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First Drive: McLaren MP4-12C

From track to tarmac.

by on Mar.27, 2012

The new McLaren MP4-12C.

Move over Ferrari.  Step aside Lamborghini.  There’s a new kid on the supercar block and it’s got some mighty big aspirations.

“We’re a 50-year-old start-up,” suggests Antony Sheriff as he offers us our first close-up look at a running McLaren MP4-12C during a visit to Auto Club Speedway, on the outskirts of Los Angeles.  The exotic 2-seater is the latest attempt by the British maker to move from track to tarmac.  Its first effort was the $1 million McLaren F1, the second a joint venture with Mercedes-Benz that gave us the SLR AMG.  This time, McLaren is back to doing it alone — and taking direct aim at Italy’s two better-known supercar manufacturers.

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It’s not that the company founded by New Zealand’s Bruce McLaren is an unknown entity.  In its nearly half century of motorsports McLaren has taken the checkered flag at one out of every four races it’s ever entered, making it a force to be reckoned with, year after year, on the Formula One circuit.  But the MP4-12C is aiming to strike the same fearsome chord on the street, giving gold chained Ferraristas reason to take pause – and perhaps to reconsider where they buy their next bella macchina.

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