McLaren: Striking One-off X1 Debut

August 20, 2012

If you squint really hard, you’ll see it – the MP4-12C underneath it all.

Just last week McLaren unveiled their Can-Am Edition MP4-12C which paid a debt to their racing heritage and focused on their ideas/visions for the future of the company’s racing commitments. Yet then, this weekend at Pebble Beach they go and unveil this – the one-off McLaren X1. The words ‘shock’ and ‘awe’ only hint at what we’re left with…

What you’re looking at here is the result of the McLaren Special Operations unit (MSO) fulfilling the bespoke design influences (and assorted visions) of an unnamed/anonymous McLaren customer/aficianado that displayed an open-chequebook philosophy towards his/her idea of what constitutes ‘vehicular exclusivity’ in this world nowadays. Indeed, the array of chrome flourishes, classic lines, faired-in rear wheels and added-on adenda aren’t exactly in-line with the typical McLaren un-fussy design philosophies… but it’s that marriage of McLaren engineering know-how and one person’s open-wallet exclusivity that makes this entire project so intriguing.

The X1 project was undertaken by McLaren stylist Hong Yeo with design chief Frank Stephenson and MSO Programme Director Paul MacKenzie close by to oversee the progress. The X1 vehicular influences are listed as:  Buick Electra, Mercedes-Benz 540K, Facel Vega, Chrysler D’Elegance Ghia and the Citroën SM. Meanwhile, the architectural influences are listed as: the Guggenheim museums in New York and Bilbao, grand pianos, Airstream caravans, a Thomas Mann Mont Blanc pen and Audrey Hepburn (?).

Granted, those are some heady points of navigation and yet when all encompassed, seem to work, given their grandeur and societal poise. After all, one of the main objectives was to create a car that would look elegant enought to roll up to an opera in… As expected, there’s a lot to focus on with this daring Mclaren X1 one-off, so let’s allow the assorted photos and the official press release (below) to fill-in the necessary details.

-Blake J.
AutoInjected.com

McLaren X1 (Full) Press Release:

McLaren Special Operations (MSO), the division of McLaren Automotive responsible for the delivery of bespoke projects, will present a breathtaking one-off supercar at The Quail, an exclusive event on August 17, 2012 that is a highlight of the Pebble Beach weekend in Monterey, USA.

Called the McLaren X-1 and based structurally on the company’s groundbreaking carbon MonoCell but with a totally unique body, it has been created for an anonymous car enthusiast.

X-1: the brief It’s not every day that a team gets to create something unique in a project that would take the supercar, even by McLaren standards, to a different level. The challenge began with a special brief.

‘One of our clients who already owned a McLaren F1, a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren and now a 12C, wanted a unique car,’ says MSO Programme Director, Paul MacKenzie. ‘The conversation began with our Executive Chairman Ron Dennis almost three years ago – before the 12C was even launched. The client wanted a machine that had all the capability of the 12C but wrapped in a unique body that reflected his needs and personality.’

In a subsequent meeting, Paul Mackenzie and Design Director Frank Stephenson went to see him to start to explore the sort of car he wanted.

Says Frank Stephenson: ‘The key qualities the client desired were “timeless and classical elegance”. Which was some challenge.’

That meeting with Mackenzie and Stephenson lasted for almost three hours. From the pages of notes that were gathered, the design team brought together hundreds of images from the world of automotive, architecture, fashion, design and even film. These were then presented to the customer, and were then narrowed down to a mood book, full of inspiring images from which the design spirit of this unique car would be derived.

Inspirational cars included a 1961 Facel Vega, a 1953 Chrysler D’Elegance Ghia, a 1959 Buick Electra, a 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K and a 1971 Citroën SM. There were various examples of architecture – including the Guggenheim museums in New York and Bilbao – plus a Jaeger LeCoultre art deco clock, an Airstream trailer, a Thomas Mann Montblanc pen, a grand piano – and an eggplant. ‘The client liked the shiny texture of the finish,’ notes Stephenson. There was also a black-and-white photo of Audrey Hepburn.

