Nothing gets the internet more heated up than the arrival of a new – *ahem – hypercar. What’s more, if it is from that purveyor of excellence, McLaren. Possibly spurred by the P1’s failure to become the big cajones at the Nürburgring, the Woking-based manufacturer is back with what they tout as the ultimate track-ready road-legal car that they have ever created. And to top it off, they christened it the Senna, the ultimate spellbinding track-maestro to have ever helmed a car.
Limited to just 500 units, all of which are spoken for as expected, the Senna also happens to be the lightest McLaren since the F1 at 1,198kg dry and armed with the most powerful iteration of McLaren’s 4-litre twin-turbo V8 that cranks out a wholesome 800PS. The numbers, the name, the description simply stirs my soul and my private parts.
Pity I can’t say the same about its looks.
Just when McLaren Automotive was starting to get a grasp of penning great supercar designs with the 650LT and 720S, the Senna looks like a poor photocopy of a Glickenhaus SCG003S, with the wing of an LMS car oddly plastered to its back.
Due to various concerns, such as packaging and aerodynamic requirements, track-focused cars aren’t meant to look pretty, as exemplified by Gumpert’s Apollo. But it isn’t an excuse either, as demonstrated by other prettier track-going machines such as the Aston Martin’s Vulcan and upcoming Valkyrie, the Pagani Zonda R, and McLaren’s own P1 GTR. They might have giant wings and aesthetic ruining aerodynamic boards to generate all that sweet downforce, but the resulting car can still sport a rocking bod.
Perhaps it is the name, as cars that are named after prominent people don’t usually end up looking good.
The Ferrari Enzo, for example, looked like a UFO when it first came out in 2002, and 15 years down the road it still does. Its striking, sure, but strangely emotionless; it’s an insectoid alien that descended from the skies and continues to look out of place in this day and age.
Even Bugatti’s Veyron and Chrion aren’t exactly pageantry material, though its beefcake shape had something to do with Ferdinand Piëch’s methodology of screwing with his engineers by freezing the Veyron’s design while engineers were still working out how to keep the damn thing cooled and sleek enough to reach its power and top speed targets.
But if there is one tribute car to really take home the “Paper Bag Over the Head” award, it is Ford, who decided to gun for Cadillac’s luxury car market by creating a brand that was christened in honour of its founder’s son, Edsel. A rather inglorious fate for the man who was responsible for two all-American icons, the Lincoln Zephyr and Continental, and expanding Ford overseas.
The only exception to the rule was the Ferrari Dino, which was named after Old Man Ferrari’s tragic son. Though that being said, Enzo was still around to ensure that the cars that bore his name looked beautiful to his eye, and if we are to be specific, his son’s name was actually Alfredo.