McLaren Certified Pre-Owned Program Offers A Rational Approach To First-Time Supercar Ownership

McLaren Certified Pre-Owned Program Offers A Rational Approach To First-Time Supercar Ownership

“We had another record sales year for Certified Pre-Owned cars,” says Nic Brown, president of McLaren of the Americas. Brown spent years in North American sales and marketing with the BMW Group, working on both the BMW and Rolls-Royce brands.

“Our CPO program is a great opportunity to either enter the brand or stay with the brand. Depending on the car, depending on the dealership, our CPO is a minimum of 12 months, but it can be as much as 24 months,” says Brown. The McLaren population in North America recently surpassed 10,000 sold since 2011. The 570S comprises about 20 percent of the population, and 720s like my test car seen here make up 25 percent. I’ve driven 570s on several occasions over the past six years, tested the first 720S on the West Coast, and have been in two 765 Longtails and the 675LT. The 675 Longtail and the 570 were pivot points, the cars fulfilling the promise of the McLaren name. Every McLaren since has proven phenomenal on the hunt.

“The certified pre-owned program does include track use, but not for competitive events,” says Brown. “For example, you cannot use the vehicle in a race series. But track days or McLaren owner events are all permissible. The only prerequisite is that the customer complete pre-track and post-track inspections with a McLaren dealer. Each inspection is about $300. Other than that, everything that one would expect to be covered in a CPO warranty is covered.” This is the definition of reasonable, $600 a small price to pay for the freedom to sample a high-performance road car on-track. No sensible person would head to a track day without putting the car up on the rack for undercarriage inspection and plugging it in for a diagnostic test. Make sure your car is ship-shape.

“Wearable items are not covered: tires, brakes, windshield wipers. The windshield has to be covered by the owner’s insurance provider,” says Brown. I’ve lost two windshields in sports cars of my own over the years: the cars are low, big rigs have tall tires that can throw good-sized stones, so this seems a reasonable qualifying point in a CPO program for supercars.

“But everything that has to do with powertrain, all the electrical, is covered by the CPO warranty,” says Brown. Track days will wear tires quickly. Two or perhaps three track days might mean the equivalent of two years’ road driving on the pads and the ceramic-carbon rotors, which are exotic, expensive components. Any supercar owner who has participated in a track day will know the price of such a “play date.” Here again, this is a very reasonable qualifying point in the warranty.

“Let’s say you purchased a 570S coupe with a 2-year CPO warranty. While still under that warranty the customer can purchase an extended service contract in addition to the CPO warranty for 12 or 24 months. A customer can do this for up to 15 years,” says Brown. Allowing owners to repeatedly extend the service contract can push coverage to nearly the total useful lifespan of the vehicle.

For McLaren and its dealers, the CPO warranty and service contract make it far, far easier to resell older models, buoying values and keeping the entire enterprise successful and profitable. As the Germans learned long ago with luxury sedans, it’s not the first sale or lease that matters most but finding a second or third owner to extend the car well over the horizon. Unlike workaday luxury sedans and SUVs, supercars tend not to gather high mileage. They can thus migrate from one loving home to another. Oftentimes the second owner is the first owner’s friend.

“Let’s take a 570S. If the vehicle is less than five years old, it would be $4000 to extend by 12 months. For 24 months, $7400. If it is within five to ten years, it would be $5000 to extend by 12 months, and $9400 for 24 months. It’s good peace of mind. Most of our owners really drive the cars,” says Brown. Considering 570S values have remained buoyant, most trading in the high $200s—one recently went for a surprising and probably anomalous $440,000 at a Mecum auction—this is a reasonable sum.

“In the industry, values are up. We are no exception. We have seen anywhere from 30 to 35 percent value growth. Our specialty vehicles like the 765LT coupes are 40 to 50 percent over MSRP on the pre-owned market,” says Brown. And Ultimate Series cars like P1, Senna and Speedtail are already at or well above a million, becoming collector assets as much as performance cars. “We do have a program for the Ultimate Series cars [e.g., Senna, P1] that is slightly different, but you can purchase an extended service contract for Ultimate Series vehicles. The program for Senna is available for one to five years.” Ultimate Series cars comprise a very small population, but very important for the image of the McLaren brand. If you own one, it’s likely Nic Brown will take your call without hesitation.

“Maybe 15 to 20 percent of customers pursue serious track use, but many of these have GT4s,” says Brown. “If one excludes the track special GT4, among other McLarens you’re looking at maybe five to ten percent of the road cars have had frequent track use, but a dealer will be able to see that quickly. There are many telltale signs of track use: running a diagnostic, inspecting the undercarriage of the car. The buyer of a CPO vehicle would know and be able to factor that into the decision-making process.” Here again, the value of the dealership is knowledge of prior owners and their use of the vehicle. We all know it’s not the year or the mileage, but how hard the car was used.

What sort of mileage does one find on McLaren 570s, 720s and the various Longtails? “Typical annual mileage is 2500 to 7500. McLaren owners really do drive their vehicles. But they may also have other vehicles in their stable. For a vehicle that is up to five years old, usually it would be less than 30,000 miles,” says Brown. “And for cars that are five to ten years old, under 75,000 miles. The highest miles we have personally seen on any McLaren CPO is 40,000, but that was an exception. That said, we will allow any car up to 75,000 miles that is between five and ten years old to receive a CPO warranty. Average two- to three-year-old cars on the market have between 5,000 and 15,000 miles.” One only rarely sees supercars with high mileage.

“CPO is only available for cars purchased from a dealer, but that individual can still purchase an extended service contract from the dealer, even if they purchased it privately.” That said, with specialty cars, particularly high-performance cars, it is almost always preferable to buy and sell through the dealership. Sure, there’s the cost of the transaction through the dealer, but it’s a much cleaner process and opens the door to the certified pre-owned warranty, which is of great value.