retrieved 2 October 2010.
  16. ^ "More details: T27 electric car". Autocar.co.uk. 5 November 2009. Retrieved 2 October 2010.
  17. ^ Murray, Gordon; Porter, Philip (2019). One Formula - 50 years of car design. Porter Press International. ISBN 9781907085307.
  18. ^ "Gordon Murray T50 is V12-powered McLaren F1 successor". Autocar. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  19. ^ "Gordon Murray Automotive reveals 607bhp, V12-engined T.33". Topgear.com. 27 January 2022. Retrieved 11 February 2022.
  20. ^ "Gordon Murray reveals the secrets behind his new T.33 supercar & why he loves V12 engines". Retrieved 11 February 2022 – via YouTube.
  21. ^ Hide Comments (1 February 2002). "On the Road – On the Road (1/2006)". RoadandTrack.com. Archived from the original on 21 November 2007. Retrieved 2 October 2010.
  22. ^ "Shell to further power progress on the Global Vehicle Trust OX: the inventive flat-pack truck". Automotive World. 11 April 2018. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  23. ^ "TVR confirms carbonfibre chassis for new sports car". Evo. 21 January 2016. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  24. ^ "Gordon Murray is made a CBE in 2019 New Year Honours". Car Dealer Magazine. 28 December 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  25. ^ "FIA President's Innovation Award". FIA. 10 December 2022. Retrieved 3 January 2023.

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