McLaren 650S track special: is this the new ‘Long Tail?’ | CAR Magazine

McLaren 650S track special: is this the new ‘Long Tail?’

Published: 23 January 2015 Updated: 26 January 2015

McLaren has released two teaser pictures of a mystery new variant of the 650S supercar, which will go on display alongside the McLaren P1 GTR at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.

Details are scant at this stage, but we understand that this will be the most track-focused version of the McLaren 650S yet – and it will have more power. Since the standard 650S already packs 641bhp, this has promise indeed.

Time to get out the magnifying glass and deerstalker…

To view the video of CAR magazine’s world-first Ferrari LaFerrari vs McLaren P1 twin test, click here

Will the new track-focused McLaren 650S be road-legal?

By saying it’s track-focused rather than track-only, McLaren seems to be suggesting this new 650S model will remain road legal – unlike both the P1 GTR, which is a track-only development of the McLaren P1 hypercar, and the previous 12C GT Can-Am.

Although given its debut is coming at the same time as the P1 GTR, we can’t be sure. Perhaps it’s aimed at P1 GTR buyers, as a sort of highfalutin support car they can use both to get to the circuit and drive around it. While the P1 GTR’s suspension settings are being fettled, for instance.

We can confirm it’s not the same car as the special edition McLaren 650S Le Mans. Which is being built in a limited run of 50 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the McLaren F1 GTR’s victory in the famous 24-hour race. The 650S Le Mans will not be appearing at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show at all.

What do the teaser pictures tell us about the new McLaren 650S track special?

There are just two pictures so far: one of a disguised car, the other a close-up of the car’s flank, showing the pattern on the camouflage. Put these two together, and you can conjure some interesting inferences.

First, the camouflage, which features line drawings of a very particular McLaren F1 GTR. The number 41 refers specifically to the F1 GTR ‘long tail’ that still resides in McLaren’s own collection. Introduced in 1997, the long tail was a revised version of the F1 GTR racing car, featuring – you guessed it – extended bodywork, particularly at the rear.

That leads us neatly to the image of the whole car, which features a heavier disguise at the front… and the back. Since McLaren is always keen to point out that it never does anything by accident, you might be forgiven for thinking that the use of such camo suggests this new version of the 650S could well be a little bit longer than the standard car.

Other, more obvious changes include chunky side skirts – note the lower scoop towards the back of the sill, which is not present on the standard 650S. Details such as the lights and door mirrors look unaltered. The florescent VP434 on the top of the windscreen and just ahead of the rear wheel arch is an internal ‘validation prototype’ number, common to pre-production McLarens.

When will we know more about the new track-spec McLaren 650S?

McLaren says it will release more details of the new car in the weeks leading up to Geneva at the beginning of March.

First sight of the F1 GTR long tail supposedly made McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray ‘come over faint’, he was so taken with the way it looked. Here’s hoping we’ll all feel the same when the covers are lifted on this new 650S at last.

To view the video of CAR magazine’s world-first Ferrari LaFerrari vs McLaren P1 twin test, click here

By CJ Hubbard

Head of the Bauer Digital Automotive Hub and former Associate Editor of CAR. Road tester, organiser, reporter and professional enthusiast, putting the driver first