McLaren Automotive’s Special Operations Department presented the McLaren X-1 at The Quail gathering. The X-1 concept is one of the highlights at this year’s Pebble Beach weekend in Monterey, USA. It has been created on commission for a McLaren customer. The client in question already has the McLaren F1, a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren and a McLaren MP4-12C. It took three years of hard work.
The McLaren X-1 features a carbon MonoCell with completely unique bodywork. The design brief for the car was ‘timeless and classical elegance’. It’s a group project that took 18 months to sign off. Both McLaren’s Design Director Frank Stephenson and RCA graduate Hong Yeo worked to complete it, producing a 30 per cent scale model and a full size hard foam model. The only constraint was that the car must have metal brightwork rails running from the nose, over the shoulderline and hips.
Inspirations ranged from architecture to the automotive world and beyond. From the automotive world, designers took cues from the 1961 Facel Vega, a 1953 Chrysler D’Elegance Ghia, a 1959 Buick Electra, a 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K and a 1971 Citroën SM. While the Guggenheim museums in New York and Bilbao and the classic Airstream trailer also played a part in the process.
The complete bodywork is bespoke as are the front and rear lights which look like the McLaren Automotive logo and bespoke nickel-plated wheels. The special design is reason it took so long to complete. All body panels are carbon fiber with some finished in gloss black, others in carbon fiber. One of the first things you’ll notice are the enclosed rear wheels with carbon fiber covers.
Aerodynamic testing has been comprehensive with the design tested and 625 miles on two intensive testing stints at the Idiada circuit in Spain. After, the car was rebuilt for the customer, back to showroom condition.
The attention to detail extends to the carbon fiber covered rear number plate illuminators and the machined aluminium header cap. The doors are new but they retain the dihedral action and twin hinges. The glasshouse is the only element retained from the MP4-12C. The X-1 is 109mm longer, 188mm wider but with an identical height and an almost identical 1,400kg kerb weight. The new dimensions are completely down to the new bodywork.
Inside, the MP4-12C interior is retained. It gets a bespoke Harissa Red McLaren Nappa leather for the seats, door and roof trim. Switchgear is constructed from machined nickel-coated, aluminium bezels. Carbon interior trim features a titanium weave and the carpets are Special Andesiter.
Mechanicals remain unchanged from the McLaren MP4-12C which means the X-1 features a 3.8 liter V8 bi-turbo aluminum with variable valve timing and 600hp. Maximum torque is 600Nm between 3,000 and 7,000rpm. In the MP4-12C this means sprint times between 0 to 100km/h are possible in just 3.3 seconds, 200km/h takes just 9.1 seconds from zero. Top speed for the MP4-12C is 330km/h.
The McLaren X-1 Concept will return to Woking after the Monterey weekend to receive a final check before it is delivered to the customer. Of course, if you wanted your own customised MP4-12C, McLaren Automotive offers that opportunity through the McLaren Special Operations division. The sky really is the limit with options ranging from simple colour requests to aerodynamic upgrades as you see here, even mechanical upgrades are a possibility too!
The X-1 epitomises how we can not only create a truly unique product tailored to the client, but also enable the client to become a key member of the design team throughout the process. It has been a truly rewarding and unforgettable experience. And I think that we as a team have created a completely unforgettable car that is true to one man’s vision.
Hong Yeo concludes:
We designers are often blinded by the sun and assume that whatever we see and understand is the only way forward: to see the stars, sometimes you need the absence of that blinding light … looking at a car from a different perspective is what X-1 stands for.