For the Love of The Supercar: A Double Feature
Before we dive into this story, I must state that one of my own personal rules in this business was broken in the process of doing this story.
The rule in question was that I do not review privately owned vehicles for editorial purposes. One of the reasons why I choose not to do so is because that I do not carry enough umbrella insurance coverage to protect myself in the case of something going wrong. It does not matter whether the vehicle costs a couple thousand dollars or, in this case, a couple of hundred thousand dollars, the pressure it puts upon me to deliver stories such as this might take even kinder gloves to accomplish.
Another reason I do not work with these vehciles relates to another aspect of my creative realm. Like hand drums, a car's soul is attached to its owner. An automobile is integral to the personality of if owner. Asking someone to pilot another person's car could possibly result in set of circumstances as would someone else playing another person's drum.
However, there is a reason why I broke this rule. It relates to someone whom I had the pleasure of meeting and now working with. Mischa Redmond is the founder and owner of Auto Vault, a vehicle storage facility in Eagan, Minnesota. His deepest passion is with the automobile, which is exhibited by owning and driving some of the finest automobiles ever manufactured.
The one thing I have learned working with Redmond is that he has a kind, gentle and open heart. He posted on his Facebook wall in August the following: "One of the coolest things about having great cars is being able to share them with friends and strangers." I truly understand where Redmond is coming from. I completely admire him for having the gumption to allow fellow enthusiasts to experience two of his finest pieces in his vehicle collection – a McLaren 650S Spider and a Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4.
Redmond and I discussed the concept of driving his two prized automobiles. They are truly special, indeed. oth the McLaren and the Lamborghini are painted in orange with a special livery advertising Auto Vault. At a car meet in August up in Maple Grove, Redmond brought his McLaren for a few people to drive. After some hesitation and some prodding from a few people in attendance, I wound up in the driver's seat of the 650S. I took it around an extended block to see how the McLaren performed. For my own added curioisity, to see whether the notion of absolute perfection, as dictated by McLaren boss Ron Dennis, has translated onto this production vehicle.
In short, it is rocket! With the engine behind you, there is a wall of thrust coming from the 3.8 liter twin-turbocharged V8. Even if you tap the throttle lightly, there is still 641 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque pushing you towards staggering quickness. It is very quick and can egg the driver on towards unleashing a huge can of whoop-ass if you are not careful with the throttle. Plus, the 650S Spider exhibited the perfect combination of ride and handling. Each corner is individually dampened and controlled by a double-wishbone setup. The driver can select a suspension mode between Normal, Sport and Track. Large carbon-ceramic discs stop the McLaren with astounding power. Steering is sharp and direct. In all, the 650S Spider is exactly what I would expect from a car overseen by Ron Dennis.
Being tall and a bit wide, I already knew of the physical challenge of piloting the 650S. Though I was happy that was the Spider and not the coupe, there are a few considerations I had to absorb. For one, the act of getting inside the McLaren. I am not a fan of monocoque tubs with door sills that high and wide. However, I found a way to get in without killing myself – simply stepping in and getting down onto the seat. The scissor doors were a huge help to making sure I was secure inside the McLaren. Once inside, I found the Alcantara seats pretty snug for my body, but well bolstered for my needs. The drawback of driving the 650S Spider is that the steering wheel was at its furthest position to the instrument binnacle, blocking vision to the two side TFT screens off of the main dial. Yet, the center console, along with its sizeable touch screen in the middle, was set in place for my right hand to use all of the controls.
This seating arrangement offers its share of opportunities and challenges. Being snug in the seat forces you to pay more attention to the car's functions. One cannot be distracted by infotainment or secondary readings. The dial houses the tachometer and a digital speedometer, flanked by two TFT screens for vehicle readouts. Up and down the console are a series of buttons for varying functions. The starter button is high up, located below the center TFT screen. The seven-speed dual-clutch automated transmission is controlled by buttons on the console, along with the paddles on the steering column. Putting in Park was an adventure, but it is all a part of what makes the 650S exciting to drive.
