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

Travel Notes: Croatia

Hello fellow travelers!

Today, I wanted to share my take on one of the many places that I’ve been fortunate to visit within the last couple of years: Croatia. It is a place that many people in the United States might not know much about – as it doesn’t get a lot of attention in movies, TV shows or other forms of media. Yet, it is a place that I consider to be one of the best destinations for those who like to explore.

When most Americans think of traveling to Europe, they think of the usual tourist destinations like London, Paris, Rome, and Berlin. And while these typical locations are certainly worthy of praise, frequent travelers might want to consider trying something new and venturing further east to Croatia.

Undiscovered Gem

With a population of only four million, Croatia is located in Southeastern Europe, far from the typical European tourist destinations, in an area known as the Balkan States. This “out of the way” placement has allowed Croatia to quietly develop into a unique destination of its own, without being overrun with tourists.

The country is set along the Adriatic Sea (a part of the Mediterranean) and has many charming towns and natural landscapes. Whether you’re looking to hike lush forests and trails that provide you with unmatched views, or if you would rather be sitting seaside basking in the sun – there’s something for everyone.

Coastal Towns

As opposed to a sprawling metropolis like Paris, Croatia’s biggest draws are its relatively small coastal towns. Perhaps the most popular of these is Split – a beautiful seaside city with a large port where cruises will often stop for a day. Split, like many places in Eastern Europe, has a sort of “old world” feel to it. The town is surrounded by white stone walls, and the orange tiled roofing of almost all of its buildings give the area a distinct Mediterranean quality.

Other worthwhile places to check out if you’re in the area include: Rovinj, Zadar, and Rab. You’ll notice that these types of towns have a consistent feel to them; however, they are uniquely Croatian.

I would recommend enjoying these towns during the sunny and breezy summer months. Croatia stays fairly sunny year-round – but it can get a little chilly during the winter. However, Kansas City gets far colder!

Living the Best Life

As I mentioned before, there is a sort of old-world appeal to Croatia and when you visit, you will learn to appreciate its slower paced lifestyle. Almost all of the areas I visited are very walkable or accessible by mass transportation, so traffic is not really an issue. There weren’t any booming car stereos, fast food chains or a Super Walmart.

Many Croatians enjoy a calmer, more peaceful approach to life. Many work in artisanal shops, walk from place to place and have a more modest view of things than many of us here at home.

As for food, Croatian cuisine is delicious. Their seafood is incredibly good, and their desserts are even better. I enjoyed several different types of desert pastries, cakes and other sweets. Amazingly, Croatians remain very healthy despite all of the tempting food – it must be the frequent walking.

*****

Ultimately, I rank Croatia as one of my favorite places to visit. It is such a unique experience for anyone coming from the United States, and its distinct culture allow Croatia to remain a place that is truly its own. It is certainly worth a visit from any traveler.

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG)

Travel Notes: Israel

Hello friends!

Michael Gortenburg here and greetings from Kansas City!

As you may have guessed from some of my earlier posts, I am an avid traveler. I always take advantage of any chance that I can to get away and experience another place or culture. I think it is good for the soul, and it provides fun and eye-opening experiences.

Today, I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned in my travels to the ancient land of Israel – a place that I find to be as beautiful as it is fascinating, and a place that I hold dear in my heart. To someone who has never been there, maybe this post will inspire you to see it for yourself!

The Foundation of History

Israel is a land that is rich in history, and it is apparent from the moment you set foot on its ancient city streets and its gorgeous countryside. Although the current state of Israel was not established until 1948, the land has been settled since the earliest days of humankind and has served as the center of history’s most significant moments.

Every building seems to tell a story and the country is filled with historic sites to visit. History buffs are sure to enjoy this aspect of Israel. One of my personal favorites is the city of Jaffa – the oldest port city in the world. It is a charming coastal city with its own distinct architecture style and beautiful beige buildings that evoke its Mediterranean feel.

Of course, if history is what you’re looking for, it is hard to find a more significant city in Israel – perhaps the world – than Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is a central holy site for some of the world’s major religions and draws millions of visitors from across the world for its rich historical and cultural offerings.

If you find yourself in Jerusalem, there are plenty of historic places to visit: The Wailing Wall, the Temple Mount, the Tower of David and more. One could spend days in this city alone – but the nation of Israel offers so much more!

International Destinations

Breathtaking view from Haifa

Outside of the historical sites of Israel – there are also plenty of places visitors should be sure to check out once they visit. The city of Haifa comes to mind, with its impeccably manicured terraces and world-famous Baha’i Gardens. Haifa is built along a hillside so visitors in the gardens are treated with breathtaking panoramic views of the Mediterranean and the rest of the city below, complete with a central staircase that leads wanderers down to the shore. Haifa is easily one of the most scenic and well-planned cities that I’ve been lucky to come across in my travels.

Another international destination is the city of Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv could be compared to Miami for its warm temperature and similar design of seaside towers, glistening in the sun as beachgoers relax on its sandy shores.

Tel Aviv is more of a secular city – drawing millions of tourists every year to its party and cultural scene. There are many clubs, beachfront restaurants and bars for partiers of any kind. But if you’re more of a relaxed type, you could also visit its many museums, gardens and markets. A personal favorite of mine would be the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

And while Tel Aviv is a huge draw for fun, it is also an economic powerhouse for Israel and a technology hub for the world. Tel Aviv has its own “Silicon Valley” of sorts and is home to some of the most advanced technology companies in the world, like RAD. It also houses pharmaceutical giants like Teva and has a vibrant startup scene. Many groundbreaking companies focused on AI/Machine Learning and software are based in Tel Aviv and its surrounding areas.

A Journey You’ll Remember

Whether you’re interested in making a trip for its religious or historical significance, or whether you’re more curious about its party and vacation scene – Israel has a lot to offer. It is one of the few countries in the region that is readily available for tourists to enjoy and you will never run out of things to see and do.

I would highly recommend anyone thinking of going to take the opportunity and visit Israel. It is certainly a place like no other and a memory that you will never forget.

Happy travels!

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG)