100 World Class South Africans: Gordon Murray

2013-06-04 12:00

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A true petrolhead

He may not have been in the driver’s seat, but there can’t have been a prouder man than Gordon Murray when the McLaren F1 became the fastest sports car in the world in 1998.

As the engineer and designer of the vehicle, Murray was the reason it could reach 372km/h.

Having studied mechanical engineering in Durban, he’d built and raced his own car – the IGM Ford – in the SA National class in the late 60s.

He moved to the UK in 1969, and became the brain behind the world championship winningBT49 car (created for Brabham).

By the mid-80s, Murray’s range of vehicles had scored 22 Grand Prix wins and helped make Nelson Piquet the drivers’ champion in1981 and 1983.

During his stint at McLaren (from 1987 to 2006), Murray continued to create cars that defied the norms – including the super car/road car crossover Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.

Five years ago he launched Gordon Murray Design in London. Here, speed isn’t the focus, but cars for daily life.

The company has developed the T25, a tiny three-seater that can reach 161km/h, and its electric version, the T27 – they’re still prototypes but if his F1 record is anything to go by, Murray’s cars will soon be first on the production finishing line.

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