It was the biggest purchase decision I’ve ever made, not just monetarily, but also the biggest proof that I’m completely insane. Even though it recently needed its third transmission in two years, and despite the fact that I was given no estimate for when the job would be completed, I handed over $105,000 for a very broken 2012 McLaren MP4-12C, and waited patiently. Nearly two months later, my supercar finally arrived home, and the wait was definitely worth it — almost.
For those who don’t remember, I didn’t intend on buying a broken McLaren on purpose. The seller had a factory extended warranty on the car, and wanted everything to be perfect before the sale. A scratching noise during shifts had the seller concerned enough to have it checked out during its annual service, which was also due — and with no way to repair the transmission internally, the only option was to replace it. The good news was this massively expensive job was covered under warranty, but the bad news was there were no replacement transmissions available in the U.S. I had to wait for a transmission to be built in England, but even after it arrived, there were even more delays, and apparently I was the cause of them.
I was told the dealer wanted to jump right in with the repair as soon as the transmission arrived, but my previous videos had raised some questions at McLaren with the warranty. They wanted to make sure the issues were apparent before the sale of the car, and that the sale was conditional on the transmission being performed before the warranty repair was authorized. I’m really thankful that the service department in McLaren North Jersey was patient enough to go through this process — and after only a week delay, the transmission swap was performed very quickly.
The technician was very familiar with the car, since it was not only the second transmission that he’s replaced in the car (the first was due to a non-repairable leak), but he also had replaced the engine recently. In addition to several other repairs, the extended warranty had saved the owner more than $150,000 over the course of two years. Obviously, the $4,000 cost to renew the warranty annually was well worth it, and the previous owner was able to transfer the remainder of the warranty to me. I can continue to renew this extended warranty until the McLaren is 10 years old, and has 75,000 miles — and I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night without it.
So it really is the perfect car for me — and it’s not just because I can satisfy my automotive masochism without wrecking my finances with repair bills. The main reason this car is so finicky, other than being British, is because it does what no supercar has ever done before. It offers all the excitement you could ever want with a supercar, but also feel like a usable vehicle you would actually want to drive every day.
In terms of performance, this car is certainly a marvel. The twin-turbo V8 sends this car to 60 miles per hour in three seconds, and has quarter-mile times in the 10s — which easily clobbers the Ferrari 458 Italia. I have crazy butterfly doors, unlike the 458 and the Lamborghini Huracan, as well as active aerodynamics. Unfortunately, I can’t even come close to feeling the full performance potential of this car — not only because it would be totally illegal on public roads, but also because the winter weather here in Wichita, Kansas makes it even more dangerous. Unlike most supercars, though, this car is actually just as enjoyable to drive normally.
In automatic mode, the dual clutch transmission is smooth and effortless. The engine is actually quiet and smooth, and the seats are very adjustable and insanely comfortable. The most impressive part, though has to be the suspension, which is an active, computer controlled hydraulic system — and which, in normal mode, almost gives this McLaren a luxury car ride. The Iris infotainment system also rivals or even beats most overly complicated systems in luxury cars as well.
So I’m very satisfied with my McLaren purchase now that it’s here — except that the check engine light has already popped on. It still drives fine, fortunately, but the honeymoon was way too short, especially when you consider the closest McLaren dealer for a warranty repair is over 300 miles away. Oh, well …