The McLaren 765LT Spider & The Use Case Rule

Based on our recent purchase history, the decision whether or not to order a McLaren 765LT Spider would seem like a forgone conclusion. But it wasn’t.  It all came down to if the 765LT Spider could pass the “Use Case” test (see: Use Case Rule).  The two challenges were, could I clearly identify how a 765LT Spider would fit in to our collection of McLarens (Our Four McLarens) and whether it would be an incremental addition or replacement.

Based on my experience with the 675LT Spider, my going in assumption was the 765LT would slot somewhere in-between the 720S and Senna in terms of performance, comfort, and useability.  Exactly where in this range the 765LT Spider would land would be one, if not the most, critical decision driver.  If I hadn’t been able to get a clear answer, we likely would not have gone ahead with the order.  Fortunately I got an email from McLaren offering to lend me a 765LT about a month before any decisions needed to be made (see: 4 Days & 400 Miles with a 765LT).

The summary from those 4 days was:

When the Reliable Van showed up at the bottom of my driveway, I didn’t want to give the 765LT back.  It’s a just such a special fantastic thing to drive.  In many ways the 765LT is a Senna that you could use as a daily driver.  If found the early journalist/influencer reviews on the 765LT being a handful to be completely different to my experience.  It is certainly worthy of the “LT” designation and carries on where the 675LT left off.  As the last of the pre-hybrid McLaren’s, 765LT will likely be considered the ultimate evolution of the line that started back with the 12C.  If you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to own a 765LT, understanding its intended use case and choosing the right seats is key to a great ownership experience.  The only thing I would do to improve it is to chop the top off.  If rumors are to be believed, a Spider version might just be around the corner.

In a few words, the 765LT is a brilliant, fantastic car.  However, the key line that impacted the Use Case analysis is “in many ways the 765LT is a Senna that you could use as a daily driver”.  Net net, it has near Senna levels of performance while still delivering 720S Spider levels of comfort and usability.  If I go back one generation, I would not say the same about the 675LT when compared to the P1 or 650S.  While the 675LT gets close to the P1 in performance, it does sacrifice a lot more in terms of daily useability.

Working through the Use Case, the 765LT definitely checked the “everything and more that you could want in terms of performance” box, but also added the extra element of potential daily useability.  So now the decision to make was would the 765LT Spider be an incremental add or a replacement and if it was to be the latter, what was to go. At this point, I went back and ran the same exercise against the 720S Spider, 650S Spider, and the Senna. I didn’t include the 675LT Spider as its been given a “Long Term Keeper” designation, alongside the Ferrari F40, so it is now completely exempt from the Use Case tyranny (a car has to have been in the garage for 5 years to become eligible for “Long Term Keeper”, not all cars we have owned for a long time get the designation, for example the Porsche Cayenne S is simple “fully depreciated and not worth selling”).


Going back to the Senna, 720S Spider, and 650S Spider, the Senna easily passed the Use Case test given just how raw, focused and unique it is.  There really is nothing else quite like the Senna this side of an F40. Taking it out on a clear weekend morning down great windy back country roads, is a near religious experience.  No other modern road car moves the way it does.  While the 765LT come close to the Senna in terms of performance, the overall experience is very different.  In my mind, a Senna and 765LT could easily live side by side with clear roles for each. 

Applying the same logic to the 720S Spider was where things got a bit trickier.  The only attribute where the 720S Spider has a clear advantage over the 765LT, is refinement.  However, while the 765LT is a bit rawer than the 720S, it still can be used on a daily basis.  You get exactly the same conclusions on the 650S Spider with the only difference being the performance gap is even wider. 


The remaining three, the 765LT Spider, 720S Spider, and 650S Spider were all useable on a daily basis, all terrific to drive, with performance and driver engagement being the main differentiators.  At this point it came down to was there enough of a difference in each car’s Use Case to merit having all three in the garage.  The 650S Spider was first to pass the bar here.  The 650S Spider has been my daily driver for 6 years, does it extremely well, is near to fully depreciated so quite inexpensive to run, and has been the poster child for reliability.  While the 650S does not have quite the performance of the 720S, it still is well ahead of just about everything else on the road. 


It was now down to the 720S Spider and 765LT Spider and could I justify having both in the garage.  Back in the 4 Days & 400 Miles with a 765LT article I did a short comparison between the two cars:


765LT vs. 720S

Walking around the 765LT, the 720S feels like the car’s skin has been pulled taught over its skeleton, whereas the 765LT appears much more muscular and aggressive.  The rear wing, the 765LT’s “Long Tail”, is certainly substantial with its upturned edge, but its less of a delta vs. the 720S than its predecessor, the 675LT was vs. the 650S.  Given the already imposing size of the 720S’ wing, expecting a similar size increase is not realistic.  The wing isn’t the only challenge the 765LT faces on establishing a gap vs. the 720S.  McLaren incorporated a number of elements that make the 675LT such a special car into the 720S so for the 765LT, a new list of unique driver focused attributes needed to be put on the table.  Power delivery is more linear, and the weight loss combined with the extra power makes for a nimbler car.  I can’t figure out how McLaren did it, but with the 765LT, they somehow developed a car that’s even more focused than 675LT and at the same time retains more of the polish of the 720S.

While the 720S is definitely a bit more refined and understated, if both sets of keys were side by side in front of me, I just could not come up with any situations where I would gab the 720S keys over the 765LT keys.  In fact, in every situation I came up with where the 720S would be the choice, the 650S would be an equally attractive alternative. 

In conclusion, after multiple rounds of “Man Logic & Justification” where I netted out, with Mrs. SSO’s agreement, is we would order the 765LT Spider and it would replace the 720S Spider.  While I have really enjoyed having the 720S Spider, I just can’t see it getting much, if any, use once the 765LT Spider arrives.  As we have a family rule that cars that don’t get used need to go find new owner’s, it feels like the right decision and better to do it now, than in a year.  Going into the process, I was hoping that I might be able to justify all five because for once, garage space isn’t an issue right now.

We have now gone ahead and placed the order for the 765LT Spider.  We have spec’ed the car and are close to locking a final spec in.  The only outstanding decision to be made is on which orange to go with.

Thoughts and comments? Please see the comments section below.

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August 2021


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3 Thoughts on The McLaren 765LT Spider & The Use Case Rule
    Gavin Howe
    31 Aug 2021

    Great comparisons from a real user. As a long term 675LT user, I was interested in your comment that the 765 sacrifices less in terms of “daily usability”. Every time I get into my 675, I think how easy it is to drive compared with say my 812…


    william lyon
    2 Sep 2021

    Have to say it is butt ugly in the front, except if it was a solid color Not a beautiful design IMO..


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