Peter Anderson | Aug 20, 2012

McLaren Automotive has unveiled the distinctive one-off X-1 at The Quail, part of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

The supercar special, built by McLaren Special Operation (MSO) is a bespoke build for an anonymous customer.

While the X-1 is based on McLaren's MonoCell architecture that sits beneath the McLaren MP4-12C, the rest is unique.

"One of our clients who already owned a McLaren F1, a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren and now a 12C, wanted a unique car," MSO Programme Director, Paul MacKenzie said.

"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."

The art deco bodywork came from the pen of McLaren's Hong Yeo under Design DireXctor Frank Stephenson's (and the client's) direction. Yeo won the right to design the X-1 in a competition initiated by the customer.

Stephenson and Yeo said the design was influenced by the 1961 Facel Vega, 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K and the 1971 Citroen SM.

The designers also looked to other influences: nature, building architectural principals, and even caravans - the Airstream trailer was named as a guiding light. As was an eggplant. (Interestingly, the Batmobile never entered the discussion.)

"The client liked the shiny texture of the finish," said Stephenson.

McLaren says the design took 18 months. The brief from the customer was that it be timeless and classically elegant.

Every part of the bodywork, including lights, is different to the 12C and the dimensions also different - 109mm longer and 188mm wider, although height is unchanged.

mclaren x 1 concept 09

The development included almost 1000km of testing after which it was rebuilt to concours standard.

MSO is showing the car to showcase the capabilities - and availability - of the McLaren subsidiary.

McKenzie estimates by the end of this year that 20 percent of customers will commission work by MSO, mostly limited to paint and trim changes.

Well-heeled customers can order a car like the X-1 if they choose.

"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," Paul McKenzie said.

They certainly haven't played style police with this one.

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