‘The client wanted a competition between external designers – some outside the automotive world – and McLaren’s own designers,’ notes Stephenson. In the end, a design by McLaren’s Korean-born RCA graduate Hong Yeo was chosen, and completed under the direction of Stephenson.

One of the biggest design challenges faced by Yeo was that most cars that embody classic elegance and timeless values have front engines and rear-wheel drive proportions. This is the exact opposite of a mid-engined supercar. So a new visual language for the car had to be found which led to months of sketching and modelling to find that perfect visual balance.

Stephenson recalls: ‘From this design, we then produced a 30 per cent scale model, then a full-size hard foam model. Initially, we planned to do it all digitally but the client insisted on seeing “real” models.

‘The client was very clear in his own mind what he wanted. But the only styling feature prescribed were metal brightwork rails running from the nose, over the shoulderline and hips, to the rear of the greenhouse.’

In the words of Hong Yeo: ‘X-1 embodies the McLaren value that every part has to have a purpose. No details are simply visual cues, every one has a purpose. Although I like to think the wide body combined with pontoon style rear fenders will ensure the car glides when it’s moving just like a superhero’s cape…’

The styling took 18 months to sign off but the result is a design that in a few decades time will be hard to pinpoint exactly when it was created … timeless, therefore, exactly as the client requested.

X-1: the creation The X-1 is the most ambitious example yet of MSO’s expertise. It has a whole new body made of advanced materials. Everything is bespoke, even down to the lights and wheels, necessitating new testing and homologation meaning the car took two and a half years to build, a process that began before the styling was signed off.

The X-1 had its own development programme because crucially, this wasn’t to be a fragile concept car that would never see tarmac. It was to be a usable car, road legal and capable of travelling at supercar speeds. It also had to comfortably seat two adults so although the 12C was already as shrink-wrapped as it could be from a packaging perspective, the ingenious flexibility of the MonoCell allowed the creation of a completely different form while maintaining the engineering purity of a McLaren.

A full CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) aerodynamic testing schedule ensured high-speed stability, and the car also completed approximately 625 miles of testing including two intensive testing stints at the Idiada circuit in Spain with chief McLaren test driver, Chris Goodwin. After testing, the whole car was meticulously rebuilt, by hand to concours standard.

X-1: the detail MSO Programme Director Paul Mackenzie explains: ‘The X-1 showcases the skills of McLaren Special Operations. More and more luxury customers want bespoke or individual features. The X-1 demonstrates that we can provide the ultimate personalisation service. It also shows that MSO is not just a technology led company. X-1 demonstrates a commitment to perfection and to the highest levels of quality.’

All body panels of the X-1 are made from carbon, and are finished in a rich piano black, as specified by the owner. Body sides are lacquered visual carbon fibre. ‘The black paint has no metallic or colour tints and is one of the most challenging colours to paint, but the finish is absolutely exquisite and befits the car perfectly’adds Stephenson.

Components were tooled exclusively for the car. They even include unique head- and taillights, inspired by the McLaren Speed Marque logo. The brightwork is machined from solid aluminium, and a nickel finish is then applied. The McLaren logo in the nose is specially machined from solid aluminium then nickel plated. Wheels are also unique to the X-1, and are diamond turned with a tinted lacquer to complement the exterior nickel-plated brightwork.

The brightwork itself is all machined from solid aluminium, and then nickel finished to give the same hue throughout. Even the McLaren Speed Marque badge in the nose is machined from solid aluminium, then nickel plated.

The same brightwork is used for the over-the-shoulder rails (as specified by the owner), at the base of the windscreen and the back of the glasshouse, and for the ‘eyebrows’ over the bespoke headlights. The McLaren Airbrake rear wing is also machined from solid aluminium and nickel plated, to complement the rest of the brightwork.

