Why there’s so much fascination with the phantom Apple-McLaren supercar

We want one. Whether anyone makes one is beside the point.

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Credit: McLaren

You pull into a free spot at Caribou.

All eyes turn toward the sleek silver and black sports car, red tail lights gleaming in the dim morning light, the soft thump of a synth-rock band accenting your preeminent arrival. You open the gull-wing door and grab your satchel.

Siri chimes in from the surround-sound speakers: “Close the door and lock up, John?”

“Yep,” you command.

The door lowers, and at least three people nod in approval.

This is the future of automotive engineering: style and technology, intertwined like ethernet cords at a LAN gaming party. Forget the iPhone. Never-mind about the iPad. Tesla is for business people with too much spare cash. The Apple-McLaren supercar might never exist, and both companies have denied any plans for joining forces like Obi-Wan and Luke in what would surely become the most logical brand combination since the first person spread clover honey across wheat toast.

I want to buy one, and I’m a journalist -- I don’t have enough money to buy a Toyota, let alone a McLaren. I’d pay for the privilege of opening that gull-wing door by voice, and having Siri obey my every command. “Siri, change the temp to 72 for the next hour please.” “Siri, find the first album by Bastille and play it at the volume I like.” “Siri, tell the person in the car next to me that I’m not going to do any drag racing today.” “Siri, ask my rich uncle for a bank loan, I’m a little worried about my next meal.”

We’d have conversations with our car. We’d drive to work in five minutes when it used to take 20. We’d connect with each other like network nodes to other Apple-McLaren supercars and form an inextricable emotional bond. Cars would become more than an extension of our personality, they’d become a cocoon of superior user interface design, a supercomputer on wheels, a cloud storage drive that goes 0-60 in three seconds, a carbon fiber and aluminum silver bullet with a surround sound stereo.

Seriously, we’re ready for a car like this. It won’t be remotely affordable, but then again -- have you visited a Verizon store lately? Over $700 for the iPhone 7 Plus, which is a ridiculous price. You can buy a powerful, almost new Android phone for $100 on Craigslist.

Yet, Apple continually sets sales records.

A billion people have bought an iPhone. There may not be more than a few thousand people on the planet who can pay $1.15M for a McLaren P1, but the McLaren P1 is also not outfitted with iTunes running on a Mac interface on a touchscreen meant for driving. The P1 doesn’t have a dashboard designed by Jony Ive. 

Park one of these in front of the Apple store, LED lights revealing every carbon fiber crevice, and maybe we’ll figure out how to take out a second mortgage -- or maybe a first mortgage and live in the trunk. We’re tired of seeing cars as nothing more than a commuter pod. We want style, luxury, tech, and brand identity.

Will this ever become a reality? Probably not. There’s no reason Apple would ever make a supercar. But there’s definitely, most assuredly a reason some of us would buy one. "Siri, drive me to work, I need to take a nap."

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