McLaren’s first road car evolved out of a stillborn racing car the company was developing to run at LeMans. To qualify as a homologation special, 50 road going copies of the new McLaren car had to be built for it to be considered to be based on a production model. Work began on the McLaren M6GT in 1970, with the goal to eventually build 250 of them. However, only two were ever built. The prototype was pressed into service as McLaren’s daily driver and remained so until he was killed at Goodwood in June of 1970.
The next of the new McLaren cars for the street—the McLaren M81 Mustang—appeared late in 1980. Developed in conjunction with Ford’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) group, the M81 Mustang was virtually hand built. Because of this, its price tag hovered in the $25,000 range, which was considered a whole lot of money for a Mustang in 1980. Only 10 were ever built.
The company’s first of the ground-up new McLaren car cars for the road was the 1992 McLaren F1. A three-seat mid-engine exotic sports car, the F1 holds the title of the world’s fastest normally aspirated production car at 242.97 miles per hour. The F1’s zero to 60 time was quoted at 3.2 seconds. A BMW V12 engine developing 627 horsepower powered the rear wheels of the new McLaren models.
The next of the new McLaren cars was built in 2003 in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz. The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren featured a 626-horsepower 5.5-liter supercharged V8. The front mid-engine layout used a five-speed automatic transmission and rear-drive.
Top speed for the New SLR McLaren cars was quoted at 208 miles per hour.
In 2009, McLaren Automotive unveiled the plans for the new McLaren MP4-12C models. This was the first car the company would do from the ground up since the new McLaren F1 cars. The MP4-12C went on sale in 2011, with a 616-horsepower twin-turbocharged V8 engine designed and developed by McLaren, but loosely based on a Nissan racing engine.
The mid-engine McLaren exotic car uses a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission and is capable for going from zero to 60 in just over three seconds.
A convertible version of the new McLaren cars, the McLaren MP4-12C Spider, went on sale for the 2013 model year. Also for 2013, the McLaren’s engine output was increased to 615 horsepower. Top speed is estimated at 204 miles per hour.