Supercars and hypercars spanning 10 years of road car success for McLaren Automotive took to the track at the Goodwood Motor Circuit in the UK, on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 October, to open the 78th Goodwood Members’ Meeting.
Led by the first production 12C – the car that marked the arrival in 2011 of McLaren Automotive in the modern era – some of the most memorable high-performance, luxury cars launched in the past decade celebrated McLaren’s achievements with laps of the Goodwood circuit.
Lining up alongside the 12C were a McLaren P1™ – the world’s first hybrid hypercar – the extreme, track-focused McLaren Senna, a GT, two convertibles – a 675LT Spider and 720S Spider – and the most recent McLaren Ultimate model, the Elva. Completing the celebration parade was McLaren’s all-new, high-performance hybrid supercar, the Artura.
The dynamic display was the centerpiece of activities at the Goodwood Members’ Meeting that saw McLaren customers joining the 10-year celebrations, which also featured McLaren road cars on track as course cars and safety cars.
“There is much for McLaren Automotive to celebrate as we open our second decade. We continue to build on the McLaren history, while pioneering new technologies and fully embracing electrification – and what better way to celebrate than with our cars on a famous race circuit and McLaren owners joining us to enjoy the experience. McLaren founder Bruce McLaren famously spoke of life being measured in achievement not years alone, and while our 10-year anniversary is a milestone in its own right, it’s the astonishing cars we have created since 2011 of which we are most proud.”
Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Automotive.
McLaren’s road car heritage dates back to 1969, when Bruce McLaren designed and manufactured the futuristic-looking M6GT. His untimely death in a testing accident in 1970 at the Goodwood circuit paused McLaren ambitions in this direction, but clear opportunities outside motor racing remained. This was confirmed in 1993 with the arrival of the F1 – a car that rewrote the rulebook with its carbon fibre monocoque and central driving position – but it was in 2009 that a new era was announced with an all-new supercar, the 12C.
Deliveries of the car began in 2011, the new McLaren Production Centre in Woking, Surrey, UK, where the supercar – and all future McLaren road cars – would be hand-assembled, having been officially opened in the autumn. McLaren Automotive was now fully equipped to achieve its production ambitions and the next decade beckoned.
The anniversary celebrations at the Goodwood Members’ Meeting follow two similar activities in September – at Silverstone Circuit in the UK and the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve circuit in Portugal.
In addition to cavalcades of luxury supercars from the last 10 years, these events also featured rare customer-owned track cars including the McLaren Senna GTR, McLaren P1TM GTR and McLaren Customer Racing’s 720S GT3X – a GT3 race car unrestricted by the competition rulebook. The event in Portugal also included three rounds of the Pure McLaren GT Series, which has introduced many McLaren owners to GT racing.
In November another Pure McLaren Festival will take place, at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas, United States. This will feature the final three rounds of the 2021 Pure McLaren GT Series and many more McLaren Automotive cars on track at the home of the US Grand Prix.
The 2021 range of McLaren road cars comprises the GT; two supercars – the McLaren Artura and the 720S (plus the more extreme 765LT) and the Elva. Further information about these models – and many of the heritage cars – can be found at https://cars.mclaren.com/.
McLaren Automotive in 2021: reflecting on a momentous decade
Ten years ago in 2011, the radical McLaren 12C supercar heralded a bold new era for one of the most famous names in motorsport. The launch of the 12C and the opening in November of the McLaren Production Centre in Woking, Surrey, where it was to be built, marked the beginning of McLaren Automotive.
A decade of astonishing innovation, evolution and achievement followed, with the development and implementation of ground-breaking technologies and multiple engineering triumphs on road and track – and of course, the introduction of a wave of outstanding, cutting-edge supercars and hypercars.
The McLaren brand was the brainchild of New Zealander Bruce McLaren, who brought his gift for building and racing cars to Europe in 1958 and went on to start his own racing team – Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd – in 1963.
Bruce designed, engineered, built and raced cars which enjoyed success in many different series, from Formula 1 to IndyCar, Can-Am to F2, but in the few years before his untimely death while testing in 1970, he had begun to focus on a new direction: road cars.
