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McLaren MP4-12C
MSRP: $241,800
Invoice Pricing: No Data
MPG: 15 / 22
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McLaren

When an ordinary motorist thinks about car makes that are available today, McLaren is not a name that pops readily to mind. Racing fans, on the other hand, are sure to appreciate McLaren's heritage on the racecourses of the world. As the company explains, they "successfully competed at the very highest levels" in Formula 1, Can-Am, and Le Mans racing. Looking ahead, the establishment of an independent McLaren Automotive organization to design and build high-performance sports cars signals that non-racers might also be able to get behind the wheel. McLaren has been involved in roadgoing super-performance cars before. Born in New Zealand Bruce McLaren moved to Britain in 1958 to racecars. In addition to driving for Aston Martin, Jaguar, and Ford, he founded McLaren Motor Racing in 1963. A year later, Bruce and his team built the first true McLaren sports car: the M1A. Bruce McLaren wanted to capitalize on his racing team's success in the Can-Am series, by building a racecar for the road. One prototype was made, based on the McLaren M6 chassis. Powered by a 5.7-liter Ford engine, with a reinforced polyester resin coupe body, the M6 GT weighed only 725 kilograms (1,598 pounds). After Bruce's tragic and untimely death while testing at the Goodwood course in June 1970, the M6 project ended. But Trojan (McLaren's partner for customer race cars) built three M6 GTs for customers. Twenty years passed before the next road car came along, though McLaren maintained its powerful presence on the racing circuit through that period. The McLaren F1 has been called the world's greatest supercar. To build it, a new company, McLaren Cars, was established in 1989. They sought to create the fastest, best-handling supercar in the world, with the highest power-to-weight ratio of any production car. No computer-aided design was used in its development. Everything was hand drawn. McLaren refers to a "purity of design that has been described as timeless and elegant, with no spare fat." Intended to seat three in comfort, the McLaren F1 even included a custom luggage set that "filled every last cubic centimeter of space." Dihedrally-mounted doors needed less space for opening and closing. Under the hood sat a BMW 6.1-liter V-12, which made 627 horsepower. The first example was unveiled to the press at Monaco, before the 1992 Grand Prix. At 1140 kilos (2,513 pounds), it was far lighter than any rival. According to McLaren, an F1 could accelerate to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, reach 100 in 6.3 seconds, and go from 30 to 225 mph in sixth gear without any jerkiness or shudder. Between 1994 and 1998, exactly 64 production F1 road cars were built. A joint venture with Mercedes-Benz came next. McLaren was a partner and engine supplier to Mercedes-Benz for Formula 1 racing, and the German automaker wanted to build a high-performance Grand Touring supercar. As developed with McLaren's input, the result was called the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. "SLR" brought to mind the phenomenal racing victory for Mercedes-Benz at 1955 Mille Miglia, which set a never-matched world record. In German, SLR means "Sport-Leicht-Rennsport" ("Sport - Light - Racing"). A production model debuted at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show, with a supercharged 5.4-liter AMG Mercedes V-8 that initially generated 626 horsepower. An SLR Roadster followed the original coupe in 2007. SLR models used full carbon fiber monocoque construction. During the next two years, 2,114 SLRs were made. In 2011, McLaren Automotive was formed to launch the first of a new range of "technologically advanced high performance sports cars." Initial sales of the new MP4-12C coupe were delayed a bit, but are expected to begin in January 2012, as a 2013 model priced around $229,000. A 592-horsepower, twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-6 engine mates with a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox. McLaren managed to avoid the federal "guzzler tax" on the MP4-12C, by achieving a fuel-economy estimate of 15 mpg in city driving and 22 mpg on the highway.