F1 Designer Gordon Murray’s Car Collection In 2024 Is As Legendary As The Man Himself

By Simon Boseman

Published June 23, 2024

F1 Designer Gordon Murray’s Car Collection In 2024 Is As Legendary As The Man Himself

Gordon Murray is an automotive legend who enthusiasts call the father of F1. The South African-British designer has been associated with brands like Brabham and McLaren for almost two decades. For McLaren alone, the cars designed by Murray have a 75 percent success rate which is an unmatchable feat today even with all the advanced technologies. 

The genius has a rich history with cars since the age of 5 and he has been influenced heavily by his motorcycle racer father. It is as if Gordon was destined to become a driver but he also became a designer simply because his family lacked money to buy cars and car parts. Meaning he had to manage the parts, designs, and sometimes even the entire car on his own to get into the races. 

After spending four decades with road cars, racecars, designs, racing teams, and World Championships, isn’t it obvious that Gordon Murray’s car collection would be one of the most unique in the entire world? The founder of Gordon Murray Automotive has 14 garages dedicated just to his classic cars and he currently owns more than 30 cars and over 40 motorcycles.

The nostalgic Mark IV Cooper 500

The 1951 Mark IV Cooper 500 is a Formula 3 that gets Gordon nostalgic. The classic car is the earliest memory of his father working on an automobile. Gordon Murray saw him working on the Mark IV Cooper which belonged to someone else but he is so fond of that memory that he bought one for himself. 

T1: Gordon’s first creation

Right next to the Mark IV Cooper, Gordon Murray keeps the first-ever car he built. The 1967 IGM T1 is truly handmade and the only thing Gordon didn’t build was the Weber carburettors. But he had to borrow the money from his brother and his aunt. And it was worth it because he drove the T1 a few years ago at Goodwood and felt like “19 again”. 

Brabham BT44: The Gamechanger

While the IGM T1 was Gordon’s first creation, the Brabham BT44 is the one that changed the whole game in the history of F1. The BT44 is an improved version of the BT42 with some changes in the design elements, specifically the rising rate suspension was taken from the 750 Formula racing car that he previously designed. 

This resulted in better control of roll and bump and at the same time, moved the spring out of the airstream reducing any blockage of the air rushing through. If you are wondering how much it changed history, at present, there is not a single racing car without a rising rate and rod suspension. 

Gordon Murray T50s Niki Lauda

That brings us to the latest creation and it’s a true masterpiece. Gordon Murray’s T50s Niki Lauda, named after the late 3-time world champion, has a 3.9L V12 engine that obviously comes without any forced induction. The $4.3 million fan-car weighs only 1,878 lbs and delivers 725 horsepower.

If that doesn’t feel bonkers to you, the production number is limited to 25 only, and each of the Niki Laudas will commemorate a race won by a Formula 1 designed by Murray. 24 units of this track-only hypercar have been sold out while one takes the throne in the middle of Gordon’s garage. 

Is the Alpine A110 Gordon Murray’s daily driver? 

Moving on to the road-only options, Murray has driven more than a hundred cars in his life and it is really hard to say which one is the most favored here. However, one of his latest purchases from the last decade is the 2018 Alpine A110. Since then we have seen him riding the car with a bug-like front facia on multiple occasions. 

The top five from Gordon Murray’s car collection

Gordon, however, is not that lenient towards the Alpine and he mentioned a few others when questioned about his favorites from the garage. 

Alfa Romeo 1600 Junior Zagato

Accused of Gordon’s favoritism among his 30+ fleet of cars is the 1973 Alfa Romeo 1600 Junior Zagato. The classic was modified with the help of the British company Alfaholics. Murray had to move the seat mounting a little backward and had to lower it as well. The upgraded Junior Zagato made him fall in love and make it his daily driver. 

Abarth 1000 GT Bialbero

Taking second place is the 1963 Abarth 1000 GT Bialbero and it comes with a 1L twin-cam engine delivering just over a hundred horsepower. The 1000 GT won the inaugural World Sportscar Championship and went on to ensure 6 consecutive wins. 

Lancia Appia with Zagato coachwork

The number 3 on the list is another beautiful and rare Lancia Appia from the mid-50s. Although the original production number for the Appia is around 100k Lancia gave about 5% of the total to different coachbuilders. Murray’s Lancia Appia is one of the 700 that Zagato built and it is fitted with a narrow-angle 1,100 CC V4 engine. 

De Tomaso Vallelunga

The only De Tomaso in Gordon’s garage is among his favorites as well. The 1966 De Tomaso Vallelunga came with a mid-rear engine fitted inside a backbone chassis. Its sensual Italian shape is compiled with a Cortina 1500 GT engine from Ford - how can anyone not love the Vallelunga?

Lotus Elite

Gordon as a teenager was a fan of Colin Chapman, another automotive legend who designed and built so many incredible cars. So it’s a dead giveaway that Gordon loves Lotus cars and the beautiful black Lotus Elite from 1963 sits at the bottom of his top five. The Elite was the world’s first road car that came with an all-composite carbo-fiber monocoque. 

Gordon’s love for Lotus

The Lotus Elite is not the only car that found a place in Gordon Murray’s garage as he has 3 more- 

Lotus Elan

Gordon has not one but 2 Lotus Elan models elevating the glamour of his garage. The first is the Lotus Elan S3 variant from 1966 and the other is the 1970 Lotus Elan S4. The two look eerily similar because of the same chassis and color and the only differences are the narrow grill-like structure after the window and the fuel system. Murray had a Lotus Elan S3 before he bought these two and he considers the Lotus Elan to be the best sports car. 

