Track-only cars can take far greater liberties than anything that has to be legalized for road use. Pretty much every angle of what you perceive as a “car” can be taken and warped to an automaker’s whim, and the result is usually something that looks closer to science fiction than a real-deal automobile. And yet, here we are, in a world where the McLaren Solus GT actually exists.
McLaren on Friday unveiled the Solus GT during the annual Monterey Car Week festivities. This limited-edition, track-only machine pulls more than a fair bit of its inspiration from a digital car — specifically, the McLaren Vision Gran Turismo concept. Only 25 of these wild rides will be built, and as you might expect, they’re all spoken for. But hey, maybe your neighbor bought one, you never know.
It’s impossible to not look at this car like a 10-year-old looks at supercar posters on their wall. It takes some effort to convince your brain that such a thing can exist, but it does. McLaren’s family “face” does still make an appearance, but the rest appears purely purpose-built to bend aerodynamics to a driver’s will. Massive air intakes, ground effect tunnels and individual wheel pods will stand out wherever this car is trucked (don’t forget, it’s not road-legal), and the massive teardrop single-seat cockpit gives drivers a 180-degree view of the track . Out back, there’s a massive wing, which helps produce a net downforce of 2,645 pounds, and a big ol’ clamshell to provide easy access to the engine.
And what an engine this is. The Solus GT wields a 5.2-liter naturally aspirated V10, chosen because of its benefits to packaging and performance. It puts out more than 829 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, and this 10-pot will rev all the way to a delightful 10,000 RPM. All that motive force is delivered to the rear wheels by way of a 7-speed sequential racing automatic transmission with straight-cut gears, so you know this puppy is going to howl at full clip. The whole package is estimated to reach 60 mph in under 2.5 seconds, and maximum speed is still being evaluated, but McLaren believes it will be in excess of 200 mph.
But the most interesting part of the engine isn’t its cylinder count or its redline. McLaren’s V10 is actually a stressed member engine, which means it’s basically bolted right to the chassis, and it’s considered an active structural component. This usually won’t pass muster in road cars — imagine driving a car without absorptive motor mounts — but in race cars, every little bit of weight savings counts.
As you might expect from McLaren’s other recent vehicles, the chassis is a carbon-fiber affair, but the automaker leaned into its motorsport experience to add a few unique tricks. Its road cars usually have impact structures made of aluminum, but not here — it’s all carbon fiber, as is the body. 3D-printed titanium also makes an appearance. That means the Solus GT will be quite light, ringing in under 2,205 pounds.
The Solus GT’s massive canopy actually slides open with the help of a mechanical lever and some springs, and there’s even an “escape hatch” mechanism to aid egress if it can’t slide open like normal. Once inside, the driver will find a fixed seat, which will be molded to each buyer’s body to ensure a perfect fit. The pedal box is adjustable, and almost all the controls are located on the carbon fiber steering wheel, which also houses a TFT instrument display. Instead of a traditional rearview mirror, there’s another display that connects to an external camera. Air conditioning is standard, because McLaren isn’t a monster.
Each of the 25 lucky souls buying a McLaren Solus GT has already received an individualized briefing on the car, and they are working with McLaren’s MSO bespoke arm to ensure each vehicle is styled to the customer’s preference. Some folks may go above and beyond, though, thanks to Mclaren’s “full racing driver experience,” which includes an FIA-spec race suit, helmet and HANS device, in addition to a driver coaching program. The first examples of this wild creation should arrive with customers in 2023.