McLaren has been on a roll both critically and commercially since it returned to the road-car business in 2011. The MP4-12C was followed by the 650S, 720S, and the nearly unequalled P1. Sales have been up, and 2016 was the automaker's most successful year ever, moving 3,286 cars into customer hands. That's a 99 percent increase over 2015, and with 1,500 pre-orders for the 720S, 2017 is looking even better. The big news is McLaren's fourth consecutive year of profitability in just six years.

News for the automaker looks good on all fronts (the struggling Formula 1 team is run separately). McLaren added 114 employees in 2016, raising the staff count to 1,606. Sales revenue is up 44 percent to $843.6 million with an $11.9 million profit. Like with sales numbers, things are looking good for 2017.

McLaren Special Operations, the bespoke group behind cars like the MSO HS and the 720S Velocity, grew by 147 percent over 2015. Sales of the 570S and 570GT Sport Series totaled 2,031 cars. The addition of the new 570S Spider should only help matters. North America was the largest region for McLaren, with a total 1,139 cars coming across the Atlantic.

For such a young company, this is all good news. Yes, McLaren has been around for decades in one form or another, but success like this is still surprising. Many automakers have grand ambitions to build world-class sports cars, but few are ever truly successful.

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