In 1992, McLaren did something truly revolutionary. Not only did they release their first road car, the F1, they also set the standard for all performance road cars, for decades to come. McLaren’s first-born was powered by a massive BMW 6.1-liter V12 engine. The 627 horsepower that engine produced was channeled through a 6-speed manual transmission, which launched the car from 0-60mph in just 3.4 seconds. And in 1998, Andy Wallace set the production car speed record in the F1 at 240.1 mph. Even by today’s standards, a car of this caliber is a force to be reckoned with, and remember, the F1 was unveiled in 1992!
McLaren has proven multiple times since then that their first car wasn’t a one-hit-wonder. From cars like the 570S in it’s Sports Series, all the way up to the Ultimate Series featuring cars like the P1, P1 GT, and Senna, Enthusiasts are constantly on the edge of their seats waiting for McLaren’s next cutting-edge design.
Truth be told, just about everything that comes out of McLaren’s factory is worth writing about. Every vehicle pushing ever forward into the future of automotive design. So, what is it about the Speedtail in particular that’s so special? Well, it’s a futuristic Hyper-car that got in touch with its roots.
Though McLaren never meant for the Speedtail to resemble the F1, it only takes a quick glance to pick up on some pretty damning similarities.
Room for Three?
Apparently, McLaren had been designing and building race cars so long, putting the driver in the center of the F1’s cabin only felt natural. But practicality wasn’t thrown entirely out the window. Two additional seats were put in the car’s cabin, one on each side of the driver, allowing a total of three people to experience the awesome performance of an F1. This unique layout was never repeated by McLaren until now. The Speedtail holds its driver firmly in the center of the cabin with a passenger on both sides. However, the Speedtail also includes all the other electronic bells and whistles you would expect from a 21st century Hyper-car.
Long, Sleek Design
It’s no secret that aerodynamics where a top priority for the design of the F1. Then came the Longtail variant, which stretched the car’s streamline shape even further. The teardrop look that defined the very essence of the Longtail is still very present in the design of the newer Speedtail. With a total length of over 200 inches, McLaren’s new Hyper-car shares the same aggressive teardrop shape as it’s ancestor, lending to the argument that the F1’s DNA still runs strong through the newer Speedtail.
They’re Making How Many?
McLaren claims to be making only 106 Speedtails in total. Anyone care to guess how many F1’s were made? That’s right, 106.
So, What Sets the Two Cars Apart?
Enough with the comparisons, now time to contrast. And where we begin to see the biggest differences between the two vehicles is under the hood. Where the F1 held its 6.1-liter V12, the Speedtail holds a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 and an electric motor. (Seems the hybrid performance car is here to stay) The combination of the Speedtail’s combustion engine and electric motor gives its driver access to an astonishing 1,036 horsepower! While 0-60mph times are still unknown, McLaren claims the car is capable of achieving a top speed of 250mph. According to Andy Palmer, a vehicle line director at McLaren, the car is actually capable of reaching even higher speeds, unfortunately though, its tires aren’t. So, who knows, when client’s start receiving their Speedtails (probably in early to mid-2020) we might start seeing even higher top speeds from the car.
McLaren’s newest feat defines itself in other ways too. It has a few cool gadgets and other additions that really weren’t even around in the 90’s. Like what you ask? How’s about super-thin layers of carbon fiber infused with titanium, or “electrochromic glass” for the windshield that can tint itself or let more light in to accommodate the needs of the driver. And how about what the car doesn’t have? We’re talking about rear-view mirrors. Instead, the Speedtail has cameras which can fold out of the car’s doors when needed. The lack of side mirrors on the car reduces air resistance and cuts unnecessary weight.
In general, the Speedtail seems a true, direct descendant of the F1. Proof that even though McLaren is a leading innovative force for performance cars now, and in the near future, they haven’t forgotten where they’ve come from, or the cars that helped them get where they are. However, McLaren has also stated clearly that the Speedtail was never meant to be a successor to the F1. And in a lot of ways that’s true too. The new Hyper-car has even more power than the F1, greater technological advancements, and modern a look that simply wouldn’t have been a good fit the 1990’s.
So, what do you think? Is the Speedtail a 21st century take on one of McLaren’s greatest creations? Or is the Speedtail a unique species of performance vehicle, a car like no other? Comment your opinion!