Photo by Mark Lewis Photography

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Photo by Mark Lewis Photography

An Evening with Professor Gordon Murray CBE - Review

‘One Formula’ Book Launch

Not for the first time this year, the Club’s motoring enthusiasts enjoyed an evening celebrating another car design legend, Professor Gordon Murray CBE.

The evening celebrated Gordon’s latest ambitious project – the result of countless hours of work and hundreds of drawings going into its creation. Not a car, but a book. Published by Porter Press, ‘One Formula – 50 Years of Car Design’ is a two-volume work encompassing nearly all of Gordon’s car designs, of which there are over 80, and our evening celebrated its day of launch.

During the evening, Gordon spoke candidly about his decision to write a book, deeming the 50-year mark as an appropriate milestone. With countless drawings, notes and sketches he was able to record the design story of each car, noting that the most difficult part was choosing what not to include.

During the evening Gordon explained his One Formula philosophy which has run throughout his career. He has always focused on lightweight race cars as the key to helping cars go faster, citing that the combustion engine has almost been pushed to its limits.

The Early Days

The evening was hosted by TV presenter, former Le Mans 24 Hours racing driver and long-term friend of Gordon’s, Alain de Cadenet.

After some motorsport success in South Africa, Gordon sold-up and boarded a converted cargo boat bound for England. It was there Gordon applied for a role at the Lotus Formula 1 team with Colin Chapman but was disappointed to hear that the manufacturer had ran out of funds.

After this setback he joined Brabham under Bernie Ecclestone’s leadership and quickly rose up the ranks. He spoke fondly of his cutting edge BT44B, a design which appeared in the rotunda in celebration of the evening. He also spoke about his other standout designs, including the short lived, but extremely successful, BT46B fan car.

The McLaren Era

Gordon and Alain then spoke about his time spent working at McLaren under Ron Dennis, and for the famous racing duo of Prost and Senna. He recalled his surprise when it was announced they couldn’t begin pre-season testing because Alain Prost had chosen to go skiing. The relaxed discipline of the team proved a big surprise to Gordon!

It was Alain’s turn to reminisce when the conversation moved onto Gordon’s road car designs, and in particular the McLaren F1 car. Alain remembered feeling the full force of the car as it raced to over 230 miles per hour when with him and Gordon in it.

The next big success story for Gordon was his McLaren F1 car competing and winning the at Le Mans 24 Hours race at its very first attempt. The Professor deemed the victory one of his greatest successes, at is demonstrated how good the car was in that it didn’t have to be modified to a huge extent. It was a resounding victory for the team.

Gordon Murray Design

Finally Gordon spoke about his decision to set up his own Design Company, Gordon Murray Design. Now in its twelfth year, the team’s latest iStream technology encompasses the lightweight ‘One Formula’ to help achieve light but robust vehicles. The platform is highly versatile, and can be tailored to fit all engine types, and even autonomous vehicles.

Gordon offered a glimpse into the other vehicles he’s currently working on, including a new autonomous vehicle. He also shared his passion for the Rocket Car built in 1991. Although he didn’t confirm a newer model was on the cards, he did reveal he was running out of reasons not to make a start.

Rotunda Cars

In celebration of the evening, two of Gordon’s designs were placed in the rotunda.

The Brabham BT44B was a Formula 1 car which was driven by Carlos Reutemann and Carlos Pace, in which both of whom achieved a Grand Prix victory.

Also displayed was the first car to be built and raced by Gordon – the IGM Ford T.1. This was his first ever racing car created in his parents’ backyard and raced in sprints, hillclimbs and South African Nation Sports Cars (Class A) before he sold up and boarded a cargo ship for England in 1969.

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