McLaren built this one-off custom car called the McLaren X-1 upon request from an anonymous customer. We know nothing about this person except that he’s really rich, already owns a McLaren F1, a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren and a McLaren MP4-12C.
The X-1 is based on the same MonoCell carbon chassis as the MP4-12C but has a unique body. And it looks nothing like what you’d expect a supercar to look like – this outrageous design looks like it could have a spot in the Bat Cave. Inspiration came from cars like a 1961 Facel Vega, a 1953 Chrysler D’Elegance Ghia, a 1959 Buick Electra, a 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K and a 1971 Citroën SM. Non-automotive inspiration included the Guggenheim museums in New York and Bilbao – plus a Jaeger LeCoultre art deco clock, an Airstream trailer, a Thomas Mann Montblanc pen, a grand piano and of all things – an eggplant.
The customer put forward his request for a custom car to McLaren chairman Ron Dennis three years ago, before the MP4-12C was launched. After some design work, a 30% scale model was produced, then a full size hard foam model. Styling alone was an 18 month process. The client insisted on viewing “real models” so they could not present the design digitally.
Producing this car was so much harder than a fancy concept car just destined for a motorshow display. A concept car can be fragile, and does not have to see the road. The McLaren X1 has to be usable, road legal, and capable of supercar top speeds. During development, the prototype underwent 1,000km of road testing including two sessions of intensive laps around the Idiada circuit in Spain with chief McLaren test driver Chris Goodwin.
All body panels of the X-1 are made from carbon, and are finished in a rich piano black, as specified by the owner. The paint has no metallic or colour tints. Body sides are lacquered visual carbon fibre. The brightwork is machined from solid aluminium, and a nickel finish is then applied. The McLaren logo in the nose is specially machined from solid aluminium then nickel plated. Wheels are also unique to the X-1, and are diamond turned with a tinted lacquer to complement the exterior nickel-plated brightwork.
The unique body of the X-1 means most dimensions have changed. The X-1 is 4,658mm long – 109mm longer than a 12C. Width is 2097mm (with mirrors) – an increase of 188 mm. Despite the revised roofline, the height remains the same, at 1199mm. Kerb weight is almost identical (about 1,400kg), as the lighter carbon body panels compensate for the greater length and width.
According to McLaren, this won’t be the last custom ordered car they’ll build. If you have deep enough pockets, give McLaren a ring.