The first McLaren road car was the lightweight, futuristic-looking M6GT of 1969. Designed to meet homologation regulations for the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, it also looked to a future in McLaren road car production. The untimely death of Bruce in 1970 paused McLaren ambitions, but the first steps had been taken.
More than two decades later, the McLaren F1 roadcar rewrote the rulebook with its carbon fibre monocoque and central driving position. The car won the 24 Hours of Le Mans at its first attempt in 1995 and more than a quarter of a century later remains incredible desirable: an ultra-low mileage, pristine example sold at auction in August 2021 for in excess of $20 million.
Ten years on saw a third road car project, the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. A front/mid-engined grand tourer which took the technology of a carbon fibre chassis and body into a higher volume market, its arrival in 2003 was the impetus for McLaren’s new road car future – a future that was heralded in the 2009 with confirmation of an all-new supercar and accelerated from 2011 with the first deliveries to customers.
McLaren Automotive milestones
McLaren 12C models
In 2009 McLaren set out its ambition unequivocally by announcing the 12C, a car to ‘rewrite the rules of sports car design and reflect McLaren’s position as an absolute technology and performance leader’.
Despite decades of experience on track and road, there was nothing derivative about the car: every component, from the mid-mounted 3.8-liter V8 twin-turbo engine to the cabin switchgear, was designed from scratch to eradicate any compromise.
The car’s one-piece carbon fibre MonoCell structure was a game-changer, bringing composite construction into a more affordable area of the market, and gifting the car light weight, strength, rigidity and longevity, as well as stellar performance, helped by a class-leading power-to-weight ratio and the highest specific power output in its class.
The 12C benefited from Formula 1 technology transfer – notably the use of Brake Steer to reduce understeer and increase traction, and an active rear wing – as well as human resource in the form of then-McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, both of whom played a part in the car’s development.
The 12C also featured innovative technologies such as Proactive Chassis Control to improve handling performance, and an Active Dynamics Panel featuring rotary switches allowing the driver to separately configure powertrain and handling.
Even at the point of launch, the 12C was presented not as a one-off but as the start of something bigger – a ‘range of high-performance sports cars from the home of the world’s most successful racing car company.’ First of these was the 12C Spider which, by requiring no structural reinforcement, showcased the integrity of the lightweight carbon fibre MonoCell.
The race-bred DNA of the 12C also lent itself perfectly to GT3 racing, and even before the first customer cars had entered production McLaren announced the 12C GT3, a stripped out, detuned, high-downforce track car to be run by customer teams. The car achieved 19 race wins across Europe in its first full season in 2012.
McLaren Production Centre (MPC)
To build the 12C and its successors to an exacting standard, McLaren needed a unique production center, ‘closer in spirit to an operating theatre than a factory.’
In the spring of 2010, foundations were laid for the 34,500-square meter McLaren Production Centre (MPC), a facility which would create up to 800 new jobs and be capable of producing up to 4,500 cars a year. MPC was located just to the south east of the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, UK, the two buildings being connected by a subterranean walkway.
Just like the MTC, this new facility was designed by internationally acclaimed architects Foster & Partners, its aluminum tube cladding, rounded corners, ‘glass drum’ entrance and ceramic-tiled floors echoing the design language of the MTC. The building is environmentally optimized, using rainwater for cooling, and built to a linear two-story layout to exactly mirror the flow of the production line.
From the outside the MPC appears to be only a single-story unit, minimizing its visual impact, with a second level being located below the production hall, and a mezzanine level above it.
Hundreds of new trees were planted, while not one grain of the 180,000-square meters of excavated soil was removed from the site – all of it being entirely repurposed for landscaping.
The construction timescale was set at just 12 months, allowing production of the 12C to rapidly transfer from MTC to its new home, and in autumn 2011 the MPC was officially opened by then Prime Minister, David Cameron. McLaren Automotive was now fully equipped to achieve its production ambitions going forward.
McLaren Special Operations and modern luxury
McLaren Special Operations (MSO), McLaren’s on-house bespoke division, can trace its roots back to the McLaren F1, having originally been conceived as a highly specialized team to look after customer cars.
Today, MSO is still all about customers, but it has grown exponentially to become a hugely important and valued part of the McLaren experience, working with individual clients to interpret and realize the unique vision everyone has for their car. The MSO mantra is ‘the art of the possible’ – a creative and collaborative process that can embrace a whole spectrum of personalization, from a different colored brake caliper to an entirely bespoke car.
