Today while browsing through pictures on my computer I discovered photos I had taken a while back. Around December 2014 if I remember correctly. They had been backed up to Microsoft’s cloud from a Windows phone I had at the time and through the wonders of modern technology they were able to find their way on to my computer’s hard drive some years later.
I made an astounding discovery while I was browsing through them: Pictures from my very first attempt at a car website. Pictures of a McLaren 12c. The car in question was red in colour, had ceramic brakes and a full black on black carbon fibre and leather interior. Back then ceramic breaks weren’t standard on McLaren’s cars. They had to be optioned.The more I studied the pictures and reminisced of the day I took them the more I realised how much McLaren has changed as a car company. And more importantly how much their cars have changed.
When the 12c was launched in 2011 McLaren Cars was breaking new ground. It was an attempt at something it had never done before: Mass production. Everything about the company then was exciting(It still is). It was such a breath of fresh of air. I remember waiting tentatively for the inevitable comparison tests between the 12c and other cars in its segment.
The 12c was so different from the competition. Its looks were subtle and it felt as if it had been sprinkled with an air of common sense that no other super car could rival(Audi R8 included). I loved the way the engineers had worked hard to integrate the climate control dials into the door handles to reduce clatter in the center console. The infotainment screen had been mounted upright as opposed to horizontally to keep the weight of the occupants close to the center of mass. The indicator and wiper stalks were made from magnesium and the pedals were racing styled . The carbon fibre interior with the black leather did the car much justice and at the time I was completely blown away. I still am now that I think about it.
The body was clever too, it was all about aerodynamics and weight savng. But the real party piece was the engine bay. The engine of this particular example had a carbon fibre cover to match the specification of the car and the engine bay had been colour coordinated with the body shell. I love the way the exhaust tips were shaped like some type of sports field and that they were positioned centrally to aid in the cars aerodynamics and that their proximity to the engine meant that the engineers had saved some weight.
I had never been a fan of turbo charged engines but McLaren’s inhouse twin-turbo charged small capacity(3.8 litre) v8 had forced me to rethink my position. The claimed fuel economy seemed acceptable to me and the 600nm of torque and 620bhp was sufficient to give the 12c a 0-100kph(0-62mph)time of 3.1s and a claimed top speed of 333kph(207mph).
I was quite starry eyed about the car at the time and the more I eulogised it the more the staff at the dealership sympathised with me. In fact they gave me a gift hamper: an Autocar Special on the 12c and a brochure for the 12c. I was ecstatic.
A couple of years later and I do feel rather underwhelmed by the new 570s. I have tried to move on from my childish crush but I can’t help but feel that the 12c is quite possibly the only car from the McLaren stable I will ever be passionate about.