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McLaren Special Operations gets… specialer
You’re probably familiar with McLaren’s MSO branch. As well as offering some light aesthetic meddling for the 12C, 650S and P1, it’s also responsible for the utterly eye-scrambling X-1.
Special project divisions have rapidly made themselves a staple of the industry, as sports car makers scramble to cash in on the lucrative personalisation business.
The MSO division was ahead of the curve on launch, and it’s now being widened to match demand. More precisely, it’s splitting into five different categories.
‘MSO Defined’ covers all the visual extras which can be added to regular production McLarens, from aerodynamic addenda to carbon fibre trim. Demand from trackday users has also led to a new instrument cluster option, complete with F1-like gearshift lights. Thumbs up for that.
‘MSO Limited’ is responsible for limited-run, lightly fettled models - essentially production cars with a range of MSO Defined bits added - while ‘MSO Heritage’ works as a care programme for owners of older McLarens, namely the mighty F1 and the McMerc SLR.
The most intriguing cars will roll out of ‘MSO Programmes’ and ‘MSO Bespoke’, though. The former will take care of the new P1 GTR, building and maintaining the track-only hypercar (and Ferrari FXXK rival) for customers.
The latter, meanwhile, will produce one-off specials for wealthy customers and their specialist demands. We first saw an example of this in the shape of that barmy, Jetsons-like X-1.
McLaren says: “MSO Bespoke provides an almost limitless level of customisation to McLaren owners, including unique paint, leather and stitching colours, stand-alone upholstery and body changes to create truly bespoke vehicles.”
The X-1 certainly fits that particular bill, and when it launched McLaren Special Operations director Paul MacKenzie told us the company would like to “have at least one X-1-type project on the go at any one time”.
We also asked, at the time, if there was any taste control at McLaren; a point at which no matter how big the customer’s cheque, they’d be told their fantasist design ideas were out of kilter with the company image.
“I’d guess there probably is a point at which we’d say no, but we haven’t reached it yet,” MacKenzie told us.
If that isn’t an open invitation to pen the wildest supercar your brain can devise, we don’t know what is. Tell us how your bespoke McLaren would look below…