McLaren & Xtreme Xperience: It’s Complicated
Let’s just get this out of the way right up front: No, we will not be offering McLaren vehicles for the 2022 season.
It’s okay, it’s okay. We understand the gut reaction you probably have to a supercar experience company not offering experiences in one of the preeminent supercar brands. Much like a torrid love triangle, while we loved the spirit and energy that McLaren vehicles brought to our fleet, the long-term prospects of a relationship with the storied brand were a bit bleak. This may come as even more of a shock because the McLaren products were one of our most popular tiers for the 2021 season!
While McLaren is an incredible vehicle that’s at home on a racetrack, at the end of the day, these bespoke automobiles are a challenge to maintain in a fleet that gets beaten up by drivers on a weekly basis. Although we don’t like to shy away from a good challenge, this is one of those things where we need to simply concede to protect our investment, our sanity, and the expectations for our customers.
Let’s get into the why, but first a little bit about McLaren.
Racing Roots, Supercar Soul
Bruce McLaren was the kind of guy that didn’t mess about.
A wrencher from the time he was a kid, McLaren grew up in racing and embodied it up until a racing accident tragically took his life in 1970. His name lived on with the hearts and souls of other racing and motoring enthusiasts who continue to race in Formula 1 to this very day. McLaren road cars can trace back their lineage to 1988 when production started on the legendary McLaren F1.
We could do a whole book on the development of this ultra-rare (only 106 produced) machine that can still put most modern supercars to shame. It took McLaren another 18 years to re-enter the supercar fray, this time as a fully standalone supercar brand that was separate from McLaren Racing. Their first entry back into the supercar pool was the McLaren 12C. Part carbon fiber masterpiece, part pseudo luxury car (Nah, not really), the 12C was a hit with the automotive community.
A mere 2 years later, McLaren debuted the positively bonkers P1 to the masses, well, as long as you could come up with a million-plus dollars that is. At 1000 horsepower + and over a million dollars, it was the P1 that officially launched off the hypercar wars.
McLaren’s Rise to Stardom
McLaren’s meteoric rise to success in a short period of time comes down to their absolute commitment to offering their own unique version of supercars and making them available to anyone who can afford them. Unlike other brands *cough, Ferrari, cough* McLaren is totally okay with the hooning of their vehicles, including modifications and crazy levels of customization.
Popular media outlets, especially YouTube darlings like Top Gear, really drove the car-loving public towards these once elusive British machines. Suddenly, every rapper, celebrity, and wealthy car enthusiast (looking at you Mr. Leno) had plenty to say about McLaren vehicles being the ultimate supercar. What McLaren does really, really well is make cars that absolutely stir the soul. Their unique offerings to the world of supercars, well, they just worked.
In addition, the car world, in general, has just gotten crazier and crazier with vehicles like 700+ horsepower Dodge Chargers roaming the streets in nearly every town in America. The world of bespoke things has almost gone mainstream these days. What a time to be alive!
Xtreme Xperience & McLaren – The Good
We realized early on that McLaren was going to be a hot ticket for our customers, so we bought a 12C that was, on paper, perfect for what we needed it to do. People responded (give the people what they want, right?) and the 12C quickly became one of the most popular vehicles in our fleet. When it worked, it was a precision tool for the job that made no bones about being a supercar with just that little bit of extra edge.
Eventually, the 12C would be retired and we would pick up it’s even better replacement: the 570S. Again, this thing was a masterpiece on the track, built to an exacting standard, and was an absolute thrill machine for anyone who stepped inside the world of McLaren. Crazy when you wanted it to be, refined when you didn’t, it was a twin-turbo masterpiece that kept McLaren fans bursting at the seams.
Unfortunately, these awesome experiences are a bit like looking through rose-colored glasses.
Xtreme Xperience & McLaren – The Bad
Understanding someone’s strengths and weaknesses is the best way to build a team, and the powers that be at Xtreme Xperience had to do exactly that when they decided to cut McLaren from the fleet completely.
What the 570Ss brought was panache, buzz, and a level of rarity to our fleet, along with the requisite supercar goodness that was sort of default to McLaren. What was also brought was a host of finicky, difficult-to-diagnose problems that kept our McLarens sidelined more than we would have liked over the years. Since our vehicles are taken out week after week, and essentially driven by everyone from strangers to people who have been on a track, they truly get put through the wringer. Some vehicles stand up to this abuse better than others, and the McLarens we’ve had over the years, well, they didn’t really stand up too much.
Maybe it’s because McLaren is still a boutique automaker who’s really only been making cars for a shade over a decade. Maybe it’s because the closest shop to our HQ is all the way in Philly (we call Chicago home), but whatever it is, our McLarens were constantly plagued with problems that were hard to fix. These issues were not only time-consuming for our technicians, but they also kept them off the tracks, which disappointed fans (including our team!) who were hoping to experience them.
As a company that builds things on experiences and expectations, this was not a sustainable situation for anyone, so we had to say goodbye.
Look, as a brand, we love everything that McLaren stands for.
Clearly, they did not build their bespoke supercars to meet our expectations, but rather the expectations of their legions of buyers from all over the world. Maybe one day we can re-approach bringing a McLaren into the fleet, but for the foreseeable future, we’ll be soldiering on with our other incredible vehicles and allowing our fans to enjoy a track day without fear of disappointing them.
Seriously, we have some incredible vehicles in our fleet like the race-prepped Porsche Cayman GT4 or the insane Audi V10 Performance that just beg to be pushed. Come on out and have fun with us for the day! We promise you’ll have the time of your life, and you won’t miss that McLaren one bit.