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Driving Down McLaren’s Memory Lane

From Bruce McLaren’s first race to McLaren Automotive’s impact on the industry, this timeline tells quite a tale.

Bruce McLaren Photo: Courtesy Shutterstock

Last March, McLaren Automotive unveiled its most powerful car in production, the 710 hp McLaren 720S. The hyper-quick coupe is the latest addition to McLaren’s already impressive lineage of high-performance sports cars, ones that combine exquisite engineering with dynamic aesthetics. Although the brand is based in the United Kingdom, its roots trace to Auckland, New Zealand, the birthplace of eponymous motorsport legend Bruce McLaren. In 1963, the young racer founded Bruce McLaren Motor Racing when he was 26 years old. McLaren dominated the Canadian-American Challenge Cup (Can-Am) series until he perished in a crash of one of his prototypes at England’s Goodwood Circuit. McLaren’s memory, however, continues to be honored through innovative automobiles. The following timeline tracks the life of both the man and his namesake marque.

Bruce McLaren

Bruce McLaren  Photo: Courtesy Shutterstock


1952: At age 14, Bruce McLaren enters his first competition, driving a restored Austin 7 Ulster in a hill climb in his native New Zealand.

1959: Racing for the Cooper factory team, McLaren wins the United States Grand Prix at age 22, becoming the youngest-ever grand prix winner at the time.

1962: McLaren wins the Monaco Grand Prix.

1963: McLaren establishes Bruce McLaren Motor Racing, a Formula 1 team that will win eight constructors’ world championships and 12 drivers’ world championships and eventually spawn McLaren Automotive.

1970: McLaren is killed when his Can-Am car crashes during a test run at the Goodwood Circuit.


1992: McLaren Cars, a spin-off of the racing team, produces its first road car, the F1. It’s regarded as one of the all-time great road cars. Until the arrival of the Bugatti Veyron in 2005, it’s the world’s fastest production car, with a top speed of 240.1 mph.

2003: Mercedes-Benz launches the SLR McLaren, a grand tourer jointly developed by the German automaker and McLaren. It accelerates from zero to 60 mph in as little as 3.3 seconds.

2010: McLaren Cars relaunches as McLaren Automotive.

2011: McLaren Automotive introduces the 12C, the first road car wholly developed and built by McLaren since the F1.

2013: Production begins on the P1, a limited-run hybrid supercar that generates a combined 903 hp from its twin-turbo V-8 engine and electric motor.

2015: A McLaren F1 sells at auction for $13.75 million.


McLaren  Photo: Courtesy Shutterstock

720S Numbers

2,829 Dry weight, in pounds, of the 720S

584  Weight difference, in pounds, between the 720S and the F1, its lighter predecessor

25 to 30  Percentage of revenue McLaren Automotive reinvests in R & D

0  Number of SUVs  McLaren says it plans to develop

2.8  Seconds it takes the 720S to reach 60 mph

80 Degrees of opening provided by the 720S’s new dihedral-door design

4.6  Seconds to brake from 124 mph to a standstill

553 The 720S’s horsepower-per-ton ratio (greater than those of the Ford GT, Ferrari 488 GTB, and Lamborghini Huracán)

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