The Truth About Cars » mclaren p1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 10:00:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » mclaren p1 The Return of the Running Board Thu, 12 Dec 2013 12:00:10 +0000 IMG_0271

Gordon Buehrig’s design of the Cord 810/812 was revolutionary for its day. One innovation was that it lacked running boards, something automobiles had featured almost since the dawn of the motoring age. I’m guessing that the origin of running boards has to do with the fact that in the early days car bodies were typically mounted right on top exposed frame rails, putting the body up high, and the running boards were used as step to get up into the interior. From a design standpoint, they also visually connected the front and rear fenders, creating one flowing line. What was stylish in 1913, though, wasn’t necessarily au courant in the mid 1930s. Also automotive design started getting more formally established in the 1930s, with GM and Ford both having in-house design staffs by the end of that decade. Based on the then young science of aerodynamics and the related streamlined aesthetic, new shapes started appearing on cars.

1937 Cord 812 Roadster

1937 Cord 812 Roadster

One of the clearest points of departure was the lack of running boards. By the end of the 1930s they were seen as old-fashioned, an impression that was helped along by the Cord and other futuristic designs of the day. The Pierce Arrow Silver Arrow show cars from 1933 had bodies with mostly slab sides (except for the rear fenders) and no running boards. The five ’33 Silver Arrows that were built were so revolutionary that the production Silver Arrow of 1935, which borrowed styling from the show car, still had footboards.



Another show car, perhaps the most important prewar show car because it was General Motors’ first “concept” car, Harley Earl’s Buick Y Job of 1937, also lacked running boards.

y job img_0153_r

By the end of the decade, with the introduction of the smooth sided production 1939 Lincoln Continental, running boards were on their way out.


It would take until after World War II for the transformation to be complete, but as far as I know, no all-new postwar car designs had running boards.

The growth of the SUV market brought running boards back to make it easier to climb in and out of utility vehicles’ high seating positions, but those are trucks and we haven’t seen anything like that on cars, until recently. Ironically, what is bringing door sills on cars back is what got rid of them in the first place, aerodynamics. Back in the 1930s, designers were going more by common sense than by using wind tunnels, and a smooth, streamlined look seemed logical and was indeed consistent with what early aerodynamicists like Paul Jaray were espousing. Today, however, automotive designers know that smooth isn’t always aerodynamic. Just look at all of the odd appurtenances hung on modern Formula One racers, and high performance road cars have sprouted spoilers and splitters as well. Now side sills, which cosmetically look pretty much like running boards, are starting to appear as well.


The Ferrari LaFerrari has what some call undertray sill extensions. Those are narrow  compared to carbon fiber sills on the McLaren P1, essentially continuations of the splitter up front.


The McLaren P1 and Ferrari LaFerrari hybrid supercars both have aero effective side sills, and if you look at the photos from last week’s reveal of the all-new 2015 Mustang, it has sills as well. I’ll have to wait to find out from Ford engineers if those side sills are actually aerodynamic or just for looks, but whichever they are, they look aero and no car designer ever minded his or her design being associated with the look of a much more expensive car (Tesla designer Franz Von Holzenhaus told me that his Model S “looks completely different” from the front end of current Maseratis, but he smiled broadly when doing so). Since car designers (and their bosses) are some of the most faddish people on the planet, I think we can expect more running boards, er, aerodynamic side sills to proliferate on performance cars and those with sporting aspirations. We’ll be seeing the Z06 version of the new C7 Corvette next month at the NAIAS in Detroit.  The ZR1 version of the C6 ‘Vette had sills and from the teaser photo that GM has released it looks like the next Z06 will have aero “running boards” as well.


Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

]]> 19
McLaren P13 To Anchor The “Entry Level” In Three-Car Strategy Sun, 27 Oct 2013 13:43:06 +0000

With the P1 supercar in the process of launching across the globe (see above Malaysian-debut video from our friend Bobby at LiveLifeDrive), McLaren is now planning to extend its brand to the, ah, lower half of the proverbial one percent.

According to AutoExpress,

The McLaren P13, the third member of [the] company’s road car range will cost £120,000 and deliver 450bhp… The mid-engined Porsche 911 Turbo rival, codenamed P13, will mark the entry point for McLaren ownership – and a well placed source says it will take styling inspiration from the £866,000 hybrid P1, rather than the 12C… Given its shrunken size and carbon fibre construction, the P13 will weigh even less than the 1,434kg 12C and significantly less than the 1,600kg 911 Turbo. Power should come from the same in-house-designed 3.8-litre V8 turbo.

McLaren’s completely ridiculous naming strategy appears to have been given the heave-ho for good; the “12″ in MP4-12C was supposed to represent some McLaren Performance Index, with higher numbers being better. But the P1 wasn’t called the MP4-15 or something like that; it was called “P1″ to remind people that McLaren is still in the Formula One business.

This lower-performance car will be called the P13, which is about where McLaren’s been qualifying lately, so I suppose it makes sense. It’s certain to be a success in Europe, where it will be considered a “high-touch” alternative to the 911 Turbo. (The 911 GT3 is likely to find itself conspicuous by its absence in McLaren competitive-comparison press material.) In the United States, the outcome is less clear; although the MP4-12 was recently fluffed to within an inch of its life by our home-team media it’s starting to look like showroom poison.

