Ferrari SP

McLaren Elva

Ferrari SP

Ferrari SP photo by Alexander Migl – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Galling isn’t it?  You’ve saved your bonuses, raided your children’s 503B’s, only to find all of Ferrari’s SP2’s are sold out.  But save your hankies with McLaren to the rescue, slapping a Connolly leathered glove at their Italian rival.

Though both McLaren and Ferrari glanced over their shoulders for design cues, McLaren chose ultra modern look where Ferrari stuck to retro, with both fashioning their own version of what their respective design teams think a truly open air hyper car should be.

Ferrari 166-225 Barchetta

Ferrari 166-225 Barchetta photo courtesy

Ferrari’s SP1-2 reflect the glory of the 40’s and 50’s barchettas (little boats), a term first coined by the editor of La Gazzetta dello Sport. The term stuck, everyone now knows Ferraris barchettas, and the Sp’s are an indirect continuation.

McLaren Elva Circa 60's

McLaren Elva Circa 60’s

The new McLaren Elva reaches back in time as well, resurrecting Bruce McLaren’s Elva sports cars of the 60’s.  Buying the rights to the name, McLaren’s Elva is old school in name only, recalling Bruce McLaren’s sports cars of the that era.  The new Elva is claimed to be the lightest road car to ever be produced by the company.

The question here isn’t should a car have both a roof and a real windshield’?  Who cares.  Everyone is interested in one thing only; who has the best execution?

First in the world is McLaren’s Active Air Management System (AAMS) to that channels air through the nose of the Elva to come out where a normal windshield would be, effectively creating a bubble around driver and passenger.  Ferrari has a special faring that shoots air up and over the driver, producing the same effect.

Noted that both cars can be factory equipped with standard glass.  Sounds good on paper but I would have a pair of goggles handy just in case.

Engines are the stuff you would expect; Ferrari drawing on it’s tried and true 6.5 Liter naturally aspirated V12 derived from the 810.  McLaren uses a 4 Liter twin-turbo V8 from the Senna and Speedtail, with a tweak here and there.

Excess weight in both was reduced by carbon fiber body and chassis, carbon fiber seats, carbon fiber brakes, carbon fiber windscreen.  Kidding, we talked about the windscreen.

Fast is fast, and you do the math on 0-60 times.  The real number is 0-124 MPH and in today’s hyper cars, that’s the new benchmark.

   ELVA    SP2
HP 804 799
0-124 6.7 sec 7.9 sec
WEIGHT less than 2900 lbs 3351 lbs
PRICE $1,695,000 $1,750,000

For McLaren Elva final vehicle weight still to be certified and all performance figures still to be validated.

McLaren may be the best in terms of modern design, but Ferrari can’t be beaten for shining a spotlight on their incredible past.  Decisions, decisions…


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About the Author: Dave Miller

Dave Miller With Lotus GT
Dave Miller drives the fastest, coolest, sexiest cars on the planet. He travels the world uncovering the hidden gems in luxury transportation, meeting the owners, and connecting with extraordinary car enthusiasts. Dave is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and writes for various publications. In addition to, you can follow Dave's adventures via Drive With Dave Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and tune into the Drive with Dave Podcast via iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud.

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