History of the McLaren

Learn More About McLaren from Your Philadelphia McLaren Dealership

With a rich history of exotic road cars and racing excellence, McLaren has always been about precision engineering and high-level performance. With a current lineup that is packed with exhilarating supercars and racing technology helping push our future innovations, there has never been a better time to become a part of the McLaren family in Philadelphia.

Learn More About the History of McLaren

Founded by Bruce McLaren in 1963, McLaren was on the path to building its first racecar in the first year. The first ever McLaren model was the McLaren M1A, which saw just 24 models produced. Later, the M1B emerged and entered the Can-Am championship, earning 43 victories and besting rival Porsche on the season. By 1965, McLaren had constructed their first Formula 1 entry, debuting at the legendary Monaco Grand Prix.

While years of racing success followed, McLaren founder Bruce McLaren was lost in a car accident in 1970, throwing the future of the company in doubt. By then, McLaren had established nearly a decade of winning traditions across both GT and Formula 1 racing, and had begun conceptualizing their first road car, the M6GT.

From Bruce's death in 1970, entrepreneur Teddy Mayer took the helm at McLaren, leading the team to their first World Constructor's championship in 1974. Driver Emerson Fittipaldi also earned McLaren their first Driver's championship in that same season. James Hunt then won for the team in 1976, however the next several years saw limited success for the McLaren Formula 1 program.

The trajectory of McLaren changed drastically when they merged with the Project 4 Racing Team run by Ron Dennis. This brought designer John Barnard back to the fold and introduced the use of carbon fiber composite materials in a race car for the first time. This car was known as the MP4/1, and it improved safety, rigidity, and performance across the board. Between 1984 and 1991, McLaren drivers won the Formula 1 world driver's championship seven times, with the 1988 season seeing the team take 15 victories in 16 races, leading all but 27 laps of the entire season.

During this time, McLaren set sights on creating their first-ever production car, with the legendary McLaren F1 debuting in 1992. Just 106 units were produced, and at the time it was the only road-legal vehicle capable of achieving over 200 miles per hour.

During this time the race team performance dipped, and McLaren partnered with Mercedes engines beginning with the 1995 season in hopes of recapturing some of their previous magic. The partnership paid dividends until 2009, when Ron Dennis expressed his ambition to take McLaren from strictly a racing team to a car manufacturer.

McLaren Automotive launched in 2010 and immediately began development of the McLaren MP4-12C. This model came with a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 engine based on a concept engine tested for use in the IndyCar Series. The engine produced 592 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque, with the torque peak beginning at just 2,000 rpm for ultimate acceleration. This model also used a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that allowed for the immediate throttle response of a manual with the rapid shifting of an automatic. This saw the McLaren 12C accelerate from zero to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds, the third fastest verified time for a stock production car at the time.

The next feather in McLaren's cap came in the form of the McLaren P1. This model took hybrid technology and used it to boost horsepower rather than simply improve fuel efficiency. In this setup, the gasoline and electric motors work together to provide power to the wheels, much like today's plug-in hybrid vehicles. Total power clocked in at 903 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque, making this far and away the most powerful car produced by McLaren at the time.

By 2014 the successor to the 12C was taking shape in the form of the McLaren 650S, and by 2015 both the McLaren 650S and the 625C took the baton from the original 12C model. Based on the same architecture, the 675LT begin production in 2015, lasting just two years. By 2017, all three models were replaced by the McLaren 720S that we still see rolling into our dealership today.

McLaren also debuted a more accessible lineup of sports cars with the 540C, 570S, and 570GT making up the brand's first Sport Series cars. These models were designed with more creature comforts in mind, aimed at drivers who wanted a supercar with improved daily drivability. Over time, new models joined the ranks starting with the McLaren 600LT in 2018, followed by the 620R in 2019. However, by 2021 the McLaren Artura became the Sports Series standard bearer, and is now the only vehicle offered in the segment.

Along with the development of their Super Series cars, McLaren also went to work in the hypercar space with their Ultimate Series vehicles. The McLaren Senna is a track-focused road car that uses movable aerodynamics to provide supreme handling via downforce. Later, the McLaren Elva joined the lineup as an open-top sports car with an old-school cockpit. And with the McLaren Speedtail, reducing drag was the ultimate goal, resulting in a car with a top speed of 250.4 mph that can accelerate from a standstill to 186 mph in just 12.8 seconds.

Who Owns McLaren Today?

Today, McLaren is primarily owned by the Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company and it's shareholders, however McLaren CEO Michael Leiters runs the day-to-day operations, recently joining the company from rival Ferrari.

What Was the First McLaren?

The first McLaren production car is the 1992 McLaren F1, while the first modern McLaren road car is the 2011 McLaren MP4-12C.

Where is McLaren From?

McLaren hails from the United Kingdom and was founded by New Zealeander Bruce McLaren after several years of racing in the UK.

Where are McLaren Cars Made?

Today, McLaren cars are produced in Woking, United Kingdom at the McLaren Technology Centre. Located on the same campus as the McLaren Formula 1 team, both the production and racing engineers share technology information to push innovation in the supercars you see in our Philadelphia showroom.