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Why Ron Dennis left McLaren F1

Editorial Staff

And now the secret is out. OK, so there have been some spy-camera shots on the 'web, but it was not certain that they were what they said they were.

Priced at just one sixth of the price of the original McLaren F1 - a car designed without compromise - the new MP4-12C is the first of three models that McLaren Automotive announced yesterday.

The MP4-12C will sell for GBP150,000 and the first of only 1,000 cars will be delivered in 2011.

Over the next four years, there will be an entry-level car at GBP60,000 and a supercar (as if they aren't all supercars) at GBP300,000.

Dennis, who owns a significant slug of the whole McLaren enterprise, says that the three cars together will provide a range to satisfy everyone.

And with a brand progression that other supercar manufacturers don't provide, he's using the same marketing techniques as other luxury goods suppliers: have entry-level stuff that encourages brand loyalty so people move up the value chain.

The biggest surprise is that the twin-turbo engine is designed and built by McLaren: it's not a modified Mercedes power plant. Dennis says that every single component of the car is designed and manufactured for this car.

The carbon fibre is everywhere from the chassis through the tub to the bodywork. Wonderful as it is, it'll cost a fortune to repair if you stack it: carbon fibre doesn't bend, it breaks, dissipating energy as effectively as crumple-zones but leaving bits all over the road. Watch a Formula One car crash and you get the picture.

Not all of the body is carbon fibre: there's aluminium and plastics, too.