McLaren is one of the youngest car makers around. McLaren cars are known for the extreme tech that keeps them running on the road and keeps them a step ahead of their rivals.
So that makes you wonder - Why is McLaren still using a 20-year old laptop from Compaq?
The answer is both simple and complex. McLaren as we know it today is both a F1 racing team and a carmaker. Back in the 1990's, that wasn't the case. In the 1990's McLaren were a Formula One team that decided to build the world's fastest car.
The car they created was the iconic Mclaren F1. The F1 used a 6.1-litre BMW engine that produced 627bhp and 651Nm of torque. The F1 accelerated from 0-100km/h in just 3.2 seconds and could reach a top speed of 391km/h.
Unfortunately for McLaren, the only way their engineers could communicate with the car's ECU, was to use software that was available at that time, which unfortunately for McLaren was DOS. This software is still used to service the cars.
Now the Compaq LTE 5280 laptop does run DOS but you can also install a bespoke CA card into them. A McLaren technician told Jalopnik, "The reason we need those specific Compaq laptops is that they run a bespoke CA card which is installs into them. The CA card is an interface between the laptop software (which is DOS based) and the car."
However, to combat the scarcity of these Compaq laptops, McLaren is working on creating a new interface that will run on present day laptops. The McLaren technician stated, "We are currently working on an new interface which will be compatible with modern laptops as they old Compaqs are getting less and less reliable and harder to find."
Let's hope that McLaren's new interface gets ready soon as the current value of each of the 106 McLaren F1's produced are said to be worth around $13 Million (Rs. 86 Crores) could take a nosedive if there wasn't any way the company could service them.