McLaren’s $1.7 million speedster is wearing the most iconic livery in motor racing

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The McLaren - Gulf Racing partnership was renewed only a few months ago, but we’re already reaping the rewards of the deal. First, it was the McLaren Senna GTR LM that was given the distinction of wearing the famous blue and orange Gulf Racing livery. Now, it’s the McLaren Elva’s turn to sport the two-color finish, as created by McLaren Special Operations. Even better, the Gulf Racing-clad McLaren Elva will take center stage at Goodwood SpeedWeek, which is happening until October 18 at the Goodwood Motor Circuit in the U.K.

What’s McLaren’s history with Gulf Racing?

The McLaren Elva Gulf Theme by MSO Showed Up At Goodwood SpeedWeek Exterior
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McLaren and Gulf Racing have a long and rich history together that dates back to the 1960s.

In particular, McLaren F1 race cars, as well as Can-Am and IndyCar racers, wore Gulf Racing’s blue and orange livery in the series that they competed in from 1968 to 1973. The relationship between the two firms rekindled in the 1990s when Gulf’s blue and orange colors — they’re officially called 3707 Zenith Blue and 3957 Tangerine — were used on McLaren F1 GTR race cars that successfully competed in endurance races of that era, including the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans that McLaren won to the shock of a lot of people.

We haven’t seen a proper McLaren wear Gulf Racing’s iconic livery in years, but that changed when the Senna GTR LM, a five-piece tribute to the conquering F1 GTR, was unveiled last month. One of the five cars wore the exact copy of Gulf Racing’s livery. Now, it’s the McLaren Elva’s turn to get the Gulf Racing livery treatment, and it is glorious.

How cool is the McLaren Elva wearing the Gulf Racing livery?

The McLaren Elva Gulf Theme by MSO Showed Up At Goodwood SpeedWeek Exterior
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The most striking thing about the application of the colors is how continuous it looks. There are no doors, windows, and even a roof to break up the whole car into different sections. It’s just one body dressed in one color — the 3707 Zenith Blue pantone — with the other color — 3957 Tangerine pantone — used as an accent. Notice how the racing stripe runs along the center console of the Elva’s interior, connecting the front of the front nose of the speedster to the rear decklid in one continuous line. You normally see something like this with racing stripes passing along the roof, but when it passes along the interior? That’s a different aesthetic appeal that only a speedster like the Elva can pull off.

The McLaren Elva Gulf Theme by MSO Showed Up At Goodwood SpeedWeek Exterior
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Mind you, this MSO creation of a Gulf Racing-liveried McLaren Elva isn't a one-off showcase. Prospective owners of the McLaren speedster — yes, all 149 people who scored one — can avail of the Gulf Racing livery for their respective Elvas.

MSO will be commissioned to dress up the Elva and it’ll all be there once deliveries of the speedster begin.

Are there any engine upgrades made to the Elva’s twin-turbo V-8 engine?

The McLaren Elva Gulf Theme by MSO Showed Up At Goodwood SpeedWeek Exterior
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No, there are no engine upgrades available for the speedster, nor should there be. In stock form, the speedster is already powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine that produces a whopping 804 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque.

A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission transfers all that power to the two rear wheels, enabling the Elva to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in less than three seconds and 0 to 124 mph in 6.7 seconds. McLaren hasn’t revealed the Elva’s top speed, but with that kind of power and very little drag resistance, expect the Elva to comfortably hit 200 mph, maybe even higher.

McLaren Elva specifications
Engine 4.0-Liter V-8
Horsepower 804 HP
Torque 590 LB-FT
0 to 62 mph 3.0 seconds
0 to 124 mph 6.7 seconds
Top Speed >200 mph

Why did McLaren choose the Goodwood SpeedWeek as the venue for the Elva Gulf Racing’s debut?

The McLaren Elva Gulf Theme by MSO Showed Up At Goodwood SpeedWeek Exterior
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Goodwood SpeedWeek is the perfect event to debut the Elva. It’s hard to imagine a better event to debut an ultra-limited, retro-futuristic, open-air speedster that’s wearing the colors of, without question, the most famous racing livery in history.

Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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Luxury supercar maker McLaren Automotive today premieres the McLaren Elva Gulf Theme by MSO, a celebration of the renewed relationship between McLaren and the Gulf Oil brand and another example of how designs from McLaren’s racing history are inspiring the brand’s modern-day customers.

The unique McLaren roadster in blue and orange Gulf colours makes its world debut at Goodwood SpeedWeek, a ‘closed-doors’ live broadcast event bringing together the past, present and future of motoring and motorsport at the Goodwood Motor Circuit in the UK.

McLaren and Gulf recently confirmed a new partnership that renews a historic union between the two brands that originated in the 1960s, a decade when both companies made their first forays into motorsport. Gulf branding appeared on McLaren’s Can-Am, Formula 1 and Indy cars from 1968 to 1973. Two decades later McLaren F1 GTRs run by customer team GTC carried the famous Gulf livery in global GT racing, including at Le Mans.

Under the new partnership, McLaren Automotive customers will have the opportunity to commission Gulf-liveried cars directly from MSO. These follow cars inspired by the famous facing livery designed and produced by MSO prior to the renewed relationship being agreed. Most recently, a McLaren Senna GTR LM paying homage to the #24 McLaren F1 GTR that finished fourth in the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans race was completed as one of five MSO-designed customer cars celebrating the McLaren F1’s domination of that race.

“The McLaren Elva Gulf Theme by MSO is a striking celebration of both McLaren’s history in sports car racing and our new partnership with Gulf Oil. McLaren Special Operations is committed to pushing the boundaries of the ‘art of the possible’ and projects like this showcase the increasingly extensive range of personalisation options we can offer customers – in this case, enhancing the authenticity of the livery by incorporating Gulf brand logos into the design.”
Ansar Ali, Managing Director, McLaren Special Operations

The Elva, which follows the McLaren P1TM, McLaren Senna and Speedtail in McLaren’s Ultimate Series, links McLaren’s heritage to its present and future with a name and style that recalls the McLaren-Elva sports racers of the 1960s. These were among the first sportscars designed and raced by Bruce McLaren and the company he founded, and the new Elva evokes the true spirit of driving enjoyment symbolised by this era.

In line with McLaren’s on-going commitment to super-lightweight engineering, the new Ultimate Series roadster retains the lightweight construction philosophy of its forebear and is at the cutting-edge of automotive technology. The body design of the screenless, roofless Elva, for example, incorporates an innovative Active Air Management System (AAMS) that creates a virtual canopy over the seamlessly-integrated cockpit. The 815PS and 800Nm developed by the 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 engine ensure that the Elva delivers astonishing performance and incredible levels of driving enjoyment.

With deliveries of the Elva commencing this year, MSO has already completed the specification of the first cars and is well-advanced in discussions with customers to create further dramatic paintwork and liveries. Just 149 examples of the Ultimate Series roadster will be available to customer order, making it one of the rarest McLarens ever produced and, with an almost-limitless degree of personalisation available from MSO, each car will have its own unique identity.


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