BT-52, Pits And Garage – Hockenheim 1983

bt52H83.signNelson Piquet is standing hands in pockets by the right rear tire.

Gordon Murray Interview: Part Two

D.K. I am also curious about the change in the front suspension.  I’m not an engineer, but between the pull-rod versus the push-rod what was the advantage of changing?

G.M.  That’s another two-part story.  Half, or more than half, was with the new slim shape.  I just thought about turning the whole thing upside down and having it push instead of pull.  Its the same system, same linkage, same geometry.  It fitted into the physical layout and the total concept of the car a lot better.  That was about 60 per cent of it.  It looked good so we thought we’d do it; 40 per cent was that I was getting pissed off at everybody else copying the pull-rods.

D.K. How long do you think it will be before everybody’s doing push-rods?

G.M. The new Osella’s got push-rods.  Almost everyone else still have the pull-rods.  Its the same thing really.

D.K. You mean there is no mechanical advantage?

G.M. There is a layout advantage.  There is a weight disadvantage, because things in compression have to be a lot heavier than things in tension.  A small weight disadvantage but a big enough layout advantage to make it possible and practical.

D.K. As a viewer the car is beautiful.  It looked right immediately.

G.M.  I don’t know about other designers, but with me aesthetics certainly taints the design.  I could have done two different BT52’s that would have done the job aerodynamically.  One would have looked quite a bit better than the other.  As you are drawing the bodywork it is quite easy to make it look aesthetically pleasing at the same time.  We never make it aesthetically pleasing if it is a disadvantage, obviously because in racing you can’t make that compromise. It’s just a balance when you are laying out the lines. You get a flow.

D.K. What kind of training did you have?

G.M. Pretty mixed.  In early school days I was going into art.  I got hoisted out of art by a teacher and stuck into technical drawing when I was twelve.  Luckily, I think.  But when I was doing the technical side, I was always drawing cars or racing cars.  When I went to college, I was designing and building my own racing cars.  If you look around engineering design generally or industrial design -ship building, kettles, cars, bridges-anything that is right is an efficient structure at whatever it is trying to do.  If something isn’t good, it doesn’t often look right.  If you look at something like the Concorde, nobody said “Wouldn’t it be great to make an airplane with a long needle nose and wings that had a slight profile change.” That is how it has to be to travel 2,000 miles an hour, and it is beautiful.  I love architecture, too.  Practical and efficient buildings, the same is true for the job they are doing.

“Passion and Precision: The Photographer and Grand Prix Racing 1894-1984” By Dale Kistemaker and Kent James Smith. Copyright 1984 by the Long Beach Museum of Art Foundation, the Long Beach Museum of Art, City of Long Beach, Department of Recreation and Human Services, Founders Society Detroit Institute of Arts.

No part of this interview  may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the Long Beach Museum of Art, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

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