Perhaps the most unusual styling feature is the enclosed rear wheels, an upshot of the owner’s desire to have a car reflecting ‘timeless elegance’. The wheels are accessed by carbon panels using, as Stephenson explains, ‘some of the most gorgeous hinges you’ve ever seen’. The styling, too, is in no way compromised by the opening rear wings.

He adds: ‘The attention to detail is astonishing. Neat styling touches feature throughout the design, such as the rear number plate illuminators finished in carbon, a gorgeous machined aluminium cap is used for the header tank, and carbon finishers line the engine bay.’

The doors have also been developed specifically for the X-1, although they retain the dihedral action and twin hinges, and the roof is also new. Externally, only the glasshouse is carried over from the 12C.

The unique body of the X-1 means most dimensions have changed. The X-1 is 4658mm long – 109mm longer than a 12C. Width is 2097mm (with mirrors) – an increase of 188 mm. Despite the revised roofline, the height remains the same, at 1199mm. Kerb weight is almost identical (about 1400kg), as the lighter carbon body panels compensate for the greater length and width. Light weight, as with all McLaren projects, was a priority.

While the basic architecture of the interior did not change, personalisation includes bespoke Harissa Red McLaren Nappa leather used for the seats, door and roof trim, and switchgear with machined nickel-coated, aluminium bezels. The carbon interior trim has a titanium weave, to give a magical 3D-like effect. Special Andesite tufted carpet covers the floor.

All these changes ensured the X-1 needed special homologation for road use. The car has been thoroughly engineered to be usable and road legal. The X-1 shares the same the major mechanical components as the 12C, including the twin-turbo 625PS engine, giving astonishing acceleration and top speed.

Stephenson explains: ‘The X-1 epitomises how we can not only create a truly unique product tailored to the client, but also enable the client to become a key member of the design team throughout the process. It has been a truly rewarding and unforgettable experience. And I think that we as a team have created a completely unforgettable car that is true to one man’s vision.’

Hong Yeo concludes: ‘We designers are often blinded by the sun and assume that whatever we see and understand is the only way forward: to see the stars, sometimes you need the absence of that blinding light … looking at a car from a different perspective is what X-1 stands for.’

After its debut, on the Monterey Peninsular, the X-1 will return to MSO headquarters in Woking and be carefully checked over before it takes a place in the owner’s collection.

‘But it’s certainly not just colour and trim,’ notes Paul Mackenzie. ‘A number of cars have had different front and rear bumpers, which has increased downforce and boosted performance. These cars had to go through full aerodynamic CFD testing before engineering sign-off.’

Adds Mackenzie: ‘We’re here to help the client personalise the car to their precise taste. They typically come to Woking to see us, or talk to their dealer, or we go to see them. We’ll sit down with them, listen to their requests, then come up with a new colour or mechanical components, or – as with X-1 – a new “tailor made” car. Of course we make recommendations but we’re certainly not here to be style police. Every client is different. Our main job is to listen and then to interpret the owner’s requests into a superb car.’

As Mackenzie concludes: ‘This is the first fully client commissioned MSO car, but it certainly won’t be the last. The carbon fibre MonoCell chassis used in the 12C, is not only stiff and light, it allows for great flexibility in body styling and provides an affordable structure from which MSO can develop unique cars, as is demonstrated with X-1.’

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New Emerging Products: Easy Performance – Speedometer Calibration Module

June 25, 2012

The SCM (Speedometer Calibration Module) is an incredibly accurate digital speedometer recalibration controller that allows late-model electronic speedometers (those that use a pulsed signal input from a vehicle speed sensor) to be recalibrated for vehicle changes that affect the speedometer – namely changes to final drive gear ratio, wheel sizes and tire size.