The starting point can be MSO Defined, a boutique of special paint colors, carbon fibre components, performance or luxury-focused packs, or personalized details all accessible through McLaren retailers. Beyond this, MSO Bespoke is a deeper dive into a world where your car is almost literally your canvas, onto which your exact specification can be painted, fitted or applied.
MSO is in particular demand for tailoring Ultimate and Longtail models, where limited numbers mean that literally every single car can be unique. The MSO team specializes in innovating and developing new materials, treatments, paint finishes and design evolutions, often testing on a one-off special edition a technique that might transform future production.
Projects as varied as the Speedtail Albert (a magnesium silver-painted homage to the very first McLaren F1), the striking, cashmere-trimmed Verdant GT, race-liveried Elvas and the tri-tone Coriolis Blue 720S underline MSO’s scope, although every car is unique and almost anything is possible. To prove the point, look no further than Sabre – a highly exclusive MSO original supercar designed for – and with – a handful of US customers.
McLaren Customer Racing
Racing is always close to the beating heart of McLaren – it is a part of the DNA that customers embrace when buying a McLaren road car. McLaren Customer Racing designs, engineers, builds and supports GT3 and GT4 race cars in championships worldwide.
The McLaren Customer Racing story began with the 12C GT3, to be continued with the 650S GT3. By the time the operation was taken fully in-house in 2018, it was the 720S GT3 that was leading the change. Instantly quick – it led its debut race, the 2018 Gulf 12 Hours – the 720S GT3 continues to set the pace in GT3 racing.
McLaren drivers have also enjoyed significant success in the 570S GT4, a car continually being developed and updated by McLaren Customer Racing and still playing a key role in introducing McLaren drivers into GT racing via the Pure McLaren GT Series.
McLaren Customer Racing is also responsible for product development, notably with the McLaren Senna GTR, and helped to create two incredible track-focused versions of McLaren road cars – the road-legal 620R and track-only 720S GT3X – which demonstrate the full potential on offer when 570S GT4 and 720S GT3 are unshackled from the restrictions of the racing rulebook.
At the same time as the 720S GT3 was being developed, McLaren Customer Racing inaugurated the Driver Development Programme (DDP), designed to nurture talented young drivers. Several have gone on to join the team of McLaren Factory GT Drivers, a role which includes coaching amateur racing drivers at Pure McLaren events, GT racing and road and race car development.
The Ultimate McLarens
‘The best driver’s car in the world on road and track’, was the mission McLaren undertook in 2013, resulting in the creation of a car so advanced it rewrote the principles of supercar propulsion, putting McLaren Automotive back at the hypercar top table. This was the McLaren P1™, the first hybrid hypercar.
Powered by a hybrid petrol-electric drivetrain developing 903bhp, it deployed torque infill to achieve simply staggering throttle response. Further aided by its ultra-lightweight carbon construction and ground effect aerodynamics producing more downforce than any production road car, the P1™ was scintillatingly quick on track, while producing just 200g/km CO2 of emissions. The P1™ became even more extreme in 2015 with the track-only McLaren P1™ GTR, named in tribute to the original F1 GTR race car.
Being truly the ‘ultimate’ supercar, the P1™ earned its place as the pioneer of McLaren’s Ultimate models, of which there have been a further three ground-breaking models.
The 2018 McLaren Senna was announced as the ultimate road-legal track car – ‘legalized for road use, but not sanitized to suit it.’ Bearing the name of McLaren F1 legend Ayrton Senna, it had to be absolutely without compromise. And so it proved: the car’s design was ruthlessly aero-optimized, helping to generate 1,763.7lbs of downforce, while the new MonoCage III chassis and RaceActive Chassis Control II suspension system enabled previously unimagined lap times. The McLaren Senna GTR that followed removed the need for road homologation, resulting in the fastest McLaren on track outside of Formula 1.
The McLaren Speedtail, the world’s first ‘Hyper-GT’, was revealed in 2019 as a car that projected the future with a deft nod to the past. Its three-seat, central driving position configuration and106-only production run doffed a cap to the McLaren F1, while the 250mph top speed, petrol-electric hybrid powertrain and futuristic-looking, ultra-streamlined aerodynamic bodyshape made it the fastest and most aerodynamic McLaren ever.
