Is McLaren Diluting its Hypercar Brand?

A Sunny day on a highway with a 2019 McLaren GT Super Car

Hello everyone! Michael Gortenburg here.

I have always had a passion for cars. As I mentioned in my previous blog, I love iconic cars from the 1950s and the feel of a vehicle that time has made a recognizable classic. I’ve always been fascinated by the freedom and excitement you can only get from an automobile. Whenever I see an exotic or a vintage car, it’s because something about that car’s soul speaks to me. Each car provides a unique experience, like an old memory that I can recall instantly.

Recently, I’ve been paying attention to the ever-competitive world of hypercars. Not because I plan to buy one, definitely not, but because I enjoy watching the competition unfold among the five or six manufacturers who are competing for the wallets of a very limited and selective group of people. There are plenty of wealthy people in the world, but not many who are willing to pay over $1 million for a method of transportation.

These are just my thoughts on the latest and greatest in the car world and I hope you enjoy it! Let’s start off with a brand that everyone is paying attention to right now: McLaren.

McLaren has been putting out incredible cars for years, and many people consider the McLaren F1 to be the greatest automobile ever built. It seems like more and more people are agreeing with that sentiment, as they are currently fetching somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million at auction. Is a car ever worth $20 million? I guess it is if there is nothing else quite like it on the road.

The F1 is unique in that it has no fancy electronics, no tricks. It is a pure machine made to go fast and nothing else. The driver’s seat is centered in the middle of the car, with two passenger seats on either side. They say the feeling of driving one is like piloting a fighter jet.

While very few people will get to experience the McLaren F1 themselves, there are plenty of other McLaren models that will give you a similar sensation. We’ll leave out the Mercedes SLR because that was really more of a GT car, not a pure performance machine, in my book. Besides, there are plenty of others to choose from.

Right now, the McLaren lineup consists of twelve different models, which is an astronomical number for a hypercar manufacturer, to be honest. They include the 620R, the 540C, the 570C, the 570S and the GT, the 600LT/600LT Spider, the McLaren GT, the 720S and the 765, the Senna, the Elva, the Speedtail, the Artura, and a few other versions of these for racetrack use.

Is that too many? A lot of people are saying that, yes, McLaren is diluting itself by making so many variations. What is special about a McLaren if you have so many different versions of them floating around, right? Well, I happen to disagree.

What I like so much about McLaren is that it is not as obsessed with status as some of the other brands that are out there. To that end, the cars tend to be a bit less flashy (with some definite exceptions) and less recognizable than say a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. The people who buy McLarens are more interested in an incredible driving experience than rolling up to a fancy restaurant and attracting attention.

That’s why it makes sense for the company to have so many models. They are giving drivers the ability to select exactly what suits them. They can provide an extreme hypercar like the Senna, or a fun weekend driver like the 540C. You can get what you want without being labeled as a certain type of person. That makes sense coming from a company with a strong racing tradition that takes itself extremely seriously.

Now, I don’t own a McLaren myself, nor am I particularly interested in acquiring one. But I do respect what they are doing. In time, I believe that other manufacturers will start to democratize the hypercar experience by creating high-performance electric machines at low cost. These would be cars for people who are less interested in status than experiencing the thrill of an open road. You can definitely count me among them.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more coming soon!

– Michael Gortenburg, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City Missouri

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