Just a quarter-billion dollars! The automotive world is abuzz with news of the Gordon Murray T.50, and rightfully so — this is a racer’s idea of a supercar/hypercar/whatevercar, and certain to thrill the microscopic Euler overlap of “can afford it” and “can drive it” in a way no other street-legal automobile can match. (The Radical RXC can no doubt match whatever numbers the T.50 will post, particularly when turbocharged, but it won’t have the GMA car’s luggage or passenger space.) Yet when I read the press release, all I could think of was,
“It’s only going to cost a quarter-billion dollars to design, engineer, and build all 106 of them!” Just to put this in perspective, it cost $1.2B just to develop the first-generation Chevy Volt, which wasn’t a clean-sheet vehicle aside from the powertrain, and $6B (that’s the number six) to create the Ford Contour and its Zetec four-cylinder engine. It cost more money to create the C5 Corvette than it’s taken to create the T.50, and GM already had the engine paid for out of another account.
Keep in mind there are significant costs involved with the building of each T.50 — maybe $100k for the engine/transmission combo, that much again or more for the rest of the car — so in reality this was probably a $200M project or less. There were no corners cut in the design of the T.50, except for the most important corner of all, to which we’ll return shortly. Regardless, we now have possession of a remarkably interesting data point, courtesy of Gordon Murray: what it costs to design a proper sports car.