Want a rare McLaren track car that isn't one of the usual suspects? Only three Can-Ams were ever made…
By Matt Bird / Monday, November 16, 2020
There are no shortage of track-focussed McLaren supercars: the recent 620R, for example, or the GTR versions of both Senna and P1. Both the Longtail models are ferocious circuit cars as well, albeit not quite to the level of the others.
And then there's the 12C Can-Am – remember that? Launched in 2012, it was probably the first in what's become a fairly large collection of quite confusing McLarens. Because ostensibly it was there to draw attention to the GT3 race car, but wasn't eligible for any kind of competition. And it previewed what a racier 12C could look like for the road – a vehicle that would eventually become the 675 – but couldn't be homologated for road use, either. Predictably, the Can-Am looked awesome, a GT3 car uncorked and slightly unhinged, though many did question the point of a McLaren neither fish nor fowl.
And so it proved, with just three Can-Ams made. Still, time is often kind to ill-fated ideas; with a 12C Can-Am now for sale in the PH classifieds, it looks quite the prospect for those after the ultimate track day toy. Because this is lighter and more powerful than a 620R (albeit obviously not road legal) and way rarer than anything GTR badged. Heaven forbid somebody else has an Ultimate Series product alongside you in the paddock – not going to happen when one car is a third of the entire production run…
It seems just as unlikely, in fact, that either of the other two Can-Ams will be as fit and fresh as this one. It has covered 337 miles since it was built in 2013, with an owner and driver known to the specialist now selling it. And how's this for an advert line? "The car comes complete with a full Can Am race spares package all in McLaren flight cases and has four sets of wheels that accompany the car." Oh yeah, and it's chassis number one, which is pretty cool.
Though the cynical might see cars like the Can-Am as little more than a marketing ploy, it's hard to dismiss the appeal of a McLaren with even more downforce and even more power than a GT3 car. For those that crave the race car experience without the demands of competition – a small niche, perhaps – the Can-Am makes a compelling case for itself. Especially as one of the rarest McLarens – F1 included – ever made.
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