Fun Stuff

Find of the Week: 2019 McLaren Senna

The Find of the Week this week is a bit pricey, but not without reason, and timely given the recent Canadian Grand Prix. It's an extremely limited edition of a car that was designed and built by a Formula 1 race team to honour one of its greatest drivers. It's the McLaren Senna, in a brilliant colour scheme.

McLaren Automotive started as a part of McLaren Racing, a Formula 1 team founded back in 1963. Founder Bruce McLaren, a New Zealander, had been a successful driver for the Cooper team in F1, but a dispute over wanting to race in a series back home lead to him splitting with that team and starting his own.

The team first entered F1 in 1966, and it took two years for the first win. Since then, the team has gone on to post 12 driver's championships, eight constructor's titles, 155 poles, and a massive 182 wins.

On the road car side, McLaren started with a bang. The V12-powered, 320 km/h-plus top speed, three seat original hypercar: the McLaren F1. Then there was a collaboration with Mercedes-Benz that resulted in the Mercedes-built SLR McLaren.

But the brand wanted more. So they relaunched as a standalone automaker and built the 12C, followed by the P1. The automaker puts out a new model every year, and it didn't take long before they reached back into company history for a tribute.

One of the team's most successful Formula 1 drivers was Ayrton Senna, who won the title for the team three times, in 1988, 1990, and 1991. This car was built as a tribute to the great Brazilian driver.

The Senna was a car targeted at the track. The automaker called it "the purest connection between car and driver" and labelled it as "the most track-focused car we have ever built." The mission for the Senna was to let a driver be as fast as they can possibly be.

It started with an all-carbon monocoque chassis. Based on the one used in the McLaren 720s, but highly modified for this application. McLaren calls it the Monocage III and says it's the strongest they've ever built for a road legal car. Added to that is a body made entirely from carbon fibre.

And what a body it is. Aggressive, stunning, and functional, it makes the car look like nothing else on the road, but it also offers impressive aerodynamics. Up to 800 kg of downforce at 250 km/h gives it massive road holding capability. Fitted with all of that carbon fibre, along with an exhaust made from titanium and ultralight Inconel, the car weighs in at under 1,200 kg.

That maximum downforce comes only in Race mode, where the suspension lowers and the active aerodynamic elements move to trade grip for all else. The rear wing moves again under braking, helping to slow the car more quickly and with more stability. The company says that makes it easier to place the car in the right spot at corner turn-in.

Powering the Senna is a 4.0L twin-turbo V8. With 789 hp, 590 lb-ft of torque, and 0-200 km/h in just 6.8 seconds. Quicker than most vehicles hit half that speed.

It's a car designed to hold two race suits and helmets, letting you drive it to and from the track. There aren't many cars where that's on the list of considerations, let alone on the design objectives.

With the intent of creating the ultimate driver's car, McLaren also strictly limited production. Just 500 are to be built, all sold a year before production even began.

Which makes this car, for sale in Oakville, ON, a very rare beast. After all, of that 500, how many even made it to Canada? We can't confirm the figure, but that would be a very, very small figure.

It's a simple spec, as far as McLarens go. Onyx black paint for the bodywork. Then Napier Green accents scattered around the car to add a dash of colour to it on the aero blades in the nose and the end plates of the rear wing, plus on the wheel lock nuts and then a hidden flash on the door struts. It also has the optional Gorilla Glass for the doors and the McLaren Special Operations carbon sills as well as the MSO six-point harnesses.

Those harnesses hold you firmly into the carbon racing seats, though you might not be able to hear the Bowers and Wilkins audio system through your helmet.

With just 375 km on the odometer, this Senna is nearly new. And while it would look great in the garage, it would look even better at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. Or whichever track is your local circuit.