McLaren’s meteoric rise over the past six years is well known. The MP4-12C heralded the arrival of McLaren Automotive, and while the superlative F1 and oddball Merc SLR sit on the family tree, this was a new dawn. A range of cars, made in numbers, to take on the old guard.
Things didn’t start superbly. Reaction to the MP4-12C (renamed 12C partway through its life) was a tad lukewarm, with a bunch of people expecting the second coming of the F1 left unsated by a car that appeared to prioritise comfort and usability over prickling your neck hairs.
But now that cars like the P1, 675LT and 720S have properly established McLaren in the supercar arena, and guaranteed it’s here for a long time to come, those early cars are taking on something of a new life. Some are suggesting they’re collectors’ items in waiting, the ‘McLaren v1.0’ that will be an important part of sports-car collections of the future.
So the fact they currently start at below £90k means the word ‘bargain’ might be more appropriate than it first appeared when you flicked to this page. It also means the first example of one of McLaren’s Super Series cars is cheaper than its Sports Series cars start at new (the 540C begins at £135k).
The 12C’s cleverest trick is how it makes the dark art of driving a supercar very easy. Skulk under its door before hurdling over the sill and you might suspect you’re in for a wild and unpredictable ride, but it immediately dissipates the fear and welcomes you in with a soft and compliant demeanour and a widescreen view of the world.
It should be easy to live with, too. The engine is described as ‘bulletproof’, and oil top-ups or tyre changes outside of the 12C’s desired 10k-mile servicing schedule are rare if you don’t often visit trackdays. If you want an easy route to a good ’un, buying through McLaren’s Qualified scheme will mean troublesome electronics should be banished. And if it’s an earlier MP4-12C, its 592bhp will have been upgraded to the 616bhp of later 12Cs.
It also brings warranty cover, roadside assistance, and the opportunity to spec MSO bespoke parts as if you were buying the car new. Yep, a bespoke carbon-tubbed supercar for around £100k. To some people, that really will be a bargain.
Want the open-top experience? A 12C Spider will cost about 10 per cent more than a Coupe, with prices starting at £100k