London Adventure

Everything started with a phone call. It was a Tuesday mid-day. A friend of my father gave me a call.

"Hey Seb, I'm going to London to pick up my McLaren 675LT and drive it home to Stockholm. Would you like to be my co-driver?"

Before I even checked my schedule, an enthusiastic "yes" was uttered. I thought that if I did not have the time. I would make it work.

The Saturday that same week was picked for the adventure and as soon as I left work at 18:00 that Friday evening I bolted over to Arlanda and boarded a 737-700 (winglets). The un-eventful journey was over in about 2 hours and at Heathrow I violently caught a cab that dropped me off at the hotel. At the hotel, there was a problem. The cab did only take cash. In Sweden, anyway, it's getting less and less likely to carry cash on you. So, there I was, next to the hotel at ~23:30 with an impatient taxi driver wanting to get paid. I asked the doorman at the hotel if there was an ATM in the vicinity. They pointed me in a general direction and I ran to get some cash. 3 minutes later I came back to the seemingly surprised taxi driver and doorman. They told me that they never expected me to return. I'm way too honest.

That next morning after a extremely British breakfast, I met my father’s friend (from now called Stan) in the hotel’s lobby. We caught a cab, made sure it took credit cards and off we went. The ride was about 24 minutes and in the middle of a conversation the taxi driver pointed left and said "Here you can get a new car if you want!" I looked left and the rear end of a Ferrari 250 med my gaze. I was shocked. I had never seen a Ferrari 250 in real life and here it was. Just in front of me. Stan suddenly broke the silence by saying "ah, here is the place!" I thought that he must have been joking. But he didn't. The taxi driver had a very strange look on his face when we paid him and went in to the car dealership. Oh, my what a garage.

On the right, immediately when you entered, there was a Ferrari 250 short wheelbase. A car worth over 11 million dollars. Casually next to the entrance. A cheery salesman met us with a smile and he led us to a covered car in the middle of the showroom. With a flourish, he removed the cover and revealed the car underneath. Through the years, I have concluded that McLarens should always be Papaya-orange. There should not be any other color. The 675LT in front of me looked like it was made for it.

As Stan and the salesman went through the paperwork, I strolled around the dealership and inhaled all the history. I can't really write about all cars, so I made a small clip instead.

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I also missed 2 Maserati MC-12 cars in that clip. It was Crazy.

We got all the paperwork sorted and we went on our way. Since I have driven the McLaren 12C quite a lot, I took the first stint to the channel tunnel. It started with a rumble and we went out on the roads. Even though the car was left hand drive and we drove on the left side of the road, the UK-part of the trip was surprisingly eventless. Everywhere we looked we had people waving, giving thumbs up and cars wanting to race. Me and Stan thought that it would be good to stretch it legs in Germany just to be safe. I did tickle the car a bit and I felt that this car has a lot to give. A lot.

In Dover, we drove on the channel train VERY carefully. The width of the car was just a few centimeters less than the width between the curbs. The train-ride was as derived of write-worthy events as the drive through UK. However, when we were supposed to exit the train, I pressed the brake, then the start button. And nothing happened. This was bad. A new car and several impatient Frenchmen behind us in their huge SUV's. Stan and I desperately tried to start it for about 10 minutes until we called the salesman and said, with some distress that the car just wouldn't start. He asked if we depressed the brake pedal. We told him of course we did that but nothing happened anyway. There was a short pause in the phone until he said "have you depressed the pedal enough?" Frustrated, I pressed the damn pedal all the way down just to prove our point. As I did that the car happily rumbled to life. This was one of my most embarrassing points in my life. I have been working and driving the world’s most extreme cars for the last 9 years. But then I fail miserably at this. Stan almost laughed his ears off and I realized that I will probably hear this for the rest of my life. I did swallow my pride, waved a "sorry" towards the French people that I held up and off we went in to France.

The driving itself was quite un-epic. The ride was ok, not as the 12C but it was ok. The road noise on the other hand was deafening. We tried the radio but it was no use. You could barely hear it unless you turned it up almost to the max. But then you could not talk to the person next to you.

We stopped at a McDonalds somewhere in the Netherlands (I think) to have some lunch and a change of drivers. Stan thought that he should try his own car. It seemed logical. After some instruction of the cars basic controls, we went on to the highway.

The 675LT talks to its driver in a very special way. It gives away noises that tickle your senses and play with your inner 9-year old. When you give just enough throttle you can hear the turbos engage and suck in more air into the engine. That sound is extremely addictive. I thought all of this until the revs hit around ~2-3k Rpm. I have been thinking the Tesla Model S is quick. After the Turbos engaged I thought otherwise. Stan kept the pedal down to the floor and I must say that the way that this car gains speed is beyond anything I have ever felt. The Teslas are stupidly quick to about ~150km/h then they start to fade off. This crazy orange missile just continued with the same acceleration. All the time. Both me and Stan giggled and screamed at the same time. Then it changed gear. I have always thought that the Ferrari 458 gearbox is as quick as the gearbox becomes. I was wrong. The instant you press the right paddle, the gear is there accompanied by a small jerk forward. It's mind-bogglingly fast. More about this in the test in a later article.

Me and Stan, somewhere in Europe

We slowed down to less ridiculous speeds and settled down for the long run. The ride through Belgium passed without a hitch. When we reached Germany, we thought that we could really stretch the cars legs. However, what we met was roadworks. Lots and lots of roadworks. It's good that they modernize the highway. But all of it at once? I think that the average speed through Germany was about 50km/h. Time-consuming and not that exhilarating. Another thing was rain. Driving a 675LT in heavy rain is very uncomfortable. As soon as you put your foot close to the throttle, the traction control steps in to stop you crashing into a tree. The day slowly turned into night and we soldiered on. When we reached Denmark, we changed drivers again so I could get some sleep and take over for the drive through Sweden up to Stockholm. Somehow, I fell asleep and slept through the Danish part. I woke up when we were about to go over the Öresunds-bridge and took over at the Circle-K fuel station just when you exit the bridge. Stan had not told me, but I noticed when I went to the front of the car.

In Denmark, a bird decided to play chicken with us. I didn't wake up at the impact, but safe to say, the bird did not survive. It was over quickly. The sight when I walked over to the front was quite bizarre. Out of the front splitter, looking straight ahead was a bird’s head. The body had been jammed between the body of the car and the splitter. I'm not going to go into details but we decided not to take the body out there and then. He sat there, silently looking in front like an organic non-functional GoPro camera. Or like one of those figurines often found on old ships. The part in Sweden were also very un-eventful. The miles rode by and finally almost at mid-day we reached our destination. My home to drop me off. A trip almost 2100km long in a crazy supercar with one of the nicest persons I have ever met. Thank you, Stan, for this opportunity I will never forget it.

Finally, back home

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