The term “Future Classic” is not one I am particularly fond of. I think its vastly overused and applied to a lot of cars that are just good, expensive, or made in limited numbers. The majority of these automobiles lack that magic essence that separates the good or even great from the truly extraordinary. It’s also a label that get slapped on quite a few cars either at, or shortly after, their launch. Personally, I don’t think a car should be talked about as a future classic until at least half a decade after its launch. It needs to age well and be seen in the full context of all the other cars that were launched in the same era. The approach I would recommend taking to evaluate an automobile for “Classic” status is more along the lines of the criteria for the Baseball or Football (proper American version, where the players rolling around on the ground have actually been hit) Halls of Fame. First, the car has to have the performance stats. Second, there must be that hard to describe “something” that makes it just that much more special than its contemporaries. And finally, its “greatness” needs to stand the test of time. Sustained greatness that caries across generations of owners is at the core of any car truly worthy of “Classic Hall of Fame” membership.
I currently own one car that I believe qualifies as extraordinary, “Classic Hall of Fame”, material. The Ferrari F40, doesn’t need any introduction. I would put it in the same category as Peyton Manning when he first came up for election into the Football Hall of Fame. Net net, he’s Peyton Manning, of course he belongs in the Football Hall of Fame (for the record, so does Eli). The F40 is the same. It’s an F40, by god. It is the last Ferrari personally signed off on by Enzo Ferrari, it’s had a long successful competition career, it’s a phenomenal, highly engaging car to drive that demands skill to get the best out of it, and it is the center of countless collections. Having had the privilege of owning a F40 for well over a decade and driven it in countless different situations in over a dozen different countries, it has a huge amount of that indescribably something that just makes it extraordinary. A few other examples from the garages of our past that I would put in this category are the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona, Ferrari F50 & the 430 Scuderia. I am only including cars that I have either owned or had extensive experience behind the wheel of as it is impossible to judge if it has that special “something” that makes it extraordinary otherwise.
A Case For
We currently have a second car that I would like to start making the “Classic Hall of Fame” case for. It’s the McLaren 675LT Spider that we have owned for 7 years. Our 675LT Spider has been driven across the Rocky Mountains, down both coasts, and across a desert. It started life on the US East Coast, moved out to Montana, went on vacation in California, spent a few months in Texas, and then headed back to the East Coast. Even with the arrival of the 765LT Spider, the 675LT Spider’s place in our garage remains completely safe. It is one car that the thought of selling has never even crossed my mind. The appreciation and affinity for the 675LT Spider has been built over multiple years of ownership and miles. The deep admiration is built through drives in a wide range of different conditions and across many great road trips. The 765LT Spider might just be as good, but only time is far too new in our garage to even be considered “Hall of Fame” material.
The first time I drove our McLaren 675LT Spider I got out thinking this was the best car McLaren had built, that still holds to this day. It felt incredibly well put together and I was comfortable driving it hard very quickly. The 675LT Spider tics all the boxes from a performance perspective, 666 bhp, 205 mph top speed, 0-62 mph in 2.9 sec, 700 Nm of torque, with a dry weight of 1,230 kg. Despite the imposing performance stats, the feeling of easily accessible performance is one of the 675LT Spider’s defining characteristics. To get into the 675LT Spider you swing the driver’s side door up and forward, put your right foot in the driver’s footwell, then then basically drop as elegantly as possible into the driver’s seat. Once in, the left leg gets lifted over the large sill and slides under the steering wheel. With the right foot firmly on the brake pedal, you press the starter button in and the 675LT Spider roars into life before settling almost immediately into a low rumble of an idle around 1000 rpms. The transmission has three settings, and for most driving situations, the middle “Sport” setting works well. As the 675LT Spider is a twin turbo V8, its slow in, fast out in the curves. With the big carbon ceramic brakes, braking comes late and just before you turn in. With the huge levels of grip, you can get back on the power as soon as corner starts to open up. The sightlines are excellent, and the steering is razor sharp with great immediate feedback which just builds confidence. Get it all right and you get a nice big “bang” on each upshift. The 675LT Spider is a rhythm car. When driver and automobile are in sync and flowing smoothly down the road, it’s a wonderful, deeply rewarding feeling.
When it comes to driving the 675LT Spider, confidence inspiring does not even begin to sum it up. The 675LT Spider does exactly what you ask of it and provides the feedback to prove it. You feel like the 675LT Spider shrinks around you the faster you go. The car just sticks to the road and the steering is perfectly weighted. On a tight demanding mountain road, rapid progress in the 675LT Spider comes smoothly, with minimal physical effort. Your hands never move off the steering wheel. Going around a corner, the 675LT Spider stays perfectly flat and there is no feeling of weight trying to move out of line around behind you. It’s what I would call a plus 10 car. Whatever the speed you would take a corner in in a normal supercar, you can easily and comfortable add 10 mph to it when driving the 675LT Spider. Gear changes are executed with a single flick of the index and middle fingers and a loud bang from the back lets you know the shift has been immediately executed. A quick short pivot on the heel of your right foot moves you from the accelerator to the brake. Turbo lag is there, but its minimal and the power is very linear from 3000 rpms right up to the redline. The 675LT Spider feels glued to the pavement and I have never had the rear move out of line, even in pouring rain. Lots of curves and elevation changes both challenge and help highlight the exceptional capabilities of this car. Right foot, fingers, and arms are all constantly in motion as driver, car, and asphalt are in intense discussion as the changing geography serves up constant challenges. From a performance standpoint, the 675LT Spider ticks all the boxes needed for “Classic Hall of Fame” membership.
