Gor­don Mur­ray re­cre­ates his Brab­ham BT44 F1 and Duck­hams Ford sports pro­to­type de­signs, then gives them a blast on track

Gor­don’s on cloud nine after driv­ing two cars from his early de­sign days – his con­tin­u­a­tion Brab­ham BT44 and T3 Duck­hams Le Mans pro­to­type

Classic Cars (UK) - - Welcome -

Here at Gor­don Mur­ray De­sign we are as­sem­bling a her­itage col­lec­tion that we hope to dis­play in a spe­cial build­ing after our head­quar­ters move in two years’ time. The col­lec­tion has three sec­tions – my early per­sonal car de­signs from the Six­ties and Sev­en­ties, the rac­ing cars I de­signed, and cars we have pro­duced at GMD.

We’re do­ing pretty well with the first group, be­gin­ning with the re­built IGM Ford (T1) I ran up the hill at the Good­wood Fes­ti­val of Speed last year. The IGM Min­bug (T2) is also com­plete and run­ning. We re­cently found and are about to re­store T4, the For­mula 750 rac­ing car I de­signed and started build­ing in 1972 when I was work­ing at Brab­ham.

The miss­ing car from my early years was T3, the Duck­hams Ford Le Mans 3.0-litre pro­to­type that I de­signed for Alain de Cadenet to race in the 24 Hour race of 1972. It was a great can­di­date for a con­tin­u­a­tion car be­cause I still had all the draw­ings. I was also keen to build a con­tin­u­a­tion Brab­ham BT44, which pro­duced my first Grand Prix win in 1974.

Armed with my orig­i­nal draw­ings, many pho­to­graphs and some as­sis­tance from Bernie Ec­cle­stone, we set about find­ing some­one to build the cars and came up with two com­pa­nies who fre­quently work to­gether on clas­sic builds. R&J Simp­son En­gi­neer­ing built the mono­co­ques, bod­ies, sus­pen­sions and sys­tems, and Akron Sport man­aged the pow­er­trains, fin­ish­ing, set-up and run­ning. Both com­pa­nies did a fan­tas­tic job – the cars are beau­ti­fully built and in­cred­i­bly ac­cu­rate.

With the builds fin­ished, I nos­tal­gi­cally re­lived my de­sign days in the early Sev­en­ties. I had flash­backs of prob­lem­solv­ing and mo­ments of in­spi­ra­tion when I picked out de­sign de­tails on the cars. For ex­am­ple, the Brab­ham BT44 was the first car to use rod-op­er­ated ris­ing-rate sus­pen­sion and to at­tach the rear spring load di­rectly to the en­gine, and of course to have that aero­dy­namic tri­an­gu­lar shape.

An­other thing that struck me was just how tidy and com­pact F1 cars were then. The Duck­hams LM also brought back great me­mories of our 1972 gi­ant-killing Le Mans trip. I find it fas­ci­nat­ing that the brain has the abil­ity to re­mem­ber the fun stuff while block­ing out the mem­ory of 20 hour days and de­sign­ing on my draw­ing board un­til three in the morn­ing in an un­heated flat!

The best part of the re-ac­quain­tance came when Akron Sport brought both cars to Dunsfold for a shake­down. Akron driver Aaron Scott gave them a pre­lim­i­nary run, then it was my turn. I ran the F1 car first. Even with the seat out it was a tight fit (I’ve put on two stone since I last drove a 44 in 1975). It rained as I went on track, adding to the thrill of my first F1 drive in 43 years. The car felt very tight and con­nected and a lit­tle like a video game.

The LM car also felt taut and re­spon­sive. It was in­ter­est­ing too, be­cause I hadn’t driven the orig­i­nal back in 1972. I was amazed by the 3.0-litre DFV – so re­spon­sive and pow­er­ful, and such a great sound.

I was on cloud nine after Dunsfold. It was so up­lift­ing to drive my de­signs after all those years – that morn­ing has gone down as one of my best-ever clas­sic car ex­pe­ri­ences.

Gor­don was on cloud nine after driv­ing his con­tin­u­a­tion Brab­ham BT44 F1 car and Duck­hams Ford

Gor­don Mur­ray is one of the most in­no­va­tive au­to­mo­tive de­sign­ers of his gen­er­a­tion. He de­signed Gp-win­ning F1 cars for Brab­ham and Mclaren and the Mclaren F1 road car.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.