We need to talk about the GMA T.50...
The last great analogue supercar... or a pointless attempt to recapture a bygone era?
We've all heard about Gordon Murray's attempt to create another McLaren F1-style supreme driving machine. An analogue, naturally aspirated supercar with a manual gearbox and aero technology derived from his experiments with fan cars in the 1980s. On paper, it seems like an absolutely formidable machine with its naturally aspirated 700 hp, 6 speed manual gearbox, RWD and promises of insane levels of downforce. It's the only real attempt to make something like the McLaren F1 again - it even has the F1's 3 seat, central driving position seating configuration! But is it a car that we actually need? Or even, a car that we actually want?
Whether we actually need a car like the GMA T.50 around is a question pretty much nobody has been asking. Everyone has been fawning so much over its all-analogue McLaren F1 for the 2020s promise that nobody has really stopped, taken a look at the whole package, and asked one question - why? Why, Gordon Murray? Why do you want to recapture the glory of a car you made nearly 30 years ago? This, I think, is where the GMA T.50 falls into something that's bigger than the car scene as a whole...
The retro revival is everywhere. People want 80s themed things. Synthwave/retrowave. The Cure. Stranger Things. The revival of Dungeons & Dragons. VHS-styled grainy footage. People want nostalgia and it's not just a type of nostalgia they experienced, but also a nostalgia people who are in their teenage years to mid 20s/early 30s now experienced vicariously through their parents' record collections and favourite films. People are absolutely obsessed with a bygone era, plenty of them having never even lived through it! This may be controversial, but I'm going to say it... it sucks. It's a trend. It's going to look horribly dated in about 5-10 years. Part of that trend, unfortunately, is the GMA T.50 and I will explain why.
All-analogue supercars are a relic of the 80s and 90s. I'm sorry, but they are. No supercar you can buy now is analogue in the slightest. All of them have rafts and rafts of electronic aids. All of them have super fast automated gearboxes that can shift faster than any human ever could with their hands and feet. Some of them don't even have gears at all. Gone are the screaming V12s of old, to be replaced with smaller turbocharged V6s and V8s, hybrid systems and even forgoing internal combustion altogether. Cars are moving along. Evolving. Adapting. Changing, because they have to change. We're on the verge of a climate crisis. ICE technology is at a plateau. Nobody drives manuals anymore and a lot of people don't even know how to press a clutch pedal.
When placed into this landscape, the GMA T.50 feels like a weird attempt to bring back something old. It's the car equivalent of buying a Pale Waves album. Whilst it may musically be very good, there's not really anything in there that's modern or cutting edge. It's a nostalgia trip and a self-indulgent one at that. Its 700 hp would have been incredibly impressive 20 or 30 years ago, but now, when you can buy a Tesla Model S that has more power than that... it seems a bit tame, really. I know it's 700 hp you'll only be able to control with the seat of your pants, but in the supercar game these days 700 hp is commonplace. Nothing special at all. Maybe even boring.
With all that said, however, the GMA T.50 does have one trick up its sleeve that is genuinely modern and advanced and that's the aerodynamics. Although the fan car idea comes from the 1980s, it's done in a different way to maximise traditional aero rather than suck the car to the road. The 6 different aero modes offer a wide variety of possibilities too. If we go back to the Pale Waves analogy, the ultra-modern aero is like the ultra-modern production they use to translate their heavily 80s inspired sounds into your ears. It's the modern sheen that brings a concept that should have been dead 30 years ago into the modern era. It's a token to modernism that's needed. We can all see the dissapointing results of not doing such a thing in the relative failure of Billy Corgan's self-assuredly (and perhaps obstinately) retro interpretation of the National Wrestling Alliance, even though their weekly TV show is free to watch on YouTube, a modern streaming platform.
This state of the art, crazy aerodynamics could yield some very cool results when the car is finally unleashed into the wild. Maybe it could even be something that's adopted in other supercars and hypercars down the road? It's a genuine possibility. The re-imagining of the fan technology could be truly, truly groundbreaking. It's something that we'll have to hold our breaths on though, as the T.50 is the first road car ever to have something like this.
So, is the GMA T.50 a car that's needed right now? In many ways, it isn't. It's an analogue car in a very digital world. It feels out of place. A fish out of water, if you may. But it's a fish out of water that's got one very, very cool trick up its sleeve and that's the multi-talented, fan-assisted aerodynamics. If there's one thing that the GMA T.50 will be remembered for in the future, it's probably going to be that. Otherwise, it just feels like a weird attempt by an old-school car designer to bring the 1980s into the 2020s. That's a bit of a shame, really.
Maybe the T.50 is just a prelude to more cool things GMA is going to conjure up down the line. Maybe Murray's going to have a crack at some kind of absolutely insane hybrid hypercar? A super light, super small, super sporty and super darty track weapon? A hyper GT? Who knows at this rate, honestly. The automotive industry has thrown us bigger curveballs in recent years.