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McLaren X-1 Concept unveiled -- a supercar by any other name

By on August 17, 2012 4:50 PM
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In addition to presenting its competition-oriented McLaren C12 Can-Am Edition Racing Concept at Pebble Beach this weekend, the high-performance boutique automaker is taking the wraps off of another stunning one-off, the McLaren X-1 Concept. Created for a well-heeled enthusiast who wishes to remain anonymous, this fully street-legal two-seat super GT wraps all-new composite bodywork around the carbon fiber MonoCell heart and 616-horsepower/3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 soul of a production McLaren MP4-12C. Although slightly longer and wider than a standard MP4-12C, the X-1 Concept's roof height and curb weight remain virtually the same.

While the transformation process posed a formidable challenge, it was one that McLaren Special Operations division was more than happy to take on according to MSO Program Director, Paul MacKenzie. "One of our clients who already owned a McLaren F1, a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren and now a 12C, wanted a unique car. 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."

Working from a basic brief that centered on creating a look that embodied "timeless and classical elegance," and incorporated metal brightwork rails running from the nose to car to the rear of its greenhouse, Design Director Frank Stephenson and a McLaren in-house stylist, Korean-born Hong Yeo, devised a look that met with the requirements. Inspiration came from a diverse selection of vehicles that included everything from a 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K and a 1953 Chrysler D'Elegance Ghia to a 1959 Buick and a 1971 Citroen SM. Beyond figuring out how to endow the X-1 Concept with proportions that were more in line with a front-engine GT than a mid-engine supercar, the 18-month creative process was further complicated by the fact that the buyer also wanted to see real and not just virtual models of his dream machine.

Once the final styling was approved, the MSO team moved to develop and refine the X-1 Concept's bodywork using F1-style computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to ensure optimized aerodynamic characteristics. This was supplemented by 625 miles of real-world testing prior to a complete rebuild that brought car up to full concours standards. Since all of X-1's body panels are made from advanced carbon-composite materials and its ancillary lighting elements and wheels are all bespoke bits, they, too, had to successfully pass a comprehensive series of safety and homologation tests before the car could be given its final sign-off.

Stylishly sinister in character, the sleek exterior of the McLaren X-1 Concept is finished in a combination of Piano Black matched with side panels rendered in lacquered "visual carbon fiber." In addition to its unique swing-up rear wheel-cover treatment, eye-catching highlights include nickel-finished aluminum billet bright trim and custom alloy wheels with a diamond-turned finish. Inside, the X-1 Concept retains the basic MP4-12C design but features special Harissa Red McLaren Nappa leather trim, carbon interior bits that use titanium weave elements that give them "a magical 3D-like effect," nickel-coated, machined aluminum bezels for the switchgear and Andesite tufted carpeting.

Following its world debut at The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering at the Quail Lodge, the McLaren X-1 Concept will head back to MSO headquarters in Woking for a final inspection before it gets turned over to its new owner.

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