McLaren is known for its success in Formula 1, where they are the second oldest and the third-winningest team of all-time. Ron Dennis, former F1 team principal, created McLaren automotive in 1985. They released their first car in 1992, the mighty McLaren F1. Since then, they’ve created some amazing road cars. Creating a top-five list is honestly pretty easy, considering they only have about 13 cars. Still, these are five of the best road cars to ever come out of McLaren.
5.McLaren 765LT 2020 – Now
The newest offering from McLaren is not much faster than the MP4-12C. Announced in March 2020, the 765 Long Tail utilizes the 4-liter, twin-turbo M840T engine making 755 horsepower but weighs as much as a Porsche Boxster. Despite this, the car is only 0.1 seconds faster to 60 than the MP4-12C and has a slower top speed (212 vs. 218). What makes this car cool is its rarity. McLaren will only build 765 of these compared to the approximate 1,500 MP4-12Cs they sold in 2014 alone. It also sounds glorious. If you get bored, you can go ahead and configure your 765LT on the McLaren website, but don’t expect to see a price.
4. McLaren MP4-12C 2011-2014
Released in 2011, the McLaren MP4-12C was the first road car wholly designed and built by McLaren. It followed up the legendary McLaren F1 and gave homage to their F1 history. The MP4/12 was the name of their F1 car in 1997, driven by David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen. MP4 also stands for McLaren Project 4, a mashup between McLaren and Ron Dennis’ Project 4. The 12 also refers to McLaren’s internal car ranking system. Jeremy Clarkson likened the name to that of a fax machine. Despite that, the MP4-12C goes like hell hitting 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds and covering the quarter-mile in only 10.2 seconds. The top speed is over 215 miles per hour. McLaren achieves these numbers using a twin-turbo 3.8L V8 making 600 horsepower and a trick suspension setup. If you’ve got the cash, prices of these are dropping into the mid-80s.
3. McLaren Senna 2018 – Now
The McLaren Senna would be on this list for the sheer size of its rear wing alone. It also has see-through doors that are unique. Named after 3-time F1 World Champion and acclaimed McLaren racing driver Ayrton Senna, the car is wickedly fast. The McLaren Senna set the production car lap record at Laguna Seca 0.5 seconds more quickly than the Porsche 911 GT2 RS using the same racing driver. Sixty miles per hour comes in 2.8 seconds, and the Senna hits the quarter-mile in 10 seconds flat. The car hits 186 mph (300 km/h) in just 17.5 seconds, making it slower than other vehicles on this list but still plenty fast. Top speed and acceleration isn’t the main point of this car; handling is. It murders the track as demonstrated by Car & Driver, where they hit 1.23 g’s of lateral acceleration, the most ever in a lightning lap. McLaren is only building 500 of these cars, and unfortunately, they’re already all sold out.
2. McLaren P1 2013-2015
Continuing on the rarity list is the McLaren P1, the spiritual successor to the legendary McLaren F1. If you think the production run of McLaren Senna’s is out of hand at 500, then the P1 is the car for you. Coming in at only 375 produced, the McLaren P1 is a plug-in, rear-wheel-drive hybrid making a combined 903 horsepower. The P1 is the quickest McLaren road car hitting 186 mph (300 km/h) in 16.5 seconds, one full second faster than the Senna and 5.5 seconds faster than the McLaren F1. The car has a range of over 300 miles, with an average of 20 mpg, which is like a million for supercars. Top speed is around 217 miles per hour, and prices approach well over a million, but don’t worry, like the Senna, it sold out immediately. There are about 10 P1s for sale on Dupont Register, all for around $1.5 million or more, including a few of the GTR spec road cars.
1. McLaren F1 1992-1998
When the McLaren F1 entered the scene in 1991, it blew the world away. At the time, the production top speed belonged to a modified Jaguar XJ220 at 217 miles per hour. The F1 topped that by a staggering 23 miles per hour, hitting 240 miles per hour. It accomplished this using a 6.1-liter naturally-aspirated BMW V12, making 618 horsepower. The 240 mph top speed is still the record for a naturally-aspirated production car. The Bugatti Veyron eventually knocked the F1 off its perch over a decade and some change later. The production numbers of the F1 are staggering low. They only made 106 F1s, meaning you’re thirteen times more likely to see a Ferrari F40 than a McLaren F1.
The McLaren F1 had a unique configuration featuring one center driver’s seat flanked by two passengers seats slightly behind. The doors opened on now-familiar dihedral hinges that made them look like eagle wings opening. McLaren lined the engine bay in gold not because it was expensive but because it is a very useful heat-reflector. At only 2,500 lbs, the F1 is a featherweight compared to modern-day McLaren’s that struggle to come in around 3,000 pounds. It also featured a proper six-speed manual running through a triple-plate clutch. At the time, the McLaren F1 cost a million dollars, which is a bargain compared to the over $15 million they command now. The McLaren F1 is not only the best McLaren road car of all-time; it is one of the top five vehicles ever made.
While McLaren has only built a few thousand cars ever, they are some of the best examples out there. While some deride the lack of excitement in their vehicles, they are surgical and represent the McLaren brand and style. Lightly tuned McLaren 720’s are easily getting into the 8’s in the quarter-mile, which is insane. If you have $100,000 in your pocket, pick up a used MP4-12C. If you’re a big baller and have $15 million in your pocket, wait around for a McLaren F1 to go on sale. For the rest of us, we’re stuck dreaming.