One of the most creative and collaborative environments in automotive history, our design process distils 50 years of racing heritage and top secret Formula 1™ technology to create the most innovative and exhilarating supercars in the world.
“RACING TENDS TO BREED THE BEST OF THE INNOVATIONS AND IDEAS. SINCE WE’RE A RACING COMPANY, A LOT OF THE INSPIRATION FOR OUR CARS COMES FROM FORMULA 1™”
FRANK STEPHENSON - McLAREN DESIGN DIRECTOR
DESIGN MANAGER MARK ROBERTS AND DESIGN DIRECTOR FRANK STEPHENSON DISCUSS THE EVOLUTION OF THE McLAREN DESIGN PHILOSOPHY.
The philosophy of everything for a reason started with Bruce McLaren. It’s part of our DNA and underpins every design and engineering decision we make. The gold leaf in the McLaren F1’s engine bay. The stunning Retractable Hard Top (RHT) roof and dihedral doors on the 650S Spider. The active aero and double element rear wing on the McLaren P1™. Every curve and every component of our cars is considered in microscopic detail. Then perfectly engineered to enhance the car’s performance, handling and the exhilaration you feel when you drive one.
Reducing weight is an inherent part of Formula 1™ race car design. It’s also a fundamental design principle in every road car we build. From the F1 to the 650S to the McLaren P1™, every gram is considered and every component is meticulously designed to deliver the maximum performance at the minimum weight.
Beauty is inherent in an optimised design. As a racing company, the styling and visual language of our cars is inspired by our Formula 1™ racing innovations and advanced aerodynamics. Shrink-wrapping the bodywork over the car’s mechanical skeleton, for example, reduces volume, removes weight and helps improve the car’s aerodynamic performance. It also creates an optimised visual design: lean, potent and beautiful to look at.
Every car we create starts with an aim. A stated objective that defines the car. The aim of the McLaren P1™, for example, was to create the most exciting, most technologically advanced and most dynamically accomplished supercar ever made.
With the aim established, the engineering and design teams then consider, in meticulous detail, how they’ll achieve their objective. Structure, layout and packaging are defined before we put pen to paper. An aerodynamic proportions model is also tested in our state-of-the-art wind tunnel to ensure we are able to meet the key targets we set.
Pen. Pad. Creative flow. Our designers spend most of their time sketching. From early concept they work with other teams, progressing the drawings and each element of a car’s design by hand.
Clay is one of the most effective tools for evaluating a car’s design. You can see the contours, feel the shapes and run your hand over the transitions as they go from a hard to soft radius – which you can’t do on a computer screen. Being able to add or remove clay quickly means we can test and perfect the shapes, contours and aerodynamics before moving into production.
Starting with a clean sheet of paper, our engineering and design teams solve some of the most complicated problems in the automotive world. From our revolutionary Proactive Chassis Control system to our exotic Inconel exhausts, every concept and component is meticulously engineered to produce the most exhilarating supercars in their class.