Celebrating 25 Years of the McLaren Longtail

Celebrating 25 Years of the McLaren Longtail

In 1997, the McLaren F1 GTR ‘Longtail’ took P1 and P2 in the LMGT1 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the nearest opposition finishing almost 30 laps behind
To date, McLaren has offered six road-going LT models: 675LT, 600LT, 765LT and their Spider variants

McLaren Automotive is celebrating 25 remarkable years of performance excellence from ‘Longtail’ models, with the last of the latest generation of sold-out cars—the 765LT Spider—being delivered to owners in the coming months.

To mark the occasion, McLaren Formula 1 racing driver Daniel Ricciardo discovers the LT line-up in a new, behind the scenes video at the McLaren Technology Centre, Woking. Led by McLaren Automotive Product Manager, Ian Howshall, the pair discover the engineering innovation behind the LT’s aerodynamic design and light-weighting.

The original ‘Longtail’ was a development of the McLaren F1 GTR that dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1995, placing first, third, fourth and fifth. This impressive victory made McLaren Automotive the only manufacturer to win the world-famous endurance race in its first attempt.

The dramatic ‘Longtail’ iteration, which made its competition debut in the 1997 FIA GT Championship, earned its name from the distinctive stretched silhouette resulting from extended bodywork that reduced drag and increased downforce. McLaren F1 GTR ‘Longtails’ took victory in five of the 11 rounds of the FIA GT Championship and finished first and second in the GT1 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the nearest opposition finishing almost 30 laps behind.

McLaren Automotive introduced the next generation of Longtail – and the first of the LT road cars – in 2015, with the 675LT. A convertible Spider followed, with the 500 examples of each car quickly earning a place in automotive history.

The 600LT – which won multiple ‘Car of the Year’ accolades upon launch – was introduced in 2018 first as a coupe, and then Spider form. In 2020, the mighty 765LT arrived as the most powerful of the road-legal LTs - with the Spider arriving and selling-out a year later.

There are six LT ‘pillars’ that combine with pioneering design and engineering to deliver the McLaren ‘Longtail’ experience: optimised aerodynamics, reduced weight, track-focused dynamics, increased power, enhanced driver engagement, and limited availability.


Click here to discover the LT lineage with Daniel Ricciardo

History of the Longtail
An LT is the most extreme expression of a McLaren you can get – the purest distillation of sheer driving pleasure embodied by McLaren cars. LTs are designed to the push the boundaries of performance and exhilaration.

The first LT was a track evolution of McLaren’s earliest road car – the 1997 McLaren F1 GTR Longtail, which took first place in five of the GT Championship’s 11 races. Through extensive weight-saving measures, the McLaren F1 GTR ‘Longtail’ weighed in at over 100kg lighter than its McLaren F1 predecessor and debuted the distinctive LT stretched silhouette.

The McLaren F1 GTR Longtail crossed the line first and second in class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with its purpose-built track rivals trailing 30 laps behind. While there was no single facet to the car’s success, its most distinctive feature was the extended rear - the long tail. It reduced drag, boosted downforce, and gave rise to a legendary design and engineering ethos - becoming one of the purest race cars in modern motorsport history.

McLaren Automotive revived the legendary ‘Longtail’ name at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show with the launch of the McLaren 675LT Coupé. True to the spirit of its ‘Longtail’ predecessor, the 675LT was, at the time of launch, acknowledged as the purest, most involving series-production McLaren supercar to date.

The 675LT brought a new blend of dynamics and driver engagement to the road. It proudly featured an elongated rear and was defined by lightness, visceral performance, and sublime handling.

Powered by a M838TL V8 twin-turbocharged engine, the 675LT produces 675PS and 700Nm – an increase of 25PS and 22Nm over the 650S of which it was developed from. True to the LT design pillars, an obsessive weight-saving strategy unlocked a further 100kg weight reduction. From lightweight carbon fibre racing seats to a 1mm thinner windscreen, no opportunity to save weight was overlooked.

Responding to customer demand after the production run of Coupés rapidly sold out, the McLaren 675LT Spider soon followed. All 500 examples were sold within two weeks.

In 2018, the much-praised McLaren 600LT became the fourth McLaren to receive the LT title. Built to excel on roads and race circuits, the 600LT pushed even closer to the edge. Earning multiple ‘Car of the Year’ awards across the globe, the 600LT upheld Longtail values with stunning performance figures, ruthlessly efficient ultra-light construction and total driver focus.

Crafted in carbon fibre, the elongated bodywork of the 600LT optimises aerodynamic performance to generate additional downforce - approximately 100kg at 155mph. Extreme weight saving measures – in addition to the unique-in-class carbon fibre MonoCell II chassis – contribute to a dramatic 96kg weight reduction when compared to the 570S. The track-focused interior features the carbon fibre Racing Seats first seen on the McLaren P1™ with the possibility of being made even lighter still with the Super-Lightweight Carbon Fibre Racing Seats developed for the McLaren Senna. With every lightweight option fitted, the lightest dry weight is as low as 1,247kg, creating an astonishing power-to-weight ratio of 481PS per tonne.

The forged aluminium double wishbone suspension and lightweight braking system from the McLaren 720S combine with stiffer anti-roll bars and an 8mm reduction in ride height to help deliver enhanced dynamic performance and new heights of driver engagement. A 600PS and 620Nm twin-turbo V8 powertrain results in phenomenal acceleration from 0-100km/h (0-62mph) achieved in just 2.9 seconds - matching the acceleration of the revered McLaren 675LT Super Series model. 0-200km/h (124mph) is achieved in a remarkable 8.2 seconds with a top speed of 328km/h (204mph).

The spider variant of the 600LT was released in 2019. It had a lightest dry weight of 1,297kg; just 50kg premium over the 600LT Coupé and, at the time, was at least 80kg lighter than any direct competition.

The most recent LT models – the 765LT and 765LT Spider – are the most powerful production Longtails so far. Using a McLaren-designed 4.0 litre twin-turbocharged V8, the 765LT generates an impressive 765PS and 800Nm of torque. This is a gain of 45PS on the benchmark 720S. The potency of this engine can be exploited to the absolute maximum because of the 765LT’s innovative ultra-light construction. Power-to-weight ratios of 622PS per tonne for the Coupe and 598PS per tonne for the Spider (at dry weight).

Based on the shrink-wrapped body of the 720S, the 765LT has been pared back, honed, and hardened further still to slash weight and command airflow. Radically lightened and lower, the 765LT uses innovative aerodynamics to create 25% more downforce whilst being 80kg less than 720S coupé at 1,339kg (DIN weight) and just 1,229kg at its lightest dry weight – more than 50kg below its closest competitor in comparable specification. Specific weight-saving measures in the 765LT models include a titanium exhaust system, Formula 1-grade transmission materials, thinner glass, and motorsport-style polycarbonate glazing.

From the aggressive front splitter to the defining LT design element of the new rear wing, every detail earns its place. Each design feature is shaped by its function: to be lighter and to enhance aerodynamics - all for the sake of maximum engagement. And with the 765LT Spider, engagement is absolute. The 765LT Spider takes the imposing Coupe design, then builds in the added immersion factor of our ultra-light carbon fibre Retractable Hard Top. This class-leading, single-piece system opens or stows in just 11 seconds. All at the touch of a button and whilst driving up to 50km/h.

All McLaren LT models are united by one singular focus – to provide the ultimate driving experience, thrill, and exhilaration.

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