McLaren is one of the most exclusive car companies in the world, building vehicles that are on the bleeding edge of technology. But only the truly extreme wonders get full commissions from McLaren Special Operations—McLaren’s own Skunkworks. This is the 678-horsepower MSO HS, and you’re not really supposed to know about it.
MSO is who you go to when you want a funky paint scheme, or unusual stitching on your seats. That’s what you get if you’re willing to throw them a few thousand dollars here and there. But if you’re willing to go the distance—both imaginatively as well as financially—they can build you an entirely new car.
That’s what this is. It’s even faster than the ludicrous McLaren 675LT, and it’s called the McLaren MSO HS.
It’s so secret, in fact, that there are no official photos. There are only images snuck out of the factory of the near-mythical beast, which is why we’re embedding them here.
There are a lot of rumors abounding about the car, as befitting its status, but we’ve managed to suss out a few details from a source with knowledge of the company’s plans. Yes, it’s officially called the MSO HS, and not the “688 HS,” which you may have seen floating around.
The 688 part is sort of accurate, in that it refers to the 688PS, or 678 horsepower. That means it’s more powerful than the 675LT, which was already up 25 HP over the McLaren 650S.
But it’s not actually based on the 675LT, our source said. It’s still part of McLaren’s Super Series—and this may end up being the most “super” of them all—but it’s more of a new design, similar to the 675LT itself.
The most obvious upgrade, from the outside at least, is that big wing over the back. The semi-fixed aerodynamics required an enormous amount of work from McLaren just to make sure everything worked properly together, and would have cost “millions and millions” if the HS production run was limited to one car, the source said. That’s why McLaren has built 25 of them, to spread the research and development costs around. That’s what’s reflected in early-build prototype spy shots, such as this one that was floating around a little while back:
Saying this has a 25-car production run is also a bit of a misnomer, however, our source said. Because it’s such a small run, each HS is significantly different, from specifications to interiors to even the wheels.
In essence, this is what happens when you throw nearly unlimited budgets at McLaren, and wait to see what they come up with.
Of course, all of this is begging an unanswered question. Why all the secrecy? Why not have a grand unveiling, send out a press release, professional photos, the whole traditional nine yards for such a crazy achievement?
Because apparently you can pay McLaren not to do that, too, according to our source. Some of the 25 customers requested anonymity, and wanted it all kept under wraps. So that’s what McLaren did.
But that doesn’t mean we won’t see one in the flesh eventually. Do you own a McLaren MSO HS, or just have ready access to one? Email us. We’ll keep your information confidential.