The McLaren X-1 Concept was easily one of the most talked about vehicles on display at The Quail during Pebble Beach weekend in Monterey. Rather than dismiss it as "one of those charmless, jelly bean-like vaporware eco-cars that the automakers periodically show off at motorshows," as one of our readers so eloquently noted in the comments section on Sunday when we revealed it, we decided to take a closer look.

Climbing onto the McLaren stage, we bumped into Frank Stephenson. The famed automobile designer (credited with the Mini Hatch, BMW E53 X5 and the Ferrari F430, among others) is the Design Director at McLaren Automotive. Stephenson explained that the X-1 program began three years ago – before the very first McLaren MP4-12C had even hit the pavement – when an anonymous customer approached McLaren Special Operations (MSO) to build a very unique supercar. The custom-built vehicle would use the carbon-fiber composite chassis, running gear and cockpit from the upcoming production car, but its body panels would reflect "timeless and classical elegance."

McLaren X-1 Concept engineMcLaren X-1 Concept interior

It is true that pictures don't do the X-1 any justice, but it isn't much better in person. The design is interesting, but its rear clip appears heavy and out of proportion (most of the blame is focused on the trick hinged wheel covers). The lines don't flow, and many seemed forced. It is unquestionably odd, from any angle.

But this is one man's vision – one must look beyond that individual's tastes to find the real beauty. The X-1 is stunning in the details. Every square inch of the concept has been engineered to standards high enough for interplanetary travel. Whether machined from solid aluminum, sculpted in carbon fiber or hand-polished to a mirror-like finish, the craftsmanship on the X-1 is breathtaking. After more than thirty minutes of chin-rubbing scrutiny, we were sold.

McLaren says there is enough tooling to make five more copies, but in similar manner to revealing the name of the person who funded this extraordinary venture, the company is mum on pricing.


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  • 26 Comments
      LOLO
      • 2 Years Ago
      i think its very cool.
      ground
      • 2 Years Ago
      just like shrimp.. this thing has poo strips
      WillieD
      • 2 Years Ago
      Reminds me of the Audi R8 up front.
      benjammin
      • 2 Years Ago
      There is nothing timeless, classical, or elegant about this car. I love McLaren, but this car looks like it was destined for a straight-to-SciFi-network feature film. Hopefully the F1 successor takes absolutely no styling cues from this abomination.
        leo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @benjammin
        yeah and I was going to add ugly as sin someone with no tase must have approached them if this is what they came up with, and that person might not even buy this car after seeing how it turned out
      Jonathan Arena
      • 2 Years Ago
      What is this abomination?
      boadacm
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think we all know who commisioned th X-1... BRUCE WAYNE!
      Julie Lux-Bellmyer
      • 2 Years Ago
      Amazing. I think the interior should have every last electronic gizmo possible.....starship style. I think it's interesting to say the least, not exactly beautiful, but very cool in its own way.
      transam
      • 2 Years Ago
      Looks like an Audi R8 for Back to the Future 4...
      Jeff
      • 2 Years Ago
      This car has to be an April Fool's joke.
      JR
      • 2 Years Ago
      Glickenhaus?
        RocketRed
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JR
        Glickenhaus is laughing his behind off somewhere. He is a guy who truly loves cars and has respect for the heritiage of a great brand. He's not some kind of dabbler who is standing over the designer's shoulder yelling, "more chrome!"
      ablogreadr
      • 2 Years Ago
      How could Ron Dennis allow this atrocity to bear the McLaren name ? I would destroy the tooling now, this thing should not be allowed to breed.
        Burabus
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ablogreadr
        Considering how boring the McLaren F1 looks, this is an improvement.
      svntsvn
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ahhh yes, the wonderous ways man kind will find to blow away money once he has achieved personal wealth beyond mortal beings. This is a gussed up 12c. Yes there is unreal craftmanship, but for it to be a true real deal prototype show car, it would have to be beyond the realm of what is currently out there in design. Not a Audi look alike nose, or a bat man ass end with a flip lid for the engine bay. The interior is a snore. It looks like there they just decided to go with a boring trend of the moment.. viola..no shifter, what a surprise..and some fancy red leather. Yes it is a very creative car, but the bar has been set so high in today's car design world and what would wow people is not this car. The Exelero is still a wow car, 5-6 years on now. That was a concept car. And yes, to bemoan the lack of a shifter.. is adherent to driving the car, paddle smaddle shift my middle finger, you can have both, but real drivers like the feel of a shifter in the palm of their hand, not the flick of a paddle on their manicured finger tips.. This aint' F1 folks..
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