Gordon Murray joins Caparo
as Advanced Concepts Director


Gordon Murray (left) 
advanced concepts director Caparo Vehicle Products joins Caparo group chairman 
Angad Paul in his company’s ambition to make modern composite materials more 
widely available to carmakers and hence make lightweight low CO<SUB>2</SUB> cars 
a reality. Pictured with Caparo T1 composite tub.
Gordon Murray (left) advanced concepts director Caparo Vehicle Products joins Caparo group chairman Angad Paul in his company’s ambition to make modern composite materials more widely available to carmakers and hence make lightweight low CO2 cars a reality. Pictured with Caparo T1 composite tub.

18th August, 2006

- Move underlines Caparo’s composite ambitions
- Objective is to help vehicle manufacturers make lightweight cars a reality
- Driver is industry need for low CO2 emissions

Vehicle light-weighting expert Gordon Murray has been appointed director of advanced concepts at Caparo Vehicle Products. By applying his strategic planning, vehicle conceptual design, production design skills and motivational abilities, the £725m Caparo Group – a vehicle component supplier based largely in the UK, US and India – aims to realise its manufacturing ambitions of commoditising lightweight composites for the car industry as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“Gordon’s knowledge of advanced vehicle concepts utilising lightweight composite technology is unrivalled in the automotive industry and we’re delighted he has agreed to help us become a leading supplier of these modern materials,” said Angad Paul chief executive Caparo Group. “Our aim is to help carmakers reduce the weight of their vehicles with affordable and practical composite solutions. As well as supplying composite materials, with Gordon’s help we can assist car makers not only in the design of individual components and complete vehicle systems, but also the whole car if required.”

Gordon Murray is a long standing advocate of lightweight cars. Commenting on climate change and environmental issues facing the car industry he said: “Unquestionably, the biggest challenge facing the automotive industry today is the need to improve fuel economy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions and really the only way of tackling this issue is through major weight reduction. By comparison, in all other areas of the vehicle, including powertrain, the efficiency gains henceforth will be quite small. That’s why I’m excited by this project, because what you gain through weight reduction is significant. Caparo has the foresight to recognise that with global production heading towards 100 million vehicles a year there is a fantastic business opportunity in being the first supplier to make modern composite materials affordable and commercially available for the high volume production of cars.”

Murray will be working closely with Caparo Vehicle Technologies; the subsidiary was set-up earlier this year to spearhead the design, development and processing of composite materials for mainstream vehicle production. He joins two former ex-McLaren colleagues – design director Ben Scott-Geddes and engineering director Graham Halstead – who worked with him on the McLaren F1 and McLaren Mercedes SLR projects. Both have comparable experience of composite materials as well as component, system and whole vehicle design. Murray will also be working with commercial director Sean Butcher responsible for vehicle OEM business development.

The company’s high profile technology demonstrator is the Caparo T1; the world’s first high performance road and track car to deliver a power-to-weight ratio of 1,000 bhp-per-tonne, which has been achieved through the application of composite materials and the principles of lightweight design. More than a concept this exclusive two-seater car is destined for limited production with running prototypes already under construction; part of the objective being a calling card to help convince carmakers of Caparo’s design credentials, technical prowess and commercial seriousness.

Other recent appointments to Caparo’s vehicle engineering design team include ex-McLaren composites expert, David Skertchly as head of manufacturing, and Stephen Irish as T1 project manager. David Skertchly helped to establish McLaren Composites by preparing the initial business plan and the plant’s handover to the new directors. Between 1993 and 1998 McLaren’s Shalford factory was developed into a world class carbon-fibre body-in-white facility. It was way ahead of its time and many modern techniques were developed there against a background of process and product innovation. Stephen Irish joins from Jaguar and Land-Rover where he was involved in driveline developments and research into advanced vehicle projects.

“With these recent appointments we start a long way up the ladder in terms of materials expertise and vehicle design,” said Richard Butler chief executive Caparo Vehicle Products. “Already, we’re handling some highly confidential projects for leading car makers and the order book is increasing; nonetheless we aim to keep this as a small elite group with the necessary high level of experience and expertise to remain agile and able to implement client projects quickly and efficiently. As much as anything it’s about transferring technology and know-how to vehicle manufacturers; ultimately our mission is to supply the parts, but first we have to influence the inner circle of what in reality is an immensely conservative industry driven by accountants, legislators and the market – and that means providing high added value solutions that work.”

