Chris Harris video: McLaren 12C Spider

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.

The new Spider tested, the Harris way
The new Spider tested, the Harris way
The 'P4' bit stands for Project Four, which was the name of Ron Dennis's race team at the time he took equity in McLaren.

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.

Enjoy the vid!



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Comments (110) Join the discussion on the forum

  • bennno 25 Nov 2012

    Been out in one of the first Spiders today, had a few quick cars in my time (GTR, Early 4.5 Cerb) but this thing was something else - most impressive was how solid it felt and how well it rode suspension on it is impressive almost beyond the ballistic performance. Now all I need is the £200k to buy one.

  • tony993 28 Oct 2012

    You will enjoy your Silverstone experience. I filled a spare place on a friend’s corporate entertainment day there recently. Their 360s were really well prepared & the instructors at Silverstone are very good. I thought they’d be telling me to change up at 5k but they didn’t & I had a lot of fun.

    AMV8V: Best looking modern car. & I love the size of these (quite small compared to other modern stuff). I have only driven one once & it was better than I expected on twisty B roads but I should think its weight will hinder it on track.

  • Chilliman 28 Oct 2012

    tony993 said:
    Chilliman. Get yourself a 360. As a long term Ferrari owner I can report to you that whereas a greater proportion of Ferrari owners are bell ends than the population as a whole, it’s nowhere near 50%.

    Even if you don’t like your 360, you’ll be able to spend the rest of your life with the satisfaction of knowing you had one and it didn't suit you for whatever reason.

    Do what I did. Get a black one. They’re less shouty and more fun to drive than one in look-at-me- everybody red with disgusting cream interior.

    Back on topic: great work, Chris. The home video qualities did not spoil it for me at all.

    I have been lucky enough to drive a 12C on several occasions & they’re great cars. I’d far rather have one of these than a 458. I’m really looking forward to the P13.
    tony993 thanks for your advice, It's appreciated and I know you're absolutely spot on with it. Black one you say? I have a few laps booked at Silverstone (birthday prezzie) in a 360 and an AMV8V, and looking forward to it rather alot smile I'm guessing the the 360 will be a tad quicker on track than the Aston? wink



  • Don1 28 Oct 2012

    Was that a little pop-up box at the start? A 911? Nice little dig. hehe

  • Cobnapint 28 Oct 2012

    Chilliman said:
    DonkeyApple said:
    Verde said:
    But I shudder at the thought of one day joining the Ferrari lifestyle. The buying process, service visits, other owners, Ferrari get-togethers and pose-a-thons. I run in to a lot of Ferrari owners and few are the ones with whom I'd want to spend time.
    rofl that's a disgraceful view. wink

    Ferrari merchandise can be very useful as it is a pretty good indicator of who to swerve. Like a fit girl having gonorrhoea stamped on her forehead.
    These are the things that are stopping me from buying a 360. I need one in my life, but would probably even think of myself as a knob. It was a boyhood dream to own a Ferrari, how sad its come to this frown
    Yes, this (along with the piss-take servicing costs) was one of the things that diverted me from Ferrari towards Porsche.

    I'd have had to drive up the high street with a paper bag on my head in case anybody recognised me.

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