After 25 years McLaren is finally ready with a spiritual successor to Gordon Murray’s legendary F1 — the new AED8.3m McLaren Speedtail will hit the road in 2020 ready to do more than 400km/h out the box…
How innocent it seems now, the race for ‘200 miles per hour’ in the 1980s. Ferrari and Porsche threw everything at it, with a pair of unrestrained supercars that defined the decade. Both conceived with racing as the single objective, the Ferrari F40 was Enzo’s send-off with one mile per hour to spare – Ferrari quoted a top speed of 201, or in proper terms 323km/h. Porsche fought back with Weissach’s technological zenith, and the 959 went nearly 340km/h.
And then the 1990s came, and with a career of championship-winning F1 cars behind him, Gordon Murray decided to do a road car. His standards, perverted by years of racing at the top, were pretty much insane for the times. As a result Murray’s McLaren F1 rolled out in 1994 weighing a little over 1.1 tonnes, producing 618 horsepower from a 6.0-litre V12 engine, and exhibiting obsessive attention to efficient packaging and aerodynamic drag.
Although never intended for top speed bragging rights or motorsport success, the McLaren F1 topped 390km/h in road-legal trim, and with racing modifications, beat the prototype machines at the 1995 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. How do you top that?
That’s where the new McLaren Speedtail comes in a quarter-century after its spiritual predecessor. This AED8.3m hypercard will reach just 106 customers from 2020, ready to do 403km/h out the box and deliver neck-snapping acceleration — zero to 300km/h takes 12.8 seconds, which is twice as quick as a McLaren 650S for comparison, and some four seconds quicker than a P1.
McLaren does it with the most streamlined shape the Brits have ever done, made entirely out of carbon fibre to keep the weight relatively low at 1,430kg without fluids. To slip through the air, the teardrop body is longer than a BMW 7 Series, and the 20-inch front wheels feature fixed aero covers that remain static as the wheels rotate to minimise turbulent air. Where it strays from its predecessor’s focus, the Speedtail is supposed to luxuriously cosset its owner, and personalisation options are many. Want a platinum nose badge? Gordon hates you…
The rest of the Speedtail is no less inclined to going ridiculously fast – a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain utilising McLaren’s twin-turbocharged V8 engine is worth 1,035 horsepower put down to the road through bespoke Pirelli tyres.
Following on from Murray’s ethos with the F1, the new Speedtail also puts the driver in the middle of the carbon fibre monocoque, with space for two passengers flanking the centre of attention.