De­sign leg­end Gor­don Mur­ray speaks to us about the

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - News -

This 2016 Lon­don Clas­sic Car Show at the Ex­CeL Cen­tre is to fea­ture a trib­ute to the McLaren F1 and its mas­ter­mind – de­signer Gor­don Mur­ray. It’s set to tell the story of his vi­sion, ex­plore his phi­los­o­phy and re­veal the many ex­tra­or­di­nary de­tails that make up the McLaren F1.

The man be­hind the ma­chine will be live on stage at the show on the pre­view evening on Thurs­day 18 Fe­bru­ary. Clas­sic Car Weekly’s Mur­ray Scul­lion caught up with him to talk about the show, as well as dis­cuss the mas­ter­piece that is the McLaren F1.

HOW DID YOU GET IN­VOLVED IN THE SHOW? The or­gan­is­ers ap­proached me and I was re­ally hon­oured to get in­volved with the Lon­don Clas­sic Car Show. We had quite a few ideas knock­ing around as to what we wanted to do. It was an open dis­cus­sion and I was fine with all the sug­ges­tions. At one point we were close to them­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion around the For­mula 1 cars I’ve de­signed, but we agreed to con­cen­trate on the McLaren F1.

WHY THE F1? The McLaren hasn’t been cov­ered in enough de­tail and this show gives us the op­por­tu­nity to do it. The car of­ten gets lost in num­bers and ac­co­lades and peo­ple gloss over the de­sign of it. I’ve de­signed 70 ve­hi­cles but the McLaren F1 is the stand­out car. With rac­ing cars you have in­spi­ra­tion ev­ery six or seven years and ev­ery­thing else is evo­lu­tion. The McLaren F1 was de­signed from a com­pletely clean sheet.

WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU WOULD HAVE CHANGED ON THE MCLAREN F1? I de­signed the F1 from the ground up and lit­er­ally signed off thou­sands of pieces of de­sign pa­pers. How­ever there’s one piece of de­sign that’s al­ways ag­gra­vated me. In the cock­pit there’s an in­te­rior light switch, which rat­tled around on high-speed runs. The pro­duc­tion guys made a bracket for it, which at­tached to an­other bracket, which I hate. It ru­ins the whole car for me. It should re­ally be just one alu­minium piece.


EC­CLE­STONE? No­body knew what was go­ing on with Bernie at Brab­ham! Noth­ing was com­mu­ni­cated to us in an 18-month pe­riod. When he fi­nally took con­trol at Brab­ham he sacked the rest of the de­sign­ers and left me in charge.


MUCH DID THAT IN­FLU­ENCE YOU? Dad was a mo­tor me­chanic back in South Africa, and he never had a new car un­til my brother and I bought him one. Grow­ing up, we al­ways had Peu­geots – 203s and 403s. Peu­geot’s wins in the East African Sa­fari Rally def­i­nitely proved good ad­ver­tis­ing for a mo­tor­sport-lov­ing fam­ily. We also had a MkI Ford Zephyr.

SO, WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CAR? A 1956 Hill­man Minx. I ac­tu­ally wanted an Austin-Healey Sprite but they were too much money, and it was my dad who was hav­ing to buy it.


SHOW AS EA­GERLY AS THE REST OF US? I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to see­ing it and to see what the or­gan­is­ers have done with it. I’ve never worked with a more help­ful bunch of peo­ple and I’m re­ally pleased vis­i­tors will be able to see a McLaren F1 up close. So many peo­ple would not have had the chance oth­er­wise, and this op­por­tu­nity will re­ally show­case what I be­lieve is a bril­liant ma­chine.

DO YOU HAVE A FLEET OF CLAS­SICS? I’m a huge fan of clas­sic cars from all coun­tries and I es­pe­cially love Amer­i­can stuff. The French have de­signed some won­der­ful cars and the Re­nault 4 is par­tic­u­larly bril­liant. I’ve got an Austin-Healey Fro­g­eye Sprite, Mi­nis, a 1500 Tri­umph Spit­fire, two Lotus Elans, var­i­ous Corti­nas, and a McLaren F1. I drive them too – in the sum­mer all my clas­sics get a good run and I com­mute to work in them as well.

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