McLaren had been rumoured to have been developing an open-top supercar, keeping news of it in their back pocket for a most opportune moment for a reveal to the world. That time was last night, evidently, coinciding with Ferrari’s premiere of their all-new V8 grand tourer. Coincidence?
The Elva slots into the British automaker’s Ultimate Series, a tier populated by the most advanced and exclusive creations produced at Working such as the Senna, the track-only Senna GTR and, in due course, the high velocity Speedtail, their second hybrid model following the pioneering P1.
A strong connection exists between the Elva and its McLaren M1 series of racing cars from the 1960s which serve as a spiritual predecessor, its name stemming from Elva Cars Ltd of East Sussex in the UK whose owner built replica versions of the M1A which evolved into the McLaren-Elva M1B and M1C.
With a price tag £1,425,000 and a production run capped at 399 example, the Elva is about as rarefied as they come. But without its lack of a closed cockpit, describing the car’s exterior isn’t so easy. Off the mark, the clean profile is free from overly pronounced aero bits and its dynamic rear spoiler/airbrake might be the only common thread linking it to the 720S.
Without a roof nor an option for one to be installed at any point, the Elva is clearly a summer-only affair as a heavy downpour or snow storm would prove to be extremely inconvenient/uncomfortable for the driver and occupant at best, and potentially catastrophic for the car at worst.
In ideal conditions, though, the car does provide a measure of elemental shielding from oncoming airborne annoyances via Active Air Management, a system that, once activated, channels fast flowing air from the nose of the car up and over the passenger cell. This effectively creates an air curtain of sorts that should offer some insulation, at least enough to not require eye protection while driving at road speeds.
Its roofless speedster ethos also extends to the Elva’s construction, which uses copious amount of carbon fibre and titanium to make it the most lightweight street legal car McLaren has ever produced - though they have not disclosed by how much.
Mounted amidship is McLaren’s staple engine, a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 which here produces an astonishing 600kW, or about 12kW more than the track-focused Senna. The motor is paired to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission with drive channelled to the rear wheels.
With even less weight to lug, the automaker claims the Elva hits 100km/h from rest in under 3 seconds with launch control enabled, though the far more impressive figure is its 0-200km/h sprint, which is achieved in an astonishing 6.7 seconds.
The rest of the car’s go-fast tech is an amalgam of expertise gained from other McLaren projects, but especially so with the Senna, which is where much of the active aerodynamics and and linked-hydraulic active suspension is borrowed, though it’s not termed RaceActive Chassis Control in this instance.
Ten-spoke 20-inch wheels are fitted to each corner while a 5-spoke ‘Super-Lightweight’ forged alloy set being a no-cost option, as are track-focused Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tyres and a vehicle lift system. Regardless, the Elva is fitted with 390mm carbon ceramic disc brakes and titanium callipers at all four corners as standard.