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Car Q&A: Gordon Murray, designer of the iconic McLaren F1

The designer of the iconic McLaren F1 talks about creating a supercar
Gordon Murray, designer of the McLaren F1

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I designed the ultimate supercar. We priced accordingly

The McLaren F1 was the world's fastest (231mph) and most expensive (£634,000) road car when it launched 20 years ago and many experts deem it the finest sports car ever made. Gordon Murray designed it. He now runs his own company, Gordon Murray Design, and has conceived a new production process that could revolutionise carmaking.

Q: How did the McLaren F1 project come about?
A: Ron [Dennis, McLaren's chairman] wanted to expand the company and I'd wanted to design road cars since I was a kid. I'd always wanted to out-Ferrari Ferrari. McLaren gave me the tools and the budget and I got to work. It was a hugely brave step for Ron.

Q: Was top speed important?
A: Not at all. A top speed of more than 200 was, and is, irrelevant. Far more important for a 'supercar' is acceleration, braking, changing direction and, above all, throttle response. These were the McLaren F1 priorities.

Q: And the price?
A:It was the first million-dollar car but there was no pricing target when we began work. I designed the ultimate supercar. We priced accordingly.

Q: Your new company's production process (iStream) focuses on lightweight composites. Why does carmaking need to change?
A: We've been making cars the same way for 100 years. We need to reduce energy in car manufacturing and cut the weight of cars, reducing energy use and waste from cradle to grave. The plan is to license the technology. We're talking to a number of carmakers right now. 

Gavin Green

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