**** A.I. Exclusive of the 2012 McLaren MP4-12C Pre-Production Prototype HD photo-album (in various Wallpaper sizes) can be found here. ****
At the recent Luxury & Supercar Weekend held at the spectacular VanDusen Gardens, there was a pre-show ‘Press/Media’ event held on the Friday morning within the grounds to offer various scribes and TV crews an exclusive, unhurried view of some of the vehicles on display. Taking advantage of my close proximity to VanDusen (a mere 15-minute walk), I gathered myself up and procured an early entry into the Gardens.
Upon walking down the path leading into the Show area of VanDusen, I was immediately struck by a sight that any petrolhead would find enticingly exotic and decidedly fitting of the weekend’s upcoming proceedings – A ferociously sonorous-sounding Maserati MC-12 being driven on the lawn with a stunning pale-green 1930’s Peugeot Super Sport and a satin-paint finished McLaren MP4-12C glowing in the background…
Yet this wasn’t just any McLaren MP4-12C, this was one of the 3 Pre-production Prototypes that travel the world to not only showcase McLaren’s undeniable excellence in the car’s (still-evolving) engineering, but also to tempt potential buyers into the company’s own ‘McLaren Exclusive’ customization program. Truly beautiful carbon-fibre accessories (I really thought the carbon exhaust-tips were ace) and trims were adorned all throughout this McLaren from the rear engine-breather intake to the glossy ‘MP4-12C’ stamped on the visually appealing sill once you raised the elegantly-damped doors skyward.
The satin paint finish alone was extraordinary. Many times throughout the Friday and Saturday sun-filled days I was drawn back to the McLaren to gaze at this profoundly I-am-guessing-expensive paint-option. With the afternoon sun striking its flanks from various angles, it glows in a manner not far off from your stove-top element maxxed-out to 10, with the kitchen lights turned off. It’s shadows were soft and complementary… alien-like. As I said in the original piece; overall, it’s a thing of subtle, controlled beauty.
One recent addition to the McLaren Customization Program that is immediately regarded as an improvement in the (sadly lacking) aggression department is the vented front wings. Borrowed from the recently unveiled McLaren MP4-12C GT3 racecar, they seem to embellish the mood of the car with animalistic fury and break-up the continuity in a rather complementary fashion. Despite the truly astronomical price for what is essentially some rectangular slashes over the tops of your front fenders (over $17,000 …!), they are now near-essentials in my eyes.
All in, if you decided to include all of the variously yummy carbon/trim accessories and strking 20″ wheels shown on this rare prototype, you’ll be asked to excuse an additional $50,000 towards the $230,000 price-tag, before taxes – ouch. But then, as is always the case at this price-point, an extra $30-$50K in alluring extras/essentials is hardly going to turn people off.
The McLaren MP4-12C’s initial entry onto the automotive supercar scene was greeted with somewhat valid qualms of unimaginative/safe styling married to a slightly lucid and distanced driving experience (more akin to a soulless-yet-fiercely-competant mechanical device). But seeing as how McLaren is rapidly responding to these criticisms in an unbelievably quick rate of turn-around (they’re an F1 company after all – quick turnaround in engineering practices is what they know/do best) and then inviting the Press to come and re-try the car again after only 8 days… is kind-of extraordinary. I like that though – they took the initial (and widespread) criticisms on the chin and then immediately went to work at improving/altering the dynamics of those questionable areas.
-Many thanks to Lynne Arciero, McLaren Marketing & Communications Manager – North America, for the exclusive access to the MP4-12C
words/photos: Blake J.