McLaren builds the ultimate bespoke car: the X-1

Forget a bodykit or bigger wheels: McLaren< has built a completely new body for one super-rich client.

The X-1 is a rebodied MP4-12C, but only the windscreen and windows are carried over from the donor car. The client wanted something that had echoes of classic cars such as Citroen’s beautiful 1971 SM as well as non-automotive influences such as a grand piano.

The client even specified that there should be a competition between designers to come up with the shape, some of which were non-automotive people. In the end, a design by McLaren’s Korean-born RCA graduate Hong Yeo was chosen, and completed under the direction of Design Director Frank Stephenson.

The main issue with the design is that the buyer wanted the proportions of the classic front engined/rear drive GT – but in a mid-engined car. No-one has ever tried that before (although there have been a few front-engined cars designed to look vaguely mid-engined), so a new visual language for the car had to be found, which led to months of sketching and modelling.

The styling took 18 months to sign off but the result is a design that in a few decades time will be hard to date – we can just imagine a competition to “name that car” in about 2030.

McLaren is not saying who the customer is, but we guess he is at least 40 years old. The X-1 looks like it comes from a futuristic sci-fi series from a few decades ago. Does anyone remember the great TV series “UFO” in the 1970s? The X-1 could have driven straight off the set.