As automotive enthusiasts we all go about our daily lives sitting in traffic behind econoboxes, walking past endless aisles of crossovers at the grocery store, and once in a while (when we’re lucky) running across something that gets our engines running. For me it can be as simple as driving past a car my father once owned during my childhood, receiving a friendly wave or “Hey whatcha got in that thing!?!?” from someone at a red light, or seeing a car maker introduce something brand new that resonates back to a car that has always held a special place in my heart.
Petrol heads are often asked what our favorite cars are. Like most, I have many favorites: favorite classics, favorite muscle cars, favorite contemporary cars, supercars etc. Atop my all-time consolidated list of favorites lies only one, the McLaren F1. A car so special, few outside the enthusiast circle have even heard of it let alone know any small morsel of its illustrious, impressive story. I remember hearing rumors in the late 2000’s of a new McLaren and my heart was set aflutter. When the design was unveiled in 2009 it evoked memories of my plethora of McLaren F1 desktop wallpapers long since forgotten.
As the first cars were completed and the press tour began I watched videos and read articles as the McLaren MP4-12C became the talk of the town. The car received rave reviews; presenters stacked it up against the Ferrari 458 Italia, the Porsche 911 GT2 RS, even the Ariel Atom, but for me something was missing. The car didn’t give me the warm fuzzy feeling I get even to this day when I so much as hear the name “McLaren F1”. If it wasn’t the confusing name (which by the way is completely ridiculous, MP4-12C, give me a break) perhaps it was that everyone had simply caught up? Maybe Ferrari and Porsche had covered ground that McLaren had lost while taking a break from street cars for almost two decades; or maybe I simply missed the third seat.
What it was, I decided, is that McLaren had produced a mainstream car. Not mainstream in the sense that it suddenly fell within budget of the masses, but mainstream in the world of supercars. The F1 didn’t compete with Ferrari nor Porsche, it was in a class of its own and therein lied the problem. The Mp4-12C may have been and may still be the best street car on the market (I wouldn’t know, my invite to drive one may have been lost in the mail) but it’s not in a class of it’s own as the F1 was, literally.
Fast forward a few years and murmurs of a new car, the P1, began to abound. P1 sounds like F1; maybe I had been looking at things the wrong way. Maybe McLaren had introduced the MP4-12C to get their name back on the map in the eyes of consumers whilst secretly working on the next generation. Could the P1 be a true successor to the F1? When the exterior design of the P1 was officially unveiled at the Paris motor show in 2012 it became evident to the world that this was not intended to be an ordinary car, anything but. The design was futuristic enough that it appeared as if it could have been a far-reaching concept car yet the people at McLaren insisted it was slated for production.
One day in early January, Zach Chapman, a loyal SCS attendee and frequent poster to our Supercar Saturdays Facebook group posted a photo of a P1. The car was not on stage at an auto show nor at an elaborate event, it sat simply parked under a lift at Lake Forest Sportscars / McLaren Chicago a few minutes drive from my house.
Almost instantaneously, I received a text message from Jeremy Cliff of The Photomotive saying he’d do anything to photograph it. I made a few calls to the great people at LFSC who were extremely generous in extending invitations to an very exclusive event — the Chicago unveiling of the P1 design. Here, without further adieu is the result courtesy of Jeremy Cliff and Matt Magnino of The Photomotive. After you finish drooling over these poster-worthy shots, scroll down for a video of the P1 in testing.
Special Thanks to Lake Forest Sportscars / McLaren Chicago
Jeremy Cliff | http://www.jeremycliff.com
Matt Magnino | http://www.mattmagnino.com
Dan Chmielinski | http://www.carsleuth.net / Facebook
The Photomotive | http://www.thephotomotive.com