Designer Of The Day looks at an innovative designer who’s added value to the classic car industry. Gordon Murray has built a reputation as one of the finest classic car designers of his generation. He made a name for himself by designing race cars that competed in the Grand Prix. Murray is responsible for creating the BT49, BT52 and the McLaren F1.
Murray was born in Durban, South Africa to Scottish immigrant parents. His father was a motorcyclist and prepared racing cars, which likely contributed to Murray’s career path. He moved to England in 1969, hoping to get a job at Lotus Cars. However, he was offered a job at Brabham after he met Brabham designer Ron Tauranac. Murray demonstrated his skill and eventually became Chief Designer.
While working at Brabham, Murray designed the innovative BT4B Formula One car that featured several radical designs. It was powered by a flat-12 Alfa Romeo engine, but the car was banned because it went against common conventions. He also developed the championship winning BT49 and BT52. His attention to racing strategy helped push the company in the right direction. Between 1973 and 1985, his cars scored 22 Grand Prix wins.
In 1987, Murray moved to McLaren after receiving an offer from Ron Dennis. He joined the design team that was headed by Steve Nichols and played a role in creating the 1987 McLaren MP4/3. Murray has said that it was based on the drawings of his original Brabham BT55. He also designed its successor, the McLaren MP4/4. One of Murray’s most famous designs consisted of the McLaren F1. The iconic vehicle surpassed the Jaguar XJ220’s 213 mph record from 1992.
Murray dabbled in other projects, such as improving Midas Cars in 1981. He independently designed a lightweight, open cockpit roadster called the Rocket. It had a 1-litre engine and looked like a 60s era Grand Prix car.
Murray established his own design consultancy in 2007. Concepts from the consultancy included the T.25 prototype city car and T27. Recently, Murray has been involved with designing new TVR models, with the Griffith being unveiled last year.
Murray has earned his place among the greatest car designers of all time. Do you have any favourite car designers you’d like to see covered in our Designer Of The Day series? Let us know by commenting on our Inside Classics Facebook page.