McLaren and Honda. Said in the same sentence, the two marques bring flashbacks to the minds of petrolheads of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost shuffling their Mclaren MP4/4s around the world’s racing circuits in the late 1980s.
Said in two separate sentences and the story couldn’t be more different, however this new McLaren-Honda engine deal could perhaps change all that.
McLaren has established itself over the past fifty years as a performance car powerhouse, producing icons such as the F1 and 12C as well as the winner of 182 F1 grands prix. Honda, on the other hand, is known for, well, ricers. Massively overdone Civic, anyone?
From the start of the 2015 season, McLaren’s Formula 1 cars will race using Honda’s engines and energy recovery systems, renewing an association that became one of the most successful and powerful in Formula 1 history during the 1980s and ’90s. Between 1988 and 1992 McLaren and Honda won eight world championships and 44 grands prix – all in just 80 grands prix.
The move sees Honda return to F1 after a six year absence and the reappearance of Honda turbo power. “The corporate slogan of Honda is ‘The Power of Dreams’. This slogan represents our strong desire to pursue and realize our dreams together with our customers and fans,” said Takanobu Ito, President and CEO of Honda Motor Co. Ltd. “Together with McLaren, one of the most distinguished F1 constructors, Honda will mark a new beginning in our challenges in F1.”
In case you haven’t heard, Honda is making its return to racing. No, not in the form of a 1987 Civic with Mugen MOTUL racing livery on it racing on Japan’s most distinguished circuits, but in a familiar place nonetheless. Honda will find itself in the middle (literally) of McLaren Formula One cars yet again, providing the British company with 1.6-litre turbo V6 engines come the 2015 racing season.
Not long after the announcement of the racing alliance did speculation begin of what this could potentially mean.
Word began to spread around motoring communities, from office coolers to internet forums, of the possibility that the McLaren-Honda F1 venture could travel outside the barriers of international racing circuits and the carbon-fibre bodies of Formula One racers, and into McLaren road cars.
As is often the case with rumours, they proved unfounded, with a McLaren insider declaring there is no planned road car collaboration at the moment. Apparently McLaren’s 911 Turbo fighter, dubbed P13, is so far ahead in its development that any Honda input at this point would be useless.
But, don’t completely rule out such a road car collaboration.
McLaren’s statement said there are no plans ‘at the moment.’ Sure, the P13 speculations may have been dismissed, but keep in mind that Acura/Honda still has the next-gen NSX in the works with plans on it hitting the pavement in the same year that Honda makes its return to F1. Coincidence? No one is really sure, to be honest. Yet McLaren’s insider didn’t say anything about that, now did he?.
Granted, these are just words – speculative words, but they represent the hope of many enthusiasts, particularly those with a taste of Japanese sports cars who’d love to see something ‘truly’ special wearing a Honda badge (powered by or otherwise).
There was a point in time when Honda simultaneously produced two awe-inspiring sports cars: the NSX and S2000. Since then it’s just been Civics, CR-Zs and Accords (with ‘Si’ badges or a Type R if you’re lucky). Not that those cars aren’t good in their own right, it’s just that the NSX and S2000 set such a high standard.
Frankly, as far as enthusiasts are concerned, Honda needs a deal like this. In the four years since the S2000 ceased production it could be argued that Honda has lost its way – as a sports car maker and producer of genuinely exciting powerplants.
With this agreement, not only does Honda have the opportunity to prove they still have performance in their veins (depending, of course, of how well the engines perform on-track), but they could also demonstrate they still know how to make a proper sports car — with a little help from McLaren, of course.
Only time will tell what comes of this partnership, and whether the McLaren-Honda gene successfully migrates from the Formula One track to the road where you an I can enjoy it. Rumours are merely rumours and as with many in the past you can probably recall how ninety percent of them ended up.