CHRIS HARRIS VIDEO: MCLAREN 12C SPIDER
Why did the 12C Spider drop its 'MP4'? Harris has the answer!
Until recently I had no idea what the MP4 bit of a McLaren's name actually stood for. As recently as 1997, it actually denoted 'Marlboro' - which hands welcome retrospective support to my choice of cigarette brand around the same time. When McLaren did the 'West' deal in 1997, the 'M' became McLaren. I bought one pack of Wests, nearly hacked up a lung, and thereafter my fag and race team allegiances were forever separated.
I have no idea about the 12 bit. Nor the C. I thought the C was for 'coupe', but this Spider is also a 'C', so that's clearly not the answer.
Just as MP4 is no longer the answer for the road cars, which have now quietly dropped the MP4 part of their names, although it is lightly scattered on the car itself.
What's in a name? Not much for me, so long as it's not called a Dong or a Clack-Valve I couldn't really care. I'm far more interested in the way they drive. And the 12C, after a slightly shaky start, is now something to frazzle your head.
After I shot my home video at Ascari, I drove a Spider back down the Rondaroad into Malaga. Looking back, it's hard to think of a machine that could have covered ground at the same rate - the latest powertrain updates have elevated it to a new level. And I was enjoying myself - managing slip levels, using the steering's altering weight to judge speed and grip - but always being reminded that I was driving a car that feels like no other.
Some people dislike the Proactive chassis and its flat-handling - I think it gives the 12C a character all of its own and, under most conditions, provides the driver with more of everything.