McLaren’s First Street Drop-Top Claims Best Power-to-Weight

McLaren has delved into its open-top racing history to create its first street-legal convertible that also boasts the best power-to-weight of its current range.

The British Formula One racing brand has launched a new interpretation of the McLaren-Elva racing machines of the 1960s kicking off with the M1A raced in the Canadian Sports Car Grand Prix, forerunner to Canadian-American (Can-Am) Challenge Cup, winning five consecutive years from 1967 to 1971. In an echo to the 340bhp Oldsmobile mid-mounted 4.5-liter V8s of the past, the new Elva joining McLaren’s bespoke Ultimate Series employs a 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged McLaren V8 but with 804bhp and 590ft-lbs or torque.

The power, driving the rear wheels through a seven-speed seamless-shift gearbox, claims a 0-62mph sprint time of less than three seconds and standing start to 124mph quicker even than the marque’s own McLaren Senna of just 6.7 seconds.

It’s carbon fiber body and chassis has been designed to allow the full use of the car’s 200+mph top speed potential in drop-top mode with what the automaker claims is the world-first total aero protection. The active air management system (AAMS) claims to channel air through the nose of the car to come out of the front clamshell at high velocity ahead of the occupants before being directed up over the cockpit to create a windless ‘bubble’.

Mike Flewitt, CEO, McLaren Automotive, said: “It’s fitting that the new McLaren Ultimate Series roadster – a uniquely modern car that delivers the ultimate connection between driver, car and the elements and with that new heights of driving pleasure on road or track – acknowledges our rich heritage with the Elva name.”

This new Ultimate Series McLaren will be limited to 399 models worldwide and is priced from £1,425,000 ($1,831,000) including taxes, with final specification determined by customer choice.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles


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