Turning a Formula One team into an automaker is no mean feat. Ferrari did it decades ago, and now McLaren is following suit. The first product of the newly formed McLaren Automotive – an offshoot of the F1 team – has already hit the market in the form of the MP4-12C, with several additional models planned over the coming years. But in order to do so, they'll need a state-of-the-art production facility.
We reported ex-Fiat boss Frank Stephenson was tasked with a clean-sheet redesign of the upcoming McLaren supercar, codenamed the McLaren P11, just two months ago. Now we are hearing word that the exotic has been totally redesigned and is scheduled for a launch in 2010. Prototypes of the two-seat, mid-engined coupe (and convertible) are in testing as you read this.
The McLaren P11 will still be powered by a 6.2-liter Mercedes AMG unit, but nobody knows yet what the car that goes around the engine is going to look like. Frank Stephenson, recently of Fiat fame, has been given instructions to completely redesign the car when he starts at McLaren. However, he can't take up the position at McLaren until he finishes his "gardening leave," a mandatory vacation between sensitive jobs that aims to prevent employees from taking their inside knowledge with them.
Based only on his work to date, history would remember Frank Stephenson as one of the most influential automotive designers of our time. He's credited with the resurrection of the retro hatch – having designed the MINI, Fiat 500 and Alfa MiTo – in addition to a portfolio of lust-worthy supercars for Ferrari and Maserati. It came as a surprise when the American-raised designer left his post as head of the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo, shortly after the Fiat Group hired former Pininfarina d
Alfa Romeo has announced Christopher Reitz as its new head of design, succeeding Frank Stephenson who announced his departure last week. Reportedly a relative of the Porsche family, Reitz started his career at Volkswagen after graduating from the Art Center Europe in Switzerland. From there, he moved on to head Audi's Advance Design department before defecting to Nissan and then on to the Fiat Group.