McLaren specialist Lanzante has made quite the name for itself in recent years, having been the brains behind cars like the P1 LM, P1 GT and P1 HDK. For those clients who need their Ultimate Series McLaren made a little more special, Lanzante are the people to call. Now the firm has doubled down that reputation with a truly spectacular commission - the P1 Spider.
Though drop-top McLarens like the 765LT have become the most desirable models in the range (combining the thrill of the coupe with open top excitement for no dynamic penalty), there was never a Spider version of the P1 from the factory. Which, with hindsight, might have been the wrong call for a couple of reasons; Ferrari, of course, went on to sell 200 LaFerrari Apertas, and the Porsche 918 was only ever offered as a Spyder - and the production run of that was almost as much as McLaren and Ferrari combined.
The decision not to offer a P1 Spider all those years ago (the debut was in 2013, don’t forget) seems especially misguided given how extraordinarily this Lanzante build has turned out. But then that should be no surprise, really, given Lanzante consulted Paul Howse - original designer of the P1, plus the 720S, and now doing Thornley Kelham’s lovely restomods - for this project.
We could tell you what he’s done, but far better to get it from the man himself: “The original concept was one of organic fluidity, layering, and of a beautiful skin wrapped over the technical carbon components. A visual story of the airflow… With the P1 Spider, we wanted to continue and accentuate this theme. The design has some subtle tweaks, and the body now flows from the bonnet edge around the A-pillar into the waistline, kicking up behind the driver, echoing the bodyside. This creates a floating fin to direct air into the engine, and then flows back down into the rear deck. The carbon buttresses cocoon the driver and echo the beautiful clean lines of the coupe’s tapered cabin.” Note at the rear end the gills of the coupe have been retained to help with cooling. It’s so cohesive, in fact, that you wonder if this Spider was all part of Howse’s original P1 plan all along and the suits said no…
That said, designing a lovely hybrid hypercar roadster is easier than engineering one. Which is where Lanzante comes in, with tweaks incorporated to the front wings, doors, engine cover and buttresses, themselves with new intakes to feed the brace of turbochargers. What can’t be seen is the strengthening of the chassis’ lower section to ensure no loss in rigidity. Which sounds like quite involved work. When a company like Lanzante describes a build as “an engineering challenge to the team”, you know it’s a project of some endeavour.
Because as well as making sure it looks and drives right, the P1’s newly exposed interior had to be thought about as well. For example, if a driver is caught in a shower with the roof removed, they needn’t worry - the cabin is now trimmed in leather and SuperFabric that provides resistance to UV exposure and whatever the weather has in store. In addition, Lanzante says its work updating the P1’s interior offers occupants “increased levels of luxury”. We’ll report back on that when we’ve seen the Spider in person.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Lanzante has chosen not to alter the P1’s powertrain. Because more than 900hp from a twin-turbo V8 hybrid is probably enough, especially now exposed to the elements and - you would imagine - with precious little weight added. Race mode is still possible in the Spider, though - imagine how incredible it’ll look dropped to the deck.
Apparently, the Spider was the idea of one particular P1 owner, keen to make their car “even more engaging”, according to Dean Lanzante. He noted: “We had looked at the idea before, but the basic architecture of the chassis with the integrated roof structure made it seem like it was not possible. After close discussions with our engineers, we felt we had some possible ways to make it work, but it needed to be designed in a way that it wouldn’t lose anything when compared to the coupe.” He has described Howse’s input has the catalyst to making the Spider a reality; when a finished car emerged looking a lot like this, “we knew we had to do it”.
This P1 will be more than a one-off, too. But not much more - Lanzante will convert “no more than five” to Spider spec. Presumably that owner with the original car will be accounting for one, though it seems for the moment that the other slots remain vacant. Probably not for long given the kind of folk attending Festival of Speed. First deliveries are expected before the end of 2022…
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