2011 McLaren MP4-12C (ex. Lewis Hamilton)
Engine: 3.8 litre V8 Twin Turbo
Transmission: 7 Speed DCT
Mileage: 8,000 km
Exterior: Volcano Red
Interior : Harissa Red leather / Black Alcantara
Engine No. -
Location: Cote d’Azur, France
The MP4-12C was the first of the new generation of McLaren road cars which started in conception in the early 2000s. The genesis of the car was codenamed Project 8, the first concept was powered by a Mercedes 5.5L V8 and featured shared components with the Mercedes Benz Family. Project 8 was then evolved into Project 11 in 2005 and still planned to use the larger naturally aspirate engine and other Mercedes Benz components until a few years into the development when McLaren chose to take a new direction and develop its own powertrain and electrical systems, more suited the the high objectives the project had. The car was re-styled by contracted designers in house from Pininfarina and re-packaged into what eventually became the MP4-12C. The philosophy was simple: Using a Formula One approach to create a car which challenged the usual compromises that supercars were perceived to have. Comfort and the expense of performance, usability, efficiency and the list goes on. The technological tour de force that became was the MP4-12C did exactly this.
Launched to the world in September 2009, the highly anticipated first 'volume' production road car was met with some mixed emotions. Good was the potential of the technology and specification of the car itself. A new technology in Carbon chassis manufacture meant the 12C was the first car to have a carbon fibre chassis in its segment, making it light and stiff with the usual ride and handling benefits, not to mention safety. An incredible novel hydraulic suspension gave the car incredible handling and comfort thanks to its variable roll stiffness and ability to de-couple this when necessary. The race derived M838T 3.8 litre twin turbo charged engine produced 600 horsepower and had huge torque benefits while able to rev to 8,500 rpm, not seen before in turbo charged engines in the segment at the time. The car was compact and light yet spacious and accommodating with a class leading luggage capacity. It was the car that could do all without compromise. These technological and technical features would underpin every single McLaren road car for the next decade, including the P1, and it all began with the 12C.
Less well received was the name, and the styling. Next to the highly creased Ferrari 458 the car looked soft and dated. The design brief was to be timeless, taking cues from the McLaren F1 road car while having a high priority on visibility and ergonomics. Form followed function. To us, it succeeded, the car has aged wonderfully and is timeless, possibly the prettiest McLaren road car of the new generation. Initial press reviews were also mixed. Some incredible and the performance of the 12C destroyed everything in its segment and challenged the cars of the segment above, however was deemed lacking in emotion. This was not surprising, the car was often assessed over a short period where it's full character and range of performance could not be appreciated completely. The Ferrari 458 to which it was mostly compared to was a car designed for an hours experience and to sell within 10 minutes of a test drive. Hence the emotion from starting the engine, incredibly direct steering and that incredible noise and emotive gearshifts meant it did exactly that. Next to it, the MP4-12C felt a little soft, too digital ... perhaps too good. But those who owned or lived with a 12C for a longer period would learn to understand that this car was enormously capable and gave a lot of driving pleasure. The powertrain may not have been as emotional but it was devastatingly effective. The steering feel was second to none and the ride and handling was simply hard to comprehend with its 'magic carpet' ride. The more you drove it the more you understood and learned it, unlike the 458 which was more of a mono-dimensional experience.
The first cars were commercialised delivered to customers in 2011 plagued by the delays often encountered by a new car production of a completely new ground up vehicle. Demand was very high, but the delays meant that the order bank could not be maintained and eventually cars were harder to sell. This was mostly due to the simple nature of a very small retailer network for both sales and service. Hard to develop a large network with low volume, hard to generate volume with a restricted network. This would take time, but what it meant is that the coupe version of the 12C was produced without a spider for a very restricted time, hence is rarer. The 12C Spider was launched in 2012 and came with 625 horsepower as well as some subtle modifications such as the addition of door buttons following some criticism to the original 'hand swipe' function the first coupes. The horsepower upgrade was offered to all coupes produced to date free of charge, an initiative welcomed by all owners.
Possibly one of the most desirable examples of the MP4-12C is this very car which was delivered and importantly registered to the now 7 time World Formula 1 champion, Sir Lewis Hamilton. The car was originally destined for Switzerland where Lewis resided at the time but following his relocation to Monte Carlo, the car was swiftly shipped from Switzerland to Monaco where the first registration was made to Lewis on xx.xx.12. The configuration is unique, and was configured by Lewis at the factory in front of the cameras alongside Jenson Button. Both their configurations were kept on the on line configurator allowing people to use them as base configurations, although it is unlikely any other car was built to this exact specification. The car was used by Lewis Hamilton in Monaco, and was also seen in Cannes with Lewis as he featured in a music video with a friend: Swizz Beatz. When Lewis Hamilton announced his departure from the team in 2012, the car was eventually sold to a new local client. Interestingly, all cars since these initial Jenson and Lewis 12C coupes were no longer registered to the drivers, McLaren opting to keep the cars registered to the factory and loaning the cars to drivers instead.
Lewis configured his car in an elite paint finish: Volcano Red. Simply stunning in any light, this colour was created to sit alongside the Volcano Orange launch colour and has a molten lava effect. The car has never been repainted therefore showing a uniform finish. There is every conceivable carbon fibre exterior option (front spoiler, diffuser, mirror casings), in addition to Stealth pack and optional 5 spoke wheels finished in Satin dark grey. The tinted windows were a post factory modification, of course requested by Lewis.
This very early car has indeed the swipe door feature, something that in the future may distinguish collector 12Cs in a similar way to Monospecchio Testarossa's or a periscopio Countach. A desirable anomaly for some very early cars, which was part of the original conception of the vehicle before changes were made. This also means that this car was indeed built at the Formula 1 headquarters of McLaren (MTC), some 20 metres from where Lewis' Formula 1 car was built, before production was shifted to the new dedicated facility (MPC).
Inside, the cabin is configured in a very original Harissa Red and Black Alcantara combination. There is carbon fibre on the sill and wheel arch panels, as well as on the back of the electric and heated sports seats. The trim within the cabin however was specified in satin aluminium finish to lighten and give some nice contrast. The car is very tastefully specified by Lewis, fitting with sense of style circa 2011. There is also carbon fibre specified in the engine bay. This car has every option available at the time, with the exception of the interior trim and steering wheel which were not configured in carbon fibre finish.
It must have been pretty cool to drive a road car knowing that the steering wheel had been modelled from your actual Formula one car (increased to compensate for the gloves)...a privilege he has not had in any other road car since!
This is a unique opportunity to acquire a genuine piece of McLaren history and a car owned by arguably one of the greatest drivers to race in Formula One. It is in exceptional condition, regularly maintained within the McLaren network and has only covered an average of 700km per year. The 12C is unique in many ways, it was the engineers' McLaren, before marketeers and press feedback steered the direction of the products, for better or for worst, this alongside the Mclaren P1, were the McLaren Road cars in their purest form. Available for viewing in the South of France, the Garage du Panorama is proud to offer such a rare product. Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.