‘Phones into boxes, sign the paperwork and then, boom!’
I’M SURE THE BLINDFOLDS were more about cranking up the sense of theatre than preserving secrecy, but isn’t a little theatre core to the hypercar experience?
Certainly the Wednesday on which I first saw McLaren’s new Speedtail was a Wednesday like few others: drive to Woking, assemble at McLaren’s Thought Leadership Centre (or TLC, a cute if slightly wide-of-the-mark acronym for such a sheer, un-cosy piece of architecture) and, shortly thereafter, climb into The Apprentice-style black limos for a short and blindfolded ride through town to an anonymous warehouse. Phones into sealed boxes, sign the paperwork without reading it and then, boom, the cover’s whipped off a £1.75m hypercar with more power than Alonso’s Formula 1 McLaren, three seats, matching luggage and badges made of gold. (We could spend all day mulling over the significance of the contrasting use of gold on history’s two McLaren three-seaters – to heatproof the V12’s engine bay on the F1, to make pretty badges on the Speedtail, though it may yet turn up in the engine bay – but life’s too short.)
In some ways the Speedtail’s curiously pitched. It’s comparable with AMG’s One but, unlike the Merc, claims no Formula 1 link. It’s also both the most powerful McLaren yet and, perversely given it boasts 1035bhp, the first without a Track mode. Nonetheless this is a car burnished with the kind of no-compromise performance creativity that fires the imagination; not every generation is fortunate enough to see a car like this on its watch. So are we living through a golden age to compare with the halcyon days of the F40, the 959 and the XJ220? If so then a recession’s surely just around the corner. Oh well.