LAND, SEA & AIR
▲ CRUISE CONTROL: New Zealand’s epic landscape provides the perfect backdrop for McLaren’s beautiful supercars.
Austin 7 Ulster when he was just 14 years old. Later, he won the New Zealand Grand Prix Association’s Driver To Europe scheme for promising racers. McLaren joined the Cooper factory team in England alongside Jack Brabham and won the 1959 United States Grand Prix – the youngest ever winner. After more victories he set up McLaren Motor Racing, which competed in F1 and then very successfully in Can-Am. McLaren died on the Lavant straight at Goodwood in 1970 while testing a new Can-Am car. He famously wrote in a 1964 motor racing book: “To do something well is so worthwhile that to die trying to do better cannot be foolhardy.” Trying to manoeuvre so many lowslung vehicles onto the inter-island Ferry between North and South islands the next day might have expensive consequences. However, McLarens boast electronic height adjustment that takes the scrape out of the loading process – especially useful for multi-storey car parks, too. Soon the tour is passing through the absolutely stunning Marlborough Sounds on a four-hour crossing. Below deck is probably the most expensive car cargo that the ship has ever carried.
The scenery suddenly steps up a gear as the tour reaches the South Island. The original route was scrapped at the last minute to avoid the earthquakehit Christchurch region, so I’m given directions down the west coast instead. My GT may be the baby of the fleet but it’s immensely fast. The paddle gear-shifters on the steering column beg to be used, giving the McLaren the rare ability to make any driver feel like a track-hardened racer. The new route took the multi-million pound convoy down the scenic coast to Punakaiki, in the Paparoa National Park. Highway 6 also provides the McLaren convoy with some of the most enjoyable bends in the country. The McLaren adventure is pretty big
The paddle gear-shifters on the steering column beg to be used, giving the McLaren the rare ability to make any driver feel like a track-hardened racer
news on New Zealand television, and nightly coverage means there’s more spectators on the road with each passing day, applauding the cars as we pass through every village and intersection. And it’s hard not to feel the enthusiasm for McLaren. The F1 team may not be what it was but the company’s latest road cars feel more youthful, exclusive and ‘modern’ than the best of Porsche, Mercedes or Audi. After 1,040 miles of driving, the final day is just what every wealthy supercar owners wants – a session in McLaren’s track-focussed GT4 supercar. At the wheel is former British Touring Car Championship driver, Danny Buxton. The racing version of the 570S throws more G than a fighter plane, as it hurls me around the newly-opened Highlands Motorsport Park, near Queenstown. That night, I asked Amanda McLaren what her father might of thought of the event. “I think he would have felt honoured. He was a very proud Kiwi and returned home as often as he could. You only have to look at the response from residents here, almost 50 years after he died, to see how his memory lives on in these new cars.” H
Hedge Magazine - Issue 47 - The Land, Sea & Air Issue