BMW M boss denies supercar collaboration with McLaren

1996 McLaren F1 GTR #17R
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  • 1996 McLaren F1 GTR #17R
  • 1996 McLaren F1 GTR #17R Le Mans
  • 1996 McLaren F1 GTR #17R Fina
  • 1996 McLaren F1 GTR #17R Fina Le Mans
  • 1996 McLaren F1 GTR #17R BMW
The first time there was a McLaren Honda Formula 1 team, McLaren did some moonlighting with BMW on a supercar for all time, the F1. It just so happens that McLaren Honda is a thing again, and Car magazine recently ran a piece saying McLaren and BMW would get back together on another hopped-up coupe with roughly the same working agreement as before: BMW supplies a screaming V8, McLaren builds the body to go around it. Only this time the car would be a BMW model, not a McLaren, and be BMW's version of the next-generation McLaren 650S.

The Car piece said that BMW head of R&D Klaus Frölich first got in touch with McLaren nine months ago, however, the head of BMW's M division, Frank van Meel, said he doesn't know anything about it. Mentioning every BMW exec referred to in the story, van Meel told Australia's Motoring, "I haven't had a phone call, [CEO] Harald Krüger hasn't had a phone call, and Klaus Fröhlich hasn't had a phone call."

The Car story said the reason BMW hasn't done a conventionally powered exotic recently is that former CEO Norbert Reithofer didn't want anything to eclipse the i8, the i brand, and the eco credentials the brand is charged with promoting. Changes in the executive suite – new CEO, new M boss, new R&D chief – were thought to meant changes in approach. Not according to van Meel, who gave those same i brand reasons to Motoring as then reasons BMW has no interest in a 750-horsepower, quad-turbo coupe.

On top of that, after spending billions to move the game forward with in-house carbon fiber technology, van Meel asked, "I don't understand why we would need to work with McLaren for a supercar anyway. All of the technologies the story suggested are technologies that are core competences here at BMW and at M. Nobody in the world is more advanced with carbon-fibre than we are." The extent of the denial is so detailed that we're inclined to believe BMW on this one; cover stories usually stop at curt phrases like "We have no knowledge of that" or "We don't comment on future product." So you can put away your dreams of a McLaren F1 Part Two. For now.

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