The McLaren Elva speedster is an 804-hp, $1.85 million homage to the ‘60s
Back in the 1960s, Bruce McLaren took a British chassis from South Essex called an Elva and turned it into the open-cockpit prototypes we know as the McLaren-Elva M1As, M1Bs, and M1Cs. All of these Group 7 Can Am race cars were powered by American big block V-8s, most of which came from Chevrolet. For those who preferred different soundtracks, Ford and Oldsmobile engines were also available. What remained unchanged was the monstrous torque, which only had to move around 1215 pounds.
Now, McLaren has acquired the rights to the Elva name, so it can give you this ultra-limited speedster, McLaren’s “lightest road car ever.”
At this point Woking can’t reveal how much lighter it can be than a McLaren F1 LM, but what’s certain is that unlike Woking’s 1995 three-seater, the two-seat 2020 Elva achieves its lightness mostly from not having a roof, windshield, or windows. However, the speedster does have what McLaren calls an Active Air Management System. This speed-sensitive feature manipulates the airflow inside the cabin by guiding it through a large inlet in the splitter and then out of a clamshell just ahead of the passengers.
If this body style is still not road legal in your neighborhood, the Elva will also be available with a globally homologated fixed windshield.
In its latest member of the Ultimate Series, McLaren’s well-known 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 got tuned to 804 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, complete with a 3D-printed Inconel and titanium exhaust sporting a pair of lower outlets as well as a twin top-mounted one. Together with the tweaked hydraulic suspension, active aero, and full carbon chassis and body, that much power translates to a 0–62 mph run in less than three seconds, as well as a 6.7-second rush to 124 mph. Unsurprisingly, this makes the Elva quicker than the Senna, a car with a hardtop and glass.
Expecting to see Elva drivers at the track, McLaren also threw in its sintered carbon-ceramic brakes, upgraded with titanium caliper pistons. Considering that this move saved 2.2 pounds in unsprung weight, it must be clear why McLaren’s answer to the Ferrari Monzas starts at $1.85 million. However, not all millionaires can have one, because McLaren knows that the key to the most lucrative venture in the car business today is guessing the correct production limit for your hypercars. In the case of the Elva, the execs at Woking believe that figure to be at 399.
Mind you, a 1964 McLaren M1A is much rarer.