Designer Behind Ayrton Senna’s McLaren MP4/4 Launches Nichols N1A Supercar
— 31 July 2023

Designer Behind Ayrton Senna’s McLaren MP4/4 Launches Nichols N1A Supercar

— 31 July 2023
James Want
James Want

Well-heeled papaya fans will soon be listing their new Elvas with the news that legendary McLaren engineering alumni, Steve Nichols, is building 100 examples of his namesake: the Nichols N1A (which has been inspired by the OG Elva).

Nichols N1A

For background, Nichols was the lead designer on both the McLaren MP4/3 and MP4/4 alongside Gordan Murrary, the latter car having famously been driven by Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna amidst their bitter rivalry in 1988.

That year the MP4/4 won 15 of the total 16 races as well as the Constructors’ Championship with a then-record 199 points; Senna went on to win the first of his three Drivers’ Championships. The MP4/4 is widely regarded as the greatest Formula 1 car of all time.

RELATED: Netflix’s 6-Part Ayrton Senna Drama Series Unveils Main Cast

The MP4/4 tackles Goodwood’s famous hill climb. Source:

Nichols is also credited as the guy who introduced carbon fibre to F1 — and with a resume that boasts a procession of impressive names like Ferrari, Jaguar, Jordan, and Sauber in addition to McLaren — meaning his credibility pretty much is beyond questioning.

His latest creation, the Nichols N1A, pays homage to the very McLaren he watched as a teenager while dreaming of the day he himself became an F1 designer — the M1A.

Nichols N1A

The McLaren M1A was the team’s first self-designed and developed sports car.

Officially debuting in 1964, it experienced success in the Canadian Sports Car Grand Prix, the forerunner to the Canadian-American (Can-Am) Challenge Cup.

Considered the first “real” McLaren, the M1A was a super-light, open-roofed, mid-engined racer, otherwise known as an Elva — heavily influencing the modern-day supercar bearing the exact same name.

With only twenty-four examples built (including this beauty that frequents Goodwood), it made perfect sense for Nichols to introduce a modern and faithful homage.

First revealed as a prototype covered in depth by YouTuber JayEmm circa 2021, the Nichols N1A sports an aluminium and carbon chassis wrapped in graphene-infused carbon fibre panels, gracefully reinterpreting the M1A.

“Sat in the fully reclined driving position, you get an idea of what Senna and Prost experienced in the MP4/4; the main difference being that it is possible to experience the N1A on the open road.”

Fifteen (one for each of the McLaren MP4/4’s victories) launch edition models will arrive with a purpose-built 7.0-litre LS3 V8 sitting behind the seats, powering the 20-inch ‘Pilot Sport Cup 2’ wrapped wheels through a striking, gated, 6-speed manual transmission.

Langford Performance Engineering is responsible for the N1A’s 478kW (650hp) output, which should be just enough to get the sub-1,000 kg roadster moving.

As mentioned earlier, Nichols will build only 100 units, including the fully-loaded launch edition cars. The more frugal customers out there can option the 75 remaining cars with smaller Chevy LT1 engines.

In terms of pricing, currently, there’s zero word on the matter. But if you’re in the market for a glorious track day toy for what will surely be a fraction of the cost of McLaren’s own Elva… look no further than the Nichols N1A.

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James Want
James is the co-founder of Luxity Media and managing editor of Boss Hunting and B.H. Magazine. He has more than twelve years experience writing, photographing, producing, and publishing both earned and paid content in the men's lifestyle space.


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