May 16, 2021
Beddinginn

The best used McLaren cars to buy in 2021

They say time flies when you’re having fun, so consider this: it was February 14, 2011 that the McLaren MP4-12C – as it was then – was reviewed on PH. More than 10 years ago, or almost 123 months in the past. And the verdict? “The MP4-12C is no more, and certainly no less, than the most capable supercar on the planet right now.” Not bad for a first effort.

And look what McLaren Automotive has achieved since then. Tens of thousands of supercars sold, motorsport success across the globe, a host of technological innovations and a reputation as builder of some of the best driver’s cars around. Which is pretty good going in a measly decade. Nobody will deny there have been problems – the current covid-induced downturn a particularly bad one – but, by the same token, those considerable achievements cannot be ignored either. And with cars like the Artura on the horizon, the future looks rosy, too.

For now, though, we’re looking back. There is no better window into the past than the classifieds, and while there are more similarities in the line-up than you might find elsewhere, there are some crucial differences to consider as well; a 675LT is older and less powerful than a 720S, so should you pay more for one? Should the same money be spent on a nearly new GT, or 570S? And is a 650S really worth the premium over a 12C? The latter starts from less than £70k now, don’t forget…

These being bonafide supercars, there’s be no £10k bargain basement specials here. But there are cars that, having led the class in recent years, look even more compelling as secondhand buys. As with so many of these lists, what hasn’t benefitted the new customer has proved remarkably advantageous for the used buyers. Prepare to be tempted…

Up to £75,000…

Were it not such a widely known fact, the value on offer in a McLaren 12C would be scarcely believable. Here’s a 10-year-old, carbon tubbed, 200mph supercar, one with an engine also used in Longtail McLarens to great effect, available for the price of a Cayman GTS. That’s not some daft comparison of a mega-miles bit of exotica against a heavily optioned Porsche, either. This 718 has almost 3,000 miles is for sale at £75,000; this 12C has almost 9,000 miles and is £74,900. It really is remarkable.

Of course, there are reasons for the 12C’s less than stellar residual performance. The launch wasn’t trouble free, with early quality issues and some reservations about the styling; made doubly worse by the fact that the 650S so effectively updated the fundamental package just a few years later.

On the other hand, there’s an awful lot here that’s come to characterise what’s so good about the modern McLaren experience: the lucid, lovely hydraulic steering, great visibility from a low scuttle, and a spooky ability to combine a serene ride with laser guided handling thanks to the Pro Active Chassis Control. In a car cheaper than an M2 CS. This particular 12C has the 625hp upgrade and looks smart in black with tan; with just two owners since 2011 (many have had a lot more), it looks a fine way to begin a McLaren ownership story. And we’re just getting started…

Up to £100,000…

If the 12C and 650S strongly hinted at what McLaren could achieve against established supercar rivals, the 570S ensured it was beyond all doubt: Woking could make 200mph dream cars as well as any other.

Lessons had learnt from those Super Series cars were obviously incorporated into the Sports Series: put simply, it was a more exciting car both to look at and to drive than the early McLarens. The 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 found more of a voice, the conventional suspension lent a more connected road feel and it felt just as searingly fast, despite less power. Against 911 Turbos and Audi R8s, the 570S presented a formidable alternative.

As such, plenty of them sold. At the time of writing there are more than 50 Sports Series cars for sale on PH, if the 540C, GT and Longtail cars are included. With the earliest cars now five years old and the Sports Series effectively replaced by the Artura hybrid, now seems as good a time as any for a 570S.

Once more, the performance on offer for the price asked looks staggering. This 2017 car has the Track Pack – a £16k option new with lighter wheels and carbon seats – and has covered just 6,000 miles in that time, yet is on offer for £90k. Attention may inevitably be drawn away from the 570S as the new Artura comes on stream, but if anything that only serves to make it a more attractive prospect – it’s fantastic.

Up to £125,000…

Perhaps the GT wasn’t McLaren’s most notable achievement. The logic was sound enough – the 570GT was well received, so it made sense to broaden the scope – but ultimately the GT didn’t quite hit the mark. The problem was the sacrifice made in the name of compromise: it was neither as sharp as a traditional supercar, nor as accommodating as dedicated GTs – of which there are plenty to choose from.

Which isn’t to say the GT was without merit. Because essentially this car is a more luxurious, more capacious, slightly less frenzied take on the modern McLaren. Maybe that’s a small niche to be catering for, but it doesn’t make the product any less desirable. All GTs feature a 620hp version of the 4.0-litre V8, a Monocell II-T derivative of the monocoque for more space, Proactive Damping Control and some additional sound deadening to help with longer journeys.

Launched at just over £160k, it’s now possible to pay £120k for a McLaren GT with a fairly nominal mileage. This one is on offer at £122,490 from McLaren Glasgow, registered last year and with only 4,000 miles recorded. Perhaps the GT was an odd tangent to pursue, but the car becomes a whole lot more tempting with that sort of saving.

