McLaren at Salon Privé

Would you like to drive a McLaren 720S up to Salon Privé and take a closer look at some MSO cars? Err, yes please.

And so a chance to spend some quality time with the McLaren 720S, in issue four I spent a very brief hour with one on autumnal roads around Goodwood. It was eye wateringly quick, capable, and allows you to do things with 700bhp that you simply shouldn’t be able to get away with. I’ll be honest, it scared me!

Since then I have spent a week with the 570S, you can read about it in issue five, I loved it, I have also driven the 720S in anger over four intense laps at Estoril, I then drove the Senna, also in issue five. So, now I feel a little more prepared for round two with the 720S, round three if you’re being pedantic, I don’t count Estoril.

Parked outside the main entrance to McLaren Technology Centre is a beautiful looking Azores orange 720S, after a quick handover I jump in the car and make my way around the lake, I feel bad that it feels so easy and natural, perhaps I’m almost feeling a bit numb to jumping in a real hypercar capable of over 200mph.

This is more a state of play for all the manufacturers in that these cars are not the daunting untamed animals they once were but usable cars. I would say the 720S is far easier to live with day-to-day than the Land Rover Defender I’m currently borrowing.

A couple of miles down the road and I am joining the M25, a squeeze of throttle reminds me this car is unbelievably fast, holding on to a steering wheel normally dilutes the feeling of speed but not in the 720S, it is unrelenting. This has been backed up by German media presenting lap times of the 720S lapping Hockenheim faster than the Porsche 911 GT2RS.

By the time I arrive into Brighton I’m feeling very relaxed with the car, I pull over to see a friend and within minutes children are buzzing around it and parents are taking photos of their kids sat in the car. It’s important to share these experiences and also to inspire a future generation. It’s especially important for McLaren where they don’t have the heritage of Ferrari, of course there is great racing history, but less so with the road cars. A common question is ‘what is it?’ That answer will come to most with time, especially if McLaren continue to produce these phenomenal cars.

The next morning I set off for the drive up to Blenheim Palace, M23, M25, M40 and then a little bit of A-road fun. I still stand by the opinion that this car is perhaps too fast to enjoy in the UK, on the continent the roads are quieter and any misdemeanours should only lead to a fine rather than points on your licence. In the morning rush hour traffic it’s quiet enough to chat, its comfortable enough to sit in traffic and the in-car audio is very impressive. The cabin is very light and airy, the A-pillars give great visibility, it genuinely is a very usable car compared to something like a Lamborghini Aventador that can be quite intimidating.

I arrive and am directed to the supercar parking where the 720S sits proudly on display. This year Salon Privé has moved closer to the house and it’s a real improvement, deep down I still hankering after the Hurlingham Club days, a simply tube ride and a opportunity to enjoy the free flowing champagne.

McLaren Birmingham and McLaren Bristol, part of the Rybrook Group have shared their stand with McLaren Special Operations displaying the gorgeous 720S Velocity as well as a very mean looking MSO Black Collection 570GT, Burton Blue 570GT and another 720S in McLaren Orange. An event like Salon Privé is a really good opportunity to generate interest for the Sport Series and Super Series range as well as display MSO capabilities to a relevant crowd.

For me the Velocity car that I first saw in 2017 at Geneva is a real triumph, the darker colours really suit the car and the paint work simply is a work of art fading from lacquered carbon Nerello Red into a deep Volcano red. Paired with black wheels it looks really keen. More of this please MSO.

Before I know it, it’s time for lunch, chicken, lobster and salad washed down with glass of champagne, just the one though! The opening day sees the Chubb Insurance Concours d’Elegance, compered by Max Girado and an illustrious list of judges. The main award went to a stunning 1933 Bugatti Type 55 Roadster with our good friend Mihai Negrescu picking up a spirit award with his 1934 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Tipo Le Mans.

Sunshine, rare cars, a stunning location and beautiful people, what better day can be had? Ah yes, the drive home in a McLaren 720S, perfect!

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McLaren at Salon Privé