Gordon on a virtual 3D tour around his One Formula - 50 Years of Car Design
Celebrating the achievements and cars throughout his illustrious career, this virtual tour is a must-see for any enthusiast.
Ian Gordon Murray CBE (born 18 June 1946 in Durban, South Africa), is a South African-born British designer of Formula One racing cars and the McLaren F1 road car.
Born to Scottish immigrant parents, Murray was born and grew up in Durban, South Africa. His father was a motorcycle racer and later prepared racing cars. Murray studied mechanical engineering at Natal Technical College (now Durban University of Technology, which made Murray an Honorary Professor in 2002 and awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2011). He built and raced his own car, the IGM Ford, in the South African National Class during 1967 and 1968.
Formula One career
Murray moved to England in 1969, hoping to find a job at Lotus Cars. But Murray was offered a job at Brabham after coincidentally meeting then Brabham designer Ron Tauranac. When Bernie Ecclestone took over the Brabham team, he appointed Murray Chief Designer. There Murray designed many Grand Prix cars, some of which were World Championship Grand Prix winners. These designs include the extraordinary BT46B, also known as "the Brabham fan car", as well as the World Championship winning BT49 and BT52. Murray developed a reputation for an innovative approach to design, applied not only to car concepts and details but also to race strategy.
Between 1973 and 1985 Murray's Brabhams scored 22 Grand Prix wins, finished 2nd in the Constructors' Championship in 1975 and 1981, and gave Nelson Piquet Drivers' Championships in 1981 and 1983. For the 1986 season, Murray designed the radical and highly ambitious lowline Brabham BT55 in an effort to increase downforce without adding excessive drag by lowering overall ride height. The car however was not a success, and the year proved disastrous for Brabham, with the team's 1985 car, the Brabham BT54 called into use for the British Grand Prix in a desperate effort to get results.
Despite the BT55's problems and lack of results Murray remained convinced that his design was correct. During 1986 it was discovered the car's main problem was actually the BMW engine which in the lowline design had to be turned to an angle of 18° from horizontal. This caused oil surge when cornering and further harmed the engine's already poor throttle response. While the car had better downforce in the corners than its predecessor and was one of the fastest in a straight line thanks to its low drag, the engine problems saw to it that the car was only competitive on the fast circuits of the year such as Hockenheim, the Österreichring and Monza. In a late 1986 season interview, Murray stated that he believed the lowline concept would work better if mated to a more compact V6 such as the Honda or TAG-Porsche engines, rather than a taller Straight-4 like the BMW. A further noteworthy aspect was the inconsistent Pirelli race tyres which had also hampered the team's 1985 season.
After leaving Brabham, Murray had received an offer from Ron Dennis and joined McLaren as Technical Director on a three-year contract taking over the role formerly held by John Barnard. Learning from his low-line Brabham experience (he had also brought his BT55 drawings with him from Brabham), Murray played a part in the design team, headed by Steve Nichols, which produced not only 1987's McLaren MP4/3 which had won 3 races and had been much more streamlined than the previous McLaren MP4/2 series designed by Barnard, but also the 1988 Honda turbo powered McLaren MP4/4 which won 15 of the 16 Grands Prix, and gave Ayrton Senna his first Drivers' Championship. In the Constructors' Championship McLaren's points score of 199 was (at that time) an all-time high. Murray also played a small part in the design of the 1989 MP4/5 and 1990 MP4/5B along with Nichols and Neil Oatley. The MP4/5 and MP4/5B also won the driver's and constructor's championships in both years. Over the period 1988–91 the McLaren team won four consecutive Constructors' and Drivers' Championships: Alain Prost won the Drivers' Championship in 1989, Senna won further Drivers' Championships in 1990 and 1991.