There's a Reason Why McLaren Chose an Odd Name for an Outrageously Exciting Prototype

Meet... Albert?

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McLaren

The McLaren Speedtail is divisive. Some hate the way it looks and can't stand its name. They hate that it uses a three-seat layout to form a tenuous connection to the legendary McLaren F1, the greatest car ever made. Those people are incorrect.

Look at the Speedtail on its own, without thinking about McLaren's past, or even its present, and this is a wildly exciting and innovative car. It has flexible carbon fiber ailerons! A center seat layout! An electro-chromic windshield instead of sun visors! Cameras instead of mirrors! 1,035 horsepower from a hybrid powertrain! Wheel shrouds!

Everything about this car is refreshing, and McLaren's two-tier approach to hypercars–Senna for the track, Speedtail for the road and top speed–lets it focus these models more than any other automaker. The Speedtail will be quicker and faster than nearly anything else, as well as an adept grand tourer. As an engineering exercise, it's second to none.

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McLaren

And now, McLaren is ready to begin real-world testing with a true Speedtail prototype. Like other manufacturers, McLaren names its prototypes. You'd think it would get some sort of wild name, like Thunderthrust or Torpedomonster or Golden Earring. Instead, they're calling this car... Albert.

Now, no offense to Alberts out there, as there are a lot of great ones, like Einstein. Or Biermann, of BMW M and Hyundai N fame. Albert is a name often associated with brilliant people. But it's not necessarily a name you'd associate with something as extreme as the Speedtail.

Thankfully, McLaren didn't just name it Albert because it was a slow day at the office. It was named Albert because that was the name of the first McLaren F1 mule. Also because the F1 was designed at a studio on Albert Lane.

The problem with that is it'll embolden the people who are already judging the Speedtail against the F1. They'll declare this an invocation of the past that it doesn't deserve and a retro name for retro name's sake.

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McLaren

And that is a point. The Speedtail has already captured our imagination and will surely be an experience like no other. But it's not a spiritual successor to the F1 just because it has a center seat layout. It's a totally new thing and can exist on its own merits, it doesn't need to invoke the F1 every 20 minutes for it to excite people. Everything is disappointing compared to the F1. So, you, reader, stop thinking about this as an F1-successor and think of it as its own thing. And you, McLaren, please stop reminding people about the F1 with every mention of the Speedtail.

McLaren will be testing Albert for the next year across Europe, Africa, and North America. It'll start out at private facilities and eventually make its way onto the roads. It has the 1,035 horsepower hybrid powertrain, three-seat layout, and a production chassis, but the front clip appears to be off an 720S. Deliveries will start in 2020.

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