Before ICE Goes – One Last Wish

Back in October 2020 I wrote an article on the coming of the Hybrids (The Hybrids Are Coming & I’m Not Excited) where I outlined a few concerns with the coming transition.  I do expect the transition to be peaceful and there are no plans to “storm” either the McLaren Technology Center or the break down the hallowed Ferrari Factory Gates in Maranello to demand that the decision to go to Hybrids be overturned.  However, before ICE leaves the automotive stage permanently, I do have one wish each for both McLaren and Ferrari in terms of a final limited-edition model.  These cars aren’t about lap times or any other performance statistics, they are simply intended to be the car you want to jump in a spend hours driving on the best roads you can find on a weekend afternoon going nowhere in particular.

Ferrari

The best Ferrari I have ever driven, in terms of being a pure completely involving driver’s car, was the F50.  What made it magical was the combination of a unique V12 engine with F1 roots mounted directly behind the driver, a brilliant six speed manual gearbox, in fact the best I have ever used, carbon fiber tub, and inboard pushrod suspension.  No car I have ever driven has felt more alive which has a lot to do with the engine being bolted directly to the carbon fiber tub.  The owner’s ability to set the car up as either a Barchetta (open roof) or Berlinetta (closed roof) was genius and helped keep the weight down.  Despite the size, the F50 is the lightest car Ferrari has built in the last 30 years and that comes through clearly in the way it moves down the road.  The ask therefore is for a car that embraces all these attributes. 

 

As Ferrari makes the greatest 12-cylinder engines, I think one last mid-engine V12 supercar to celebrate the end of the ICE era is in order.  As this isn’t about lap times, 500-600 bhp should be more than plenty.  Like the F50, this car should be configurable both as a Berlinetta and Barchetta with the engine mounted directly to the carbon fiber tub.  Stay with the inboard push rod suspension, keep the curb weight to 3,000 lbs max, and leave the steering as unassisted rack and pinion. The gearbox should be simple, just dig out the old F50’s 6 speed design drawings.  No since messing with perfection and that gearbox was already designed to handle 500+ bph V12.  Where I would depart from F50’s is when it comes to the front end and passenger cabin.  Here’s where the F40 gets it right.  Simple analogue gauges, racing bucket seats, manual wind-up windows, plus wire pulls to open the doors all help keep the weight down and work brilliantly.  The front nose needs to have enough luggage area hidden beneath its shell to carry at least two medium size duffle bags.  Given today’s regulations, unlike the earlier cars that are the inspiration, airbags, ABS, and traction control will need to be incorporated but should be kept as unintrusive as possible.  Ceramic brakes are a given along with 20” wheels.  This should not be a hard car for Ferrari to design as they already have most of the elements in their archives.  I would call it the Luca in honor of the man who built the company that Ferrari is today.

 

McLarenIf the F50 is the greatest pure Ferrari driver’s car I have experienced, then the equivalent on the McLaren side, would have to go to the 675LT Spider.   The 675LT Spider is such a dialed in communicative car that it’s a great place to start when conceptualizing a final ICE wish from McLaren.  The steering, suspension, and power delivery are all outstanding.  Overall weight is almost identical to the F50 which helps explain the brilliant, highly communitive, handling.  With the excellent carbon fiber tub, the Spider drives as well as the Couple and chassis flex is non-existent. Driving position is excellent and it’s got plenty of room under the nose for several good size duffle bags.

 

Based on the above, the ask from McLaren is pretty straight forward.  Keep the carbon fiber tub, suspension, and steering from the 675LT.  Ditch the 7-speed dual clutch and replace it with a short throw quick and smooth 6 speed manual gearbox.  The turbos, active aero, and automatic roof mechanism can also all be left behind which should help keep the car under a 3,000 lbs curb weight target.  A normally aspirated V8 pumping out 500-600 bhp would fit the bill while not overwhelming a 6-speed manual gearbox.  I would save the weight on both the active aero and automatic roof and go to a fixed rear wing and a lightweight removable Targa roof panel.  Like the Ferrari described above, a dashboard with simple elegant easy to read manual gauges, manual windows, and racing bucket seats would complete the interior.  Air conditioning should be an option, but I would not bother with an infotainment system.  I would lift the brakes and wheels right off the 720S as they work brilliantly.  All this should deliver a focused, highly involving, driver’s car that you just want to spend hours in.  Call it the McLaren Bruce as it’s a car Bruce McLaren would likely appreciate and recognize.

Summary

I believe both Ferrari and McLaren would each easily be able to sell 1,000 units of the “Luca” and the “Bruce” at a price point around $500k.  To be honest, conceptually this isn’t exactly an original idea.  To a large extent, Porsche already did it with the 911R back in 2016.  Porsche easily sold the 991 units of 911Rs that they declared they would build.  Based on demand, Porsche probably could have sold 4 times that number.  Should either Ferrari or McLaren build the “Luca” or the “Bruce”, please put my name at the top of the list for one. 

Do you think Ferrari and McLaren should build a cars like these?  Is there anything you would change in the specification?  If so, please add your thoughts and comments below.

Thoughts and comments? Please see the comments section below.

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January 2021

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4 Thoughts on Before ICE Goes – One Last Wish
    chris coates
    12 Jan 2021
    10:16am

    That should have been a hard-core Ferrari dino but can’t see it happening today sadly. I think the price point is too high. if lotus can do that for £100k then they should be able to deliver at £250k?
    Porsche almost do this with their 718 spyder or speedster.. although I’m not a fan of its looks but that is a matter of personal taste.

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    Rich Cracknell
    11 Jan 2021
    5:59pm

    I’m with you on the Ferrari – one last hurrah for the gated manual attached to a glorious NA V12. A modern day F50.

    For the McLaren I’m not so sure. NA would go back to the F1, but their modern history is all turbo. Wouldn’t it be cool to leave the F1 remake to the T50, and have McLaren channel more of the F40 – unashamedly celebrate simple, lightweight with big boost and bring back the whistles and chirps from the P1? Manual always good, but how about a dual clutch with a more interactive mode (similar to e.g. Scuderia single plate experience) where it will kick you in the back if you don’t ease off during upshifts or rev match while you hold the paddle in during a downshift and release at just the right time? Would be way more engaging than a modern dual clutch but also more authentic to the 12C and later modern McLaren characteristics?

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    Terry Robertson
    10 Jan 2021
    5:10pm

    It’s a nice idea, but I can’t see it happening. Conceptually it also sounds like a more sophisticated Lotus Exige… Removable roof panel, simple manual transmission, lightweight, no power steering, very simple interior. It’s basically that with a more exotic Carbon Fibre tub, and a V12 instead of a V6 from a Toyota Camry.
    Or it’s like the GMA T.50 minus the fan system.

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