Driving Harrison Woodruff’s Napier Green MSO Special

McLaren began gradually dominating the supercar industry over 15 years or so, with an expanding lineup of impressive models culminating most recently in the 765LT. Combining Formula 1 engineering with stellar design language inspired by Frank Stephenson’s biomimicry obsession, McLaren‘s supercar style and performance potential both progressed in leaps and bounds from the iconic F1 and the revitalizing MP4-12C.

Among all the brand’s stellar supercars, one of the greatest standouts remains the ‘Longtail’ variant of the 570S, the 600LT that went out of production in 2020. I previously drove a 600LT for a few minutes in North Carolina but recently got the chance to climb behind the wheel of supercar rally enthusiast Harrison Woodruff’s rare Napier Green MSO build for an afternoon in the Malibu canyons.


Harrison Woodruff’s MSO 2019 McLaren 600LT

The specific paint tone of Napier Green apparently harkens back to a town in New Zealand, the island homeplace of Bruce McLaren. Available only from McLaren Special Operations, the Napier Green paint on Woodruff’s 600LT definitely turns heads, ranging from a yellowish tint to almost blue depending on the angle and lighting.

Of course, colors and styles only go so far for McLaren, serving to highlight the performance potential beneath the aquatic-inspired skins. In the case of Woodruff’s 600LT, a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V8 mounted amidships pumps 592 horsepower and 457 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels only through a seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle. That torque figure matches my Cayenne’s twin-turbo 4.0-liter mill, but the McLaren tips the scales a full ton less, at a curb weight of only 2,989 pounds.

Key Features

  • Twin-turbo 3.8-liter V8 with 592 hp
  • Special Napier Green paint from MSO
  • Carbon fiber everything, inside and out
Specifications

  • Engine/Motor: Twin-turbo 3.8-liter V8
  • Horsepower: 592 hp
  • Torque: 457 lb-ft
  • Drivetrains: RWD
  • Transmission: 7-speed DCT
Pros

  • Impeccable balance and handling
  • All the power you’ll ever need
  • Comfortable interior with McLaren’s best design
  • MSO custom touches inside and out
Cons

  • If you have to ask, you can’t afford it
  • Minimal storage space
  • Concerns about McLaren electrical gremlins

MSO Napier Green Paint Job

Woodruff significantly bought this specific 600LT because of the paint color and it may be the only one in America but he ended up deciding upon the model after driving many other McLaren variants, from 720S to the 765LT. After blowing an engine on his GT3 RS due to an oil pump failure—surprising on that famous dry-sump flat-six, to say the least, but luckily covered by warranty—Woodruff told me he wanted a supercar with a bit more compliance than the prangy Porsche. Funnily enough, that’s exactly what Andy Papa of RS Xperience, whose 600LT I drove near the Tail of the Dragon, also told me—after also ditching his GT3 RS for the McLaren.


But once behind the wheel, the incredible suspension tuning job that McLaren manages to produce in a low-slung supercar comes to the fore. The combination of effortless power, confident cornering, and comfortable ride quality simply defies comprehension, in my mind just taking everything I love about Lotus cars and doing more—in every way.

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Perfect Power From The Twin-Turbo 3.8-Liter V8

Compared to another McLaren I drove on similar roads, 1016 Industries founder Peter Northrop’s personal carbon-fiber widebody 720S with 986 wheel horsepower, the 600LT feels slightly less over-the-top. Sure, shaving 420 pounds and ratcheting the insanity up to four-figure horsepower stats sounds fun, but public roads simply don’t do such a build justice. The 600LT, meanwhile, might sit at the top of my list in terms of perfect spec—just enough to get in a bit of trouble but not so much that danger lurks around every tight turn.


After I first drove Andy Papa’s McLaren, he immediately asked me about the steering. Surprisingly, I never even thought about the steering while actually driving the car, because I never needed to. Perfection feels like this. Telepathic input in a firm yet compliant chassis, Woodruff’s 600LT brought me right back into that same zone.

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All Carbon Everything

Woodruff’s MSO special also features all the carbon fiber possible, inside and out. As a cyclist, I love carbon, but on cars, the potential for scraping or dinging or tearing off a front splitter makes me a bit paranoid. Plus, some of the more aggressive wings and diffuser blades and side intakes look a bit too aggressive for my personal taste—but we’re in supercar land here, people, where bold is the name of the game.


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Rally-Ready Interior Design

On the interior, the 600LT’s design certainly exceeds the 720S with a simpler layout and more intuitive switchgear. Woodruff, in particular, appreciates his seats—with MSO stitched onto the headrest, of course—because they are more comfortably snug the backside when compared to the highly desirable, but less tolerant, Senna seats that so many owners swap in. After long supercar rallies, Woodruff said, those Senna seats start to feel more like the GT3 RS. And don’t even ask about the bumpy roads here in Los Angeles, where he dailies the 600LT (in addition to his recently acquired Shelby Super Baja F-250, with which I actually shot a video at the very auction where Woodruff made the purchase ).

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McLaren’s Formula 1 Handling

Even in a stunning supercar with 692 horsepower available at the lightest tap of throttle, that sublime suspension definitely emerges as the star of the show. But taking the time to focus on all the other little details brings out further nuances, from the brake pedal’s pressure and travel to the fact that McLaren only equips the 600LT with 225 tires up from and 285s at the rear. Woodruff might end up swapping on some larger wheels and tires in the name of more aggressive looks and improved handling, but acknowledged my own surprise at how well such a powerful supercar still performs such surprisingly small shoes.


I also asked Woodruff about any potential reliability concerns, since both Peter Northrop and Andy Papa told me hilarious stories about electrical gremlins that they just knewly live with because they love their McLarens so much. Call the GT3 RS engine failure rare, for sure, but so far Woodruff told me he remains impressed by the 600LT’s dependability. We’ll just have to see how the car holds up to thousands of miles of hard driving in the coming months—and for the record, you can sign me up to serve as that kind of quality control tester for a 600LT any time of any day.

Sources: youtube.com, instagram.com, cars.mclaren.com, 1016industries.com, and rsxperience.com.

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