McMurtry Automotive Speirling hopes to set new record at Goodwood

You might wonder why “fan car” gets spoken in such reverent tones, why Formula 1 banned Gordon Murray’s Brabham BT46B after one race when Niki Lauda dominated the field at the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix, or why that very same Murray revived the fan concept on his T.50. For an answer, look no further than this, the McMurtry Automotive Spéirling. Story goes that Sir David McMurtry, the billionaire co-founder of engineering and scientific technology firm Renishaw, asked a group of ex-F1 engineers in 2016 to come up with a clean-sheet electric car with the “twin goals of driver engagement and vehicle performance.” 

The resulting Spéirling single-seater comes with the tagline “Smaller, faster, further.” It employs a 60-kW battery to power two electric motors on the rear axle producing something like 800 horsepower. Coming in at under 2,200 pounds, McMurtry says the power-to-weight ratio is 1,000 ponies per ton. The secret sauce to make the most of all that, however, are the twin fans underneath. By combining 4,400 pounds of downforce from a standstill and pairing that with an e-motor’s instant torque, the Spéirling gets from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than 1.5 seconds.

A prototype version ran up the 1.6-mile hill at Goodwood last year, slithering just as much as cornering as car and driver acclimated to the tight, curvy circuit. Following a year of testing and uprating the fans, the Spéirling returned to the hill this year with the goal of winning the hillclimb and breaking the outright record held by the Volkswagen ID.R at 39.9 seconds. With ex-IndyCar and F1 driver Max Chilton at the wheel, the Spéirling completed a practice run on Friday at 41.29 seconds. On Saturday, our own Joel Stockdale stood in the Goodwood stands watching the Spéirling complete a qualification run in 40.056 seconds with British hillclimb champion Alex Summers at the wheel. If Chilton can find another 0.157 seconds of speed on Sunday’s main event, the upstart British brand will put the ID.R in its shadow. 

McMurtry says it will release more specs later, sharing for now that the in-house battery design uses cells from Canadian battery maker Molicel and gets an electrical architecture of more than 800 volts. The carbon fiber bodywork hides an active suspension, a carbon braking system with six-piston calipers all around, and custom tires sized 210/640 19 in front — which is more like a rear motorcycle tire — and 240/640 19 in the rear. Most of the noise at speed comes not from the tires, but the fans that produce 100 dB on the flyby.

The company wants to use the Spéirling “to herald new era of electric track capability, hasten wider EV development and showcase McMurtry Automotive as EV innovators for road and track cars.” A record-breaking Sunday would give that journey a big boost.

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