Culture / Cars

The New McLaren GT Could Turn Anyone Into a Gearhead — and Make Everything a Little Sexier

We Took a Luxurious Spin to the Chic Enclave of Long Cove

BY // 09.09.20

The need for speed is a vice for most men — and for quite a few women as well. The 2020 McLaren GT provides that and so much more.

Gearhead is not a term most would associate with me. Sure, I appreciate a beautiful car, but the moment you start talking about V8 versus V6, my eyes glaze over, and my mind wanders to what I might be missing on Bravo. But when I was offered the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a McLaren GT (in a color I’m told is Argon, which makes it even more alluring), I thought: Why not take it out on the highway for a road trip?

Seriously, nothing less would do, given that GT stands for Grand Tourer — and this new interpretation, with its stunning design and superlight material, is designed for distance. Hence, the larger trunk and storage space: Thanks to a carbon-fiber rear structure with minimal weight, 14.8 cubic feet are just waiting for your bags. Pair that with 5.3 cubic feet under the front hood, and you have enough room for a couple of Birkin weekenders and perhaps some Chanel skis and boots.

But why mix labels. McLaren custom-makes luggage to fit the exact measurements of the storage space, including a cabin bag, weekend holdall, garment carrier, and golf bag. Just to tease with the details: The cabin bag is crafted in Italy from Bridge of Weir leather with a stitching pattern that echoes the car’s interior.

A lakeside weekend vacation seemed the perfect way to test the dynamic prowess of this sports car — to feel the McLaren purr down a long stretch of Texas highway. There’s much talk recently of third homes in which to escape during the COVID-19 lockdown — a retreat that doesn’t involve a plane ride and is two hours or less driving distance from Dallas.

I chose to weekend at Long Cove, a chic enclave on Cedar Creek Lake, an hour-ish drive from Dallas. A simple guard gate shows you’ve arrived, then beautiful meandering roads until the spectacular lakeside homes emerge on the horizon. At close to 1,000 acres with six miles of waterfront, the Cove has almost 100 residences, with plans for more due to high demand.

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Long Cove is the brainchild of Don McNamara, the developer and investor behind Cityplace and West Village in Uptown Dallas. Having kept a home on Cedar Creek for years, he appreciated the natural beauty found in that corner of Texas. Inspired by other family-friendly and fashionable hamlets such as Horseshoe Bay and Seaside, Long Cove provides waterside cottages and palatial custom lakefront homes alike.

I heard a friend, Jonika Nix, had decamped to her lakeside retreat in Long Cove with her husband and kids so I decided to ring her up for a cocktail date. I utterly fell in love with their home, which they actually just finished right after the orders came to shelter-in-place. They quickly moved in this past May and she has been decorating slowly to fit their relaxed waterfront lifestyle.

Jonika Nix and Billy Fong enjoying cocktails after a long day on the lake.
Jonika Nix and Billy Fong enjoying cocktails after a long day on the lake.

My editor in chief asked photographer Steve Wrubel to take my portrait with my purring ride, and requested that he make me look “sexy and heroic” — again, more words that would probably never be used to describe me. However, when you’re in the driver’s seat of a McLaren GT, somehow your attractiveness rises exponentially. Suddenly I was a distant cousin of 007. (Call me Fong. Bill Fong.) After all, this is a British sports car and is lovingly designed from the inside out and hand-assembled at the McLaren Production Centre in England.

The GT is marketed as an everyday car for the familia — one that’s not strictly for the racetrack or a reboot of Cannonball Run. But, have no doubt: This sports car is pure luxury with its sumptuous cashmere seats and Nappa leather appointed cabin. In my model, the GT, the caramel-hued seats sported double piping and intricate perforations and refined bespoke stitching throughout the exquisitely designed cockpit. The cabin cocoons like an utterly indulgent Cucinelli cashmere blanket.

Music for this trip? Honestly, I could have gone the high-brow route and loaded my playlist with Wagner or Beethoven. But, no, I decided silky and profound ’70s rock would be my soundtrack du jour. When you’re harnessing this type of intense sound power, you need guitar riffs and drum solos to take advantage of the Bowers & Wilkins 12-speaker audio system with carbon fibre sub-bass woofers and Kevlar mid-range drive units.

The drive flew by, as this car literally hugged the road. This is agility at its finest. Curves are made for this high-performance machine, which handles them with inherent balance, responsiveness, and precision. The maximum speed of the McLaren GT is 203 mph. Alas, I didn’t get to feel that warp speed, but at one point I did coax it slightly above 100 mph. It’s odd. You don’t even feel the transition. No need to touch any buttons (wink wink “launch”), like any chic woman transitioning from day to evening, the McLaren goes over 100 effortlessly. The McLaren is in its natural state when taken to these extremes.

I had a fabulous encounter with other McLaren owners while cocktailing my way around Long Cove. Calvin and Kelly Carter have definitely drunk the McLaren Kool-Aid and share stories of their eye-catching white GT with great wit. My favorite comment: “Ours runs smoother at 155 mph than 55 mph. And it’s so much fun to prove it again and again,” says Calvin with a knowing grin.

Oh, in case you were wondering what song was queued up when I floored it for the first time, it was Cliff Richard’s “Devil Woman.” The words seemed appropriate: “I’ve had nothing but bad luck [damn annus horribilis] … She’s gonna get you.” And that’s what this McLaren has done to me — enchanted me by wrapping me in its decadent spell.

McLaren GT, from $210,000, at McLaren Dallas, 5300 Lemmon Ave., parkplace.com.

Long Cove, from $845,000, longcovetx.com.

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Exclusively offered by Erin Cluley Gallery on Culture Place. Left to right: Nic Nicosia, Nathan Green, and René Treviño

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