At the Heart of Every McClaren Is a Nissan

It’s an old adage that the heart of every McClaren is a Nissan. While that may not be strictly true, the fact is that the engines of many a sports car are in fact a reworked version of a powerplant found in a Nissan. For example, the VH45DE engine found in the Nissan Versa is a 1.8-liter, 105-horsepower unit. But in the Versa’s case, the VH45DE is tuned for economy. In a McClaren, it’s tuned for performance

The McClaren is a modern take on the classic SUV—complete with a highly powerful engine and an off-road suspension system. But what many people don’t know is that at the heart of every McClaren is a Nissan. The McClaren was created by a former Nissan engineer who decided he wanted to make a car that could handle any terrain. When designing the car, he took the best parts of the Subaru Forester and the Toyota Rav4, and added his own unique touches. The result? The McClaren.

The new McClaren has been an absolute sensation in the car world, with a few just complaining about the price. However, the new McClaren is packed with cutting edge technology that will be making its way into Nissans as well. The brain behind the new McClaren, Jeremy McClure, has been at Nissan for over 20 years, and he has voiced his opinion on the Nissans of the future. “We have been working on some new technologies that will be making their way into Nissans in the next few years, that I think the future will be very exciting.”

20 years ago, the Nissan R390 GT1 was developed for the gruelling Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race. This powerful machine has largely been forgotten by history, but thanks to McLaren, it lives on today. A custom car manufacturer bought the rights to the R390 engine and breathed new life into it. Nissan R390 GT1 | Ker Robertson via Getty Images


In 1987, Yoshikazu Ishikawa developed Nissan’s first race car. The VEJ30 did not meet expectations and was revised the following year. Yoshimasa Hiyashi has completed this new version, which has been christened VRH30. In parallel, a second VRH35 racing engine was developed. In 1997, the manufacturer joined forces with Tom Walkinshaw Racing to develop the VRH35L. This engine was developed with Le Mans in mind, and Nissan made the most of it. They created an iconic design that never got the recognition it deserved. Several distinctive features make the R390 unique. That’s, uh… Only one Nissan R390 GT1 was built. It received a VIN number and a color change, leading to persistent rumors of a second R390. The only R390 on the road is now in the Nismo warehouse in Zama. If the car were sold today, it would be worth more than $2,000,000.


Nissan created the R390 Gt1 for a specific purpose. The car was designed as a candidate for victory in the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race. Nismo worked with Tom Walkinshaw Racing, known for his work with McLaren, on the development of the R390. The top speed of the R390 was reportedly 354 mph, but this claim was never officially confirmed. Unfortunately, the machine ended its existence without waiting for the victories. In 1998, the Le Mans regulations in the GT class were changed. This measure was taken to limit abuse of vulnerabilities by manufacturers. Unfortunately, the rule change meant that the R390 was no longer subject to regulation.

word-image-9043 Nissan Motorsports Nissan R390 GT1 | Stu Forster/Allsport via Getty Images The VRH3h weighed just over 374 pounds. It was equipped with two IHI turbines. The Street R390 has over 550 lb-ft of torque and a top speed of 4400 rpm. In the early stages of the MP4-12C’s development, McLaren bought the rights to the VRH35. They worked closely with Ricardo to rebuild the engine to their exact specifications. This rebuilt engine got the designation M838T. The M838T became the centerpiece of the P1’s hybrid powertrain. The 720S is powered by a 4.0-liter engine. McLaren has developed the M840T, which boosts power to 710 hp at 8,500 rpm. The bike has come a long way since its origins in racing. Even with Nismo’s contributions to the racing world, the two brands couldn’t be more different. The historical connection between the two is an interesting footnote to explore.So, although the car is a McLaren, it’s actually built by Nissan. The engine is built by Nissan, and, well, it pretty much is a Nissan. So, why did they call it a McLaren? Marketing, of course. Because a small fraction of people that care about the name will be interested, while most of the people that buy the car will just be happy that the car is good and won’t care about the name. And, that’s kind of the point of branding, isn’t it? To make people care about things that they otherwise wouldn’t?. Read more about mclaren mp4-12c and let us know what you think.

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