A Few Thoughts: McLaren 750S, De Tomaso, GMA, & Praga

I thought I would share a few thoughts and observations on a number of things that have recently caught my attention in the auto universe.  None of these has enough depth for a full blog but thought they were still worthy of sharing. 


The McLaren 750S & Future Plans

Just over a year ago I wrote an article which included a section titled “McLaren’s Vow of Chasity”.  That article included the following paragraph:


A very wise and worldly friend, who has forgotten more about supercars than I will ever know, recently made the suggestion that McLaren should take a page out of Ferrari’s book and drop the 765LT engine in the 720S, detune it slightly, update the interior a bit, and call it the 750S.  This is essentially what Ferrari did with the 488 Pista and F8 Tributo.  Doing this would breathe new fresh life into the 7XXS model line and easily carry it for another couple of years.  Couple a 750S with my past suggestion that McLaren develop a limited run of 1,000 light weight manual final V8 twin turbo barchettas based off the 7xx platform and this should carry McLaren nicely until the 720S replacement is ready in a few years.  While McLaren will have to detune the V8 TT engine down to around 630 bph to be able to mate it to a 6 speed manual gearbox, you should be able to save a few hundred pounds by eliminating the automatic convertible top and replacing it with a light weight carbon fiber removable panel while swapping out the active aero for a simple fixed rear wing.  


Given last week’s launch of the 750S, this turned out to be nice bit of foresight but to be honest was more just a lucky educated guess on my part of putting together the pieces McLaren had to work with. Now I just hope the second part on the light weight manuals turns out to be as perspicacious.  What I don’t understand is some of the negative feedback I have seen on social media and in the press on the 750S launch design being too similar to the 720S.  It’s not intended to be a totally new model, it’s a mid life update on the 7XX platform that will carry it until the replacement model arrives in 2026.  This is no different from what Ferrari did with the 488 and F8 Tributo and arguably very similar to the 12C -> 650S evolution. 


Alongside the 750S launch, it’s also been fairly widely reported in the press that the P1 successor will land in 2026 alongside another new model which will replace the 720S/750S.  Rumor has it that both will be twin turbo V8 hybrids.  I would expect both will have a totally new powerplant dropped in the middle of the chassis and not just another evolution of the twin turbo V8 M840 engine which has basically powered all McLaren road cars since the 12C.  Alongside the new hyper and supercar, it was also teased that McLaren will be introducing a SUV in 2028 which I also touched on earlier this year (see: Will McLaren Launch a SUV?).  For the record I am not privy to any inside information.  It’s more a case that if you do this long enough, on occasion you do guess correctly.

Boutique Manufacturers

There has been a bit of new news among a number of the Boutique Hypercar manufacturers since I last posted an update back in Dec 2022 (Boutique Hypercar Update) De Tomaso, Gordon Murray Automotive (GMA), and Praga, have all recently been in the news.


De Tomaso

It is very hard to decern what if any progress has been made on the De Tomaso P72 since its launch at Goodwood in July 2019.  At launch the base price was given as €750,000 with customer cars slated for delivery starting in late 2020 or early 2021.  Shortly after Goodwood it was indicated that deposits had been placed for all 72 units.  It turns out all that De Tomaso delivered in 2021 was a couple of videos about their past, a few line drawings, and black and white pictures of a gearbox housing. On De Tomaso’s website today, the base price is now listed as €1,600,000 and they are accepting “registrations of interest”.  With a more than a 2x increase it seems they might have had a bit of a math problem with the original estimate on the build costs.  I would hazard a guess that a few of the original depositors may have walked if they were asked to accept the huge increase coupled with the multi-year delay. 


In 2020 De Tomaso announced that the P72 was going to be built in the US.  In a rather abrupt change of direction, in 2022 De Tomaso entered into a partnership in Germany with the Nürburgring based Capricorn Group to co-develop the P72.  In the press release announcing the partnership, De Tomaso also stated that a new carbon fiber chassis and suspension would be developed vs. the one they had originally planned to use.  This has to have set back the cars development significantly.  To produce the P72, a new factory at the Nürburgring was to be constructed with a targeted competition date in the summer of 2022.  So far, I have not been able to find any announcements on the factory being completed.  Capricorn Composite does have several buildings near the Nürburgring but all have been standing for multiple years.  A google maps search for De Tomaso in the Nürburgring area did not yield any results. The only evidence of any sort of production start so far was a YouTube video De Tomaso posted in November 2022 showing parts being bolted onto a P72 as it sits on a stand in what appears to be a fairly empty oversize garage.  What De Tomaso does seem to be good at is repainting the prototypes and put them on display at various events in Europe and North America.  There are a least 3 prototypes and possibly as many as 9 running around but it’s very hard to count based on public sightings as they keep getting repainted. To date there have been no reviews or test drive reports in any of the major automotive publications.


In early 2022, De Tomaso stated that customer deliveries were targeted to start in the first half of 2023.  As we are now in May 2023, this seems highly unlikely.  De Tomaso also promised the P72 would be fully homologated, and I have not been able to find any evidence that that process has started.  Given De Tomaso’s snail like approach to progress on developing the P72 over the last 4 years, I wouldn’t be shocked if 2024 becomes the next 1st delivery “target date” as we do seem to be always about a year away. 

Gordon Murray Automotive (GMA)

GMA continues to get everything right.  Production has now officially started on the T.50 and first customer deliveries expected in June or July.  That makes it basically 2 ½ years from the model’s first unveiling to production. Its hugely impressive especially when you consider the Aston Martin Valkyrie took 6 years and the De Tomaso P72 was unveiled 4 years ago and counting. 


