McLaren’s racing team and their car manufacturing outfit may seem one and the same to many gearheads, but until a few years ago they were basically separate entities. Founded in 1985, McLaren Cars was (as it was initially known) responsible for the development and release of F1, now widely regarded as one of the greatest driver’s cars ever. From 1994 to 2010, the company was registered as “dormant” and then revived under the name McLaren Automotive for the development of the MP4-12C. Since 2017 McLaren has become a wholly owned subsidiary of the McLaren Group.
In the 12 years since its revival, the company has released a huge range of supercars and hypercars, all of which feature cutting-edge technological innovations and unparalleled performance. The brand has grown in a very short time from what was essentially a niche company into a powerhouse for performance cars, and it seems certain that the next few years of their existence will remain as productive as the last. But for now let’s take a closer look at ten of McLaren’s best road cars yet.
10 McLaren Elvac
The McLaren Elva is a limited-run open-top special delivered to customers in 2021. It is inspired by the lightweight racing cars of the 1960s produced by the company’s founder of the same name, Bruce McLaren.
The car features a 4.0L twin-turbocharged V8 that delivers 804 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. It’s the same engine that appeared in the Senna and Speedtail, and it’s the most powerful variant of McLaren’s signature V8. A total of 149 units will be made, some of which will be further modified by McLaren’s specialist MSO division.
9 McLaren MP4-12C
The MP4-12C, the first car produced after McLaren’s long rest, announced the company’s return with a bang. Its peak performance, advanced aerodynamics and true supercar looks made it an instant hit and it remains a popular collector’s item today.
It was designed by Frank Stephenson, whose previous designs include the Ferrari F430, Maserati MC12 and Ferrari FXX. The car was also the first to feature McLaren’s now signature V8 engine, whose development history dates back to the Nissan R390 of the late 1990s. So in a way every modern McLaren has a Nissan engine†
8 McLaren Arthur
McLaren’s most recent mainline to enter production is the Artura the brand’s first mass-produced hybrid supercar (although the P1 takes the crown as the first hybrid McLaren ever). Instead of the V8 that was present in most other modern McLaren models, the Artura has a V6, coupled to a 70 kW electric motor.
It is a crucial model for McLaren to do well as the car industry moves towards electrification and manufacturers try to find their place in this rapidly evolving segment. First impressions of the car have been very positive overall and it’s just as brutally fast as the company’s previous offerings, which is always a good sign. It can reportedly accelerate from 0-62mph in just 2.9 seconds and top out at 205mph.
7 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren
At the time of the production of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, Mercedes owned 40% of the McLaren Group, so the car was produced as a joint venture between the two companies, despite the McLaren car division being technically inactive at the time. McLaren Group was currently competing mainly in Formula 1, and it is the F1 technology that Mercedes wanted to use for the SLR.
So it’s no surprise to find that the SLR featured many F1-derived techs, including active aerodynamics and carbon-ceramic brakes. A total of 2,157 units were produced between 2003 and 2009 at the McLaren Technology factory in Woking, England.
6 McLaren P1
Considered by many to be the spiritual successor to F1, the P1 was unveiled at the 2012 Paris Motor Show and customers could order one from 2013. Only 439 units were produced, of which only 375 were “regular” P1s, the rest special ones. editions are.
The numbers are staggering: with its hybrid V8 powertrain, the P1 delivers a combined power of 903 hp and can go from 0 to 100 km/h in just 2.8 seconds. Every build slot for the P1 sold out in less than a month, and today buying a used one costs over $1.5 million.
5 McLaren Senna
After the success of the P1, McLaren wasted no time building a successor, the Senna. It is the third car in the McLaren Ultimate Series after F1 and P1, although it focused less on overall speed than P1 and more on the track.
It came with a revised aero that some consider pretty ugly, with even McLaren describes the car as “ruthless”. It didn’t have to look good, though, as track performance was the main metric to impress buyers, and all 500 planned examples sold quickly at launch.
4 McLaren F1 GT
The F1 GT was the final version of McLaren’s legendary car and was designed as a special homologation to enable the company to race in the 1997 GT Championship. It featured the “Longtail” bodywork seen on later models of McLaren. the GTR, but without a rear wing.
Only 3 examples were ever built, and each one is made from a standard F1 race car chassis, retaining their original production numbers. The car was lighter than the standard F1 and reportedly had a higher top speed, although this was never officially confirmed.
3 McLaren Speedtail
The fourth and most recent entry in the Ultimate Series is the Speedtail, which McLaren describes as their very first Hyper-GT† It is the fastest and most powerful McLaren road car made to date, with a combined output of 1,040 horsepower.
It reportedly has a top speed of 250 mph and can accelerate from standstill to 286 mph in just 12.8 seconds. It’s not just the Speedtail’s performance that is groundbreaking, the car also features electrochromic glass, which darkens at the touch of a button and eliminates the need for sun visors. The rear carbon fiber body is also flexible and can be hydraulically tuned to improve the car’s aerodynamics at high speeds.
2 McLaren P1 GTR
The P1 GTR was originally intended as a track-only special, but it turns out that many McLaren customers were unhappy with the fact that they could only use their car on the track. Shortly after the first deliveries of the GTR began, Lazante, who previously partnered with McLaren for their race-winning Le Mans effort in 1995, began offering official conversions for road-legal status.
And so one of the most breathtaking street-legal cars ever was born. The P1 GTR produces 83 additional horsepower over the regular P1 and also produces significantly more downforce. Evo reported that it is one of the few cars which can divert attention from an F1 GTR when both cars are side by side, and when you look at it it’s easy to see why.
1 McLaren F1
The first McLaren race car into production still ranks first as their best, and today it is one of the most expensive cars in the world to buy. It is considered by many to be the greatest driver’s car ever built, and is credited with revolutionizing road car performance when it debuted in 1992.
It is also incredibly rare, with only 106 units built. It was one of the first production cars to ever use a carbon fiber monocoque chassis and featured active aerodynamics, reducing the drag coefficient to just Cd = 0.32. In 1998 it also became the official fastest production car in the world, with a record of 221 mph, which would stand for seven years until the Koenigsegg CCR took its crown.
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