Despite a rise in the number of new McLarens sent to MSO for some element of customisation - more than there ever has been, in fact - it's quite possible that Woking isn't the first place you associate with bespoke supercars. Arguably it's those extravagant Italians which come to mind, with ever more extreme one-offs and incredibly lavish specifications.
For the Speedtail, McLaren is taking the individualisation process to a whole new level of silliness. This is something new for the brand - although probably fitting given that the supremely luxurious GT has an entirely different remit to anything else we've seen emerge from the Technology Centre thus far. The Speedtail is the most expensive McLaren yet produced, as exclusive as an F1 and about as likely to end up on circuit as a P1 is to be used as a car to take camping. The configuring process and materials involved must reflect that.
The level of detail is so extravagant that the firm thinks it ideal fodder for a grubby bunch of journalists to behold. They're not wrong either: which of us hasn't spent an idle lunch hour speccing a supercar? We've certainly got half an hour spare to see how just how offensively opulent a Speedtail can be made.
Normally a McLaren presentation is led by the standard-fit engineer type, talking you through spring rates, downforce and 0-124mph times - not this one. Instead we listen to Jo Lewis, McLaren's Colour and Materials Design Manager. She talks of how Speedtail customers are, unsurprisingly, used to the loveliest things the world has to offer, but that what's actually important is the experience i.e. how the customer is involved in the process and how the end product reflects what they want.
However, this being McLaren, there is still technical innovation to speak of here. That's already been confirmed with the powertrain details - and specifically how much more efficient the battery is compared to a P1 - but extends to the details inside as well. Examples? Leather developed with Bridge of Weir is 30 per cent lighter than conventional hides (should you want it), and using 1k instead of 3k carbon fibre (meaning fewer carbon fibres in a tow) saves weight, plus means that it can be tinted...
Tinted carbon fibre probably sounds terribly gauche, but the end result actually looks fantastic. Adding layers in the carbon gives an injection of colour while retaining the distinctive look; naturally it can be tinted to whatever colour you wish.
And it doesn't stop there. McLaren has teamed up with Vaughtons in Birmingham to create gold badges for the Speedtail, the Snap-On tools are 3D printed in titanium, and even the windscreen has a digital fade in it. Why does that matter? Because it reduces glare of the upper dash in the driver's view; so often that top leather is black, to prevent that problem, but with the windscreen tech it means that Speedtail customers can have whatever they want up there. Lewis talks in the presentation of "flooding the interior with colour through leather" - this glass technology contributes, too. Bear in mind as well how open McLaren interiors often are, with a very low scuttle - not to mention the central driving position, as well - and the Speedtail promises to be a stunning driving environment.
Part of the afternoon's activities involves creating a mood board in groups - don't say there's no sacrifice in this job - and even the handout materials are sublime. The paint samples are rich, the leather waxy and soft, the aluminium 'jewellery' for inside lustrous and the gold carbon so much more luxurious than it sounds. Buyers are even offered contour packs, to highlight areas of the Speedtail's "aerodynamic story". McLaren, funnily enough, doesn't expect any of the 106 cars to be the same - it would be a miracle to see any look remotely similar, really, given the scope of personalisation available.
So what did we create? Well, some caveats first off: actual Speedtail buyers have a three-hour initial consultation where ideas are put forward and themes discussed ahead of more detailed meetings later on where colour, trim and materials are finalised. Our session was 15 minutes. And in a group.
Point being that there was some compromise during our time with MARC (the McLaren Automotive Real-time Configurator). 'Forest' as the team effort was affectionately known, brought together a colour somewhere between McLaren's Imperial Green from the XP5 F1 prototype and British Racing Green with a tan leather interior - not an original combination, sure, but one that was felt to work well with the car's billing. The gold carbon did make it through group approval, though sadly I was outvoted on the seats - it's perhaps too much tan for my taste. Interestingly, though buyers are advised against it, all three seats can be a different colour if you so wish...
Having barely scratched the surface of speccing a Speedtail - it's easy to imagine the hours disappearing - this already feels like a very different kind of McLaren product. Ludicrous though it sounds, the 1,070hp and 250mph kind of tailored buying experience that McLaren hasn't offered before. Of course, they're not, but it's hard to think of the physical act of driving when you're hemmed in by so much opulence. If the Speedtail delivers at the business end too, what a car it will be.
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