About Gordon Murray

Gordon Murray has enjoyed a distinguished career in the automotive and motor sport industries initially as technical director at Brabham before joining McLaren. In 1989 he designed the ‘Rocket’ which at 370 kg remains the world’s lightest sports car and a benchmark for vehicle dynamic performance. More than 50 examples have been built. However, he is probably most famous for setting up McLaren Cars with Ron Dennis and designing the McLaren F1; widely recognised as the world’s best sports and driver’s car by several motoring juries.

Earlier in his career Murray designed and built the first ever composites facility for race cars, which included the detailed design of the autoclave, oven and cooling system. He also designed and built a complete wind tunnel facility including the building, rolling road and control system; the tunnel was the first in the industry constructed from composite panels.

His patents include a close-couple transmission, mass damper suspension, oil tank construction system, automatic brake cooling system, aero centre-of-pressure control system, and 3-seater layout. His firsts in Formula One include pull rod suspension, onboard timing, carbon brakes, dry sump gearbox, carbon chassis panels, ground effect aerodynamics and air locks.

His racing awards include the Bruce Cooper and Cords Trophies; he also finished 22nd out of 300 cars participating in the 1995 Mille Miglia. Numerous individual awards include the Ken Lee Trophy for outstanding achievement in South African Motorsport, Coche A La Vista Monaco, Colin Chapman Trophy, Pirelli Trophy, Route in Corsa Award, Autocar Award and Prince Phillip Designer Award for outstanding achievement in design for business and society.

He was recently awarded an honorary professorship by Durban Institute of Technology, his alma mater, where he first studied mechanical engineering and as a student won the Arthur May prize for gaining the highest marks in his final year project, which was the design of a 4-stroke engine.

About Caparo Vehicle Technologies

Caparo Vehicle Technologies provides advanced vehicle design and materials engineering know-how – comprising vehicle development and production engineering services – to the automotive, aerospace, defence and marine transport sectors. Coupled with the global manufacturing resource of its parent company, Caparo Vehicle Technologies aims to accelerate the use of lightweight materials in air, land and sea vehicles.

About Caparo Vehicle Products

Caparo Vehicle Products currently consists of eight subsidiaries comprising Caparo Ackles & Pollack, Caparo AP Braking, Caparo Atlas Fastenings, Caparo Lipe Espana, Caparo Modular Systems, Caparo Newman Phoenix Drawn Tube, Caparo Tube Components and Caparo Vehicle Technologies. CVP concentrates on the supply of metal and mechanical parts including aluminium and steel structural (body-in-white and chassis) and powertrain components. Currently, it does not supply glass, plastics, rubber or electronic components.

About Caparo Group

The Caparo group of companies is a £725m privately owned multi-national business with automotive manufacturing interests currently able to supply 80 per cent of vehicle content. In addition to CVP, subsidiaries include Caparo Aluminium Technologies (aka Zeus). The group is the largest single-owner business in the UK with a variety of automotive component manufacturing facilities. With plants in the US and India it employs 5,000 people globally. Caparo was founded in 1968 by British Asian industrialist and Labour peer Lord Swraj Paul. Appointed chief executive in 2003, his son Angad Paul continues to focus on the same strategy for growth, achieved through the acquisition and turnaround of existing businesses and by the organic growth and development of Greenfield start-up projects, which exemplifies the group’s skill at building innovative technology companies from scratch and penetrating export markets.

(l to r front row) David Skertchly, Gordon Murray, Angad Paul; (l to r back row) 
Ben Scott-Geddes, Stephen Irish, Graham Halstead and Sean Butcher. Caparo’s 
elite group of vehicle design engineers has a high level of aluminium, steel and 
composite materials expertise and the ability to design components, systems and 
the whole vehicle. Pictured with Caparo T1 prototype at Caparo Vehicle 
Technologies new factory at Basingstoke.

(l to r front row) David Skertchly, Gordon Murray, Angad Paul; (l to r back row) Ben Scott-Geddes, Stephen Irish, Graham Halstead and Sean Butcher. Caparo’s elite group of vehicle design engineers has a high level of aluminium, steel and composite materials expertise and the ability to design components, systems and the whole vehicle. Pictured with Caparo T1 prototype at Caparo Vehicle Technologies new factory at Basingstoke.

Other Caparo news: here.

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