There are only so many hours in a day, right? But what if I told you that you could extend the number of daylight hours by driving due west on the longest day of the year? Exactly how many extra minutes you might gain is down to your stamina. And your car.
Enter the McLaren 720S Spider. I completed this trip with WhichCar journalist Tony O’Kane back on December 22nd 2019 and our plan was simple: leave Bondi at first light on Sunday morning and drive as far west as possible, stopping when the sun went down.
Could a 530kW twin turbo V8 actually get you further on the longest day of the year?
We didn’t get off to a good start. Savage bushfires were raging on Australia’s east coast and as we went to sleep the night before our drive, the Blue Mountains were on fire.
Road closures and impenetrable smoke were genuine concerns, though we still left the ghostly shores of Bondi at 5:17am and headed west.
As we climbed the Great Dividing Range, the smoke grew thicker and thicker, until around Blackheath, Tony, who refused to put the roof up on the convertible McLaren, opted to put his N95 mask on. By choice - crazy, I know.
The sound of fire-bombing Hueys filled the skies, but the smoke was so dense we couldn’t actually see them. We could, however, see the flames flicking over the tops of the tree lines.
Somehow, we scraped through the mountain range and down Victoria Pass.
A quick spin around Mount Panorama was essential, followed by the back route from Bathurst to Orange via Ophir Road (an absolute must if you are looking for a brilliant driving road in the Central West). Then it was highway miles for the rest of the day.
By 1pm we had made it past Dubbo and Tony was beginning to boil in the harsh Western Plains sun.
The smoke was still thicker than the Pirelli rubber on the McLaren’s rear wheels, but the heat was turning him into, as he put it, a big piece of human jerky.
We stopped in Nyngan for fuel and a photo op around 4pm, before our final charge to see just how far we could get. The smoke was pretty clear by this point and the soil was red, but the McLaren wasn’t skipping a beat.
The Sun finally dipped below the horizon at around 8:30pm. We were about 100km past Cobar, saltbush lining either side of the road.
We were pretty sure a McLaren had never set foot in this part of town before, but what was most impressive was how it completed our 14-plus hour road trip with such ease.
It had suffered huge amounts of bushfire smoke, leagues of bugs and 750km of outback highways and yet, it was more than ready to keep going.
And as for us? We were tired but our backs were fine; testament to the McLaren’s excellent seats and surprising ride comfort.
How much extra daylight did we get? About 30 minutes. But put it this way... that’s an extra 30 minutes with the roof down in one of the best supercars money can buy, and a sunset you simply can’t put a price on.