The McLaren X-1 concept has been especially created by McLaren Special Operations (MSO) for a single, anonymous, customer, who clearly has a thing for Batman. The car was unveiled at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance that took place in California this past weekend. (The new Dodge SRT Viper was also shown. – Ed.)
Three years in the making, the McLaren X-1 was commissioned by the customer in 2009 when he requested a machine that had all the capability of the MP4-12C, but wrapped in a unique body that reflected his needs and personality, and one that would stand out in his garage that includes a McLaren F1, a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren and an MP4-12C. Borrowing a page from Ferrari, which has been in the business of building bespoke models for its affluent clients for decades, McLaren promptly went to work and produced the X-1.
The X-1′s design was influenced by a number of cars, artwork and architecture. Design Director Frank Stephenson said, “The client wanted a competition between external designers – some outside the automotive world – and McLaren’s own designers.” The client narrowed down his design inspirations 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 the 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.
McLaren’s Korean-born RCA graduate Hong Yeo was chosen to design the car and the work was completed under the direction of Stephenson. Yeo explained one of the greatest challenges was developing a design that embodied the elegance of the client’s preference for classic cars with front-engined, rear-wheel-drive layouts, around that of the 12C’s mid-engined construction. The styling took 18 months to sign off, with the client finally satisfied the MSO team had achieved perfection.
The X-1 measures 4 658 mm long and 2 097 mm wide, making it 109 mm longer and 188 mm wider than the 12C, with which it shares the same height of 1 199 mm. Utilising carbon fibre body panels (painted in piano black lacquer), the X-1 counters any potential weight added by its larger dimensions, resulting in an almost identical kerb weight to the 12C at around 1 400 kg. The carbon panels enclosing the rear wheels are perhaps the most striking element of the design, which Stephenson says feature “some of the most gorgeous hinges you’ve ever seen”. The doors and roof were also specially developed for the X-1.
The McLaren’s interior layout remains unchanged, but the trim materials and colours have been personalised to include Harissa Red nappa leather, nickel-coated aluminium bezels, titanium-weave carbon trim and andesite tufted floor carpets.
Under the carbon fibre bodywork the X-1 is powered by the same 3.8-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 as found in the 12C. Performance figures haven’t, and likely won’t be released, but with 460 kW, 680 Nm and similar weight, you can be sure the X-1 will be just as quick in a straight-line as the 12C.
The McLaren X-1 is scheduled to return to MSO headquarters in Woking for a ‘check up’ following its Pebble Beach debut, before being moved to its new home amongst the owner’s private collection.