Back in 1992 British-based McLaren made history with their iconic F1 sports car, I remember the first time I saw it I fell in love with it (much like countless thousands of others I’m sure). It was unique, fast and cool and owning one would have been the ultimate rush.
Powering the car back then was a 6.1 liter V12 that produced 618 horsepower and since the dual clutch transmission was still a number of years away from development, all the power was transmitted to the wheels via a 6 speed manual gearbox. As with most cars bearing the Mclaren badge, this car set records by the bundle, one of them was the record for the worlds fastest production car, reaching 231 mph (with a rev limiter enabled).
Along with all that power and sophistication came a blend of interior, aerodynamics and suspension designs that, at the time, were revolutionary and cutting edge. The F1 had a seven year run of production from 1992 to 1998 and during that time the company produced an estimated 106 models. In 1995 McLaren built a limited number of F1 GTR models and once again history was made when the car placed first, third, fourth, fifth, and 13th places in the 1995 24 hours of Le Mans.
Fast forward a dozen or so years and McLaren is once again making history with their MP4-12C. 2011 saw the release of one of the coolest cars we’ve had the privilege of driving. Our Horsepower crew all gathered one morning out at a regional McLaren office in Beverly Hills Ca. to experience what would become one of the most memorable days in our history when McLaren threw the keys to a brand new 12C and told us to have fun. Believe us when we say, we didn’t need to be told twice….
We spent the day tooling around the city of Los Angeles getting to know the car and becoming more comfortable in it. The 3.8 liter twin turbo V8 was as responsive as anyone could hope for and the seamless upshift patterns of the dual clutch automatic transmission made for the ride of our lives.
On a lonely stretch of road we decided to conduct our own unofficial 0 to 60 experiment and were astonished at the 2.9 seconds we consistently recorded. The car has incredible launch control and it handles as well or better than anything we’ve ever driven.
McLaren had (at that time) seemingly built the ultimate Supercar with Formula 1-sourced technologies such as “brake steer”, where the inside rear wheel is braked during fast cornering to reduce understeer and carbon fiber body and tub construction making the overall experience unique as well as memorable.
As our day came to a close, we were on the one hand full of excitement and exhilaration while at the same saddened that our time in the 12C was over.
Well just as all good things must come to an end, they also must have a beginning and some time later we found ourselves back at Mclaren…only this time we were there to experience the all new 650S. Like the MP4-12C before it, the 650S Spider is an engineering masterpiece.
As we headed out on to the Los Angeles freeways we were once again reminded of why we like the McLaren so well. Some cars you get into while others you ‘put on’ and this newest Mclaren is definitely the latter. McLaren boasts “Innovative Technology and Unmatched Performance” in their advertisements and there is no hyperbole in that statement.
A carbon fiber tub with bolt-on suspension pieces comprises the chassis, leading to a light but rigid car. McLaren’s ProActive Chassis Control (PCC) system, a set of hydraulically interconnected dampers, uses fluid pressure to reduce roll, squat and dive, the chassis felt responsive when cornering and accelerating aggressively and braking were even better than the 12C with unparalleled control. The organic feel in the steering wheel really makes you feel one with the road and overall the experience is indescribable.
McLaren builds the 650S Spider with an open differential, relying on a torque vectoring system to assist in the turns. Power steering uses hydraulic fluid pressurized by an electric pump, allowing multiple steering programs. The mid engine 3.8-liter V-8 has variable valve timing and twin turbos kicking out 641 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque at 6,000rpm.
McLaren’s idea for the 650S Spider is to make it an everyday supercar, and in that we found it to be totally successful. The car is awesome on every level.
Our test model was an interesting shade of green that was as loud as the car is fast. Despite what some might find as an odd color, interestingly enough, it fits well with the car.
The sticker isn’t for everyone and with the average price somewhere in the $300,000 dollar range, not all can come to the dance but, if you’re able to play at this level, we highly recommend checking out the all new 650S. You can bet, the next time we’re offered an invite, we’ll drop whatever we’re doing and make McLaren top priority.