Last year, Autofocus.ca pulled off an experiment that put to the test an oft-repeated claim: that vintage microcars turn way more heads at car shows than modern exotics.
This year, we captured the same experiment on video in a head-to-head “show-off” between a 2016 McLaren 570S and a 1970 Bond Bug 700ES.
You couldn’t ask for a more eye-catching car than this metallic orange 570S from Pfaff’s McLaren Toronto. Whereas other supercars go for hard-cut lines and sharp angles, this British-built machine offers sensuous curves and a profile unlike any Ferrari or Porsche.
Not only does the 570S look fast, it is fast, with a 3.2-second zero-to-100 km/h time, the same figure that once put its McLaren F1 ancestor into the world’s-quickest-car record books. That acceleration comes courtesy a twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V8 generating 562 horsepower.
A McLaren nets you the “what is that?” question a little more often than a Lamborghini might, and draws an almost even blend of people who stare silently at it, gears-in-their-head whirring; and gawkers who have to exclaim and snap a photo.
But dihedral “butterfly” doors aren’t the only way to get reactions like that—fighter-jet-like front-hinged canopies will, too, like the one on the McLaren’s rival a 1970 Bond Bug, owned by enthusiast Larry Read. The Bug is a Reliant-based three-wheeler built in a 2,270-unit run from 1970 through 1974. One of its biggest claims to fame is the fact its chassis underpinned the Land Speeder in the original Star Wars film.
The Bug might actually draw even more attention with its factory bodywork, though, which was almost always painted bright orange. Power came from a roughly-30-horsepower 700-cc four-cylinder, which’ll actually get you moving at a pretty good clip.
We pit the British duo in contest at the Johnny Be Good Diner cruise night in Brantford, Ontario, a weekly meet-up known to draw hundreds of classic cars regularly. There was nothing else like the Bond or McLaren the night we were there, though, which made it a perfect place to survey show-goers on which car first caught their eye.
As soon as the doors go up on the McLaren, people swarmed, taking pictures and gaping at the thing. That said, we had a hard time just parking and photographing the Bug, as enthusiasts both young and old surrounded it.
At the end of the day, the 570S seemed to take in a dozen more pairs of eyes than the Bond, though it was almost too close to call. It probably helped that the $254,000 supercar was quite often mistaken for its $1 million hypercar sibling, the P1—they do share more than a passing resemblance.
In terms of grabbing attention and making us want to grab for our wallets, though, your author might have to vote Bond Bug. It may not be as quick, but the smiles-per-mile rate’s gotta be just as high.