What would the great Bruce McLaren have made of his firm’s new 570GT sports car? Simon de Burton takes a test drive...
You’ll likely know that the Riva company came into being after young Carlo Riva began fixing storm-damaged boats on the shores of Lake Iseo in the mid-19th century. But it wasn’t until seeing the new film about the remarkable life of racing driver and car designer Bruce McLaren that I appreciated what small beginnings his business had also grown from.
The film, called simply McLaren and brilliantly directed by Roger Donaldson of The World’s Fastest Indian fame, includes remarkable footage of the fledgling team working on its giant-killing racers in various buildings around the London suburbs, one of which was described at the time as being “a slumlike tractor shed with a dirt floor”.
All the same, Bruce McLaren never compromised on his famed attention to detail, and his cars, even in those early days, were always immaculately engineered and perfectly presented.
That standard has been more than maintained today at McLaren’s Technology and Production Centre in Woking, Surrey – the futuristic Norman Foster-designed buildings are a world away from that slum-like shed of 50 years ago.
I was reminded of how equally high-tech the McLaren cars are, too, during a recent drive of the 570GT at the Goodwood circuit in West Sussex. Somewhat poignantly, it was on the circuit’s Lavant Straight in 1970 that McLaren lost his life at the age of just 32 while testing his new M8D.
Incredibly, given its 562hp and 204mph top speed, the 570GT is not only from the so-called “entry level” Sports Series, but it is also the toned-down, touring version – the 570S officially being the performance model.
If the very idea of touring in a car like this seems absurd, think again: the 570GT is quiet, incredibly smooth, superbly refined and cossetingly comfortable – once you’re settled into the driving seat, you just want to keep on going. The thing even has a sensible boot, a glove compartment, a place to put odds and ends and, yes, a cup holder.
Would Bruce McLaren have approved? My guess is that he would and, even with several faster, more expensive options in McLaren Automotive’s Super Series and Ultimate Series, I reckon he might well have chosen a 570GT as his daily drive. He would certainly have considered it a worthy evolution of the M6GT, his own vision for a road car that failed to make it into production owing to his untimely death.