British engineering firm brings lightweight race car design to production cars


Gordon Murray Design iStream construction

Gordon Murray Design iStream construction

British race car design company Gordon Murray Design showed off its new lightweight race car body last week at the Low Carbon Vehicle Show in England.

The company calls its body-in-white—an industry term for a car body with no components attached—iStream, and it says it's the result of a new process it patented to make lightweight racing technology easier to manufacture.

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Cutting weight can make all kinds of cars more efficient, from pure electric, to hybrids, to conventional cars. Automakers have known how to make cars lighter for a long time, but the lightweight, affordable, and easy to manufacture trifecta has been a challenge.

Gordon Murray Design said that thanks to its patented manufacturing methods, the iStream is expected to be half the weight of a comparably-sized conventional steel body at the same cost. Like the BMW i3, the iStream uses a carbon fiber reinforced body structure paired to an aluminum pan that holds the vehicle's mechanical components.

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Gordon Murray also released concept specs for a sports car based on the body based on the body in white.

The company says it would weigh just 1,874 pounds. Using a 220-horsepower, 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine would give an iStream race car a power-to-weight ratio of 8.5 pounds per horsepower. With a six-speed manual transmission geared for maximum acceleration, that could give it a 0-60 time of just over 4 seconds.

Gordon Murray Design iStream construction

Gordon Murray Design iStream construction

Reducing the weight of the body reduces the need for even heavier batteries for an electrified version and would the use of smaller, lighter brakes and other components, too.

Along with the iStream body, Gordon Murray showed a lightweight seat that the company says weighs 30 percent less than conventional seats. The seats use a tubular frame and fiberglass or carbon composite structure, and can fold for access for cars that need it.

Gordon Murray didn't specify the cost of the race car body or the racing seat.

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