It is hard to imagine that every car manufacturer has a ‘Special Operations’ division. The idea sounds more at home in the pages of a spy thriller than in the automotive world. But McLaren are not ‘every car manufacturer’. The very thing that marks them out from the rest is their sheer audaciousness and true to form they have come up with another ground-breaking and utterly insane creation.
It is called the X-1, and although it looks and sounds like the latest secret project from the North Korean space program, it is in fact a totally unique, bespoke supercar designed for an anonymous client. Allegedly a hardened McLaren fanatic, the mystery man first contacted the manufacturer as long as three years ago, before the 12C was even launched, requesting “a machine that had all the capability of the 12C but wrapped in a unique body that reflected his needs and personality”. Whether you agree or not that the car fulfils the client’s desire for “timeless and classical elegance”, there is no doubt that it is entirely unprecedented in terms of design.
Two and a half years in the making, the X-1 is based structurally on the company’s unique carbon MonoCell seen in the MP4-12C and finished off in a striking piano black. However, this incarnation is 109 mm longer and 188 mm wider than the 12C and the body is essentially brand new with everything down to the lights and wheels tailor-made. The enclosed rear wheels, nestling beneath two sleek carbon panels, surely elevate the car in to the realms of pure madness.
But the X-1 is far more than just science fiction. It was designed to be a usable car, road legal, practical enough to comfortably seat two passengers and fully capable of travelling at supercar speeds. To do that, it shares the same awe-inspiring twin-turbo 617BHP engine as the MP4-12C.
Such was the work that went in to this top secret project, the styling itself took 18 months to sign off. Apparently, designers took inspiration from classics such as the 1959 Buick Electra, the 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K and the 1971 Citroën SM as well as architecture from the famous Guggenheim museum in New York plus an art deco clock, a grand piano, and bizarrely, an eggplant! Sure proof that somewhere in Woking, a small padded cell is lying empty….
After its debut, at the Pebble Beach supercar show in the States, the X-1 will return to McLaren HQ to be carefully checked over before it takes pride of place in its owner’s collection. And if the mystery man isn’t satisfied with his latest acquisition, there’s always the new Batman film just around the corner….