Photo: 2019 McLaren Seena Chassis Credit: Joshua Doran
Falling In Love With A British Super Car
I think good design in a car has more influence on people and culture than any other type of machine. While design is undoubtedly an important element of all product development few objects of desire draw a fan base and garner loyalty quite like cars. No normal person goes to a toaster show for example, no matter how beautiful or marvelous they might be. Car Shows, on the other hand, are a spectacle so alluring they have the power to stop just about any passerby dead in his tracks.
Because cars are still art as much as they are machines most of us identify with a favorite. This habit starts young as every kid on a school ground at one time or another will have a discussion about her favorite car. I remember when that question was first posed to me at age six. I immediately said Knight Rider, which I did not know at the time it was actually a 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. All I knew was the car was excitingly fast, David Hasselhoff was super handsome and KITT was really funny.
Fast forward a number of years, to my first love in the form of a Super Car. We met during an episode of Top Gear in 2010. It was a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren driven by Jeremy Clarkson, in a race to Oslo Norway against Richard Hammond and James May traveling by boat. At the time I was not a big car person and as such, not paying that much attention. Then I heard the demonic roar of that 5.4L supercharged M155 SLR V8 engine. It sounded deep and powerful like something ripping through the fabric of reality as it moved. I looked up at the TV screen and I instantly fell in love.
It was gun metal silver with gull wing doors and air vents extending back from the fenders that looked like the gills of a shark. It was simultaneously modern and classic but most of all, it was fast! A former Alpine Ski Racer, I have always had a fondness for going fast and this car was fast like no car I had ever seen before.
This car was a collaboration between two European car companies Mercedes-Benz and McLaren. I had heard of Mercedes-Benz but the name McLaren was new and intriguing, leading me to a google search and a rapid fire love affair with the McLaren brand, a British car company that is exceptionally good at designing rolling sculptures that have a jaw dropping impact.
In particular, the McLaren 12c and its sexy successor, the MP4-12c Spider, deeply captivated my interest. This later turned into an interest in engines and the physics of going fast that gifted me with an array of useful analogies that I still use today during my winter employment as a Ski Instructor. Come full circle, one day working at the resort I discovered one of my clients worked for McLaren! It was all I could do to reign in my talk of angular momentum and body alignment being like a cars suspension etc.
The universe works in mysterious ways. Some things are easy to understand like function and utility. However, it is the subconscious that is the realm of imagination where design most resonates, and this is why it is so mysterious and alluring.
I still love McLaren cars and British automotive design. This is why I am so excited to be working this summer for The Canmore Highland Games which will be adding a British Car and Motorcycle show to the lineup of events. Put on by The Rolling Sculpture Car Club, entries are only $20 and all money will be donated to charity as decided upon by the Club. Having never actually seen one in person, if there is a McLaren there, I will lose my mind!
By: Christine Davidson
Canmore Highland Games