Did I say "attempt"? It was more like the attempt of an attempt in the end, but it all started with McLaren throwing a lot of money and resources in the early 1990s to start a brand new project for them.
In short, that project translated into breaking the all-time land speed record in a specially designed jet-powered vehicle, with early rumors putting none other than Ayrton Senna as the driver of the thingamajig. Spoiler alert, the plan never went fully ahead.
As you all know, Ayrton Senna succumbed to a Formula 1 accident in 1994, at Imola, when he was no longer part of McLaren, while the jet-powered car never got past the mockup stage.
It had all started around 1991, when Ron Dennis, McLaren's head honcho, was riding on the waves of one Formula 1 success after another. Alain Prost had left the team but Ayrton Senna was still the man to beat and he was McLaren's protégé.
The land speed record (LSR ) story had started to pick up pace in 1993, and it oddly involved Richard Noble, who had held the record for ten years at the time with the Thrust2 and was secretly working on the Thrust SSC, which currently holds the record for the fastest land vehicle.
As it happens, someone at McLaren got in touch with Noble, asking him if he had any footage of land speed record attempts, but without telling him the reason. Other acquaintances around Richard had received similar inquiries, so the beans were obviously spilled – McLaren was working on beating his record with a car of its own.
A few months later, in mid-December 1993, McLaren was organizing a mysterious press conference at its headquarters in Woking, officially announcing that its engineers had been developing a jet-powered vehicle to break the land speed record for the last couple of years.
Sadly, no cameras were allowed on the premises, but McLaren also showed a mockup of the vehicle, tentatively named Maverick. The Brits not only wanted to go after Richard Noble's record from 1983, but they wanted to do it in style, by breaking the sound barrier as well.
The actual vehicle was to be further developed and built by a newly formed skunkworks team called McLaren Advanced Vehicles (the MAV in Maverick) and millions upon millions would be poured into the project to ensure its success.