The late Bruce McLaren founded the motorsport team that bears his name in 1963. McLaren quickly became a staple on the racetrack, but the history of the brand’s road cars was much slower to start. First there was the M6GT in 1969. This road version of a circuit prototype was released for homologation for racing, but due to a regulatory change less than five were released. . Then we had to wait for 1992 and the legendary McLaren F1. A tool of influence for the team, which then surfs the wave of its successes in Formula 1 under the direction of Ron Dennis. The three-seater BMW V12 designed by Gordon Murray makes an impression with its behavior. It set a speed record and, to drive the point home, also managed to win at the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car was assembled in 106 units. But it was not until 2011 that the Woking firm really entered the road sports market with series production. via its subsidiary McLaren Automotive, which is therefore celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2021.
McLaren released the MP4-12C in the summer of 2011, after at least four years of development under the code name P11. The trade name of the car refers to the F1 of the brand whose name begins with MP4; a prefix that the sports car will lose during its 2013 restyling. Apart from that, all the basics have already been laid: a carbon fiber monocoque chassis, a twin-turbo V8 derived from an original Nissan racing engine in the center-rear position, transmission to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, and two seats on board. The MP4-12C draws 600 hp and 600 Nm of torque from its 3.8 l unit, for a weight of 1,434 kg empty. Its power increases to 625 hp during his career. A Spider version quickly saw the light of day with an electrically retractable hardtop. GT3 and GT Sprint variants are offered to customers wishing to enter a 12C in competition.
The McLaren P1 and the rise of hybrid supercars
In 2013 McLaren launched the P1, one of three members of the “holy trinity” of hybrid supercars presented that year, which also included the Ferrari LaFerrari and the Porsche 918 Spyder. The P1 draws 916 hp from an electrified version of the house V8. In all, 375 copies are produced, followed by 45 P1 GTR of 1000 hp, lightened and reserved for use on the circuit. But the preparer Lanzante, with the agreement of McLaren, converts 6 P1 GTR in P1 LM homologated for the road.
McLaren builds its range
From 2014, McLaren replaced the 12C with the 650S. The architecture of the car remains the same, but the models are now named according to their power: 650 hp for this newcomer. Once again, the electrically retractable hardtop Spider follows soon after.
In 2015, McLaren presented the 570S. Smaller than the 650S, it draws 570 hp from the same twin-turbo V8 and inaugurates the Sports Series family in which it is joined by the 570S Spider, 540C and 570GT. McLaren then divides its range into three lines : the Sports Series, therefore, the Super Series of which the 650S is part and the Ultimate Series, in which the P1 fits to top the offer.
TO READ. McLaren unveils new hybrid modular chassis
Make way for special series
This reorganization opens the door to a multitude of variants and more or less limited series. The manufacturer is resuscitating the LT (Long Tail) emblem of certain McLaren F1s with the 2015 675LT, a lighter, longer and sharper derivative of the 650S. This 675LT is then declined in Spider.
In December 2016, McLaren Automotive produced its 10,000e car. The 720S, which replaced the 650S in 2017 with a 4.0 l engine, in turn gave birth to a 720S Spider, a 765LT and a 765LT Spider. During this time, the Sports Series range wins a 600LT, a 600LT Spider and finally a 620R, not to mention the racing models and other very limited series signed MSO (McLaren Special Operations).
At the end of 2017, the P1 was replaced by the Senna, a purely thermal supercar of 800 hp limited to 500 copies. Seventy-five 825 hp Senna GTRs follow for wealthy racers, then 20 road Senna LMs and finally 3 even more exclusive Senna Can-Ams. Then comes the Speedtail, a 1070 hp hybrid “super-GT” from the Ultimate Series family, limited to 106 units. It is followed by the Elva, an 815 hp speedster, at the end of 2019. If 399 units are initially planned, this objective is revised downwards to 249 and then to 149 units at the end of 2020, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
After ten years, a new phase for McLaren
In 2019, the last “normal” year for the automotive industry, McLaren Automotive sold 4,662 cars. A number down slightly but stable compared to 2018 and close to the figures of Lamborghini and Aston Martin before the marketing of their respective SUVs. Ferrari, for its part, is now hovering around 10,000 annual sales. The McLaren GT of 620 hp has come to enrich the range in 2020.
In 2021, the British brand is opening a new chapter in its history with the presentation of the Artura, a hybrid sports coupe powered by a V6 3.0 l twin-turbo plug-in hybrid of 680 hp based on the new generation of the in-house chassis. The Sports Series family disappears, and the offer is reworked to divide as follows: GT (GT), Supercars (720, 765, Artura) and Ultimate (Speedtail, Elva). McLaren will have 100 points of sale around the world by the end of the year. The next expected model is, you might have guessed it, the Artura Spider.