Famed automotive designer Gordon Murray has announced he's launching a new vehicle manufacturing company that will focus on taking innovative car designs into limited-run production. Gordon Murray Automotive says its first car will be a flagship model launched under a new brand that it says will go against the trend toward more complicated, heavier-weight vehicles.

Murray is the South African-born automotive engineer and designer of the McLaren F1 who more recently was working on the T.27, a tiny electric city three-seater. The new company is positioned as part of a corporate organization and a sister company to Gordon Murray Design.

"The new manufacturing business significantly expands the capabilities of our group of companies," Murray said. "With our first new car, we will demonstrate a return to the design and engineering principles that have made the McLaren F1 such an icon."

Murray said its cars will be built on a new version of its highly efficient iStream manufacturing process, which derives heavily from Formula One construction and materials technologies to make low-weight vehicles that require less energy and less factory space to produce. It describes the process thusly:

"An iStream chassis is essentially a hybrid structure consisting of a metallic frame (iFrame) and composite sandwich panels (iPanels). The basic concept is to use the iFrame to form a basic skeleton to locate all the local attachment points such as powertrain, steering, suspension and occupant seats etc. The iFrame alone does not meet the performance demands of a modern car, so we then stabilise the iFrame by bonding the highly rigid (iPanels) onto the metallic members so they then act as very stiff shear panels."

The process was used on the TVR sports car, which Murray's firm said was as much as 300 kilograms (660 pounds) lighter than others in its class:

Murray designed F1 cars that won more than 50 grands prix. Like Lotus, he is obsessed with weight reduction, and has recently worked on small-car projects like the Yamaha Sports Ride Concept. Autocar says Murray aims to keep the cost of his new vehicles low through use of the iStream process, and has said his ideal supercar would weigh less than 2,000 pounds. Whether that's the flagship he speaks of remains to be seen.

We'll find out more next month when Murray will mark his 50 years in automotive engineering and design, the 25th year since the McLaren F1 went into production and other significant milestones with an exhibition featuring major race and road cars from his career, including several models that have never or rarely been displayed before.

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