To be “Hall of Fame” material, a car needs to be able to excel in a wide range of different driving conditions. We have certainly put the 675LT Spider to test in a wide range of situations and it has always shined. During its first East Coast stay, the 675LT Spider was used for multiple road trips to visit our sons at their respective Colleges. On one of these trips when we were crossing from Vermont into New Hampshire, we ran into a biblical downpour. The waves of water coming off the back of the 675LT Spiders’ wing were truly spectacular. Limited visibility dictated speed but through it all, the 675LT Spider remained firmly planted despite the rivers of water running across the road. I have been in other supercars in similar conditions where it got very squirrely very fast. On a later trip when we were driving from Vermont into upper New York State we had one of those magical drives across Route 11 and Route 30 where traffic disappears, and the weather is perfect. The 675LT Spider just flowed down the road, roof down, devouring corners effortlessly. Steering, braking, and gear changes all just happened intuitively.
As good as the 675LT Spider was up in New England, it feels like it was designed for driving the mountain passes that surround our place in Montana. Wildlife adds in an additional level of complexity, and you always need to be on the watch for everything from deer to moose to big horn sheep to bears and just about everything else in between. The McLaren 675LT Spider excels at the constant changes of direction, rapid acceleration, hard braking, and quick gear changes. The steering is perfectly weighted and incredibly precise. This allows you to put the car exactly where you want it. The 675LT Spider neither under nor oversteers and the back-end stays glued to the road. On public roads I normally leave the handling in “normal” as I want the maximum amount of “nannying” as the long hard winters leave plenty of loose gravel on the roads. The transmission alternates between “sport” and “track” as I prefer the quicker shift times and enjoy the loud “crack” you get when shift up near the redline. While the large carbon-ceramic brakes are outstanding, so is the engine braking and in many cases a couple of pulls of the left-hand paddle is more than effective enough in scrubbing off speed going into the next corner. You never know what’s going to be standing in the middle of the road as you round the corner so being able to scrub of significant speed quickly is critical. With the top down, the 675LT sounds terrific and you can hear the engine soundtrack bouncing off the rock faces of the surrounding mountains.
One of the most memorable drives in the 675LT Spider was in California on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). The PCH is definitely one of the 10 roads you need to drive in your lifetime. It is just spectacular, demands complete concentration, and rewards immensely when you get into a rhythm. I don’t think there was a single straight section of more than a couple hundred yards for the 135 miles from San Luis to Monterey. In places it feels like you are hanging over the cliffs with nothing but rocks below and ocean stretching to the horizon. Surprisingly for highly regulated California, guard rails were in very short supply and the punishment for overcooking a corner would be both severe, immediate, and very likely terminal. While the 675LT Spider makes for a great car, put it in the water and it’s going to be more submarine than boat. The McLaren 675LT Spider was completely at home in this environment. Gear changes were constant between 2nd and 3rd. The never-ending corners were slow in, balance on the throttle, and then accelerate briefly as your slight line opened up before a quick dab on the massive ceramic brakes to scrub off speed before the next change of direction. The PCH gave me a new appreciation for just how beautifully weighted and rich in feedback the 675LT Spider is. The constant feedback allows you to place the car exactly where you want it, which is absolutely critical on a demanding road carved into the side of a cliff. The amount of grip is extraordinary and not once did the car step out of line. After spending time driving the 675LT Spider in the Rocky Mountains and up the PCH, its clear the car is extraordinary and very special.
Despite its more “track” focused nature, the 675LT Spider is also quite capable of covering massive distances in a day long sprint while not inflecting undue damage on the passengers. My youngest son and I did 1,230 miles in a single day in it a few years back. I drove about 800 of the miles and he did the remainder. The drive started early one morning in Montana and finished just before midnight in Texas. Montana and Wyoming are two to the best states I know of for “rapid low risk unimpeded progress” and the 675LT Spider is quite happy to run at high speed for hours on end. For the then 19 year old, being able to stretch the 675LT Spider’s legs out in the vast empty flatlands of Wyoming was quite the experience. One memorable part of that drive was the final sprint to our resting place for that night. Shortly before crossing into New Mexico, the last rays of light disappeared, and we were into a moonless night. At this point we were off the Interstate Highway, and on smaller roads for the final 200 miles. We were 1,000 miles in already and yet the 675LT Spider felt like it was ready to do 1,000 more.
Test of Time
It is though our long history together and wealth of great experiences, the 675LT Spider has cemented as a strong future candidate “Classic Hall of Fame”. It’s been put in a wide range of different situations and proven to be brilliant in each. It is always a true joy to drive. It’s a car that gets into your soul and creates a true bond. As such, I can’t see a time anywhere in the near future where I consider parting with it. The fact that it has been completely reliable and reasonable to maintain, just adds to its attractiveness. The 675LT Spider is as close to automotive perfection as McLaren Automotive has delivered in its short existence. While it’s still got a few more years to go to hit the 10 year “Classic Hall of Fame” eligibility mark, 675LT Spider is aging quite well.
While there are many cars that are highly desirable, there are few true greats produced in any given decade. In my humble opinion, the Ferrari F40 is definitely one and the McLaren 675LT Spider should be included on that list in the future. Others I would put into the same category but didn’t go into in detail (saving that for a future article) are the Ferrari F50 and Ferrari 430 Scuderia. Examples of one’s that I would put as highly desirable but fall short of the extraordinary bar include the Koenigsegg CCR, Ferrari F355, and Ferrari Enzo. I will be interested to see if this classification idea takes off.
Thoughts and comments? Please see the comments section below.
The sign up for new blog email notifications is at the bottom of the page.