The McLaren MP4-12C at the New World Symphony

New to most, familiar to some, McLaren Automotive enters the sports car ranks as a motorsports veteran. Compared to Ferrari or Porsche, the British firm is inexperienced as a production car brand, but based on the survival-of-the-fittest rigor of the racetrack, it could soon top the class. Since McLaren’s Formula 1 debut in 1966, and especially since executive chairman Ron Dennis joined the team in 1980, this UK-based company has introduced many technical innovations that stretch the imagination. Its steady presence in the top echelons of racing has shown such a mastery of challenges in design, mechanics and electronics as to border on the artistic. And the path to that art is science, precision, insight and thoroughness—all traits that reflect both Dennis and the company in equal measure. Eight Formula 1 Constructors’ Championships and 12 Championships for McLaren’s drivers do not lie.

Through Formula 1, McLaren pioneered the use of carbon fiber, which allowed it to perfect the process and production that continue today. The McLaren most familiar to sports car fans outside of racing is the threeseat, all-carbon-fiber monocoque-chassis, $1 million-plus McLaren F1 exotic car, which took the automotive press by storm in 1993 and achieved 240 mph with the rev limiter disengaged on its BMW-sourced powerplant. Also, the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren (2003 to ’09) was a joint venture between McLaren and its Formula 1 engine supplier, Mercedes-Benz. With those two limitedproduction cars under its belt, McLaren is now introducing a new exotic sports car designed solely in-house (including the engine), intended to challenge the exotic sports car establishment of Ferrari, Porsche and any others who care to join the party.

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