Feel the Need for Speed: Discover the Thrilling History of Mclaren
1960-1970 – The beginning
Bruce McLaren was born in New Zealand in 1937. Twenty-six years later, he founded Bruce McLaren Motor Racing to develop competition vehicles. Just landed in the UK, his mentor Jack Brabham introduced him to Cooper Cars, a small London-based manufacturer of compact and lightweight racing cars.
In 1958 he joined Formula 1 and stayed with the small manufacturer for seven years. Immediately afterwards, he begins to win great prizes in the competition, not only in Formula 1 but in other categories, such as Touring Cars, driving for manufacturers such as Jaguar, Aston Martin, or Ford, where he got the podium in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.
McLaren starts as a constructor
In 1964 the first racing car was presented under the name McLaren. The M1A becomes a formidable rival to beat in local and international competitions. Sometime later, McLaren and his team gave the M1B an even faster and more competitive version. From 1967, the power of McLaren in competition began, achieving 37 victories over 43 grand Prix until 1971.
In 1965 Bruce decided to leave Cooper Cars and build his own Formula 1 vehicle with a view to the first season of the new formula of 3 litres. Having built a ‘mule’ chassis for testing in 1965, McLaren’s first car, the M2B, made its debut at the Monaco Grand Prix. In 1970, Bruce McLaren, together with chief designer Gordon Coppuck, began to develop the M6GT. The idea was to produce 250 vehicles per year, but only two units were built. The original prototype became Bruce’s vehicle and remained so until his death while testing at Goodwood.
Bruce’s tragic death throws the team into chaos. Under the leadership of Teddy Mayer and with the support of Denny Hulme, McLaren remained on the cusp of success. Likewise, the Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi won multiple races and took the crown in the McLaren M23. In its fourth season, that same model lifted James Hunt in the 1976 Drivers’ Championship in the World Championship after an exciting season and the battle with Niki Lauda and his Ferrari.
1980-1990 – The most significant supercar in the world
The McLaren F1 started in a waiting room at Milan airport in 1988. Ron Dennis, group president, along with Mansour Ojjeh and Gordon Murray, discuss how to harness the company’s technical prowess to develop the future of the company. Despite almost totally dominating the Formula 1 World Championship, Dennis’s sustainable business idea is not based on racing. Among a series of suggestions, the idea of building the best sports car in the world was raised.
In 1989 the new McLaren Cars were established, and in March 1990, a design meeting of more than ten hours was held, resulting in a commitment to building the fastest, best-handling supercar in the world. Not only that, but the highest power-to-weight ratio of any production car, lower weight, as well as being practical and helpful on a day-to-day basis is also in mind. The first model was unveiled in Monaco, before the Grand Prix, in 1992.
This causes great interest. At 1,140 kilograms, lighter than a single-seater, its six-litre V12 engine produces more power than any rival from other manufacturers. Among its specifications, we find an acceleration of 0-100 in 3.2 seconds and 0-200 in 28 seconds. As a curiosity, the McLaren F1 is so relentless that it can accelerate, progressively and cleanly, from 30 to 225 kilometres per hour in sixth gear. McLaren undoubtedly achieves its goal of producing the most significant supercar in the world.
1990-2000 – Breaking records
In 1999, the driver Andy Wallace aboard a McLaren F1 LM reached 0-200-0 in 11.5 seconds, an absolute record for a road vehicle. Before this, in March 1998, he achieved the Guinness Speed Record with a production car achieving 386 KM / H top speed. Three versions of the McLaren F1 were presented to the public before the cessation of production in 1998:
- An updated version of the F1 GTR in 1996.
- An F1 GT was intended to be homologated in the FIA GT series in 1997. As well as two F1 GTs built to the most selective clients.
- Of the F1 competition known as the F1 GTR, another ten units are manufactured.
A total of 107 McLaren F1 cars were built, ensuring their rarity. As a curiosity, one of them reached at an auction in 2009, more than two and a half million pounds sterling.
2000-2010 – The alliance with Mercedes-Benz
In late 1998, the last of the 107 models of the F1, leaving Woking, but McLaren started working on his new project. McLaren partner and engine supplier in Formula 1, Mercedes-Benz, wants to build a supercar for worldwide distribution. McLaren’s expertise in F1 design, coupled with Mercedes engineering, makes his ambition a reality.
Although Mercedes dictates the architecture and supply of the engine, the engineering and production are left to McLaren. The plan was not to replicate what McLaren had achieved with F1. The goal was to develop a high-performance Gran Turismo with excellent driving and exceptional performance with high safety, comfort, and luxury levels.
The SLR was presented in 2003. The chassis is made of carbon, which provides excellent torsional rigidity, guaranteeing safety. The engine is a 5.4-litre supercharged AMG V8 block that produces 626 hp and a whopping 780 NM of torque from just three thousand laps. With these figures, the rear wheels propel the SLR from 0 to 100 kilometres per hour in 3.8 seconds, reaching 333 maximum speed. Once it is launched on the market, two more versions of the SLR come. Before launching the SLR Roadster, a limited edition (150 units) of the coupe is presented, called 722.
The number 722 is how Sir Stirling Moss wins the historic Mille Miglia starting at 7:22 in the morning. It has an improved and stiffer suspension, a reduction in body height by ten millimetres, larger carbon-ceramic brakes, and an enhanced version of the V8 engine, which now delivers 650CV. The history of the SLR ends with a special edition, the SLR Stirling Moss.
This is the latest incarnation of the SLR project, ending production in December 2009. Only 75 of these models go on sale to existing SLR owners. The Stirling Moss edition dates back to a bygone era and is 200 kilos lighter than the SLR Roadster. It is enough to give a time of 0-100 in 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 349 kilometres per hour.
2010-2014 – The next step
The MP4 / 12C was presented in September 2009 and started production in 2011. With rivals like the Ferrari 458 Italia or the Lamborghini Gallardo, this new McLaren equips a 3.8-litre Twin-Turbo V8 block. It has all of McLaren’s design expertise, including carbon fibre in the chassis and the heritage gained from Formula 1.