- Available for £309,000
- 4.0-litreV8 petrol twin-turbo, rear-wheel drive
- Ridiculously fast
- Infotainment much better now
- Possibly sub-optimal as a daily
- How many are they building?
‘Champion track day special.’ If that phrase fills you with fear and loathing, skip this story. If, on the other hand, it excites you, step this way please and consider the McLaren 765LT, a true monster car that stakes a pretty convincing claim to this title.
The 765 part of the name referred not only to the maximum power in metric horsepower but also to the number of individually numbered cars that McLaren planned to build for each of the two derivatives, Coupe and Spider. The LT referred to the history of long-tailed McLaren racers that began with the F1 GTR of the 1990s.
The 765 was the third ‘special series’ McLaren to get the LT treatment, and although it doesn’t actually have a long tail, or any sort of tail really if you’re being pedantic about it, it’s the lightweight part of the LT philosophy that counts here and the 765 went a good way along that road. Plenty of effort went into weight saving. The dry-sumped 4.0 litre flat-plane V8 was given LT-specific forged aluminium pistons and the three-layer head gasket from the Senna, whose torque figure of 590lb ft it matched. Formula 1-grade nickel chrome was used for the crown and pinion wheel in the final drive transmission.
The core of the car was a carbon fibre MonoCage II monocoque with aluminium front and rear crash structures. Carbon fibre replaced aluminium in the bumpers, side skirts, front splitter, front floor, rear diffuser and the active rear wing. Even the reg plate holder was made from CF. MSO (McLaren Special Operations) would gladly fit carbon doors, wings, and a front bonnet if the buyer desired, and many did.
The glass in the screen and doors was thinned down, and done away with entirely at the back where the glazed C-pillars, rear screen and engine cover were all made of polycarbonate, although you could ask for a double-glazed ‘engine window’ in the carbon fibre rear upper structure. Titanium was used for the four-outlet exhaust, chopping 40 per cent off the weight of a steel system. Two-position titanium valves were included in the pipework on EU-spec cars.
In the cabin, you got a 0.8mm thick carbon fibre centre tunnel and carbon race seats that were a combined 18kg lighter than the 720S’s sports seats. You could reduce that still further by speccing the Senna’s super-lightweight seats, whose shells each weighed just 3.35kg. They were designed to let low-frequency sounds and ‘feelings’ (let’s not call them vibrations) through to the passengers. Alcantara covered just about every other surface. There were no carpets on the floors. You could have audio and air-con at no additional cost, but you had to ask for them.
It all amounted to a weight of 1,339kg (80kg under the 720S) and a class-leading power-to-weight ratio of 613hp per tonne. Helping to deliver that power were fuel injection and turbo boost pressures that were higher than the 720S’s. Heightening the sensation and indeed reality of the LT’s crazy acceleration – 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds, 0-124mph in 7.2 seconds – was a shortened final drive ratio. This was a new thing for longtail McLarens, contributing to 15 per cent quicker in-gear progress than you got in a 720S, which was an exceptionally rapid vehicle.
Hardcore trackdayists were expected to gravitate to one of the two MSO Clubsport packs, both of which had to be accompanied on your spec sheet by the rear-view camera and sensors. The Clubsport Pack included super lightweight Senna seats, high-performance Senna brake discs, McLaren track telemetry and MSO Defined satin finish visual carbon fibre air vents. The Clubsport Pro Pack added MSO Defined six-point harnesses and a dark titanium harness bar. Of course, you didn’t need a Clubsport Pack to go ballistically quickly in a 765LT. With the standard P Zero Trofeo Rs, Pirelli’s best-performing but still road-legal track day tyre, the LT was the fastest circuit car ever built in Woking.
The Coupe was announced in March 2020, with customer deliveries beginning in October of that year, by which time McLaren was claiming that the 2020 production run had sold out and that expressions of interest for 2021 exceeded the total number of cars available.
A 49kg heavier Spider version was announced in July 2021. With an electrically operated one-piece carbon fibre retractable hard top that deployed in 11 seconds up or down at up to 31mph, but otherwise basically the same overall spec as the Coupe, it was McLaren’s most powerful convertible.
At the time of writing (September 2023) the LT was still available to order on McLaren’s website as a new car in either Coupe or Spider forms. You won’t find the price of a new 2023 car on there. You have to ‘inquire’ and then someone will get back to you. To save you the bother, our investigations suggest that it’s gone up to just over £313k, or around £33k more than the new price in 2020. Options can easily take the price to well north of £400k, however.
Which all leads us to ask what sort of money might be required for a used one. Read on. You might be surprised. You might also want to check out a buying guide we put together on the 720S a little while ago. Much of what’s in there will apply in a general sense to the 765LT. If you’re considering a 765 for your driveway, or more likely craftsman-built oak stable, we suggest you read that in tandem with this piece here to form an overall view.