With many late model vehicles, there are no simple means for recalibrating the speedometer. This is because the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) (sometimes called the Engine Control Computer) receives signals from the powertrain’s vehicle speed sensor and then sends digital or analog data to the speedometer. The only method for making speedometer corrections is to have the PCM reprogrammed with a custom speedometer recalibration.

In many cases, reprogramming is expensive, if it can even be done at all. This SRC module interrupts the electrical signal sent to the PCM and modifies the signal based on the adjustment value set by the user. This device can increase or decrease the speedometer signal from 50 to 175% in ½% increments. A setting of 100% would have the unit in ‘pass through’ and no adjustment is made. The SCM incorporates an onboard microprocessor executing proprietary computations and program algorithms to achieve this recalibration.

Installation is simple and is specific to make and model year. Regardless of the vehicle it is installed in, the SCM has four wires needing to be connected – 12 volt power, ground, signal in and signal out. Illustrations and clear explainations are given to assist with an installation-time that is typically 10 to 15 minutes.

Easy Performance

Interested in voluteering your expertise towards the development of upcoming Easy Performance products..? Click here to read about their Product Test Volunteer Program..!


What Were They Thinking: 1978 Corvette ‘America’ Concept

March 21, 2012

There are moments within the extended life-run of an iconic, homebred sportscar where ambitious minds and questionable visions intersect to create something that begs to ask a question that was never even asked in the first place… In this case – ‘Why wouldn’t a Corvette owner/enthusiast desire a 4-door version to haul his family and friends around in…?’

I know. There are so many responses to counter that question, but it didn’t stop Chevrolet from embarking on a… erm…. ‘design study’ in 1978 to flesh out the possibilities of a 4-door family ‘Vette.

The Corvette ‘America’ (snappy name) was designed and built by California Custom Coach in Pasadena, California in very small numbers – one prototype and five ‘production’ models – achieved by basically taking two Corvettes, cutting them in half and then stitching/welding them up, hence the increaed 30-inch wheelbase and subsequent visual awkwardness…

At the time, a base-model Corvette would stretch you back about $13,000-$14,000. So when the $35,000 price-tag was announced for the 4-door America, orders didn’t exactly flock-in as they had anticipated…

In the end, only the 6 were made and the silver ‘vette pictured here is the only known remaining survivor – the others having succumbed to uncaring owners and/or crashes of various sorts… I couldn’t even imagine what an oversteering moment in one of these would feel like. Probably frightening.

I think one left is enough.

Though, in its defense, I can’t help picturing this above red version as the sort of vehicle that the characters from The Banana Splits would have driven, if they could have…  And that makes it instantly cool in my books.

-Blake J.
AutoInjected.com


Le Mans 1961: A Short Film By Triumph

March 20, 2012

One for the Vintage Racing/Le Mans enthusiasts – A fantastically intimate and detailed 34-min short-film of the 1961 race as captured by a film crew commissioned by the British Triumph Works team… Amazing to be reminded of how only 2 drivers per team split the entire 24 hours of driving between them back then.

Brilliant stuff…. enjoy..!

-Blake J.
AutoInjected.com


Car Commercials: When Cars Started… erm, Talking

January 19, 2012

The 1980’s were undeniably desperate and challenging times for the various American automakers. Ever since the previous decade’s fuel-crisis and the follow-up onslaught of frugally economical (and lightweight/well-built) cars from Japan, Korea and Europe showing up on Dealer forecourts (and eventually owner’s driveways), the American automaker was forced to change and adapt with the times or be left out wondering what happened to their once-burgeoning command of the home-market.

K.I.T.T. made it alright for cars to voice-up their opinions and concerns.

Yet as the 80’s wore on and the ‘Big-3’ of the North American auto-landscape caught on (sort of) to the public’s desires and wants and subsequently dished out lines of wheezing, comically-sprung and legislatively-enforced under-powered vehicles, the overall mood of the automotive arena (as mirrored in the advertisements of the day) started to… shift…. in a rather strange and almost unsettling way.

