Prepping the Gordon Murray Automotive T.50 for customer deliveries around the world means testing its systems and safety akin to that of a regular production car. For GMA, this mean taking validation prototype XP1 to Automotive Testing Papenburg (ATP) in Germany for a series of torture tests that would be comical if they weren’t so brutal on a real live $2.9 million coupe. As narrator Dario Franchitti explains, many of the tests are to ensure that the airbag deployment systems know how to tell one extreme circumstance from another, so the bag deploys in a crash instead of when the T.50 is launched into a gravel pile. Yep, that’s real. The T.50 was run at nearly 20 miles an hour into — and then up — a seven-foot pile of rocks. We have no idea what the test is meant to simulate but the T.50 aced it, beaching itself over the crest, its airbag un-deployed.
The other challenges drew a more direct line to real-world driving. There’s a 37-mph dash over Belgian cobblestones and another at the same speed over a speed bump, a simulated pothole strike for “anyone who has the misfortune of driving on UK roads,” and a mad dash over a fake railway crossing. The ramp test sends the 2,173-pound, 654-hp coupe flying off a 10-inch ramp at 43 miles per hour. The steel beam test simulates plowing the wheel face into a curb, this experiment breaking a tie rod and damaging a tire. Then there’s washboard at nearly 50 miles per hour, and finally, plowing into a “simulated wild boar” that weighs 180 pounds.
The man behind the machine clearly hasn’t forgotten how to design fast cars that protect their drivers. If Murray had given the T.50 a bit more ground clearance, it might make a decent bug-out ride for anyone who knows how to travel really light.