Up to £150,000…

In a world of £50k Golf Rs and £90k M3s, the McLaren 720S might be the best value fast car out there. Even with early depreciation seemingly now levelled off a tad, that a car of this immense desirability and performance can be bought for £135,000 is staggering.

Moreover, the 720S was arguably when McLaren Automotive really, really came good. Launched in 2017, it brought together all that had been learnt from the past years – everything from Longtails to P1s and 12Cs to GTs – to create a phenomenal supercar. It looked sensational, it was obscenely fast, it drove beautifully, and the interior was a significant improvement on what had preceded it. Even today, with a 765LT out there and electric hypercars announced on a weekly basis, the 720 will blow your mind. Which is exactly the point of a near hypercar, isn’t it?

The new price just snuck in under a quarter of a million, but many cars will have been a lot nearer £300k given the number of extras available to customers. This Performance 720S is fairly modestly specced, with the most notable options being the Elite paint finish and upgraded stereo, and is for sale at £146,950. Creep over the £150k budget and you can even buy McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt’s old car

Up to £200,000…

If perhaps less impactful than the 675LT which had come before – because such a tremendously high bar had by then been established – then the 600LT remained a truly epic supercar. It might even have been a better drive than the old 675, arriving later and with the benefit of a few more years development.

The LT approach was identical for 600 as it has been for 675, because why mess with a winning formula? Weight was shed ruthlessly from throughout the car, power was nudged ever so slightly up, and the car was made ever so slightly longer, to keep the name almost valid. In this instance it was 74mm, with both front splitter and rear diffuser extended.

The resulting 600LT was as before, too: a great supercar made into a simply tremendous one. The clarity of feedback, urgency of response and ferociousness of performance put the 600 on another plane compared to the 570, and to most other supercars really. Today that precocious ability if available from less than £150k, which means this budget opens up basically box fresh cars. This LT Clubsport has just 214 miles and is chock full of options, with the Senna seats, both Carbon Exterior Packs and the ultra-lightweight forged wheels.

Typically, it’s said that you can’t have more fun for less when discussing a new car; here it might be true that you can’t spend more and have a better experience. The LT really is that good.

Up to £250,000…

For many, the 675 LT is the pinnacle of McLaren Automotive’s decade, and it isn’t hard to see why. By the launch of the Longtail in 2015, it was clear that McLaren could make some supremely capable supercars. What they lacked, however, was the intangible allure of the very best, the elements that can’t be quantified on a spreadsheet and that make you desperately yearn for a Ferrari or Lamborghini. It’s sense of occasion, for want of a better phrase. The 675LT wanted for almost nothing, and a sense of occasion least of all.

Because unlike the McLarens that had come before (P1 notwithstanding), the Longtail didn’t have to be driven fast to feel exciting. It was brimming with feel and feedback and excitement from the off; it wouldn’t have mattered if the 675 was actually slower than a 650S, because as an experience it was that much more memorable. Handily, the extra power and 100kg weight saving ensured it was monumentally quick as well as endlessly rewarding to drive. Did we mention it looked extraordinary, too?

The LT’s almost peerless reputation, its position as the car by which all future Woking products were to be judged, has worked with limited numbers to ensure values have remained fairly buoyant. There were 500 coupes and 500 Spiders made, of which this must be one of the lowest mileage out there: a Spider registered in 2016 but just 388 miles old. £219,000 buys it, and a lifetime of driving nirvana to boot. Sounds like a good deal to us.

Sky’s the limit…

The McLaren P1 had a mighty task on its hands in 2013. Not only did it have to indirectly succeed the almighty F1, but it also had to announce the still very new McLaren Automotive into the realm of genuine hypercars, having only produced the 12C up to that point. Oh yes, and it had to do so with a hybrid powertrain, at the same time as Porsche and Ferrari were doing exactly the same thing. Did it succeed? Take a guess…

The P1’s numbers look, if anything, even more ridiculous all these years later. As the weight of hybrid systems continue to be pilloried, so the P1’s 1,450kg kerbweight seems all the more impressive. Though ostensibly there to aid the twin-turbo V8, there was even some pure EV range in the P1 – it’s not until almost a decade later that McLaren is doing it again. And, frankly, when every EV hypercar is set to be £2m or more, its £866,000 asking price back then looks positively reasonable.

You’ll pay rather more than that today, which says a lot about the esteem in which the P1 continues to be held. This UK-supplied car in Volcano Orange (as per the P1 at the 2012 Frankfurt show) first hit the road in 2015 and has covered 4,000 miles since then. It’s for sale at £1,294,990 exactly, and will feel like money very wisely invested. And if it doesn’t, then how about a P1 GTR?

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