SPECIFICATION | MCLAREN 765LT (2020-on)
Engine: 3,994cc twin turbo V8
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 765@7,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 590@5,500rpm
0-62mph (secs): 2.8
Top speed (mph): 205
Weight (kg): 1,339 (1,388 Spider)
MPG (official combined): 23
CO2 (g/km): 280
Wheels (in): 9 x 19 (f), 11 x 20 (r)
Tyres: 245/35 (f), 305/30 (r)
On sale: 2020 - on
Price new: £280,000
Price now: from £308,000
ENGINE & GEARBOX
Driving a 765LT to anywhere near its limits places considerably greater demands on the driver’s body and brain than it does on the car. The mix of physical exertion and videogame reactions can become addictive. It picks up speed so quickly, the changeup lights become peripheral and the gaps between paddle-pulls for the next gear seem to be getting disturbingly short. Unlike the videogame, your real-world health depends on you getting everything right. Getting into the zone in one of these has ramifications, and that’s just you on the chippy run. This is a monster of a car.
Prior to the 765LT, if you demanded a downshift that would over-rev the engine the 7-speed SSG trans would simply refuse to do it. On the LT a new ‘limit downshift’ function would allow the box to acknowledge your barmy request and execute it at a point when no mechanical damage would ensue, throwing in a rev-limiter bounce before the next gear engaged for extra fun – or possibly as a reminder that you were doing it wrong.
Supercars generally can react very poorly to a battery that’s anything other than fully charged and McLarens have had their fair share of problems in that regard. Even the new Artura has had a baptism of fire with battery and other issues, leading to delays and recalls. We’re not aware of any recalls for the 765LT but at least one owner has experienced problems with the car being delivered with a ‘check engine’ light and then going into a kind of limp mode when downshifting from 5th, 6th or 7th gear. That owner found that pulling over and putting the car into a sleep cycle for five minutes would clear the problem until they were again cruising in those top three gears and then downshifting, at which point it would go back into slow mode. Another owner responding to the thread reckoned it was faulty turbo inlet pipes, having had these (and the turbos) replaced on his 720. Others have suggested that nothing other than a factory McLaren diagnostic device should be used on these cars, prompting some cynical comments about McLaren’s keenness to keep the independents away from its cars. We’re just reporting here and have no skin in the game.
Anyway, monitoring the health of the battery would be a common sense thing to do. The warranty is three years and unlimited mileage, which is reassuring. Not that anybody will be doing unlimited mileages in one of these.
The official fuel consumption in mixed use was 23mpg but it was easy enough to improve on that on the motorway. The bonkers downforce of the Senna kept its tank range down to as little as 200 miles but the less extreme aerodynamics of the 765LT brought 300 miles within reach.
The 765LT’s front track width was wider than the 720S’s and the front ride height was 5mm lower (the rear was unchanged) for a pointier feel. Its 20 per cent stiffer springs were lighter, with extra ‘helper’ springs to reduce unsprung mass and maintain load on full rebound, and there was recalibration for the linked-hydraulic Proactive Chassis Control II adaptive damping. The standard aero package delivered up to 25 per cent more downforce than the 720’s, the larger three-position active rear wing doubling up as a cooling medium for the LTRs (Low Temperature Radiators).
Inside those Trofeo R tyres (which demanded a degree of care on wet roads) you got ultra-light 10-spoke forged wheels fastened by titanium bolts. The wheel/tyre package saved 22kg on the standard 720S setup. Brakes were carbon ceramic as standard with cooled six- and four-piston calipers.
The key thing to understand about the 765LT was that it wasn’t primarily a drift car. It was a machine for the delivery of serious lap times. Obviously, you could disable all the stability and traction control systems and then you’d be drifting all right but not quite as predictably or benignly as you might be able to do in other cars. To manage LT slip around a beefy corner with everything off you really needed to know what you were doing behind the wheel. There would rarely be a dull moment in the driver’s seat even when you might occasionally want one. There’s always something happening, some feedback coming in from somewhere, especially on bumpy roads – and there aren’t many roads that don’t fall into the bumpy category with this mix of lightness and suspension control.
It’s probably impossible for a normal human being (i.e., not a racer or a McLaren development driver) to process all or even most of the information firing in from every touchpoint, but it’s perfectly possible to let the car gradually teach you its ways and grow your understanding of the car, a potentially very rewarding process.
Although it was categorised as a Longtail, most of the extra length of the LT was actually at the front, with a 48mm nose extension compared to the 9mm extra added by the bigger rear wing. A front lift system was available at extra cost.
The standard paint choice in 2020 was 17 colours wide, with another 17 MSO Defined hues on offer, or any colour you liked via an MSO Bespoke commission. In 2023, black, white and silver were the default no-cost paint finishes, with five other colours – Silica White, Sicilian Yellow, Luminaire (a mid green), Curacao Blue and the classic McLaren Orange – available on special order.