Cutting-edge technology such as patented active rear ailerons, carbon fibre wheel covers and rear-view mirror cameras, plus the use of exquisite, advanced materials inside and out, mark Speedtail out as a trailblazing fusion of performance, luxury and style.
In contrast, the McLaren Elva that followed was the lightest, most powerful non-hybrid car McLaren Automotive has ever made – a two-seat roadster without a roof, window or even a windscreen (although there is the option to specify a screen in most markets…).
The name, the look and the layout again paid homage to past glories, acknowledging the Bruce McLaren-designed McLaren-Elva sports cars of the 1960s, but the new Elva broke new ground. A truly innovative Active Air Management System negates the need for a windscreen, protecting occupants from the airflow while maintaining a visceral connection with the elements. The unique design of the Elva blurs the boundaries between the cockpit and the outside world to deliver the ultimate distillation of the sheer exhilaration of driving.
McLaren 570S – the introduction of the McLaren Sports Series
With the ground-breaking 12C having been followed by the 650S and the game-changing, hybrid-powered McLaren P1™, 2015 saw the introduction of McLaren’s first super sports car, the 570S.
Bringing race-derived technologies and supercar performance to a new segment of the market, the 570S was the first of a range of Sports Series models that opened the door to a new customer profile and at the same time challenged the established sports car status quo.
The 570S, which was later joined in the Sports Series by the 540C, 570S Spider and 570GT, was revolutionary at its price point, its weight undercutting every rival by up to 331lbs by virtue of a unique carbon fibre MonoCell II chassis. This, plus power of 562bhp from a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8, made for a then class-leading power-to-weight ratio of 425bhp per ton.
Both dramatic and beautiful, the 570S was usable day-to-day, practical and attainable, yet remained totally driver-focused, offering absolute engagement, agility, directness and scintillating performance. The point was reinforced by the unveiling of the 570S GT4 racer, which spawned the road-legal, track-focused 620R – a true race car for the road. The first Sports Series Longtail models – 600LT and 600LT Spider – brought the sought-after LT sub-brand to a new audience. McLaren ceased using the Sports Series designation for new cars at the end of 2020.
McLaren 675LT – the first modern ‘Longtail’
‘Longtail’ was an informal name given to the upgraded McLaren F1 GTR which swept all before it in the 1997 FIA GT Championship. Eighteen years later, in 2015, the principles behind that car – ultra-low weight, enhanced aerodynamics, extreme performance, track-focused dynamics and absolute driver engagement – were born again in the limited edition 675LT.
The car was based on the 650S, but featured a wider track front and rear, lighter and stiffer springs, and 40% more downforce from active aerodynamics and revised bodywork. Using obsessive, race-derived weight-saving innovations, such as thinner glass, a polycarbonate engine cover, titanium exhaust and carbon fibre rear spoiler, saved 220lbs over the 650S, making the 675LT astonishingly light at just 2,712lbs (dry weight).
The 675LT tapped into a key pillar of McLaren’s unique genius. Back in 1997 it took not only engineering skill but also plenty of design ingenuity to turn the Le Mans-conquering but road car-based F1 GTR into a rival for big-hitting GT cars which were purpose-built for the track. It was an impudent but successful endeavor, engendering a spirit that captured imaginations and led to popular demand for a road car in that image. The Longtail recipe was reborn in the 675LT – and proved so desirable that LT has become a McLaren sub-brand, with coupe and convertible 600LT and latterly 765LT models.
McLaren 720S – the benchmark modern supercar
The arrival in 2017 of the 720S was a true coming-of-age moment for McLaren Automotive. Succeeding the 650S, this was the first time an entire product family had been replaced – and with a stunning new interpretation of the McLaren design language, redrawing aerodynamic principles while personifying the brand’s extreme performance DNA.
The 720S chassis was completely new, the previous MonoCell having now been superseded by a MonoCage, making the upper structure integral to the structure. The dramatically clean, organic external surfaces were uninterrupted by radiator intakes, the air instead being channeled through unique double-skinned doors and frontal ‘eye sockets’.
