By on September 18, 2012

‘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.

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32 Comments on “McLaren Intends To Retake Pole Position In The Supercar Wars...”

  • avatar

    Can I be the first to say that the tag on this story was well-done?

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    I don’t think the MP4-12C was ugly, merely dull. Placed it next to the 458 Italia and it is basically the same shape. But the Ferrari is gorgeous.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddy M


    • 0 avatar

      Why is it dull? Until I see an explanation of what makes this car look dull, boring bland, whatever, I’m going to assume groupthink.

      I finally saw one in the flesh in Boston’s North End over the weekend. Incredible looking car, and excellent paint, significantly better than any Ferrari I’ve looked at up close.

      • 0 avatar

        rwb, the reason it gets criticized is because it really is generic looking. The best way I can describe it is that it always makes me think of the generic supercars in the Grand Theft Auto games that don’t have licensing to use real brands.

        I really think when I see pictures of it: “GTA car- time to put my elbow in its window”

      • 0 avatar

        It’s too “been there, done that”.

        It’s not an ugly car, not by any stretch of the imagination, but neither does it actually stretch the imagination.

      • 0 avatar

        I have to agree with you, rwb.

        I saw one in the flesh, in Papaya Orange, and I thought it was stunning.

        Slightly understated (the 458 is a very attractive car, but I find certain aspects are bordering on overstyled, while this takes it the other direction), but “dull”, “bland”, and “generic” are hyperbole.

        I haven’t driven either the Macca or a 458 (shocking), so I can’t say a thing about “soul” or “passion” or “driver involvement” or any of that.

        If the 458 is Jessica Rabbit, then the Macca is Felicia Day. Maybe not quite as gorgeous, perhaps a bit nerdy, but hardly in need of any paper bag treatment.

    • 0 avatar

      My personal take is that the MP4-12C, like all contemporary supercars, rather than being ugly or dull, look merely silly. Crazy-spacey shapes looked kinda cool when they weer just that, but when they get too blunted by wind tunnel testing and downforce requirements, they just don’t inspire the same lust anymore.

  • avatar

    i’m surprised these people still wanna play this game

    the ferrari f70 vs mclaren mp4-24c (which is this P1) will be the next battleground for usd$1mil. plus supercars

    both will have KERs and Euro5 and stuff

    not sure i like where this is going but since they’re fighting for relevance in this world…

  • avatar

    What random sampling of women in 2012 know what a “kit car” is, know what a Fiero is, and know what a Fiero looks like?

    Heck, if you’re in the United States, I doubt too many even know what McLaren is.

  • avatar

    Oh Jack, you talk as if your opinion actually matters to anyone who can afford the car!

  • avatar

    How terrible it must be to be a supercar engineer.

    You toil away for years to wring world-beating performance and racetrack durability out of a design, just so some pointy-shoed d-bag can tool around town in it, occasionally flooring it at a stop light.

  • avatar

    An MP4-12C passed me southbound on 95 in Massachusetts just south of the NH border last week. Through the driver side mirror it looked like a large Elise as it gained on me. Then I saw the “McLaren” logo on the back. Same color as the car in the photo. There was sort of a cheap look to it, but I really can’t figure out what gave me that idea.

  • avatar

    At least the engine is pretty.

  • avatar
    The Doctor

    Jack, if your theory is true, why do sports car manufacturers bother releasing new/updated models at all? Lamborghini should be still selling the Miura just with an extra 15% added onto the price each year.

  • avatar

    I get that “signed Lewis Hamilton Vodafone McLaren shirt framed on their wall”-vibe out of this thing, too.

    The only reason someone will buy it, is merely that it’s Some Other Choice than the Fezza, Lambo, K’egg, 177, Bug, Gumpert, SSC, etc.

    But NOT because it will be particularly awesome in any dimension.

    I mean, what are they going to do, put a 1400 hp power plant in it?

    Even if they never touch it, the idea that buyers won’t be able to do things like turning the traction-control off will irk people.

    No; what Mac is going to do is put out a mid-grade also-ran,

    and then GM will bitch about how everyone else in the world except him is wrong-headed and then rip on the Bug some more,

    because he’s insecure about it taking the F1’s supercar crown.

    Also, from the side, the roofline looks too short. It needs to extend abit farther back toward the v-center of the rear wheels.

    -But I’m sure they don’t want to do that, b/c it would look too much like the F1, even though the props would be nicer.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    I’m a Kiwi, Bruce McLaren is gods driving instructor. Anything with his name upon it is the best (lots) of money can buy.

  • avatar

    what I find most uninspiring about this car is the powerplant. Sorry but a twin turbo V8 will never seem as exciting as a V12, especially when that’s what the car’s ancestor (the F1) had. Neither of these cars are ugly, but they aren’t make me stop and catch my breath beautiful like the 458 or rubbernecking traffic backup causing dramatic like an Aventador. That being said, the MP4-12C is growing on me and it looks better each time I see one. Not sure what McLaren’s profit goals are with the current road car lineup or what the break even sales point for either car is. I don’t think you need to be Lewis Hamilton devotee, just someone who wants “the best” and doesn’t care as much about impressing the masses. I’m a devout Tifosi, can’t stand Hamilton, and would buy the Italia were it me cause I think it’s probably more fun. That being said, I’d still tip my hat to an MP4-12C owner.

  • avatar

    Doubt I’ll ever own a supercar, but if I could it wouldn’t be that ugly thing and it is ugly.

  • avatar

    If you are going over the top a Pagoni Zonda has the look and sound I could drop major money on. Or the TVR Speed 12 that they only sold one of. :(

    Fortunately, I don’t have these worries as I don’t have that kind of coin.

  • avatar

    If you’re going to buy a car for ego, you might as well go for a flagship instead of a sports car. Be the warlord, rather than the warrior.

    Warlords are all about soft power projection. They override henchmen who do the real work and pay the bills, and get the glory just for existing. Warlords are measured by prestige, composure under pressure, and ability to defeat rivals without ever battling. The greatest are stealth wealth-type and sand bag their capabilities. They intimidate just by showing up.

    Warriors lives suck. They’re good. But they only get the glory when they fight and win. To avoid the fight, they use WYSIWYG intimidation (spoilers, wings, tattoos, six packs) because everyone always wants to takes them down. You’re only as good as your last performance. And you’re always being compared to today’s warriors in absolute terms (heaven forbid that tomorrow’s minivan crushes your lap time.) It’s a zero sum game.

    Go for the flagship, not the sports car.

  • avatar

    McLaren needs to do whatever it will take to bring back Gordon Murray and Peter Stevens (the F1’s designer) and abort this monstrosity.

  • avatar

    The proportions are actually pretty nice. In fact, they’re nearly identical to the F1, save for the slightly chopped roofline and the extended rear (which should make the car less twitchy… later F1s and racing F1s had a bigger ass for a reason).

    All the important F1 bits are there. The scissor like side strakes, the teardrop greenhoose, the short overhangs… everything.

    The only things missing are the headlights and tail-lights sourced from a tractor. (Or was that a bus? What’s the difference?)

    I love it. Looks a whole lot like a Zonda, in spirit. Outrageous, tightly proportioned and exotic.

  • avatar

    Working in “pole position” and Estonian prostitute references?
    I see what you did there.

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