McLaren’s Special Operations (MSO) program can provide bespoke customization for McLaren buyers, now and in the future. We've already seen McLaren show an MSO-prepared MP4-12C at Pebble Beach, but it appears the British supercar manufacturer has come up with something extra special for this year.
MSO unveiled the McLaren X-1 in an exclusive event held at the Quail Lodge on Friday, August 17. Billed as a one-off-supercar, the X-1 is more than just a rolling concept that may hint at elements of the upcoming 'P12' F1 successor; it is a fully bespoke and functional supercar created by MSO for a client with very particular tastes.
Work on the X-1 began some three years ago, before the launch of the MP4-12C. The unnamed buyer, who had previously purchased a McLaren F1 and a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, contacted Ron Dennis directly to request a car with the capabilities of the MP4-12C, but with a unique body reflecting the buyer’s style and personality.
With the client specifying a “timeless and classically elegant” design inspired by the likes of the 1961 Facel Vega, the 1959 Buick Electra, the 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K and the 1971 Citroen SM, designers (including some from outside of McLaren) spent months creating sketches before clay models were approved.
In all, the design process took some 18 months to complete. The net result is a car that carries the lines of a more traditional front-engine, rear drive automobile, but benefits from the MP4-12Cs mid-engine, rear drive layout for improved handling.
Starting with McLaren’s MonoCell platform, the X1 gets carbon fiber body panels, finished in piano black as specified by the buyer. Body sides are kept in natural carbon fiber, oversprayed with lacquer for a unique finish.
Most components were created especially for the X-1, like the headlights and taillights inspired by the McLaren Speed Marque logo. Brightwork is made of machined aluminum, nickel-plated for durability and consistency in appearance. The enclosed rear wheels, a design trait specified by the buyer, are accessed via carbon fiber panels.
2012 McLaren X-1 Concept
While the interior is based on the MP4-12C, it's as customized as the rest of the X-1 with appointments such as McLaren Red Nappa leather, nickel-plated switchgear and carbon fiber trim that incorporates a titanium weave for added dimensionality.
Mechanicals, including the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 rated at 617 horsepower, are shared by the MP4-12C, which made the process of homologation for road use somewhat easier for MSO. As for acceleration and top speed, MSO isn’t releasing numbers, referring to both as “astonishing.”
Following the display at Pebble Beach, the X-1 will be returned to McLaren’s Special Operations for a final pre-delivery inspection, before it’s handed off to the client. The automaker isn’t saying what the final bill will be, but given the amount of time and effort dedicated to the project, our guess is “well into the millions of dollars.”
McLaren says they have the capacity to work on two such projects at any given time, overlapping the build of one with the design of another. It's a distinct turn back to the days of coachbuilt cars--only this time, wrapped around something far more exotic.