In the finest tradition of British sports car manufacturers, McLaren Automotive has produced beautiful cars and cars that are wonderful to drive – and it has done so while peering almost non-stop into the jaws of financial ruin.
What is it about car makers from this soggy isle that means they so often flirt with insolvency? It’s been true of Aston Martin and Lotus for decades, and it has been true for McLaren Automotive for the first decade or so of its existence. Its very first car, the clumsily named MP4-12C, arrived late and still not quite finished, but it arrived showing just enough potential for us to sit up and take notice.
And from there, McLaren Automotive’s progress as a supercar manufacturer to rival Ferrari and Lamborghini was spectacular – the 650S, the 570S, the P1 hybrid-powered hypercar and the 720S were all class-leading machines. Which is to say nothing of the likes of the 675LT, the 600LT and the 765LT, the track-focused ‘longtail’ variants that are lighter, faster and sharper still. Low-volume, big-ticket special like the Senna, Elva and Speedtail demonstrate how comfortably a seven-figure asking price sits atop the McLaren badge.
With a back catalogue as rich as that, you might think McLaren Automotive had the supercar making thing sussed – and yet, the company’s financial struggles are very well documented and its immediate future appears uncertain. The V6 hybrid Artura supercar to rival Ferrari’s 296 GTB carries a huge weight of expectation on its shoulders.
But whatever happens in the coming years, McLaren Automotive will always have that name. Founded by New Zealander Bruce McLaren, the name trails only Ferrari for Formula 1 prestige. On the subject of names, how about Lauda, Senna, Prost, Häkkinen and Hamilton? All F1 greats who have won championships with the Woking team, and all a reminder that McLaren will always deserve its place at the top table – be that F1 or the even tougher supercar game.