The un­ex­pected ori­gins of McLaren’s mod­ern V8

Motor (Australia) - - FIRST FANG. MCLAREN 600LT -

WHAT DO mod­ern McLarens have in com­mon with the Nissan R390 Le Mans racer? Their en­gines. Sort of. The twin-turbo V8 pow­er­ing ev­ery McLaren on sale to­day has its roots in this ’90s Nissan rac­ing en­gine. Known as the VRH35L, the 3.5litre DOHC twin-turbo V8 was the fi­nal step in the VRH lin­eage and de­vel­oped by Nissan and Tom Walkin­shaw Rac­ing for the R390 GT1. It com­peted in GT rac­ing and the Le Mans 24 Hour in 1996, ’97 and ’98, but ceased when the R390 adopted LMP rules. McLaren and Ri­cardo en­gi­neer­ing bought the rights to its de­sign dur­ing the MP4-12C’s de­vel­op­ment, then heav­ily re­worked it into its 3.8litre M838T form. Con­tin­u­ally evolv­ing since, in 4.0-litre guise in the Senna makes an in­sane 588kW/800Nm. The VRH35L made “over” 478kW/706Nm in race trim, ac­cord­ing to Nissan.

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