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An MP4-12C at McLaren Beverly Hills (John Grafman)
Words by Reed Berry and John Grafman
If our staff were to make a list of all the cool cars we’d like to own, near the top of each list would be a McLaren. Sleek, sporty and fast—all words that describe McLaren cars. But such words are inadequate when discussing vehicles that are painstakingly designed to satisfy even the most discerning (and affluent) performance car enthusiast.
Founded in 1989 as a manufacturer, McLaren is a relative youngster compared to most other automakers. McLaren’s first production car, the McLaren F1, was a radical three-seat vehicle, in which the driver sat in the middle, flanked by a passenger on either side, just slightly behind the driver. This British supercar was a tribute to the company’s long and distinguished history in racing, which preceded its years as a production carmaker. At the time, the F1 claimed the title of the fastest production car in the world, with a top speed of over 240 miles per hour. Yes, a 627-horspower V12 engine can produce impressive and exhilarating results when coupled with a lightweight chassis, and drag cheating aerodynamics.
McLaren Beverly Hills (Reed Berry)
And then, at the pinnacle of success for a street-legal sport cars, something unbelievable happened. It all stopped. The only street car projects that continued onward were collaborative efforts with other OEMs, like the fantastic Mercedes/McLaren SLR.
That was then, and this is now. We have been summoned (well, invited actually, but summoned sounds more important) to the grand opening of McLaren Beverly Hills. Yes, the economy may be in shambles, and times are tough for most, but there are still people with money to throw around on luxury items. As such, it makes perfectly good sense to open a pricey car dealership in the heart of this world-famous playground to the stars. This particular dealership is part of the Auto Gallery franchise, owned by Tony Schwartz. Any Los Angelino that loves exotic cars area is familiar with the Auto Gallery name, as the company’s dealer plates are affixed to all the right stuff, ranging from Porsches to Ferraris and Maseratis.
Tony Schwartz of the Auto Gallery (John Grafman)
Of the ten McLaren Automotive retailers thus far in all of North America, three are right here in California: Beverly Hills, Newport Beach and San Francisco. Beverly Hills is a no-brainer when it comes to selling high-ticket luxury items. Trendy home furnishings, designer clothing, and some of the world’s most expensive jewelry can be found right here along Wilshire Boulevard, or down the street and around the corner on famed Rodeo Drive. Additionally, some of the most exclusive car brands have shops located in and around 90210, including competitors Aston Martin, Ferrari, and Lamborghini.
This bright, contemporary showroom tonight packed with hundreds of guests for this special event, is an attractive addition to this exclusive neighborhood.
Upon arriving, we notice a sleek, eye-catching McLaren also pulling up in front of the dealership. Out of this impressive car steps a familiar face and even more familiar chin belonging to late-night talk host and ultimate car enthusiast, Jay Leno. Yes, Jay is among the elite group of McLaren owners and, as he gets up before the crowd to say a few words, it is apparent that his enthusiasm for the brand is genuine.
Jay Leno counts himself as an owner of a McLaren MP4-12C (Reed Berry)
We see other celebrities in the crowd, including actor Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy) and semi-celebrity Josh Altman, one of the young hotshot real estate agents on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing. In addition, there are numerous race car drivers, including a couple from other well-known brands, like Ferrari. Of course, there are McLaren owners, soon-to-be owners, and a plethora of well-healed gentry and attractive women.
But, we have not come here to mingle with the Hollywood elite, nor have we come here just for the complimentary appetizers (the pulled pork sliders with cole slaw, however, are quite tasty). Indeed we’ve come to see the real star of the evening: The 2012 McLaren MP4-12C. Personally, we think a car with a distinctive model name is easier to remember than something that sounds like a British postal code or a cousin of R2D2 or C3PO—but that’s just us.
The base MSRP for the car is just $229,000. Okay, we realize that it may be outside the budget of most car buyers, but the reason we use the word ‘just’ is because for those who can afford this sporty two-seater, it’s actually quite a bit of car for the money. By giving this great-looking mid-engine coupe a chassis featuring extensive use of carbon fiber, plus an aluminum alloy hood and roof, the weight is kept fairly low. This end result is maximum performance and a relatively impressive fuel economy of 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway, allowing the MP4-12C to avoid the federal gas-guzzler tax.
The view most people will see when trying to keep up with an MP4-12C (John Grafman)
As for power, team a 592-horsepower twin-turbo V8 engine with a seven-speed transmission, and you have a car that can do 0-60 in just 3.2 seconds (trim that to 3.0 seconds with the optional Corsa tires) and a top speed of 205 miles per hour. Clearly, McLaren’s racing DNA runs deep through this dynamic vehicle.
For those with flush bank accounts, this can be an enticing proposition to the tried and true Italian brands. And, in the game of keeping up with the Jones in this tony town, everyone wants to be the first on their block to own one. Of course, if Jay Leno is your neighbor then you might not be first, but you could be next!
For more information, go to beverlyhills.mclaren.com