A motorcycle is said to give a bigger thrill than a car as you are more exposed to the elements along with a more visceral experience. The McLaren Elva begs to differ as it pushes the boundaries of what a sports car can do along with blurring the lines between an open-top sports car and a performance motorcycle. If you haven’t noticed, the most defying characteristic of the Elva is that there is no roof or even a windscreen…
It is the most exclusive McLaren and the cherry on top of the “Ultimate Series”. It is the first open-cockpit road car and follows the previous “extreme” McLaren’s like the McLaren P1TM, McLaren Senna, and Speedtail. Also, tough luck finding one on the roads since it is limited to just 399 units with most of them stored and locked away in temperature-controlled garages. That said, there is plenty to talk about the Elva and its origins.
The name has a past too with the Bruce McLaren-designed M1A and McLaren-Elva M1A [Mk I], M1B [Mk II], and M1C [Mk III] of the 1960s being the inspiration. Hence the level of performance and the car’s devotion to it is akin to a racing car. Just like a racing car, you get a bespoke carbon fiber chassis and a body but with no roof, no windscreen, and no side windows. As with any McLaren, the engine is a 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 that is found on the Senna plus it has been wound up to match the exotic looks. Speaking of which the design is as low-slung and stunning as you get with a long body and pronounced fenders sitting pretty on it. Everything is carbon-fiber and if you are worried about your expensive hairstyle getting destroyed; McLaren says that the upper cabin wraps around the driver and passenger to provide a secure environment. If you are not brave enough, a factory-fitted windscreen is also available as an option.
There is plenty of engineering witchcraft on offer with the Elva since it debuts the “Active Air Management System” The system channels air through the nose of the Elva to come out of the front clamshell at high velocity ahead of the occupants before being directed up over the cockpit to create a relative ‘bubble’ of calm. The system comprises a large central inlet situated above the splitter, a front clamshell outlet vent, and a discreet carbon fiber deflector that raises and lowers vertically; when the AAMS is active, the deflector is deployed at the leading edge of the bonnet outlet, rising 150mm into the freestream to create a low-pressure zone at the vent.
The vented air is directed through a 130-degree radius, using a network of transverse and longitudinally mounted carbon fiber vanes across the bonnet outlet; distributing the airflow both in front of and along the side of the cabin further assists air management in the cabin environment. At urban speeds, when the level of airflow into the cabin means the AAMS is not needed, the system is inactive. As vehicle speed increases, the AAMS automatically deploys and remains active until speed reduces, at which point the deflector retracts. The system can also be button-deactivated by the driver.
The interior has bespoke seats and a steering wheel that houses most of the controls so that the drivers do not have to remove their hands off the steering. All the 399 customers can further personalize their car while also fitting in an audio system since the car does not come with one in the first place to save weight!
That said, you can spec it with a gloss visual carbon fiber body, which exposes not only the carbon fiber body panels but also the twill of the composite material. McLaren Special Operations can also develop a bespoke tint for the exterior or interior carbon fiber.
There is also the option of 18ct white gold or platinum badges that feature a TPT inlay. Thin-ply technology carbon (or TPT for short) is formed from multiple ultra-thin carbon layers just 30 microns in depth. Positioned at a 45-degree angle, when gently milled they produce a shimmering surface that resembles flowing water. Additionally, MSO offers a 24ct gold engine bay heat shield!
The Elva is a wonderful addition to any car collector’s garage being a special McLaren as it is sprinkled with some history and the most exotic materials/design that it can muster. Hence, its $2 million price feigns into insignificance being dwarfed by the other-worldly charm which the Elva so very well exudes.