Fast & Curious: the McLaren X-1
McLaren's X-1 has polarised the office. Time to have it out with some verbal fisticuffs...
Posted: 15 Oct 2012
Sam Philip: In simple potato-speak, it's an MP4-12C in drag. Magnificent, ridiculous drag. The X-1 keeps the carbon tub, mechanicals and 617bhp V8 twin-turbo of McLaren's 458 rival, but hides it under the most extraordinary bodywork to appear on a road-legal car since Ettore Bugatti hung up his quill. The 12C's suspension has been subtly reworked to cope with the X-1's unique aero demands - and the fact it'll never be driven on track - but, beyond that, this is a strictly aesthetic rather than engineering exercise.
And what an aesthetic exercise. McLaren Special Operations director Paul Mackenzie told Top Gear the process started three years ago, when an unnamed - though presumably deep-pocketed - McLaren regular started chatting to Ron Dennis about cooking up a one-off with Woking's Special Operations squad. The design phase took 18 months and left no exterior surface unaltered. Though the interior is carried over wholesale from the MP4-12C - albeit kitted out in red leather, nickel and titanium weave - on the outside, everything but the glasshouse is bespoke, from the carbon bodywork and aluminium garnishes to those enclosed rear arches. Proportionally, the X-1 barely resembles a 12C, measuring 11cm longer and 19cm wider. Oh, and it's entirely road-legal.