Last Saturday we took the McLaren 720S Spider on its first road trip. It was a mini one-day trip and covered 350 miles. As its 2020 with Covid-19 raging again across the US, this is about as adventurous as we are getting these days. The catalyst for the trip was a property that recently came up for sale in the Berkshires that looked like it might be an interesting investment. After a bit of discussion and planning on Friday afternoon, we were comfortable that we would be able to make the trip while maintaining proper Covid-19 precautions. This included finding a restaurant where we would be able to have lunch outdoors as well as checking the realtors Covid-19 policies that we would be meeting. During the course of the day, we went through 2 sets of disposable facemasks, 3 sets of disposable gloves, and 2 tanks of gas.
As the property was 150 miles away and the meeting was at noon, we departed just after 9am to give ourselves plenty of time in case we needed to make any stops. The day was perfect for a late fall drive, sunny and in the low 60s. The top was down on the McLaren 720S Spider before we had even left the driveway. With the temperature set to 72 F and the seat heater on low, the cabin of the 720S Spider was a delightful place to be on a sunny Saturday morning. Our route to the Berkshires was a combination of back country roads and interstate highway. As I-90 is a nest of speed traps, we had both the radar detector and Waze on to make sure we did not fall afoul of the law. While I personally believe the 720S Spider prefers to be hustled down a back-country road, it is as equally happy cruising along on the highway for hours in 7th gear.
We did the first 155 mile leg of the drive in just under 2 hours and 45 minutes, including one bio and fossil fuel stop. This put us on the driveway of the property we had come to view 5 minutes early. Fortunately, the realtors were both already there and as soon as we had masked and gloved up, we were able to get on with the viewing immediately. The property was one of the old Vanderbilt summer estates in the Berkshires. Like the Vanderbilts, the property’s glory days were behind it, the question we had come to answer was just how far behind and could it be rejuvenated without inflicting financial ruin on a would be buyer. As part of the estate had been renovated about 20 years ago, there was hope it might be in pretty good shape. Turns out the key information was “partial renovation” and “20 years ago”. One look at the house and it was clear the roof needed to be replaced along with a major work on the siding and windows frames. Not a small undertaking on a 20,000+ sq ft house. A quick walk through the main part of the house and this estates ability to inflict financial ruin on any buyer was beyond dispute.
Once we were done with the property viewing, off we went into the nearest town for lunch. Karen had found a quaint little bistro with tables on an outdoor porch. The food was good but unmemorable with the setting getting high marks for excellence in hygiene and social distancing. Given its 2020, the latter is probably more important to us right now than the former. Over lunch Karen and I were discussing what else was in the general area that might be of interest to see before we headed back. I mentioned that Tunxis, an old hunting and fishing club that I belonged to as young adult, was about 30 miles away. As Karen had heard plenty of stories about the place but never seen it, off we went.
The drive from the restaurant to the Tunxis Club was all backroads, twisting up into the hills and along lakesides. The 720S Spider was very much in its element here. Top down, handling set to “comfort” with performance dialed to the right for “track”, and the miles disappeared quickly. A couple of trucks that we ran up upon were dispatched quickly. Two tugs on the left hand paddle, a bit of right foot, and the 720S Spider just hurles itself at the horizon. The Tunxis Club covers several thousand acres, and in the past, I had always come into the club from the south. This time we entered from the north and ended up on an unpaved road for several miles. The 720S Spider handled it well but I did raise the nose in case we hit any potholes. The dust trail coming off the back of the car was impressive.
The visit to the club was brief. Due to Covid the clubhouse was closed so we just took a short walk around the grounds. We did run into the gamekeeper, who’s been with the club for over thirty years. I was delightfully surprised that he remembered me and asked about a few other of my relatives who also used to belong to the club. It had been 25 years since I last visited Tunxis and it was exactly as I remembered it.
We took the south, nicely paved, road out of the club to begin our journey home. The first 50 miles wound down out of the hills. As the temperature had dropped into the mid 40s F, the roof went back up and would stay that way for the remainder of the trip. Our 720S Spider has the electrochromic roof. We set the roof panel to “clear” to allow in the remaining light as the sun started to disappear over the horizon. Having the light come in from above gives the fairly compact cabin a feeling of enhanced spaciousness. Once we hit the highway it was a quick uneventful ride the rest of the way home. Of the ten hours we were away, almost seven were spent in the McLaren 720S Spider. Getting out of the car, I can’t say I was the least bit fatigued and we could easily have done a few hundred more miles. Behind the wheel of the 720S Spider is simply a wonderful place to spend a day.
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Looking at the listing for that home you can see it’s got a lot of deferred maintenance. The parts that have been refreshed in the listing look superb, but you can tell the outside is need to attention and those rooms that haven’t been looked at need gutted. And one big give away is the outside areas, and they all look tired. Plus you always see more of what’s wrong in person. You’d need Norm and Tom from This Old House to visit!
Fantastic that you gamekeeper remembered you. You were either a really decent person, or trouble! 🙂
The reviews I’ve read about the McLarens is that their suspension is so good across a variety of surfaces that it doesn’t surprise me that it can handle the different types you get in the US. We criticise British roads here in Britain, but I don’t think people realise just how varied they are in the US out of the cities. Gravel roads aren’t that uncommon, yet in the UK I’d be willing to be most people have never driven off tarmac!