Pat Devereux: Someone at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance estimated a well-placed bomb could have destroyed almost a trillion dollars worth of flesh and metal. While that would have been a major tragedy, it would also have prevented us from ever viewing the McLaren X-1. This, it was generally agreed, would have been A Good Thing. I wasn’t at The Quail - a smaller, even more exclusive event than the Pebble Concours, designed to celebrate great racing cars past, present and future - when the X-1 was unveiled. But I didn’t really need to be. Loads of people I know were, and they all had their phones with them. “WTF????” was the first text to land (from an MP4-12C owner); “Nooooooooo!” said the next one. “Tell me it’s not a real Macca?!” the third pleaded.
Couldn’t help with that, as, despite my own disbelief, when I later got to The Quail and had a word with the McLaren people, they confirmed the retrofuturistic X-1 was very real indeed. Seven million dollars of real, according to one commentator. What happened next, and continues here, was a huge debate over whether the X-1 is an utter travesty or a smart shop window into McLaren Special Ops’ ability to render even the most unlikely wish list into reality. Or is it both and more besides?
Despite living in California, where we are supposed to be more open-minded about new ideas, I’m afraid the X-1 was a nasty shock to me. We’ll go into the reasons why in a minute. Sam Philip, clearly a resident of a town called Idiot and with the mental age of a potato, thinks it’s fantastic. He has his feeble-minded reasons for thinking that, which again we are going to hear more of as we sort this out. But before we get into it, I’ll hand over to Sam to try to explain what the X-1 actually is.
Words: Sam Philip & Pat Devereux
Photography: Robert Kerian
This feature was originally published in the October 2012 issue of Top Gear magazine