The McLaren P1

Gary S. Vasilash

It’s been a while since we’ve written about our favorite car company that makes cars we’ll be unable to afford unless we win the Powerball, McLaren Automotive, but the company has announced that it is getting closer to launch of the McLaren P1, which is a vehicle that underscores 50 years of McLaren.



The P1 is a two-seater designed for both cruising around town as well as performing at the track. The 903-hp car has an electronically limited top speed of 217 mph. Notably, the powertrain is a hybrid, combining a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 and a 176-hp electric motor that is integrated with the engine and which drives the seven-speed transmissions.

The car can operate on electric power alone (for up to 10 km), or, more likely, with the combination of the two. Speaking of the car as an EV, Paul Mackenzie, project director for the P1, said, “It’s pretty cool to turn up, silently, in a million dollar McLaren.” It would be pretty cool to turn up in a million dollar McLaren regardless of the decibels.



Being a McLaren, it has an extensive use of carbon fiber. The “MonoCage,” as they’re calling it, includes the roof and lower structures, roof snorkel, engine air intake cavity, battery and power electronics housing. It weighs a mere 90 kg.

The body panels are carbon fiber, as well, and one of the design briefs was to minimize the panels. As a result, there are just five main panels: front clamshell, front bonnet, rear clamshell, and the doors.

Speaking of the design, Design Director Frank Stephenson, said that he was working to develop a car that was “striking but also functional, a real statement of intent. I wanted a genuinely beautiful and dramatically honest ‘supersports’ car, in keeping with the heritage of McLaren but also at the forefront of automotive design. The engineering priority was unmatched aerodynamic performance. My role as a designer was to make it look dramatic and beautiful.

“I wanted it to look like a Le Mans racer with that low body, long rear deck and open mesh rear styling to put the mechanicals on view and to help cooling. Plus there is the most aggressive rear diffuser ever seen on a road car. Like everything on the McLaren P1, it’s there for a good reason.”



The P1 is being built at the McLaren Production Centre in Woking, Surry, along with the 12C and 12C Spyder.  Production is being limited to 375 vehicles.

If only. . . .