McLaren Automotive, often shortened to simply McLaren came into the automobile market relatively recently, in the year 1989. The company creates high-performing race cars and production cars, and it bases all of its designs on technologies used by Formula One Racing. McLaren is a McLaren Group spinoff, and it works closely with McLaren Racing, which is more predominantly concerned with Formula One cars.
Ford Motor Company really led the way in placing McLaren deep within the established industry. In 1980, Ford announced it would be forming a Special Vehicle Operations division to create performance cars that would compete in, and win, races. In the latter part of 1980, Ford showcased the first vehicle with the McLaren name attached: the M81 Mustang. It was a hatchback that could be easily converted for racing. The M81 sported such features as hood scoop, German alloy wheels, and a race-ready modified suspension. It was full of Ford styling and race-car performance and was originally slated to only be produced in 250 units. The Mustang featured 175 horsepower (or 130 kilowatts), and had a price of $25,000. The McLaren was actually only produced in 10 units (including the original).
McLaren's first auto was named the McLaren F1. The F1 is still one of the most popular McLaren cars ever built. A sporty supercar that zoomed from zero-to-sixty in only three seconds, it had the honor of being the world's quickest car for several years, and it featured a high speed of slightly more than 240 mph. With an outrageous price of 640,000 UK Pounds, or about $1,150,000 in American dollars, the three-seat coupe vehicle was a sight to behold. The F1 driver sat in the middle of the vehicle and held a V12 egine that produced 627 bhp, or 468 kilowatts. It was designed and constructed by BMW.
The F1 began its first production cycle in 1992, with the LM model later released in 1995, and the GT model two years later in 1997. Production was ceased in 1998, at which point a hundred F1s had been produced. There were also several variants of the F1, including the 5 LM, 9 GTR96, 9 GTR95, 10 GTR97, and the 64 F1 street car. A race variant, the McLaren F1 GTR was produced using the road car as a model, and it certainly proved its worth during many 1995 GT races, as well as the Le Mans 24 Hours race. Until 2005, the F1 was the fastest production car, at which point it was replaced by McLaren competitors' vehicles. The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 replaced the McLaren, as did the SSC Ultimate Aero TT.
The McLaren Mercedes MP4/98T is another famous McLaren vehicle. It was first released in 1998 in Australia at the start of the Grand Prix season that year. This McLaren is a race car that allows for a passenger to sit directly behind the driver while he is racing. Currently, McLaren has several projects "in the works," including the construction of the MP4-12C, a new sports car that will succeed the F1.