Singapore - What’s better than one McLaren togged out in Gulf racing colours?
Why, two of course! We scored a date with the gorgeous Senna LM and the hot, HOT Elva (not least because it’s an open-top super-sportscar in 34-degrees weather) when the latter was in town for a preview tour.
COVID-19 may have closed most borders to us flesh-and-bone types, but the bodacious Elva never had to spend a day in quarantine.
The Elva’s Gulf Oil livery is a MSO special (McLaren Special Operations is the brand’s customisation outfit) and is inspired by the iconic F1 LM GTR, a winning colour combination that’s also worn proudly by the locally-registered Senna LM we have here.
Just 149 units of the Elva will be made, and they can be customised to your heart’s (and wallet’s) content. For Lord Moneybags, that’ll be personalised interior trim and bespoke exterior colours – for us, we’ll probably just about manage to pay for the key-fob thank-you-very-much!
In its purest form, the Elva can’t be registered for road-use in Singapore, so it’s just S$2.8m without taxes, but you’ll need to store it in a bonded area. However, we understand that it’s possible to purchase the Elva with a ‘windscreen’ from the factory, which means it will pass Singapore’s regulations for road-homologation. This means though, the road-registered price takes a jump to S$5.4m.
Just before the private preview session for the Elva, we spend some time with Dave and Bryan Tan, the father-and-son duo that owns the Senna LM, to chat about racy watches (Dave is the CEO of Richard Mille Asia) and the even racier super-sportscars.
TopGear Singapore (TGS): Tell us a little more about your journey with super-sportscars.
Dave (DT): It started way back when I was in my 20’s. At that time, all my friends and associates were into sportscars, which is where my interest was first ignited. Being friends with Richard Mille over the years has also deepened my knowledge and interest for sportscars. However, even after so many years, it always feels like my journey with supercars is only just beginning.
Bryan (BT): My dad has always loved supercars, and in many ways this has had a strong influence in my life. I still remember the first time he took me out in his Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4; it was a huge adrenaline rush, but also therapeutic to feel the freedom of being in such a fast car.
TGS: And what about your journey with McLaren?
DT: McLaren has always shared a close affiliation with Richard Mille, and to me, McLaren is unique in terms of design and R&D, as well as the innovations that go into making a lightweight supercar. I started with a 720S Coupe, before progressing into the Senna LM and also a 720S Spider.
BT: With so many projects involving Richard Mille and McLaren in recent years, it has definitely brought me closer to the brand and its sportscars. As the journey is only just beginning, there is still much more to be experienced with McLaren.
TGS: The Senna LM is an uncompromising road legal track-ready beast, what made you decide on something like this? And in the gulf racing livery no less!
DT: The Senna LM is the pinnacle of the Senna range that can be road-registered. Moreover, the limited production numbers and special factory designs sparked my interest, as did the fact I can enjoy the thrill of driving it anytime I want to. The Gulf racing livery is a bonus, and adds a beautiful touch to reflect the racing heritage between McLaren and Gulf Oil.
BT: It is an amazing car and it was an eye-opener when the car was revealed to us in person for the first time.
TGS: Richard Mille watches are some of the most technically advanced in the market. Do you see any correlation between the McLaren brand and the watches you represent?
DT: Yes definitely! Both brands share the same goal – the uncompromising pursuit of perfection that is achieved through attention to technical detail and extremely high precision quality.
Richard Mille and McLaren are similar in many ways, and they push the boundaries in their respective fields. This can also be seen in the recent launch of the Richard Mille RM 40-01 Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail to complement the McLaren Speedtail.
With the development of a hyperwatch to match a hypercar, Richard Mille and McLaren Automotive have come together to take their brands to new technical heights.
BT: When you look at a McLaren, like in its design and the technology of the Carbonfibre Mono-cell, it is similar to the casing of a Richard Mille watch – lightweight and flawless, yet protecting the heart of the watch and the elements around it.
Both brands share a common vision in using innovative materials and are constantly striving for greater heights through technology and material innovation.
TGS: You can't look forward without appreciating the past. Do the sportscars of the past interest you? Or do such cars already form part of your garage? Richard Mille himself has an extensive collection of classic cars. Is this something that appeals to you too?
DT: Classic cars definitely appeal to me, but I would say most of my current cars are modern cars with only one Classic car in the garage belonging to my son.
BT: I definitely love classic cars and it is something I enjoy immersing myself with. The drive experience from a manual stick shift gear box is simply irreplaceable.
TGS: Both the McLaren and Richard Mille brands are very bold and flamboyant. Are these an extension of your own personality?
DT: I do not think that I am a flamboyant, as I am a quiet person by nature. However, I do love to meet new people and make new friends, and I have never stopped wanting to do that.
BT: Flamboyant would not be the best way to describe me, as I am not a very loud individual. Like my dad, I enjoy meeting new people and I can make friends with people from all walks of life.
TGS: We understand you took delivery of the Senna LM after the border with Malaysia was closed. Is one of the first things you'll do when the border reopens be to take it up North, and perhaps onto the track?
DT: That’s what the Senna LM was meant to do!
BT: If all is well, we would definitely love to experience the car once on the track.
TGS: What do you think of the Elva?
DT: It’s a sexy car and shows the evolution in terms of design from the current cars to the future models.
BT: it is a breathtaking car and appropriate for a sunny island like Singapore.
TGS: What do you think of McLaren's foray into electrification with the Artura? Sportscars and sports watches constantly push the cutting edge of advanced materials and precision engineering. Is hybridisation inevitable and a necessary evil? And do you think it adds to, or takes away from the tried and tested sportscar formula?
DT: As with most sportscar manufacturers, electrification is a route to go due to the pro-environmental stance that governments globally are adopting. It also challenges car manufacturers to move away from traditional fossil fuel engines to electric engines – this provides the push to develop technology that further enhances the drivability and advancement of speed and acceleration.
Besides, the idea of a supercar is to be fast off-the-mark and EVs are definitely fast, now they just need to think of how to make them sound fast as well!
I don’t think the constant push for cutting edge advanced materials and precision engineering is an ‘evil’. For example, Richard Mille sports watches developed for use in Formula One racing, golf, tennis etc., are good examples to demonstrate how when the right passion is channelled towards R&D, many new world innovations can be developed.
BT: I feel that the McLaren Artura is a step in the right direction, as it will be a good test-bed before jumping into full electrification. Regardless of whether a supercar is all-electric, hybrid or ICE, I feel that as long as it still handles like a supercar and engages the driver, the supercar experience will not be compromised.
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