Herbie the Love Bug - Genesis

Suddenly, cars from all walks of makes were awarded oddly bespoke identities and even started voicing their way into owner’s daily-driven rituals (step forward, yappy Nissan 300zx of the late-80’s). The car commercials of the time even went one step further with this odd phenomenon…

Here we have two shining examples of this ‘new and playful identity’ via Ford in 1986 when vehicular advertisements were cresting the brink of becoming absolutely ridiculous…

-Blake J.
AutoInjected.com


Long-Weekend List of Car Shows/Show & Shine Events

September 3, 2011

Better late-in-the-day than never (evil technology hates me today), here is your long-weekend list of various Car Shows/Show & Shines to ponder your presence at over the Holiday in the Lower Mainland/Island region… Have a great long-weekend everyone…!

SATURDAY SEPT. 3

-Crescent Beach Invitational Car Show

Blackie Spit, 1316 McBride Ave., South Surrey, B.C.

Show: 10am – 4pm.   Info: www.crescentbeachinvitational.com (I’ll be there… Find me and yap classic motors with me… 😉

-Pemberton Lions Club Show & Shine

Pemberton Community Centre, Pemberton, B.C.

Show: noon – 4pm.   Info: www.pembertonlions.com

-Bob and Dan’s 13th Annual Marine Pub & Brewhouse “Raindate” Show & Shine 

5820 SE Marine Drive, Burnaby, B.C.

Reg: 9am – $15 per vehicle – Open to all specialty vehicles

Show: 11am – 3pm   Info: Tony @ 604-435-2245 or www.marinepub.ca

-Tyee Chevrolet Buick GMC Show & Shine

570 13th Ave., Campbell River, B.C.

Reg: 9am – Open to all makes

Show: 9am – 2pm   Info:  John @ 1-877-287-9511

SUNDAY SEPT. 4

-White Rock Chrysler Mopar Show & Shine

South Surrey Automall, Surrey, B.C.

Reg: 9am – noon

Show: 11am – 3pm  Info: 604-531-9156 or www.whiterockchrysler.com

-Cat & Fiddle “Hogs & Rods” Show

1979 Brown Street, Port Coquitlam, B.C.

Reg: 10am – 11am – $20 (open to all vehicles)

Show: 11am – 3pm  Info: 604-649-4823 or www.catandfiddlepub.ca

-The 33rd Annual Fifty 567 Club Picnic

Aldergrove Lake Regional Park, Aldergrove, B.C.

Show: 9am- 3pm  Info: www.fifty567chevy.com

-The North Island Cruisers – 19th Annual Show & Shine

Tyee Plaza parking lot, Campbell River, B.C.

Reg: 8am – 11am – $10 (open to all vehicles)

Show: 9am – 2pm  Info: 250-286-1321 or www.nicruisers.ca

MONDAY SEPT. 5

-27th Annual Canadian Falcon/Fairlane/Comet Car Club – Picnic In The Park

Langley Civic Centre, Langley, B.C.

Reg: 9am – 1pm – $15 (open to all classic and specialty vehicles)

Show: 9am – 3pm  Info: 604-589-2451 or www.ffcclub.com

-ILWU Local 502 3rd Annual Show & Shine

11828 Tannery Road, Surrey, B.C.

Reg: 8am – $15 (includes burger and pop and tix for some prizes!)

Show: 10am – 3pm  Info: Rick @ 604-582-5524

By: Blake J.


DRIFT Video Contest!

June 17, 2011

Earlier this week I asked people on twitter to send me a drifting video that they thought was cool. Here they are! I will be announcing the winner on Monday and the winner will be receiving an AutoInjected T-Shirt and stickers!

Drift Video Entries

Mike Kwon [youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbDop8PrrXg%5D
Lesley Wimbus [youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ve0FMeebl64%5D
Mark Stevenson [youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYpOFimB7ZA%5D
Andy Lambert [youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEvpnKRLDO4%5D


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