Getting a McLaren P1: What It's Like to Purchase a Hypercar
I’ve purchased a decent number of cars in my life, but I have yet to buy a hypercar.
What is a hypercar?
It’s the next level above “supercar” – more rare than the Lamborghini Aventadors and Ferrari 458’s and F12’s. It’s the flagships of these brands – the ones so exclusive, they’re often spoken for before they’re even released.
I have 1.15M reason$ that I haven’t purchased one yet, and I’d venture to guess that most enthusiasts are in the same boat.
It’s not like you finance or lease these kinds of cars... right? Can you just drop into a local dealer and pick one up? Is there a brochure that shows all the highlights?
I reached out to my friend Nick Jones, General Sales Manager at McLaren Newport Beach to get the scoop on purchasing a McLaren P1, part one of the holy trinity of hypercars available today.
“Albert, you know they’re all sold out...”
I knew this. Actually, a few of my friends were part of the lucky 130 in the U.S. to receive an allocation.
“Let’s just say I’m interested, regardless.”
“Swing by when you can.”
Nick was kind enough to walk me through the process – an amazing experience that brings you into the family of McLaren and their amazing vehicles.
So here's what it takes to buy a hypercar and why it’s so special:
1. First off, you have to apply for the P1.
Interested enthusiasts provide a list of vehicles they’ve owned for submission along with some other details about themselves, their profession, if there are any other McLaren vehicles on their list, etc.
This allows McLaren to ward off the car collectors and flippers who wouldn’t be using the car as it was intended. McLaren really wants its potential P1 owners to drive and enjoy the vehicle, rather than have it sit as one in a collection.
Would my list of 18 cars ranging from a 93 MR-2 Turbo to the Audi R8 make the cut? I didn’t ask.
2. Along with the application of interest, a first deposit of $120K is required.
After receiving acceptance into the P1 program, your first gift is a framed Yellow P1 lithograph. Limited to 375 prints (same build quantity as the vehicle), customized gifts from McLaren will continue throughout your P1 purchasing experience.
3. Within 20 days, the next deposit of $240K is due and is non-refundable.
This is your commitment to the P1 platform, locking in your spot for P1 production.
4. This also locks in a trip to Woking, England, where the McLaren factory headquarters are located.
A trip to the McLaren factory is absolutely worth the price of admission (at this point, $360K). It’s the ultimate villain’s-lair-meets-Willy-Wonka facility, and the absolutely perfect presentation point to welcome P1 owners.
5. The facility and tour is broken down into three divisions:
MTC (McLaren Technology Centre)
Allows P1 owners to discuss ideas about the vehicle directly with engineers.
This is a true one-on-one experience with the geniuses behind the technology that drives the P1. Theory behind the vehicle’s inner workings and foundation can be discussed at length. A tour of the facility also includes an amazing walk past the trophy case celebrating all of McLaren’s wins.
MSO (McLaren Special Operations)
All bespoke options are shown here, from 24K gold heatshields to personalized colors named after your name... (Yes, I was hoping for an “AlberBlau” [Albert Blue] for my upcoming Sports Series.)
Are you looking for additional carbon fiber accents or custom livery? MSO will take care of it for you. MSO is also where you can touch and see available options as well as anything you can think up.
The sky is the limit.
MPC (McLaren Production Centre)
You’ll see the actual assembly line and dyno testing for McLaren vehicles.
There’s a surgical cleanliness to the facility (the entire McLaren headquarters, actually) with its stark white tiles and walls. Carbon tubs and chassis are neatly lined up, awaiting engines, doors and the like.
6. While at the MTC, you’ll be brought into a room which was previously known as the “SLR” room or “Back of the house” room.
You’re led to this room via a long hallway, which appears to have no doors. With all white cabinetry surrounding you, you sit on a white couch and begin watching an amazing P1 video – the car ripping up corners around a track.
The excitement builds.
As the end of the movie nears, the P1 is revving thunderously, the sound reverberating loudly throughout the room. Then walls slide open to reveal a real P1 with a driver revving the engine.
Now that’s how you introduce a Hypercar!
7. The following day you’re brought to the Dunsfold Aerodrome to drive the P1 on the track with McLaren Team instructors.
(You'll understand what I'm talking about if you watch Top Gear.)
This is a full day of hard driving, getting to know the car, asking questions directly to the drivers and engineers as well as getting in a few hotlaps to top off the day.
According to McLaren, the P1 wasn’t built to be the best track car or road car, but rather the best sportscar in the world – the best of all worlds. With the push of a button you could hit the track; and with another push, you could drive comfortably home.
Not a bad way to end your trip to England.
8. Once you’ve locked in your specifications, the next gift to arrive is a sample of the paint chosen for your P1.
Upon your approval, a heavy 1:32 scale mold of a P1, painted in your color will be delivered to your doorstep. The bottom of the mold includes the chassis number as well as your name.
9. As your car awaits completion, you’re given yet another gift, a Yellow P1.
This time a 1:8 scale model limited to – you guessed it – 375 pieces.
10. You’ll also be contacted by McLaren Financial as to how you’d like to take care of the remainder due towards your P1.
Lease options and additional financing is available. Once your P1 is complete and ready for delivery, you can pay an additional fee for airfreight or stick with the standard delivery direct to your local McLaren Dealer.
11. Formal delivery of the P1 takes place at the showroom.
Complete with a walkthrough of the vehicle, a maiden drive and your final gift – a carbon fiber box that holds your access keys to the P1.
Not your typical car purchase, not your typical delivery and of course – not your typical car.
This is a hypercar after all. Not all purchase experiences are created equal.
There's a lot more to learn about this hypercar. Another visit to McLaren Newport Beach provided us with 8 facts about the McLaren P1 you won't find on Wikipedia.
Most of us will never buy a hypercar, but for some, maybe an exotic is a more attainable dream, so check out our Buyer's Guide to Your First Exotic.