McLaren Special Operations (MSO), the division of McLaren Automotive responsible for the delivery of bespoke projects, presented a breathtaking one-off supercar at The Quail, an exclusive event on August 17, 2012 that is a highlight of the Pebble Beach weekend in Monterey, Calif.
Called the McLaren X-1 and based structurally on the company’s groundbreaking carbon MonoCell but with a totally unique body, it has been created for an anonymous car enthusiast.
MSO Programme Director Paul Mackenzie explains: ‘The X-1 showcases the skills of McLaren Special Operations. More and more luxury customers want bespoke or individual features. The X-1 demonstrates that we can provide the ultimate personalization service. It also shows that MSO is not just a technology led company. X-1 demonstrates a commitment to perfection and to the highest levels of quality.’
All body panels of the X-1 are made from carbon, and are finished in a rich piano black, as specified by the owner. Body sides are lacquered visual carbon fibre. ‘The black paint has no metallic or color tints and is one of the most challenging colors to paint, but the finish is absolutely exquisite and befits the car perfectly’ said Frank Stephenson, chief designer, McLaren Automotive.
Components were tooled exclusively for the car. They even include unique head- and taillights, inspired by the McLaren Speed Marque logo. The brightwork is machined from solid aluminium, and a nickel finish is then applied. The McLaren logo in the nose is specially machined from solid aluminium then nickel plated. Wheels are also unique to the X-1, and are diamond turned with a tinted lacquer to complement the exterior nickel-plated brightwork.
The brightwork itself is all machined from solid aluminium, and then nickel finished to give the same hue throughout. Even the McLaren Speed Marque badge in the nose is machined from solid aluminium, then nickel plated.
The same brightwork is used for the over-the-shoulder rails (as specified by the owner), at the base of the windscreen and the back of the glasshouse, and for the ‘eyebrows’ over the bespoke headlights. The McLaren Airbrake rear wing is also machined from solid aluminium and nickel plated, to complement the rest of the brightwork.
Perhaps the most unusual styling feature is the enclosed rear wheels, an upshot of the owner’s desire to have a car reflecting ‘timeless elegance’. The wheels are accessed by carbon panels using, as Stephenson explains, ‘some of the most gorgeous hinges you’ve ever seen’. The styling, too, is in no way compromised by the opening rear wings.
The doors have also been developed specifically for the X-1, although they retain the dihedral action and twin hinges, and the roof is also new. Externally, only the glasshouse is carried over from the 12C.
The unique body of the X-1 means most dimensions have changed. The X-1 is 4658mm long – 109mm longer than a 12C. Width is 2097mm (with mirrors) – an increase of 188 mm. Despite the revised roofline, the height remains the same, at 1199mm. Kerb weight is almost identical (about 1400kg), as the lighter carbon body panels compensate for the greater length and width. Light weight, as with all McLaren projects, was a priority.
While the basic architecture of the interior did not change, personalization includes bespoke Harissa Red McLaren Nappa leather used for the seats, door and roof trim, and switchgear with machined nickel-coated, aluminium bezels. The carbon interior trim has a titanium weave, to give a magical 3D-like effect. Special Andesite tufted carpet covers the floor.
All these changes ensured the X-1 needed special homologation for road use. The car has been thoroughly engineered to be usable and road legal. The X-1 shares the same the major mechanical components as the 12C, including the twin-turbo 625PS engine, giving astonishing acceleration and top speed.
After its debut, on the Monterey Peninsular, the X-1 will return to MSO headquarters in Woking and be carefully checked over before it takes a place in the owner’s collection.
Notes to readers:
The majority of suppliers for the X-1 were British. Prominent partners with the X-1 were Crosby Composites, responsible for the bespoke carbon fibre, and Luzzo Bespoke, who made the brightwork. Both are based in Brackley, Northamptonshire.
McLaren Automotive heritage:
McLaren Automotive has a 20 year heritage in producing landmark sports cars for the road: the McLaren F1 road car, which was launched in 1992, set the world land speed record for a production car, and is regarded as one of the iconic sports cars of the modern age. The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren (2003 – 2009) is the most successful supercar ever in its price bracket, having sold twice as many cars as its nearest carbon-based rival.
McLaren Automotive has now moved from these successful automotive projects to launching a new car company that will design, develop, and distribute a range of high performance, highly efficient and technologically innovative sports cars through a global network of highly respected premium car retailers in every major automotive market.
Around 4,000 sports cars will be built annually by the middle of the decade in the advanced new manufacturing facility, the McLaren Production Centre. McLaren Automotive’s debut model is the 12C. Drawing on the company’s long-standing Formula 1 experience in its concept and development, the 12C is lighter, faster, more powerful, more fuel efficient and more exclusive than its key competition. It supports its performance benchmarks by introducing a unique one-piece moulded carbon chassis into the ‘core’ sports car segment in a new production method that brings the performance of £500,000 cars to market at a third of the price. All future McLarens will continue the themes presented by the 12C: innovation, integration of Formula 1 technology, and ultimate performance.
In 2011 McLaren Automotive announced the launch of McLaren GT; a new race car manufacturer combining the expertise of McLaren Automotive, McLaren Racing, McLaren Electronic Systems, McLaren Applied Technologies and CRS Racing. McLaren GT is responsible for developing the first racing derivative of the 12C sports car, the MP4-12C GT3. Twenty-five examples of the MP4-12C GT3 are now racing with private teams in Europe in 2012.