Lotus Eleven

The Lotus Eleven sits at a distance from its cousins in the same garage. The front-engine single-seater open-top sports car is from 1958 and Gordon has it in green with bright yellow along the middle of the hood and a little silver covering along the sides near the ground. 

Gordon’s Midas Touch

Gordon Murray has a Midas touch, there is no denying that fact. However, we are talking about the Midas car from the early 90s. Midas was already good-looking and that’s what hitcheed Gordon in the first place but being who he is, there were some necessary changes. 

Murray brought in a new lower section transforming the Midas into a mid-engine car and fitted a new Alfasud engine in it. The only backlog is that his Midas is still not perfect by his definition and he admitted to driving it around the car park only. 

Ferrari over Lamborghini

The automotive designer was considering the Lamborghini Urraco during the late 70s. The Ferrari 246 Dino was somewhat of a contemporary but Murray never liked the looks of it. However, the Ferrari 308 GT4 was able to change his mind and Gordon ended up bringing it home instead of the Lambo. 

Minibug T2 and Euro Trip

While most celebrities opt for a rental to take a tour around the cities of Europe, Gordon Murray and his wife decided to build one for themselves. With the help of a young friend, Murray had already built four Minibugs but for the special trip, he made “Continuation No 5” with a Mini Cooper S engine. The Minibug T2 turned out to be a blast. 

Is seeing Doubles a natural thing?

There are a few cars in Gordon Murray’s car collection that seem like they came in pairs. The truth is, despite them being from the same brand or having great similarities, Gordon just couldn’t stop after buying one. 

Fiat-Abarth 750 GT Zagato and Fiat-Abarth 1000 SP

Both these racing cars were built by Abarth in Turin, Italy. The Abarth 750 belongs to the compact sporting series from the 50s while the Abarth 1000 SP was from Group 4 debuting in the early 60s. Both these cars were based on the Fiat 600 and Murray owns them with pride. 

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Zagato and Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider

The Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Zagato was a somewhat remodeled version of the Alfa Romeo Sprint Veloce. Zagato delivered a winner for Alfa Romeo for the International Championship for GT Manufacturers.

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider came in 1962 and it was basically a renamed Giuletta but an open-top version. Given the level of success and popularity, it would have been unusual to not see the two Alfa Romeo included in Gordon Murray’s car collection. 

Couple of Fiat 500

The former technical director of McLaren has two Fiat 500 models sitting in his garage. The Fiat 500 is the absolute definition of a small lightweight car and given Gordon’s love for lightweight cars, it is easy to guess that he is quite fond of the yellow and white couple. 

Ford Cortina GT and Ford Thunderbird

Now these two are the exact opposites of the Fiat 500. The Ford Cortina is a mid-sized family car while the Cortina GT is a more performance-oriented variant. Murray really loves driving this one as it offers the thrill of the 60s.

The Ford Thunderbird, on the other hand, is one of the most prolific names from the muscle car era and Murray has one with a porthole hardtop. Both are equally iconic and prove that Gordon’s garage is the most versatile among the collectors. 

Smart Roadster

The Thunderbird is not the only droptop in the garage as Murray has a few more. The Smart Roadster is one of them and he loves driving around in this. Gordon stated in an interview that the Roadster is a great car and it does everything he needs. The Smart sportscar being small and lightweight are obvious contributing factors behind his statement. 

Austin-Healey Sprite 

Produced from 1958 to 1961, the Austin-Healey Sprite is a 2-seater sports car that was known for its distinctive appearance. The front fascia of the car looked like a bug and even had nicknames like “Frogeye Sprite” or “Bugeye Sprite”.

The car is lightweight and despite its unimpressive power output, the handling was agile enough to provide a lively driving experience. It was more popular for racing and rallying and Murray loved the car, especially for its distinctive styling.

The Racing DNAs from Gordon Murray’s car collection

The following were built for the track only and are also some of the closest to the automotive legend. 

Le Mans 3.0-litre prototype

The Prototype is one of the most unusual yet cool cars in Murray’s possession and it is one of the best as well. The Le Mans 3.0L prototype aka the Duckhams was built in just four months as Alain de Cadenet was going to race in 1972. 

They agreed for a fee of 250 quids for Gordon but at the end of building the pancake-flat race car, he only got 200. However, Murray said Alain gave him a Hewlett-Packard scientific calculator to compensate for the 50 quids he still owed him. 

Light Car Company Rocket

This is the car with the most appropriate name in the entire history of automobiles. The Light Car Company Rocket was built in 1993 and it is still one of the lightest cars on the road with just over 815 lbs. The torque of 77lb-ft might not look the most exhilarating but it was more than enough at that time. Gordon made it from bespoke parts with a Yamaha FZR1000 engine. 

Sprint Car

Next to the LCC Rocket is the Al Sherman Sprint Car which looks like a distant cousin. The Sprint Car was made by Ford back in 1948 and the transverse leaf spring suspension helped it gain a new high. Al Sherman raced with it from 1948 to 1954 and made it a legend on the tracks.

Beyond the racecars and lightweights

Gordon Murray’s car collection is not just about quirky four-wheelers. He is more about having fun and doing something that people don’t usually do. Take the Porsche 550 Spyder, for example, which looks so real that even the manufacturer might be taken aback to learn that it’s a replica. 

Another funny characteristic of Murray is that he loves motorcycles. We know what you are thinking, “his father was a motorcycle racer, how is this funny”? Gordon has over forty motorbikes and the most amazing part is that he has one from each manufacturer. 

He rides them just for fun which is how it should be. But wait, once he is through with a bike, he hangs it on his garage wall. Some of the most exclusive from his list are - the 1952 Atala 65T Ducati Cucciolo, 1967 Ducati 200 Elite, 1968 Oscar Super Sport Sport, and 1968 Tetsi champion MK 1 among many others.

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