From the outset the bonnet could be in body colour or in carbon fibre (body colour or gloss black). In fact, just about any panel or aero part including the door uppers could be in gloss black carbon. You could also specify a functional MSO Defined engine cooling roof scoop, or ‘snorkel’ as it’s often called, in either black or carbon fibre. You had to have the double-glazed rear window first though.
The proximity alarm, which you might see as essential for cars like this, has gained a reputation for over-sensitivity.
You didn’t get into the stripped-back cabin of a 765LT to have a civilised conversation with your passenger. That simply wasn’t going to happen. Long-distance comfort wasn’t going to be high up on the agenda if you went for the super-lightweight Senna seats. Some cars on the used market have had the less Spartan CF ‘touring’ seats from the P1 fitted. These look a bit comfier. Such a car was available on PH Classifieds at the time of writing. We’ll link you to it in the Verdict.
As mentioned earlier the lightweight in every sense 4-speaker AM/FM/DAB audio was a request option, but if you wanted to hear a reasonable level and standard of music as well as mechanical noise and weren’t that fanatical about weight saving a gen-two McLaren Super Series system by Bowers & Wilkins could be shoved in at cost.
Luggage capacity was better than you might think, with 150 litres up front and 210 litres on the rear deck, but obviously you needed to be a bit choosy about what you put up there if your car had the engine viewing window.
McLaren Automotive's then-CEO Mike Flewitt described the 765LT as ‘the most accomplished and exhilarating LT model ever… (a car) developed with single-minded determination to deliver a wholly immersive driving experience.’
Some thought the McLaren was too fast for public roads, but as they say, the throttle goes both ways. Ferrari’s F8 Tributo arguably sounded better than the LT and the 488 Pista is another obvious alternative. Either Ferrari would probably seem like a better all-round choice, but whether either would be as clinically effective as the McLaren around a track is a decision we’ll leave to those who have driven all of these amazing cars. With luck, there’ll be someone like that on the thread.
Same goes for the choice between a 765LT and a 720S, or indeed a 765LT and a 750S. The 765 is more daily-able than the Senna but less so than the 720/750. How do you choose between models, though, when all of them are extreme, with some being slightly more extreme than others? Some say that even a 570S is more car than anyone would ever realistically need. Is the compression of the McLaren range going to become an issue? Is it already?
Which brings us to the question of value retention. The most affordable used LT we found on sale at the time of writing in autumn 2023 was a tenner under £309,000, which sounds like they’re holding their value pretty well, but then you see that you could get a 30,000 mile 720S off PH Classifieds for under £123,000 (more than £20k less than the cheapest one we found for our 720S buying guide two years ago) or a 10,000-mile 720S for under £137,000.
Rarity is always going to play a part in determining supercar values, and over-production will affect that. The 765 number relates to the number of 765s that could end up being built, but as we understand it that’s 765 Coupes and 765 Spiders, not 765 cars altogether. If we’re right there, then the 765LT is never going to be a rare car.
Nonetheless, some vendors are asking £375k or more for cars that have had more of the option boxes ticked. You can get better value at the ‘cheap’ end of the market. Here’s that P1-chaired car we mentioned in the Interior section. It’s only done 2,000 miles and has a nice spec list including nose lift, engine window, a goodly chunk of carbon and stealthy grey paint. Seems like decent value at just under £313k.
Here’s a 4,000-mile roof snorkel car in Macca orange with the engine window and Senna brakes at £309.950. Interestingly we see that this 2021 car is 184 of 765. Read into that what you will in regards to how close McLaren might be to hitting the coupe production ceiling.
This was one of three Spiders on PH in Sept ’23, a ’22 car with 4,000 miles. Again it has the P1 ‘touring’ seats and a whole lot more besides, including B&W sound. Rather lovely in Kilo Grey but you’ll practically need a kilo of gold to buy it at £365k. The dearest 765LT was another open top, this 451-miler again from 2022 at £389,900. The plaque on that one says it’s no. 337 of 765. Will it sell at that money? Hmm, you be the judge.
There’s a lot of stuff in that 720S guide and in the forum for it that touches on McLaren’s relationship with its owners and with marque specialists outside the main dealer network. We’re not making any particular point other than to say it’s worth a read.
It would be reasonable to think that someone considering a 765LT purchase could check out an owner’s club website. The UK McLaren Owners Club describes itself as a friendly community but it is not an inclusive one if you don’t own a McLaren. To view any of the site beyond the landing page you need to join the club, and to do that you have to send them proof of McLaren ownership in the form of an image of your V5 or purchase invoice. They do have a Facebook presence but there’s practically no activity on it. Fortunately, there is a non-exclusive global owners club for you to look at before taking the plunge.
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