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It was a lazy Sunday brunch in our solarium at our house just outside London. We had invited a few “pistonhead” friends over for an early morning drive followed by brunch. As usual it was plenty of great food, a bit of champagne, and lively conversation. This time the majority of the conversation centered on the recently announced new McLaren road car.
The guys are normally quite into their car talk. This time however it was more intense than usual. They were talking about how McLaren was getting back into the road car game. To this day, one of SSO’s greatest regrets is not buying a McLaren F1 back in 2005 when they were selling for less than 10% of what one would cost you today. The group was going on about on how great it would be to finally have a successor to the F1 and real competition for Ferrari in supercars. I was very intrigued as I didn’t know much about McLaren but it had to be special to get all these long term Ferrari owners so excited.
A few months later, SSO took me to the new McLaren ‘store’ in Knightsbridge. I guess you guys call it a showroom, for me, it was a store, a place you could buy something, or at least that was my perception. He had arranged for me to take a test drive in the new McLaren MP4-12C Spider. It was a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon. SSO sat in Hyde Park while I headed out. I told him I’d likely be back in no more than 15 minutes.
We left London and headed west on the M4 for the test drive. Well, an hour later I found myself (and the ever so patient McLaren sales guy) closer to Bath than London. I was enjoying the MP4-12C so much I had totally lost track of time. The roof was down, the sun was shining, it wasn’t too hot, there wasn’t much traffic and I had the car in ‘auto-auto’. I doubt SSO even knew this was an option, why would you drive like that, I could hear him say. Then my phone rang, it was SSO “Where are you, is everything ok?” Indeed it was more than OK, I was having the time of my life. He dryly suggested I turn back in the near future as he was sure McLaren would want their car back before nightfall.
I arrived back at the McLaren showroom and seriously suggest to SSO that we consider getting a MP4-12C. We went inside and sat down to spec out what we considered to be our ideal 1st McLaren. I picked the exterior colour, the interior colour, the wheels and ticked what I thought were the right options to finish off the car nicely. After going through the entire process, the saleman gave us an estimated delivery date about 12 months later. At that point, I understood the difference between a “showroom” and a “store”. I really didn’t want to wiat that long so I asked SSO if he thought we could buy the demo car as it was very close to what we had spec’ed out. He went over and asked the sales man about the demo and after a bit of back and forth, the deal was done. A week later it was parked proudly on our driveway.
Little did I know then that this was the beginning of a new relationship with McLaren. Over the years, multiple more McLaren’s have been added to the garage, including both a P1 and a 675LT Spider and we are now waiting eagerly for our Senna. Through trade-ins, one by one all of the Ferrari’s went except SSO’s F40 (I still don’t understand the fascination with that car, it doesn’t even have electric windows or a proper door handle but a wire to pull on to open the door – but hey, who am I to judge?) I am trilled and enjoy driving them all (except the P1 as I just couldn’t get my head around driving something more valuable than most houses, doesn’t seem to faze SSO in the least) with the 720S being my current favorite.
I understand now what the guys were so passionately discussing that Sunday several years ago. McLaren’s really are epic.