McLaren has revealed a one-of-a-kind supercar ahead of this weekend’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance — and you can’t buy it. Called the McLaren X-1, the model was specially commissioned by an anonymous buyer.
The X-1 is the product of McLaren Special Operations, a division of the carmaker tasked with building customized and bespoke versions of McLaren road cars. It is based on the MP4-12C and was built for a customer who already owned a McLaren F1, a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, and an MP4-12C. The design and construction of the X-1 took over two years, in part because McLaren had to recertify the model for road use.
The McLaren X-1′s custom carbon-fiber bodywork has a rounded, drooping nose; flat bodysides interrupted by enormous strakes and vents; panels covering the rear wheels that can move upward to allow wheel access; and an angular tail with a small spoiler and an integrated diffuser. The black painted carbon fiber is accented with brushed magnesium rails. As a result of the tweaks, the X-1 is 4.3 inches longer and 7.4 inches wider than a regular McLaren MP4-12C.
There are fewer changes for the interior: Harissa Red Nappa leather adorns the seats, door panels, and headliner; the switchgear has nickel-coated aluminum bezels; and the carbon-fiber trim has a “magical” 3D weave effect.
What would inspire a buyer to commission such a vehicle? According to McLaren, the design team drew inspiration from the following items: a 1961 Facel Vega, a 1953 Chrysler D’Elegance Ghia, a 1959 Buick Electra, a 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K and a 1971 Citroën SM; the Guggenheim museum; an art deco clock; an Airstream trailer; a high-end fountain pen; a piano; an eggplant; and a photo of Audrey Hepburn.
“The key qualities the client desired were ‘timeless and classical elegance’,” McLaren design director Frank Stephenson explained in a statement. “Which was some challenge.”
Because almost all exterior parts of the X-1 are different from the MP4-12C — including the wheels, lights, and bodywork — McLaren had to road-test the new one-off in order to make it road legal. That required 625 miles of road testing, including a track test in Spain.
The basic MonoCell chassis and powertrain from the MP4-12C are left intact. The X-1 has a twin-turbo, 3.8-liter V-8 engine with 617 hp, a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and an advanced all-wheel-drive system.
McLaren Special Operations says that about 15 percent of buyers already ask for some customization of their car, whether unique colors or new bumpers. Although the X-1 was the group’s first fully customized vehicle, MSO doubts it will be the last. After this car’s debut at Monterey, it will be flown back to McLaren headquarters in Woking, U.K., for a thorough inspection before delivery to the customer.