The second model, the T.33, sold out instantly and my guess is all 100 units of the third model, the T.33 Spider also already have homes.  Both appear to be on track in terms of development.  GMA is in the process of building a new Headquarters and Production facility in the UK with Phase 1 completed in October 2022.  The T.50 will be built at GMA’s current location with the T.33 and future models to be produced at the new site.


Like GMA, Praga is making good, consistent progress on delivering its first hypercar, the Praga Bohema.  Praga is a Czech brand that dates back to 1907, disappeared under Communism and was reconstructed in the late 1990s as a motorcycle manufacturer.  In 2012 Praga re-entered the car business with the Praga R1 race car.  Following an ownership change in 2015, a road version of the R1 race car was developed, the Praga R1R.  Based on the positive reception to the Praga R1R, Praga decided to get into the hypercar business and started development of the Praga Bohema.  The Bohema is based on an all new carbon fiber tub and will be powered by a Nissan supplied 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-6 producing 700 bhp.  Dry weight is 2164 lbs which makes the Aston Martin Valkyrie look quite tubby.  The production run is limited to 89 units at about $1.28 million each with customer deliveries targeted to start in early 2024.


The Bohema already road legal in the UK and EU approval is expected shortly.  Praga plans to show the Bohema at numerous UK & EU events this summer with the first US unveiling planned for Q4.  US imports will be done under “Show & Display” and it’s expected that 25-30 Bohemas will be delivered into the US market.  Praga is busy establishing a Global dealer network with 4-5 likely to be appointed in the US.  An initial set of press drives (Top Gear, EVO, Robb Report, Car Magazine) in a pre-production prototype have already taken place and the reviews are quite positive with Car Magazine calling the Bohema ”brilliant”. The common theme in the press reviews is praise for the Bohema’s huge amounts of grip, stability, and grunt.  The confidence that Praga has in the Bohema really shines through in its allowing the press to test drive the prototypes.  It’s a huge departure from several other boutique manufacturers which have been displaying prototypes for years but have yet to allow a single test drive.  I really like Praga’s approach and look forward to seeing how the company develops.


On McLaren, it’s good to see them getting back on track and the 750S is the first step in the right direction.  The new model cadence that appears to be emerging makes sense and should put McLaren on much firmer financial footing.   On the Boutique Hypercar manufacturers, both GMA and Praga are making great progress on getting cars into customers hands.  Both of these are led by highly successful teams with extensive backgrounds in racing, deep connections in the industry, & decades of experience in the supercar arena.  In an interview in early 2022, Ryan Berris, the CEO of De Tomaso, stated: “The team behind De Tomaso doesn’t come from an automotive background and I think that’s important in that it makes for a much more open mindset.”  Given the multiple missteps, De Tomaso might want to rethink their team composition.

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May 2023

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6 Thoughts on A Few Thoughts: McLaren 750S, De Tomaso, GMA, & Praga
    John (The original).
    2 May 2023

    What McLaren have done with the 750s looks similar to what Lotus did a number of years back with the S2 Elise update. Not the S1 to S2, but the S2 being refreshed. It became a bit more plain looking, a little bit less extreme. At this time they also changed the Rover engine to a Toyota, I think it went from 1.8l to 1.6l. Power was down, 0-60 took longer. It was, in my eye, a very strange update when normally you’d expect performance to get better not worse! Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case with the 750s, it’s quicker to 60 than the 720s.

    De Tomaso seems to be like the return of TVR. Always promised, always just around the corner, always delayed. I’d keep my deposit in my bank account.

    Praga isn’t a company I’m familiar with, I’ll skip commenting on them.

    GMA is one I’ve watched for a long time, from the iStream process with the small three seater city cars that never found a market, to the T.50 they’re doing now. It seems that they’ve promised a lot with the T.50, but that they’ve delivered. Not the most powerful, but lighter weight than most. Performance is there, and more importantly as a road car.

    Aston Martin’s Valkyrie is supposed to be a road car. From what I’ve seen of it being used, you need full cans (headphones) just to be able to talk with your passenger. That’s not a road car; it’s a track car with lights on it. You couldn’t spend any time driving somewhere in that car. That’s where Newey’s design and Aston Martin have failed completely. T.50, however, is a road car. One that you could drive a distance in. For everything that’s said about both, only GMA has met the brief of producing a car that you could use daily, easily, and without a team of mechanics starting it for you every time and helping you in and out!

    I’d have to add, the 750s is really too similar to the 720s that even the most ardent McLaren fan would have difficulty telling them apart on the open road. A Ferrari 458, 488 and F8 we all know is from the same base, but they do look different enough to be able to distinguish them. Maybe they should have evolved the headlights like the Artura has?

    Christian Lorenzen
    2 May 2023

    Good summary of recent trends around these 3 marques. I saw the GMA T.50 on the track at Goodwood for the Members Meeting and it comes over as the “real deal” whereas other hyper/super cars such as the Valkyrie and the AMG 1 haven’t left the development stage yet (and properly never will). I think with interest rates on the rise, newcomers will struggle to get the required down payments from customers as opportunity costs for deposits are now considerable. GMA might have timed it just right, whereas others will struggle to make it past the post.

    3 May 2023

    Thanks for the update and your views. I wonder if the common success factor is captured in terms of great leadership at the head of these companies. I have drawn Hyper cars on my notepad for years , I can spec a nice V12/V10 from many sources, but can I put it all together ? I could probably chair dozens of committees and group meetings too, but it’s skilled single minded leadership which will deliver the goal.

    Andrew Laiken
    26 May 2023

    The 750S is positively indistinguishable from 720. Not at all like 488 and priors .. some effort was made there. The folks I know that that had early deposits bailed. Continued bland chicken attempts from macca on product portfolio.


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