Remember that Speedtail mule we talked about before the car's reveal last month? Well, here it is in all its weird-looking glory. We bring it to you for two reasons: firstly, because McLaren says it's due to begin public road testing next month, and there's always the slender chance that you might actually see one (particularly if you live in the Woking area; or near Folkestone). And secondly, because - in the best tradition of early prototypes - it's a bit of a botch job, what with it wearing a 720S nose from the A pillar forward.
The production car's front end will obviously have its own super-slim headlights and a somewhat different air intake arrangement (if only on a superficial design level). But the counterpoint to the Speedtail's own styling is intriguing - if only because it's not inconceivable that someone might prefer 'Albert' to the look of the hyper GT which McLaren actually plans to build in 12 months.
Why Albert? Well, like much else about the Speedtail, that's an homage to the McLaren F1, which also had a test mule named Albert, and was itself designed on the firm's Albert Drive premises. Naturally, that's not the prototype's official name - this is McLaren after all - where presumably every spreadsheet is headed with the far more officious MVY02. (And if you're wondering about that name, it's a combination of Woking's usual MV initials with Y0 signifying the lateral central point in the XYZ axis on CAD.)
Despite its appearance from the front, the attribute prototype sits on a production-specific Speedtail chassis and features the same 1050hp petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain that is expected to propel the car to its much-heralded 250mph top speed. Kenny Brack, McLaren's still fairly new Chief Test Driver, will be the man predominately tasked with that job as the manufacturer goes through the business of 'honing' the performance of its hyper GT.
"The start of real-world testing represents a major step in the development of the McLaren Speedtail. As the first fully representative prototype, 'Albert' will build on the invaluable work still being put in by earlier development cars, allowing us to sign-off vehicle attributes including chassis dynamics; brake performance; damper tuning; tyres; NVH and aspects of ergonomics and comfort. With a huge amount achieved already, the McLaren Speedtail is well on the way to fulfilling its destiny as the greatest McLaren road car ever," commented Ben Gulliver, Head of Vehicle Development.
Alongside Albert, there are apparently four other earlier development mules already built around the concept of a single, centrally-mounted driving seat. According to McLaren, these too will continue testing alongside the more representative prototypes as it undertakes durability testing across Europe, North America and Africa. Delivery of the real thing to its 106 customers remains pencilled in for early 2020.