For a racing team, McLaren makes some amazing road cars. The F1, Mercedes SLR, and the current MP4-12C all show that the company knows how to make a car for people who don’t wear helmets to work. All that expertise comes from racing, though. The MP4-12C Can-Am Edition concept should remind everyone of that.
This special MP4-12C is named for the Canadian-American Challenge Cup, a.k.a. the Can-Am, a now-defunct race series McLaren dominated in the 1960s and early ‘70s. Company founder Bruce McLaren won the series championship in 1967 and 1969.
Can-Am cars were known for their light weight and colossal power; the MP4-12C Can-Am Edition doesn’t disappoint. McLaren gave the 3.8-liter V8 an ECU reflash and a new cooling system, adding up to 630 horsepower (admittedly, only 13 more ponies than a regular 2013 MP4-12C).
McLaren also outfitted the MP4-12C Can-Am Edition with some bona fide racecar hardware. The carbon fiber body is adorned with aerodynamic aids, including a front splitter, rear diffuser, dive planes, and a rear spoiler that would make a great billboard for sponsors. The Can-Am reportedly produces 30 percent more downforce than a stock MP4-12C.
Stopping the Can-Am Edition is a new set of Akebono brakes. They’re shod in lightweight forged racing wheels and sticky Pirelli P Zero racing slicks.
The racecar treatment extends to the interior, which includes a full roll cage and two racing seats. The stock MP4-12C’s steering wheel (and its airbag) is replaced by a Formula 1-style wheel with plenty of buttons for controlling the car’s various systems.
Can-Am cars were also known for breaking all the rules of more established series and, unfortunately for would-be 21st century racers, the MP4-12C Can-Am Edition does the same. It isn’t actually a racecar, because it doesn’t conform to the rules of any racing series.
However, the MP4-12C Can-Am Edition’s lack of airbags and tire treads mean it isn’t street legal, either. Like the Pagani Zonda R and Ferrari FXX, it exists in a nether region between road cars and purpose-built racers, and that’s probably why, for now, this McLaren is just a concept.
With so many regulations governing both street-legal road cars and competition-legal racecars, it’s not surprising that McLaren decided to go nuts and just build the ultimate MP4-12C, regardless of whether its owners would actually be able to use it.
The MP4-12C Can-Am Edition’s only real use would be as a track day toy, trailered to a track on weekends but not raced competitively. It would still be an amazing toy, and an expensive one. McLaren did not say how expensive, but a regular MP4-12C without the racing hardware costs $241,800.