• Mar 21st 2010 at 10:02AM
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McLaren MP4-12C – Click above for high-res image gallery

McLeren F1Gordon Murray is perhaps the most innovative automotive engineer of the last several decades. He's never been afraid to try out offbeat ideas and more often then not, they've worked exceptionally well. Long before the Ariel Atom, Murray created the Rocket, built by the Light Car Company.

Murray's greatest creation, of course, was the McLaren F1. As with the Rocket and the T25 city car that he's currently working on, low mass was (and continues to be) a defining principle.

Following the official launch of McLaren Automotive and the MP4-12C a few days ago, Murray discussed the new car with AutoExpress. He's glad to see that in spite of recent trends toward heavier cars, McLaren was able to keep mass comparatively low on its new car. The MP4-12C is several hundred pounds heavier than the legendary F1, but it also contains a lot of safety equipment that wasn't in use when the earlier car was built.

Murray is also happy to see that McLaren employed some of the concepts that he worked on before he left the company, such as the carbon-fiber monocoque that was planned for a follow-up to the Mercedes-Benz SLR.

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[Source: AutoExpress]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      The McLaren F1 didn't even have a driver's airbag, let alone half a dozen of them for a two seat car.

      The McLaren F1 and 12C are not even the same philosophy, and perhaps shouldn't both be termed "supercars."

      The F1 was an exercise in automotive parlance of almost a "moon-shot." It was an express project to push the envelope as far as possible, cost be damned. The legendary "Price is no object" clause, and then actually MEANING it.

      When it was being designed in the early 90s... TWENTY YEARS AGO, the Countach had given over to the Diablo. Ferrari was wrapping up the Testarossa into the 512TR, and getting back into front-engined V12s... Bugatti had the EB110... Porsche was years away from a water-cooled 911, the 959 was a few years earlier, and the Carrera GT wasn't even a thought yet.

      A Supercar then was anything over $100K that could get to 60 faster than 6 seconds, and looked cool.

      The F1 instantly changed the game. EVERYONE had a whole new set of rules to learn, and try to compete with. Even if Vector, or other bit-players tried creating the ultimate car before that, F1 did it bigger, and F1 did it better, and F1 gets the credit for truly establishing the class.

      Now there is some debate as to whether the term Supercar got re-definied, or whether a new term should be coined for the likes of McLaren F1 and those that have come after it. Perhaps Hypercar.

      But the fact is... the 12C is not the successor to the F1. The 12C isn't built to gestalt shift again, the way F1 did. It isn't built to compete with the Veyron, Pagani, Koenigssegg, or others that have sprouted up in the wake of the F1. The new hypercar class, if you will, which is usually north of $300k, and on a very limited production run.

      The remaining Supercar class has been improving greatly, too, such as the Ferrari mid-V8s, the Gallardo, the Porsche turbos, the Audi R8, and others that are a bit more mass-market between $100-250k, and offered in numbers based on demand, not artificially limited.

      The 12C doesn't compete in the hypercar category that the F1 really kicked off. 12C is bringing the lessons learned from F1, and perhaps some from SLR as well, and applying those to the supercar category, to compete with the other players on their own field. That means price-points, and that means product competition from a lot more players, who aren't just standing still. That means that price is an object, and the car has to be a very attractive value, something F1 didn't even consider.

      That is also likely the reason that the 12C doesn't share the sparse feature set that the F1 had... it has to appeal more widely, and compete with cars that are tech-laden.

      That also means a good dealer experience, and making the customer very happy, because other companies will, if McLaren won't. Not that McLaren has a bad reputation, it certainly does not. But when McLaren F1 was the car, there was little competition, and those that had to have the best, bought the F1 regardless of some of that stuff. Aspects that cannot be taken for granted with the 12C. Perhaps the slightly in-limbo demand for the SLR taught them a bit about that.

      Anyway, it is great to hear from Gordon Murray on the 12C, and nice to hear that he doesn't have a glaring issue with it... he is notoriously perfectionistic, which is evident in the F1 itself.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Nice one, and spot-on when putting the two projects in perspective, but I would say that the first hypercars were the F40 and the 959, then the Bugatti EB110 and the F1. Of course the F1 was way better, as only Murray could have done it. It became king of the hill for a very long time and, in terms of purity and focus, still is for me (in close competition with the Enzo). The Veyron is just a GT on hypersteroids, not the ultimate sports car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Great post.

        959s, F40s, F1s... brings back childhood memories of playing "Test Drive" on an EGA monitor.

      • 5 Years Ago
      its just not "crazy" enough. the first one wasnt about making anything affordable, or safe, this one kind of is.

      still a sexy/amazing car though.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The mistake you guys are making is comparing it with cars of old. You should be comparing it with today's supercars, that hold up to today's standards, and the McLaren does well compared to them