When people started trying to go faster than the McLaren F1,” said the legendary supercar’s creator Gordon Murray, “Paul Rosche, who is, I think, one of the best engine designers on the planet, actually asked me, ‘Are you interested in going faster?’ I said, ‘Not really, but why did you ask?’ to which he answered, ‘Well, I know the crank and the heads on the engine are good for a thousand horsepower. If you want top speed, I’ll put four turbos on it and you can have a thousand horsepower quite safely.’ I then did some calculations and worked out the car would do about 450kph or something ridiculous like that…”
In this wheels interview with Murray a few years back that we just dug up, the South-African born former Formula 1 engineer revealed how many different variations of powerplant were discussed for the McLaren F1, and how highly he prioritised specific power per litre, throttle response, and natural aspiration. Only BMW’s ‘Camshaft Paul’ Rosche stepped up with a 618bhp 6.1-litre V12, an engine that went on to power both this unlikely road-going hero to Le Mans victories against racing prototype rivals, and the F1 to record-setting production vehicle speeds of over 390kph.
It wasn’t until 2005’s quad-turbo, 16-cylinder, eight-litre monster from Molsheim that the record was finally broken.
Murray continued, “I still think Paul’s McLaren F1 engine, that V12 S70 engine, is probably the best sportscar engine ever made.”
And now 25 years after the F1 hit the road in 1992, BMW and McLaren are back at it again. The Woking supercar manufacturer has had quite a year, nearly doubling its sales volume with a total of just short of 3,300 cars delivered; 2016 was also the company’s third consecutive profitable year and remember, it only began with the 2011 MP4-12C. Keeping the momentum is a six-year plan for 15 new cars between now and 2022.
Now according to a new partnership announced between McLaren and BMW some of those cars just might link back to the F1, particularly when we consider the collaboration aims to develop new internal combustion technologies to deliver the highest horsepower per litre possible. Sound familiar?
The next-generation powertrain project McLaren and BMW are working on also includes huge strives for CO2 reductions, supported by other partners such as the UK government, and McLaren’s current engine manufacturer Ricardo, plus lightweight composite specialists Grainger & Worrall, and Formula 1 parts supplier Lentus Composites.
Woking will begin its 15-vehicle onslaught next month at the Geneva motor show with the second-generation Super Series model, claiming “the widest breadth of dynamic ability of any McLaren.”
The car will premiere a next-gen carbon-fibre monocoque tub as well as new chassis electronics with 12-extra sensors around the vehicle. And if you want to channel your inner Chris Goodwin, McLaren will be throwing in another must-have trendy feature, variable drift control.