This is the McLaren X-1, a dramatic one-of-a-kind production car based on the McLaren MP4-12C that was dreamed up by an anonymous McLaren enthusiast. McLaren Special Operations (MSO), the McLaren division behind delivering bespoke projects, turned it into reality, and it has been seen in public for the first and only time at Pebble Beach.
The X-1 took three years to create and was born out of a conversation between McLaren chief Ron Dennis and the anonymous enthusiast, whose car collection includes a McLaren F1, McLaren-Mercedes SLR and a 12C.
MSO chief Paul Mackenzie and design chief Frank Stephenson then met with the client, and a brief of creating a car with ‘timeless and classical elegance’ was set. Cars that inspired the final look of the X-1 include the Citroen SM, Mercedes 540k and the Facel Vega; other inspirations came from architecture from Guggenheim museum, a grand piano and even an eggplant.
The design of the X-1 is credited to McLaren’s RCA graduate Hong Yeo, who won an internal and external design competition overseen by Stephenson. The styling took 18 months to sign off, and the bespoke body necessitated homologation, high-speed and track testing, and a full CFD aerodynamic testing schedule to ensure it was durable on the road.
The X-12 is based around the versatile carbonfibre Monocell chassis of the 12C and uses the same twin-turbo V8 as the standard car. The bodywork is made entirely from carbonfibre, and certain components were tooled exclusively for the X1. Even the wheels and headlights are bespoke, and the only external carryover from the 12C is the glasshouse.
One of the most dramatic features of the X-1 is its pop-up rear wings that sit over the rear wheels. Stephenson says the wings feature “some of the most gorgeous hinges you’ve ever seen”.
The brightwork, McLaren logo and rear airbrake are among the features to be machined from solid aluminium and then nickel-plated.
The substantial changes to the X-1 make it 109mm longer at 4658mm and 188mm wider at 2097mm than its 12C donor car. The height remains the same at 1199mm, and the kerb weight of around 1400kg is almost identical to the 12C due to an increased use of carbonfibre.
The interior’s basic architecture remains, but is fully customized, featuring red leather and extensive use of cabronfibre trim.
Mackenzie describes the MSO as “the ultimate personalisation service”. His team carries out projects from as small as bespoke stitching for an interior, to bespoke supercars such as the X-1. He is keen to carry out more mechanical work as with the X-1, insisting MSO is “not just about styling”.