Feel like special edition McLarens have lost their edge? This should put you right
By Cam Tait / Monday, 27 June 2022 / Loading comments
We all know that McLaren loves a special edition car. Take the Senna, for instance, which was later followed up by the GTR, the LM, the GTR LM and the US-only Sabre. Or how about the Elva? Can you remember how many variants of the Speedster were made? Problem is, when you turn the tap so righteously on, you do run the risk of diluting things a touch. Or even a lot.
But that wasn’t always the case. Shortly after the MP4-12C’s arrival in 2011, images began circulating of a tweaked version of the V8 supercar called the HS (or High Sport), featuring a new front end and rear bumper. It was shrouded in secrecy at the time, with McLaren simply saying it was the latest creation to come out of MSO and that only a handful would be made. We all thought that HS would become the new name for McLaren’s track models, but instead it would only ever ended up on two models (well, that we know of) in the company’s history so far: the aforementioned MP4-12C HS, and the car we have here: the more radical 688HS.
For the 688HS (or just MSO HS), McLaren’s spec ops team took the already glorious 675LT and set to work on turning it into a race car with numberplates. Firstly, power from the LT’s 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 was increased to (you guessed it) 688hp, with the maximum 516lb ft of torque now available from a much wider window between 3,000-7,000rpm. The full whack is available in all driver settings, too, so don’t expect things to calm down when switching into ‘normal’ mode.
Of course, it’s clear there’s nothing remotely normal about the 688HS just from the way it looks. The overall silhouette of the 675LT remains, only we now get a dive planes up front, slats above the front wheel arches and a massive active rear wing that generates up to 220kg of downforce at 150mph. The cherry on the cake – and a must-have on the MSO options list – is the roof snorkel that makes the 688HS look like a modern day F1 GTR.
Moreover, MSO put the 688HS on a bit of a diet. The splitter, front bumper, side skirts, bonnet, roof, engine bay, rear bumper and diffuser are all made from carbon fibre, as are all the wings and winglets. Even the air conditioning controls have been moved to save weight and as a little (ok, massive) bonus, the HS comes with the P1’s carbon fibre bucket seats. These are topped off with much needed four-point harnesses and McLaren’s Track Telemetry system.
This 688HS takes things a step further with its MSO Racing Green paint and yellow pinstripes highlighting every upgrade over the bog standard 675LT. There weren’t a huge amount of optional extras, given it’s a bundle of pretty much everything MSO offers shy of a one-off build, but the original buyer opted for the Alcantara interior over the leather alternative. Yes, it’s a bit trickier to look after, but it does bring with it a 3.5kg weight saving!
MSO only made 25 examples of the 688HS, making this car’s £599,995 price tag seem all the more tempting. Seriously, there aren’t that many track honed supercars with double digit production numbers going for less than seven figures today – let along one that can annihilate everything shy of a Senna at a track day. And when you consider that the 675LT was already one of the best McLarens (of any stripe) you could buy, a lighter, more powerful and rarer version really does suggest a special edition worthy of a second glance.
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