Borrowing a page from Ferrari, which has been in the business of building bespoke models for its affluent clients for decades, McLaren blew the covers off a one-of-a-kind production model based on the MP4-12C that was designed for an anonymous car enthusiast.
Named the McLaren X-1, the supercar will make its world premiere at an exclusive event later on Friday at the Pebble Beach Concours in Monterey, California.
The X-1 was built by McLaren Special Operations (MSO), which is the division of McLaren Automotive responsible for the delivery of bespoke projects.
"The conversation began with our Executive Chairman Ron Dennis almost three years ago − before the 12C was even launched. The client wanted a machine that had all the capability of the 12C but wrapped in a unique body that reflected his needs and personality."
In a subsequent meeting, Paul Mackenzie and Design Director Frank Stephenson showed the unnamed client images from the world of automotive, architecture, fashion, design and even Hollywood films for inspiration.
The client then narrowed down his choices to a 1961 Facel Vega, a 1953 Chrysler D’Elegance Ghia, a 1959 Buick Electra, a 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K and a 1971 Citroën SM as well as various examples of architecture like he Guggenheim museums in New York and Bilbao, a Jaeger LeCoultre art deco clock, an Airstream trailer, a Thomas Mann Montblanc pen, a grand piano and even…an eggplant.
"The client wanted a competition between external designers – some outside the automotive world – and McLaren’s own designers," notes Stephenson.
In the end, a design by McLaren’s Korean-born RCA graduate Hong Yeo was chosen and completed under the direction of Stephenson.
One of the most difficult aspects of the design was to implement styling cues and proportions from classic models with front engines on a vehicle platform with a mid-engine layout. This probably explains why the styling process took 18 months to complete.
According to designer Hong Yeo, "[The] X-1 embodies the McLaren value that every part has to have a purpose. No details are simply visual cues, every one has a purpose. Although I like to think the wide body combined with pontoon style rear fenders will ensure the car glides when it’s moving just like a superhero’s cape..."
McLaren says that the entire body was made from scratch, from the carbon fiber panels down to the lights and wheels, something the necessitated new testing and homologation as the vehicle was to be "a usable car, road legal and capable of travelling at supercar speeds".
The building process started before the styling was signed off and was completed in two and a half years.
One of the highlights of the exterior are the pop-up rear wings positioned over the rear wheels.
The X-1 measures 4,658mm long and 2,097mm (with mirrors) wide making it 109mm longer and 188mm wider than the MP4-12C with which it shares the same height at 1,199mm.
The lighter and more exclusive carbon fiber body panels compensate for the increased exterior dimensions and as a result, curb weight is almost identical at around 1,400kg or 3,086 lbs.
Inside, while the basic architecture of the MP4-12C's interior did not change, the cabin was personalized in terms of the materials, colors and trims.
Under the sheetmetal, the X-1 shares the same the major mechanical components as the 12C, including the twin-turbocharged V8 engine with 616hp (625PS).
McLaren said that after its debut in Monterey, the X-1 will return to MSO headquarters in Woking for a thorough check up before it heads over to the owner's private collection.