McLaren has a long and very successful history in Formula 1 Racing. Founded by Bruce McLaren in 1963, the racing team is involved solely in F1 racing and is one of the most successful teams in the world. It has competed in over 650 races and has over 150 wins. Although McLaren himself was killed in a training accident in 1970, his enthusiastic racing spirit continues to inspire the automaker to build world-class supercars.
In more recent years, McLaren Automotive, a spinoff off from the McLaren Group, began producing street legal road cars based off technology learned from their racing expertise. In 1993, the company introduced the infamous F1, the fastest road car of its time. Only 100 were produced by the end of its production run in 1998 and it has left a lasting, almost iconic, impression. McLaren Automotive was also instrumental in helping to pioneer the use of lightweight building components such as carbon fiber and titanium, both of which are now commonplace in many sports cars.
In 2009, McLaren revealed its all-new MP4-12 road car, which is set to be released in 2011. It promises to pick up where the famed F1 left off with its carbon fiber chassis, mid-engine layout, and seven-speed dual clutch transmission. It will supposedly have a top speed of 200 mph. McLaren has been in the expansionist mood lately, with plans to be more of a rival to both Ferrari and Aston Martin. They want to focus more on road cars as their F1 racing program (like any racing program) is extremely costly.
Beginning in 1993, McLaren Automotive teamed up with Mercedes-Benz to design and build the SLR McLaren line of sport cars. Now that the partnership has ended, McLaren has learned a lot about building road cars and is now completing construction of a brand new manufacturing plant. Along with the upcoming 12C, McLaren is supposedly planning to build a smaller car aimed at the Porsche 911. Given the current economic circum-stances, it may take some time for this to come to market.
For now, we can enjoy the 12C and watch McLaren hopefully become a major competitor to the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Bentley, and Aston Martin.