McLaren dealership

Niche automakers face a difficult decision: lay out the mountain of cash it takes to have their exotic rides certified for American roads, or save the money and miss out on one of the largest markets. McLaren Automotive had the new MP4-12C homologated for the United States, and now they're thankful that they did.

According to Motor Trend, a whopping 40 percent of the 1000 orders for the MP4-12C that McLaren has taken so far have been placed by customers in the US, through its extensive dealer network here.

It was a surprise most of all for Antony Sheriff, the American who serves as McLaren Automotive's managing director. From his experiences as a racing fan on this side of the Atlantic, he felt that McLaren lacked the brand recognition that names like Ferrari and Lamborghini enjoy in a market that's had an on-again, off-again relationship with Formula One.

With the MP4-12C already off to an auspicious start, the focus at McLaren's high-tech facility in Woking, England, has turned to expanding the lineup. The successor to the legendary McLaren F1 is in the works, and the rumormill suggests that both a convertible version of the MP4-12C and a stripped-down, hardcore variant in the mold of the Ferrari 430 Scuderia and Porsche 911 GT3 RS are also being developed. As for those shooting-brake rumors, we haven't been holding our breath, and wouldn't suggest you do, either.