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7 July 2017

Join us for a stroll down McLaren's Boulevarde

By Peter AndersonPeter Anderson
  • The car which started it all. The car which started it all.
  • Wild areo was the name of the game back in the day. Wild areo was the name of the game back in the day.
  • Just a small selection of silverware. (image credit: Peter Anderson) Just a small selection of silverware. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

McLaren's famous spaceship -style Technology Centre is home not just to the current F1 factory but also to a cavalcade of classic McLaren cars from the past fifty years.

A key part of the MTC's architecture is full height glass lake frontage that lights up what the company calls The Boulevarde.

From almost one end of the building to the other, is a line-up of some of the most important cars in McLaren's history, starting with the one and only car not designed and built by McLaren themselves, Les McLaren's Austin 7 Ulster.

  • Old, old, old school. (image credit: Peter Anderson) Old, old, old school. (image credit: Peter Anderson)
  • Bruce helped rebuild the car from a box of bits. (image credit: Peter Anderson) Bruce helped rebuild the car from a box of bits. (image credit: Peter Anderson)
  • Does it come with air conditioning? (image credit: Peter Anderson) Does it come with air conditioning? (image credit: Peter Anderson)

Moving along you'll see the classic "Thursday" car - only seen in Thursday practice because the front-wing-on-struts quickly gained the name "Guillotine" for the obvious reasons. You'll also see McLaren's first IndyCar resplendent in Gatorade livery.

James Hunt's red 5 is there, and 80's turbo cars - including one of Ayrton Senna's. Another car, his 1992 machine, bears the mark of a squashed Sonic the Hedgehog (or something that looks enough not like Sonic to avoid litigation). Sega sponsored then title-rival Williams, so when Senna beat them, squished Sonic got stuck on the tub like a WWI fighter ace would stamp a Luftwaffe symbol on his kite after downing Gerry.

  • A line up of legends. (image credit: Peter Anderson) A line up of legends. (image credit: Peter Anderson)
  • James Hunt's famous red five. (image credit: Peter Anderson) James Hunt's famous red five. (image credit: Peter Anderson)
  • Known as "Thursday" cars because these cars would only appear on the Thursday practice session. (image credit: Peter Anderson) Known as "Thursday" cars because these cars would only appear on the Thursday practice session. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

Lined up in front of the heritage F1 bay - where older McLarens are fettled before or after demonstration runs - is a trio of McLaren F1s. The first is the Le Mans-winning F1, which won first time out, beating all-comers. Next to it is a customer's F1 GTR and the third is the classy Gulf-liveried longtail, the inspiration for today's LT designation for the roadgoing 675LT.

Closer still to the F1 bays and there's a series of 90s F1 cars, driven by Coulthard and Hakkinen to glory and proudly facing them are a series of more recent F1 cars, including the wild 2007 and 2008 cars with the whackiest aero devices seen before the party was cut short by the FIA.

  • The F1 GTR, one of three McLaren F1's on display. (image credit: Peter Anderson) The F1 GTR, one of three McLaren F1's on display. (image credit: Peter Anderson)
  • This simple screams fast. (image credit: Peter Anderson) This simple screams fast. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

Past the F1 bay - which we couldn't photograph for obvious reasons, complete with engine-less, cover-less cars run by Alonso and Vandoorne - and the trophies. Oh, my, the trophies, stacked along the right-hand walls, and just one of them a replica. They're all there to remind the team what they're there for.

The Boulevarde is a walk that dreams are made of.

What's your favorite car from McLaren's collection? Let us know in the comments below.