McLaren’s Ruthless English Racers Turn The 765 Longtail Into An Open-Air High-Speed Pleasurecraft—Available For Orders Now
McLaren’s 765LT “Longtail” rates as one of the most exciting cars I’ve driven in the past year. I loved it so much, after the first tightly compressed launch of the COVID era, McLaren brought a second one for a few days. It’s so good, you’ll be hungry for more sitting time.
McLaren’s marketing and product planning always has a phase two, with an open-air version, a spin. The guys from Woking, Surrey, will offer up to 765 of the Longtail Spider you see here.
With the exception of packaging changes to the carbon fiber center fairing to accommodate the one-piece retractable roof section, the 765LT Spider has much the same specs as the coupe. You can even order it with the Clubsport circuit package. Outdoor or not, this is still a speed killer weapon. Don’t expect buttery soft leather upholstery to impress your companion. This is not a romantic car.
That said, the 765 Longtail Coupe’s reasonably smooth ride quality surprised every ride on my nearby mountain, and I expect the same from the Spider. Even with the optional high-sided and very lightweight carbon fiber bucket seats of the outrageous Senna model, the Longtail won’t bruise your kidneys or crack your tailbone as you cruise the typically broken surfaces of the highways and streets of my native Los Angeles. It’s not plush like a luxury SUV – this isn’t a Rolls Phantom or Mercedes S class – but you won’t suffer needlessly reaching your favorite remote two-lane lanes.
The Longtail Spider has largely the same aerodynamic and weight-saving measures as the coupé. Audio and HVAC are optional – all such systems are heavy – allowing McLaren to claim a relatively low curb weight. But on an open car, which is by definition a fast pleasure craft, the HVAC is required at the very least. I would also opt for the audio. Except on a track, you simply can’t exploit all of this car’s potential on the road, so adding the weight of HVAC and music isn’t a real punishment.
The 4-litre twin-turbo V8 is the same as in the Longtail coupe, producing 755 hp by the American standard (765 hp in the European calculation) and an impressive 590 lb. ft. at 5500. It has a light flywheel and a flat-plane crankshaft, which means that this engine gains and loses revs almost instantly – in the coupes I drove, it turned out absolutely alive and ferocious.
To achieve such power, McLaren has squeezed the maximum turbo boost higher. To keep it all together, they added the Senna’s 3-layer head gasket and a unique piston to handle extremely high combustion chamber pressures.
Even with the one-piece electric lid, the Longtail Spider is only 108 pounds heavier than the coupe and still lighter than the 720S it’s based on.
To cut the weight, audio and HVAC are optional, but with a spin, well, you’ll want to pay. To play on the track, the coupe is best. Spider is for lightning-fast fun rides.
It has the same titanium exhaust system, which not only saves significant weight compared to a steel system, but also gives that satisfying crisp exhaust note. Top down, the exhaust note will be otherworldly.
With the pressure off, the launch of the COVID-era 765LT is now long over, I will pray to the Gods of Speed for the chance to ride Longtail Spider over my favorite mountain passes, to enjoy the speed and acceleration top down, cold morning air tightening the skin on my neck and tingling my scalp.