McLaren ’50 in 50′: The Cars

Earlier this year McLaren announced that, in line with their 50th anniversary celebrations, they would be releasing 100 limited edition McLaren 50 12C and 12C Spiders. The revised cars have been produced by McLaren Special Operations, the branch of McLaren Automotive that is responsible for bespoke projects. The 50 12C comes in one of three colours, once of which is the heritage McLaren Orange first seen on the Can-Am cars in the 60s and 70s. Throughout their 50 years, McLaren have been responsible for creating a range of iconic cars, for the track and road. Here is a quick look at just a few of those cars from McLaren’s history and future:

The M23

McLaren’s M23 debuted in 1973 when Denny Hulme, Peter Revson, Jody Scheckter, and Jacky Ickx were driving. It finished third in its maiden year before going on to win a championship in 1974, with Emerson Fittipaldi piloting it to success in the Drivers’ championship as well. In 1975 it finished third, in 1976 second and third again in 1977. Designed by Gordon Cuppock, the M23 featured improved weight distribution and wider wings.

McLaren F1

Defined by many as the definitive sports car, the McLaren F1 was the group’s first production after McLaren Cars (now McLaren Automotive) was established. Bruce McLaren had dabbled in road car production in the 60s, producing one prototype of the 5.7 litre Ford engined McLaren M6 GT, but it had never taken off. McLaren, who became the first F1 team to produce a carbon fibre chassis, transferred what they had learnt in Formula One to develop the F1. It was unveiled in 1992 and launched in 1994 at the price of £540,000.


McLaren’s M8D was thrust into the spotlight in the most tragic of circumstances. While testing the car at Goodwood, a piece of the rear came loose and caused Bruce McLaren to crash at high speed. He lost his life but the team carried on, believing it to be what he would have wanted. Denny Hulme, Peter Gethin and Dan Gurney took the wheel of the car and between them won nine out of ten races in the season to become undisputed Can-Am champions. There was no better way to pay tribute to Bruce and the car has gone down in history of one of McLaren’s most iconic.

The car was fired up at the McLaren Technology Centre as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations:

The MP4-4

1988 saw McLaren adding Ayrton Senna and Honda to their line-up, joining Alain Prost. The MP4-4 dominated the year as McLaren won 15 out of 16 races with 15 pole positions as well. Their only non-win of the year was at the Italian Grand Prix. The team won the Constructors’ championship, while Senna and Prost battled it out for the Drivers’ championship. Senna came out on top. It was the start of a dominating phase for McLaren as they went on to win three more championships on the trot (and three driver titles). It is deemed, by many, McLaren’s greatest ever car.

McLaren P1™

McLaren’s most recent road-car, the McLaren P1, was officially unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show this year. Ron Dennis said of the P1: “Twenty years ago, with the McLaren F1, we raised we raised the supercar performance bar. With the McLaren P1™, we have redefined it once more.” Jenson Button drove the car at Goodwood, as well as arriving at this year’s MP4-28 launch behind the wheel of a P1 complete with test livery. The car is widely anticipated, as a successor to the McLaren F1, and will cost £860,000. It has been designed to be the best driver’s car on the road and the track. The car went into production at the start of October.

You can watch the car in action here:




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