This is one of the prettiest things in the world
The McLaren Elva joins the all-time greats, and yes, this one has a windscreen.
I probably don't need to say this, but there's been a lot of kerfuffle about the new Tesla Cybertruck. Many are laughing about the metal ball that smashed its "bullet-proof" window, and many are arguing over whether the design is no better than a block of flats or a much-needed shake-up to the establishment, and many others, like me, are still out sitting on the fence.
So, I've decided we should leave it to the side for a moment and instead soothe our senses with the balm of another car we've seen this month. An undeniably gorgeous supercar.
And it's a McLaren.
In 1992, this was the company that made the F1, a handsome supercar and one of the greatest cars of all time. And like the Tesla - which I just realise is something I said we should ignore - or the Reliant Scimitar (Princess Anne had one, you know), the McLaren F1 can't be mentioned without adding in a random fact about it; namely, that it had real gold in the engine bay, you know. It also had three seats. And Rowan Atkinson crashed one, which then went onto create the largest repair bill in UK history since the Blitz. Elon Musk had one too actually, and crashed it. So there you go.
Anyway, then McLaren fell dormant for several years. The name appeared on the Mercedes SLR McLaren but that was all. That is, until 2010, when they woke up as McLaren Automotive and immediately got to work on a mid-engined Ferrari-beater, to be called the MP4-12C.
It's often said that you can tell a lot about a person by the sort of dog they own. Well, in the petrolhead world, it's the sort of car.
Audi TT or Hyundai Veloster? You're a hairdresser. Pimped Holden VZ Commodore? You're a complete bogan. Black Range Rover? Rap artist. Toyota Camry? You either shop at Lowes or wear a turban. Jaaag, BMW, Ford Mondeo, and on and on it goes. Almost to the point where, if you name your job or position in society, somewhere, there is a car specifically for you.
McLaren isn't exempt from this either. Owning one quickly came to mean that you washed your hands regularly and had a place for everything on your desk. You were a bit OCD, geeky, and boring. One of those people who prefer numbers "because they don't lie."
I like McLaren. And I may or may not have a lot in common with all of those things, but arguably the MP4-12C gave birth to this stereotype, which is the very model I don't like. They gave it the name of a piece of software, and a bottom like one of those Chinese vacuum cleaners you spend $20 on at Bunnings. It's meant to look all snazzy so you don't notice the fact that the piece of fluff you've been going over for the past 10 minutes is still on the ground. The much cooler Dyson was easily still Ferrari.
So, McLaren shortened the name to 12C. And then later on, redesigned the front and called it the 650S. The final solution to all of its problems, however, didn't come until a whole 8 years later, with the fetching 720S.
But, there's a definite upward trend happening here. My appreciation for McLaren as a supercar brand began about the time of the P1 in 2013, and as the 675LT and 570S and 720S came along, that only grew. Ferrari is getting clumsy and Lamborghini too sensible, but the IT consultant seems to be on a roll in the styling department.
And just when they should have been poised to rip the wraps off their finest hour, the spiritual successor to the F1, the designer's drawing somehow got jammed in the printer. And we had the Speedtail. Some say the elongated tail is a thing of beauty; I say it looks like a tadpole.
So, the designers have been given a second chance. And I'd be very surprised if you haven't seen it yet, because it and the new, equally surprising Ferrari Roma have been doing the rounds of every car enthusiast's Google Image searches.
It's called the Elva, and where the Speedtail was "inspired" by the F1, this was inspired by a 1960's racecar of the same name. Point is though... well, just look at it:
Yes, it has a twin-turbo V8 and can reach 100 km/h from a standstill in less than three seconds, but as McLaren has obviously learnt, a supercar can't just be about numbers. Teenage boys need to have posters of it on their bedroom walls too, and not just next to the periodic table one either.
This might be considered sacrilege, but if I could have a real one in the first place, I would have it fitted with the optional windscreen. As interesting and innovative as it is, I don't want to spend the rest of my days explaining the Active Air Management system. I'm also not entirely sure this system - at 80 km/h - would quite have the oomph to stop a pebble or large bee from hitting me in the gob.
Now I know that looks are a very subjective thing. And you may think I've been talking cobblers this whole time. But there is something in all of us that tells us straight away whether something works visually or not. Something that's larger than personality or trends or time.
I read an article on here by Josh S about the Ferrari Roma where he argued that - among other things - those cars that go down in history as truly beautiful are always the simple, the smooth, and the flowing. And if you look at the Ferrari 250 GTO, the Bugatti Atlantic, the Lamborghini Miura, the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale, the Jaguar E-Type, the BMW 507, and I'm sure I've missed some - they all have that in common. They were considered beautiful then and they're still considered beautiful now. The McLaren Elva has that too.
Meanwhile, I have to say it's a different story with the "car" that can not be mentioned. That's more like the Lamborghini Countach, or the 1976 Aston Martin Lagonda, or your child's drawing on the fridge. Boldly going where no one has gone before, and causing you to sit back and reflect about all the things you thought were right and true. But not exactly pretty.
I'm still on the fence about that "car", but not this one. That says it all I think.