HomeThe MarketMcLaren rekindles Elva nameplate with new roadster

McLaren rekindles Elva nameplate with new roadster


Not only has McLaren acquired rights to the Elva automotive name, but the British supercar company has unveiled an open-cockpit two-seat Ultimate Series roadster bearing the Elva name.

The McLaren Elva is the lightest road car so far from McLaren Automotive and features carbon-fiber chassis, body, seats and brakes. The car lacks a roof, windshield or windows to ensure an “incredibly immersive and enthralling experience,” the company said in its announcement. 

However, the car’s occupants are sheltered from being windblown by the new McLaren Active Air Management System. 

And for markets that require such a thing, the car will be available with a fixed windshield.

“Helmets can be worn if preferred, but the form and sculpture of the upper cabin wraps around the driver and passenger to provide a secure environment,” the company said in its announcement.

Then and now

The car harkens to the McLaren-Elva sports racers that Bruce McLaren designed in the 1960s, the news release added. Those original Oldsmobile V8-powered McLaren-Elvas were customers versions of the McLaren’s Group 7 Can-Am racers.

Elva Engineering was established in 1958 and produced road and racing cars for a decade.

The car is propelled by an 815 horsepower, twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter McLaren V8 and active suspension. The company claims 0-60 mph in less than 3 seconds and 0-200 km/h in 6.7 seconds, making the roadster faster than the McLaren Senna, another Ultimate Series vehicle.

Only 399 copies will be produced at a base price of £1.425 million ($1.83 million).

“The McLaren-Elva M1A [Mk1] and its successors are in many ways the true spiritual forerunners of today’s McLarens – superlight, mid-engined, cars with the highest levels of performance and dynamic excellence,” McLaren Automotive chief executive Mike Flewitt was quoted in the news release. 

“It’s fitting that the new McLaren Ultimate Series roadster – a uniquely modern car that delivers the ultimate connection between driver, car and the elements and with that new heights of driving pleasure on road or track – acknowledges our rich heritage with the Elva name.”

Exterior bodywork flows into interior

According to the company’s announcement, the car’s “blurred boundaries” design has “carbon fiber bodywork wrapping into the open-air cabin as exterior flows into the interior.” 

Meanwhile, the Active Air Management System channels air through the car’s nose and up and over the cockpit “to create a relative ‘bubble’ of calm.”

“Our mission with the McLaren Elva was to create an open-cockpit, two-seat roadster that delivers the most elemental of driving experiences,” said Rob Melville, McLaren Automotive design director. 

“Formula 1-inspired shrink-wrapped volumes create a technical sculpture that is as striking as it is remarkable, the exterior flowing into the interior in a stunning example of a new and unique McLaren ‘blurred boundaries’ design principle that has allowed us to seamlessly bring the outside in, to further enhance driver engagement while remaining true to our philosophy of making no compromises.”

The cockpit

“Highlighting the intensity of the driving experience through the direct connection to the elements, there is no clear demarcation between the exterior of the McLaren Elva and the interior,” the company added. “The uppermost sections of the carbon fiber doors simply curve over and flow down into the cabin, the light, stiff and strong composite material providing the perfect properties to form such enticing shapes and forms. 

“Complementing this unique design feature, the buttresses behind the driver and passenger also flow into the cabin behind the seats. While ensuring the driver and passenger remain exposed to the elements, the sculpture of the wraparound upper cabin environment enhances the feeling of security and protection within a cocooned interior.”

By the way, in keeping with the philosophy of lightness, there is no audio system, though one can be added “at no additional cost.”

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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