That exhaust noise is a better soundtrack than what the audio system could offer. This is a truth that is self-evident with most supercars.
The design of the 650S reminded me of a couple of Ferraris, namely the 308GTS and the F430 Spider. I just enjoyed looking at it, with its various shapes inspired by the company's boomerang logo. To simply absorb the McLaren's beauty, all I had to do is to look at Redmond's McLaren Orange 650S and another friend's Mantis Green version (yes, there are at least two McLaren 650S Spiders in the Twin Cities metro area). The car is absolutely stunning. It is exactly what I would have expected from a mid-engined supercar.
The story could have ended here with the McLaren. But, no. During the launch of this year's Central Crown, Redmond brought up in our conversation his Lamborghini Huracan. Again, I decided that it would be beneficial to do so. After all, when will I ever pilot a Lamborghini again?
Needless to say, I was glad I did.
To me, Lamborghinis were simply works of art and sculpture. They are great to look at, but only a mere few could actually drive one. Contrary to that belief, the Huracan is very easy to drive. That was the biggest revelation I had piloting Redmond's orange "Baby Lambo."
To understand the allure of the Lamborghini is to simply take in all of the details inside and out. Every biot is a signature of the art inspired by the bull inside of the front badge. For example, getting the car going is an art unto itself. The starter resides under a red flip cover not unlike a fighter jet. Flipping the right paddle puts you in Drive. Reverse is easy to do with a lever over the Park button. It helps to have one of the best full TFT screens for instrumentation, which includes a switchable screen to the right that shows the map and vehicle functions. Everything is intuitive, expect for the climate controls. Once you figured out those controls, the Huracan actually has a very functional air conditioner, which is truly a break from the past with most Italian supercars.
The cabin was pretty comfortable. The seats had bolsters that were perfect set wide enough to engulf my body. There was also headroom, something I feared did not exist in closed roofed exotics. The seats may be thin, but I was able to get a good driving position for proper operation of the Huracan. The foot well may be a bit tight, but it is a two-pedal car where one may have to improvise on how to rest the left foot. As for rearward vision, the mirrors are set for great rearward views and the rear window over the V10 engine is not all that bad. The frontward view is incredible. Most importantly, because the doors open normally with a high sill to climb over, it is easy to get in and out of the Huracan.
In terms of performance, the V10 engine is absolutely astonishing! The 5.2 liter motor puts out 610 horsepower, which was very accessible from the right foot and through the 7-speed dual clutch transmission and its paddle shifters. The Huracan's all-wheel drive system spreads the power to all four corners of the car with ease. There was also great response from the paddles to match revs at certain speeds. The V10 engine relaxes once you flipped through the higher gears.
Did I mention the exhaust note? It is also a symphony of horsepower, trumpeting a thrusting staccato that is music to anyone's ears.
The ride was balanced, yet you could hear the tires telegraphing its displeasure through rougher patches on the road. Handling was precise, as was the steering. These impressions came from driving only in Strada mode. These drive modes were switchable from a switch at the bottom of the steering wheel. A quick flip to Sport mode provided a heavier steering weight, a firmer ride and better handling overall. I could have tried Corsa mode, which is translated into track mode. Then, I remembered that I was not on a track.
I was honored to have the opportunity to drive these two amazing machines. Somehow, I had to make a choice of which supercar I enjoyed the most. In the end, I chose the Lamborghini over the McLaren. The Huracan is a force of nature that was an absolute treat to drive.
Redmond is a lucky guy, but he earned it through hard work and dedication to the businesses he runs. He has now become a huge part of the car community through his growing Auto Vault business and his philanthropic efforts utilizing his most visible machinery – the McLaren and the Lamborghini. They are truly an extension of Redmond's love for the automobile.
After I exited safely out of the last supercar, I had time for some reflection. Was this experience of driving two of the finest automobiles on this planet enough to break my own rules in capturing the essence of these two fine machines? Let's be honest, how could anyone not love these two orange-colored supercars? The short answer would be "yes."
DISCLAIMER: Vehicles provided by Auto Vault/Mischa Redmond
All photos by Randy Stern