]]> 13
Macca’s Back Tue, 26 Feb 2013 15:41:58 +0000

Even though we’re subjected to relentless claims that the golden age of automobiles has long passed us, I can think of worse things than a 900-horsepower supercar with C02 emissions comparable to a Scion FR-S.

Using the same twin-turbo V8 for the McLaren MP4-12C, the P1, as this yellow number is known, puts out 903 horsepower in total – the V8 puts out 727 ponies, while an electric motor is good for a further 176. 0-60 mph comes up in under three seconds, while top speed is said to be 217 mph.

The other side of the coin here is, of course, eco-friendliness. What kind of supercar doesn’t have some green cred nowadays? A KERS-like system, dubbed IPAS (Instant Power Assist System) can unleash all 176 horsepower from the electric motor, and an F1-style Drag Reduction System can also be employed. If you need to run to the corner store for a jug of milk, the P1 can travel up to six miles on pure electric power. A full recharge takes a mere two hours.

Only 375 P1s will be built and the price should be well into the 7 figures.

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail McLaren-P1-production-model-spoiler McLaren-P1-production-model-side. Photo courtesy McLaren-P1-production-model-low McLaren-P1-production-model-interior McLaren-P1-production-model-front McLaren-P1-production-model-brakes McLaren-P1-production-model-above McLaren-P1-production-model ]]> 15
McLaren P1 – Thumbs Up Or Down?: Paris 2012 Live Shots Fri, 28 Sep 2012 14:20:07 +0000


As amazing as the specs may be, I’m not sold on the design of the McLaren P1. It may be functional, but it can’t stand up to the elegant minimalism of the F1 and looks far too busy. Let us know what you think.


McLaren-P1-Cover Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail McLaren-P1-Paris-motor-show-17 McLaren-P1-Paris-motor-show-16 McLaren-P1-Paris-motor-show-15 McLaren-P1-Paris-motor-show-14 McLaren-P1-Paris-motor-show-13 McLaren-P1-Paris-motor-show-12 McLaren-P1-Paris-motor-show-11 McLaren-P1-Paris-motor-show-10 McLaren-P1-Paris-motor-show-08 McLaren-P1-Paris-motor-show-07 McLaren-P1-Paris-motor-show-06 McLaren-P1-Paris-motor-show-05 McLaren-P1-Paris-motor-show-04 McLaren-P1-Paris-motor-show-03 McLaren-P1-Paris-motor-show-02 McLaren-P1-Paris-motor-show-01 McLaren-P1-Cover




]]> 33
McLaren Intends To Retake Pole Position In The Supercar Wars Tue, 18 Sep 2012 17:14:05 +0000

‘Our aim is not necessarily to be the fastest in absolute top speed but to be the quickest and most rewarding series production road car on a circuit’, says McLaren Automotive Managing Director Antony Sheriff. ‘It is the true test of a supercar’s all round ability and a much more important technical statement. Our goal is to make the McLaren P1 the most exciting, most capable, most technologically advanced and most dynamically accomplished supercar ever made.’

Oh McLaren, you so crazy!

I mean it.

You’re crazy. Like, if you think supercar buyers will make any purchase decision based on your in-house road-course lap times, you’re really crazy.

When the MP4-12C was introduced, it was widely criticized for:

  • being ugly
  • having a stupid name that doesn’t make sense to anyone who doesn’t currently own a signed Lewis Hamilton Vodafone McLaren shirt framed on their wall. (An explanation for the name can be found here from the usual advertorial suspects.)
  • being slower in most respects than an original McLaren F1 would be if said F1 had the benefit of modern tires
  • being ugly

With that car, McLaren proved that they had no comprehension of why people purchase truly expensive vehicles. This sort of mistake has been made before further down the market: anybody remember all the advertisements for the Pontiac 6000STE which touted its complete and total skidpad dominance of everything from the BMW 528e to the Countach LP5000S? It turns out that people don’t buy cars based on numbers, unless the numbers are printed directly on a window sticker and preceded by a dollar sign.

Although McLaren was certain that every oil tycoon, rap star, and Russian mobster would immediately abandon the Ferrari 458 for a car with a full “12″ rating in its nomenclature, this turned out to not be the case at all. In a scientific survey taken by your humble author of random women, the MP4-12C was widely mistaken for a Fiero-based kit car by 20% of the respondents. The remaining 80% believed it was just a regular Fiero. Only the most thoroughly-trained Estonian prostitutes can tell the difference between the McLaren and a Fiero, and they rarely leave Manhattan.

To address the amazing lack of interest shown to their “12″-rated car, McLaren has decided to create a faster car, called the “P1″. This is Formula One terminology for “first practice of the weekend”, I believe. The production version will be unveiled within a year. It will be the fastest supercar in history around a race track, which means it will still be slower than a Stohr D Sports Racer while costing up to ten times as much. The amazing difficulties involved in making supercar comparison tests happen under controlled conditions will ensure that this claim is never fully tested, but since no one cares anyway it won’t matter.

The new P1 will be priced above the existing cars, which is to say it will be priced above the Ferrari 458, which you would rather have anyway. More news as it develops.

]]> 32