Performance and driver engagement were on a new level. The twin-turbo V8 engine contained 41 percent new part content over the existing McLaren 3.8, and now displaced 4.0 liters, developed 720PS, and achieved improved economy and efficiency. The introduction of Proactive Chassis Control II, featuring 12 additional sensors compared to the 650S, plus a new suspension set-up, delivered astonishing dynamic abilities. The MonoCage with its thin pillars and low scuttle, enabled incredible all-round visibility akin to a fighter-jet cockpit, while the revolutionary new McLaren Driver Interface introduced a Folding Driver Display directly above the steering column.
The 720S pushed every possible boundary, and offered an unprecedented breadth of abilities, succeeding in raising the previously accepted supercar limits into hypercar territory. The 720S Spider followed the coupe, carrying over the entire experience and adding a further dimension with a retractable hardtop that deploys in just 11 seconds.
McLaren Composites Technology Centre (MCTC)
McLaren pioneered the use of carbon fibre in Formula 1 cars with the MP4/1 in 1981 and road cars with the F1 in 1993, and McLaren Automotive is the only car maker that can say its every road car has been built around a carbon core. This super lightweight engineering – and its strength, rigidity, lightness and longevity – is a key principle of the business.
In 2017 the company underlined the future importance of lightweight composite materials such as carbon fibre by announcing its intention to build a brand new, purpose-built £50m production facility close to the campus of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) at the University of Sheffield.
The McLaren Composites Technology Centre (MCTC) in Yorkshire, 175 miles away from MPC, leads in innovating, developing and building lightweight composite materials and architectures for current and future McLaren road cars.
The 7,000-square meter facility, which is only McLaren’s second dedicated production facility, and the first outside its native Woking, created up to 200 jobs.
MCTC increased the average percentage (by value) of a McLaren car sourced in the UK by around eight per cent from its average of around 50 percent, depending on model. The facility was opened by HRH the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Bahrain, exactly seven years to the week after the opening of the MPC.
MCTC produced its first test chassis in 2019. It has already produced many of the bespoke panels for the 765LT, including the unique front floor, and developed and builds the ultra-lightweight McLaren Carbon Lightweight Architecture (MCLA) that is at the heart of McLaren’s first series-production, high-performance hybrid supercar, the Artura.
It is an essential weapon in the battle to drive superfluous weight out of McLaren’s supercars to counteract the heavier mass of electrified powertrains to maintain the agility and performance customers demand.
The all-new Artura is not only McLaren’s first ever series-production hybrid supercar, it is a stake in the future, the first massive step towards a cleaner, more sustainable but no less thrilling way of making supercars.
Launched in 2021, Artura is the first big leap into this new era. It represents the distillation of all McLaren’s expertise and experience, blending class-leading performance and dynamics with emissions-free EV driving capability. It has an all-new superlight, British-built MCLA chassis, incorporating a revolutionary ethernet-based electrical architecture, enabling advanced driver assistance technologies and Over-The-Air updates, while also saving weight.
The new High-Performance Hybrid (HPH) powertrain incorporates a 120°-angle twin-turbo 3.0 liter V6, assisted by a compact 94bhp axial-flux E-motor. A combined output of 671bhp and 531lb ft through a new eight-speed gearbox featuring McLaren’s first electronic-differential and a DIN weight of 1,498lbs enables blistering acceleration of 0-60mph in 3.0 seconds. Incorporating knowledge from the P1TM, the Artura’s throttle response is exceptional, matching McLaren’s renowned steering feel and brake performance for driver engagement.
Despite the weight challenge of carrying a battery pack, Artura is both lighter and more powerful than non-hybrid rivals, yet at the same time the most fuel-efficient and cleanest McLaren ever, achieving more than 50mpg and emitting just 129g/km CO2*. Inside it has new, one-piece Clubsport seats which adjust through an elliptical arc, and a new, ‘hands-on-the-wheel’ control layout.
The all-new Artura – and McLaren’s Horizon 2030 business plan that it begins to accelerate – demonstrates McLaren’s commitment and determination to continue crafting technologically advanced, brilliantly engineered and dynamically thrilling luxury supercars into the electrified future that will unfold in the decade to come and beyond.
*subject to final validation and certification