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Is a McLaren Honda Headed for Showrooms?

Maker look to extend their F1 track partnership to the street.

by on Aug.02, 2013

McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh with his Honda counterpart CEO Takanobu Ito, as they announced their new F1 partnership.

They’ve already announced a formidable alliance on the track, but according to new reports Honda and McLaren just might have some aspirations for the street, as well.

The two new Formula One partners have been sending some mixed signals, but McLaren’s CEO broaded hinted last weekend that it might be interest in an opportunity to “collaborate” with Honda on what would likely be a very high-performance vehicle.

Honda already has one coming in the form of its Acura NSX supercar which is expected to return to production by late 2014. Notably, the reborn NSX will rely on a new, three-motor hybrid drivetrain. McLaren, in turn, adopted a hybrid system for its latest entry, the million-dollar P1 ultra-car.

The Last Word!

It was barely three months ago that the two makers agreed to pair up on a “full, open and productive” Formula 1 program that will be ready to run by the 2015 season. In a joint statement issued on May 16th, they cautioned, “all our focus is towards the development of the 2015 Formula 1 car and powertrain, and there are no plans for collaboration on other projects at this moment.”

Of course, anyone who follows the auto industry knows better than to take “no” for an answer, especially in an age when collaborative efforts are the norm, rather than the exception.

The McLaren P1 has been used by Honda to assist in the development of its new Acura NSX.

So, it comes as little surprise that Britain’s AutoCar magazine quotes McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh as having a very different idea about where the partnership with Honda might just go.

For now, he acknowledged, “It’s a pure Formula 1 contract, but we’ve already been looking at automotive technology and we’re sharing that very openly. Our road car strategy at the moment has no other automotive partner and Honda would be a good place to collaborate.”

(Acura ready to reveal a running NSX prototype. Click Here.)

If a deal does emerge it wouldn’t be the first time McLaren has had a partnership, albeit here it would be a much more plebian one than before when the British maker paired up with Mercedes-Benz.  Together they produced the Mercedes-McLaren SLS AMG supercar.  (They also partnered on a previous Formula 1 program that ended in scandal and an embarrassing break-up.)

McLaren has billed itself as the winning-est constructor in F1 history, though it has had several different partners over the years. In fact, it was allied with Honda once before, between 1988 and the end of the 1992 season, when the pair captured four drivers’ and four constructors’ championships.

So, if there’s going to be more than just a McLaren engine in a Honda F1 race car, just what might be in store?

For its part, McLaren has settled into the idea of going it alone when it comes to supercar construction.  It came to market two years ago with the MP4-12C and followed with a roadster version before introducing the P1 ultracar at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. The 2-seater, which debuted the same day as the La Ferrari, is powered by a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 pairs with a Formula One-style KERS hybrid system to make 903 horsepower.

As previously noted, when it comes to performance the word, “breathless” quickly comes to mind, the 2-seater promised to deliver 0 to 100 kmh (0 to 62.5 mph) times of “less than three seconds,” with a rated top speed of 218 mph.

(Click Here for a closer look at the McLaren P1.)

In fact, AutoCar reports Honda is already using a P1 to help in its development of the new Acura NSX.

But in terms of a Honda-McLaren? CEO Whitmarsh cautioned it could take awhile. For one thing, McLaren’s street development engineers are working on their next big project, a Porsche 911-fighter dubbed the P13.

“If you look at our product range, 12C is running and will run for a few more years. P1 has just been launched and P13, which is the follow-up car, is relatively developed, so actually it is something that you would see in quite a few years to come,” he said.

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