A night in Los Angeles spent staring at the McLaren P1

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When you build a car that, even 20 years after its inception, still serves as a benchmark for hypercar performance, you’ve set the bar pretty high. The McLaren P1 is without a doubt once of the most highly speculated and most anticipated hypercar of all time. Ever since production of the McLaren F1 ended some 15 years ago there has been much talk about the automakers next car.

In September of last year, McLaren finally pulled the wraps off the P1 and let the world see what it has been working on for all these years. That’s pretty much all they’ve done, however, because McLaren have yet to reveal much about the cars drivetrain or show its interior. The automaker is milking its new show pony for all it’s worth. It’s torture for fans of McLaren, but then again, who doesn’t like a good tease? It’s best to always leave them wanting more.

In pictures the car looks absolutely stunning, but as a seasoned photographer I know that pictures and real life don’t always correlate. Lighting and editing can always play tricks for better or worse. I couldn’t wait to see the car in person to really see what it looks like up close. McLaren hasn’t planned a major public unveiling of the P1 in the U.S. as of yet. Instead, the automaker has opted to tour the car around the major stateside markets. These showings are very private events involving well-heeled customers. Luckily for me and you, I have a friend who is good friends with the great people at McLaren, and I scored an invite to one such private event showing off the new P1.

I arrived at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills shaking in anticipation, or maybe it was the cold? Walking in to the event area, I could feel that the place was already buzzing. Everyone in attendance was highly anticipating the unveiling of the car while sipping on some libations. As I stood there taking pics of the covered up car, I glanced to my right quickly to make sure I wasn’t going to bump into someone as I moved around. Staring just as I was sat Jay Leno doing the same damn thing. He looked like a little kid staring at a toy through a store front window, so close yet so far.

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Soon enough Frank Stephenson, Design Director at McLaren Automotive, stepped onto the stage and began speaking about all the work that went on as McLaren designed the successor to the legendary F1. Everyone stopped what they were doing and listened attentively to every word he said. Stephenson is a very charismatic fellow, and the crowd was enraptured. Finally though, the moment everyone was waiting for had arrived.

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The cover came off and the crowd instantly swarmed around the car. I’ve been to many unveiling events, yet I’ve never seen people so excited to up close with the latest machine pulled from under wraps. Usually everyone takes a quick peek and then simply walks away continuing to gorge on free libations and food. But not this time, this car has such presence that everyone wanted to gaze upon its magnificence. It is absolutely full of small details. From the integration of the McLaren badge everywhere in the design to all the small curves and winglets designed to improve its performance. It looks like something that was created purely as a design study, never intended for production. The kicker here is that the car is 95% production ready. What you see is what will soon be cruising the streets of the richest cities in the world, ruling the valet parking spots, and, on occasion, screaming down the straight of your nearest race track. I highly doubt people will ever get tired of looking at the P1. It should become a universally loved design. It looks as if it should be a gigantic car in pictures. In real life, however, it really isn’t much bigger than the 12C on which it’s based.

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Hopefully soon, all of you will have the chance to see one in person.

Photos copyright 2013 Leonard Mayorquin/Hooniverse.com

13 Comments

  1. That really is quite beautiful. I look forward to seeing it parked at the dealership near my house, and then shortly after, seeing it driven real slow on Ye Olde Nightclub St, (aka Santana Row) and parked between two Lamborghinis and a Ferrari California in the Valet section in downtown Walnut Creek…

    1. The dealership next to my house sells Hondas and Fords, I admit to a certain level of neighborhood jealousy all of a sudden.

      1. Too many rich people here… The aforementioned dealership is a Fisker/McLaren joint dealership. Just down the street is Tesla's first dealer/showroom, and further down from that is the local Ferrari/Maserati dealership where I saw my first Enzo when it was initially released, as well as a 1 of 3 F50 F1, and an MC12.

        1. The most exciting thing I've seen at the local dealer is the odd high-end Mustang. We might just have too few rich people here.
          There was a guy in a Ferrari California last time I went to Regina, but the California isn't exactly the most beautiful example of Italian craftsmanship, let's say.

          1. I would guess it call comes down to population. In Philly we have the Main Line where most of our high end dealerships are (excluding FC Kerbeck who put themselves on the other side of the Tacony Palmayra bridge). The rarest I have seen was the 959 that a gentleman in New Hope, PA owns.

          2. For whatever reason, most of the time when someone around here has money, they go for the top-end truck instead of something smaller and faster. There might be a reason for this – I wept at the guy with the SLK who tried to go down the pretend road to one of the local lakes – but it's not very interesting for someone trying to spot cool metal.

  2. Saw an MP4-12C here in Bellevue not long ago; what an understated car. This new P1 is much less so.
    And yes, I do say MP4-12C to myself with a mocking English accent like Jeremy Clarkson does.

  3. Having experienced the "fun" of producing 1/4 scale clay styling bucks during my degree, I have to extend my deepest sympathies to the poor bastard who had to model that thing.
    Saying that, he probably had Intel Inside.

  4. Really too convoluted IMO
    But I know for the next years many Brits (and Americans) will say this is perfect and the F70 ugly and slow

  5. There's so many strange angles on this thing. I'm intrigued from a design standpoint, but worried from a mechanical standpoint. The F1 was just such a giant leap forward in the supercar world. It did everything well. How does it get out of that shadow and differentiate itself? Does it? Or, does it do like so many modern cars and just try to live off its past?

  6. Overdone. The basic lines are nice, but it seems like after getting the initial shape someone just started messing with it. Should have left it alone.
    I'm sure it will be great to drive, though.

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