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.
‘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 I go to a first-rate car show, collection or museum, I often vacillate between “but of course” and “what a surprise”. There are cars that you know that you’re going to see, cars that naturally belong in that environment, and then there are unexpected but undeniably special cars that turn out to be one of the highlights of the event for you. The Concours of America at St. John’s, formerly the Meadow Brook Concours, is not only at the pinnacle of Detroit area car events but it’s also a world-class event, in the rank of the Amelia Island and Pebble Beach shows. The 2012 CoA was held last Sunday and as expected there were plenty of “of course” moments, but also a few very pleasant surprises, including this McLaren M1B, what I consider the ultimate anti-trailer queen.
The MP4-12C has a wonderful backstory for those who love and admire the McLaren brand. The McLaren F1’s instant Zeus-like status is a large part of the mystique, but not necessarily all of it. That said, for everyone outside of this world (and price point) you are forgiven if you wouldn’t even consider this over the similarly priced Ferrari 458 Italia….as I probably fit into that category.
When you hear “McLaren” mentioned during Formula One races, do you sometimes want one? Now you can. Street legal. And a steal for only $280,000 MSRP. To make that dream possible, McLaren group has taken on £40 million ($63m) worth of loans from HSBC to finance the construction of a new factory in Woking, Surrey. The new factory will be the home of McLaren’s new super car, the MP4-12C (catchy name!). McLaren is forecasting to build 1,000 units in the first year of production, but within five years, McLaren is hoping to be building 4,000 units per year. One of the main selling points of the MP4-12C is the fact it’ll be able to get to 124mph in 10 seconds. It even has air brakes, implements usually used to bring jet fighters to a stop. (Read More…)
Italian supercar upstarts Pagani started with one car, the Zonda, and have maintained a laser-like focus on that single nameplate ever since. Former supercar heavyweight McLaren is re-entering the road car arena with its V8-powered Ferrari Italia-fighter, the MP4-12C, but is fast-tracking the development of its range-topping supercar, pitched as a neo-McLaren F1 and aimed at the Zonda and its hypercar ilk. Recession? What Recession?
I was asked once (by a landlord who was skeptical of my job description, if I remember correctly) what country I thought built the coolest cars. It’s not the kind of question I think about too often, so the answer took me a moment’s reflection. Avoiding the only answer based a dogmatic interpretation of the term “cool” (Italy), I went with the UK. From Rolls-Royce to MINI, Old Blighty’s given us some of the world’s coolest cars, and most compelling automotive brands. And despite having lost its mainstream auto industry to industrial malaise, Britain’s classic brands and cottage car industry have remained surprisingly resilient. Food for thought, that. Anyway, here are a few examples of what I’m on about…
I know that they have to cut the car open to take the engine out. To make an engine in that configuration, you know, it doesn’t go around corners. When we did the race in Abu Dhabi, we beat it off the line so many times that the film crew was getting frustrated because the outcome was supposed to be for the Bugatti to win. So we had to do that whole thing about ten times before it managed to get off the line cleanly and catch us up. Because every time they dropped the clutch it bogged down and we were gone.
McLaren’s Ron Dennis lays into the Bugatti Veyron at the Middle East launch of his firm’s new MP4-12C [Arabian Business via Wired Autopia]. What Dennis leaves out is that the Bugatti has a (computerized, sequential-shift) automatic transmission, so it’s difficult to know what he means by “they dropped the clutch.” Besides, it sounds like the former Formula 1 boss is spewing bile, rather than objectively critiquing the Veyron… which there’s plenty of room for.
In the early days of McLaren’s MP4-12C development, it was suggested that the new mid-engine supercar would use AMG’s 6.2 liter V8. As things got awkward between Mercedes and McLaren though, a mysterious “German-built V10″ was rumored to be have replaced the AMG unit under at least one testing prototype. In the end, McLaren built its own engine, the M838T. It’s a twin-turbocharged, direct-injected, 3.8 litre, 90° V8, developing about 600 horsepower at 8,500 RPM. 80 percent of its 442 lb-ft of torque is reportedly available under 2,000 RPM. Also, it looks like mechanical sex.
Let’s face it: it’s not the best time to be launching any new automotive brand just now, let alone a brand built in Formula 1 and offering only a single, $250,000 product. Throughout the industry, OEMs are abandoning or distancing themselves from motorsport, as the old “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” logic proves to be an ever-fading anachronism. And yet here is McLaren Automotive, launching its first new road-going supercar in over ten years, with the the help of two F1 champs. Can an automotive brand survive selling high-priced symbols of racing prowess, at a time when racing (particularly Formula 1 racing) is becoming ever-more divorced from road car realities? More importantly, can it take on the lions of the supercar world with mere techno-wonkery?
Yesterday Daimler announced that McLaren would be buying out Daimler’s interest in their joint venture Formula 1 team. Many, including board member Erich Klemm, thought this made all kinds of sense. “In the (car) factories, every cent is being turned over three times. The employees are feeling the financial crisis with shorter working hours and loss of income,” he continued. “In these economically difficult times, the company should invest in better marketing of its real cars.” My, what a novel idea!