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McLaren P12 concept will go into production

The halo concept is being suggested in some media as the successor to Gordon Murray's legendary McLaren F1, with thoughts the P12 working title may be changed to P1 - a tempting reference to pole position as well as an echo of the F1 nameplate.

McLaren promises it will be something special, and while their regional director for Asia Pacific, Ian Gorsuch, won't confirm a name he's happy to talk about numbers. "Naming is always a highly emotive and difficult topic. But we will release the name -- which we believe is right for the car -- when we are ready to release the car," Gorsuch says during a visit to Australia this week.

"We have lots of working titles that we use. And we tend to use alphanumeric working titles and also alphanumeric names." However he didn't deny that P1 would be both an emotive and a logical possibility, with its links to the F1 and pole position. "Well, part of our DNA is that we want to win," he said. Gorsuch says the production run of the P12 will be limited to the demands of market response and bespoke build times - although the limits are flexible.

"We are being deliberately vague, because what we don't want to do is say there will be 200 cars and then have 250 people who want it and they're the right people. We don't want to annoy 50 people by not building them cars, or build an extra 50 and annoy 200 people who were told it was just 200. But it will definitely be no more that 500 cars for the world.

"That's not to say that everyone who wants one will get one, because we have a very limited build window. There are other complications because his is a unique bespoke car so some might take longer to build than others, depending on what the customers specify." Gorsuch says the Paris show car will be an "extreme example" of McLaren's advanced technology, built on the monocell rolling chassis underpinning the MP4-12C, 12C Spider and one-off X-1 concept unveiled at the recent Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, sporting the signature dihedral 'butterfly' doors and powered by the same 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 - although it may get a higher-tune.

"We are not revealing the power yet, but we don't get into the game of competing on numbers," Gorsuch says. "This is going to be extreme in technology: how it delivers power, how it handles. Technology is delivering performance with finesse." Gorsuch says McLaren's team is well-equipped for that delivery. "Because we have our own wind tunnel, some of the world's best aerodynamicists and one of the world's most sophisticated simulators, we can use all of this technology to create ultimates in automotive engineering," he says.
"What is being shown in Paris is just a wonderful extreme example of how we can do this. I remember speaking to an engineer when we were looking at it and he said "every molecule of air that touches this car has a job to do". However Gorsuch says the P12's "extreme" basis doesn't resort to bizarre design for the sake of attention.

"What we don't do is what other manufacturers have done -- create a really extreme thing, call it a concept car, get lots of flash bulbs going off and then not go near it again. "We wouldn't build extreme looks just to be extreme. A hawk is beautiful, not because it sets out to be beautiful, but because it's aerodynamic. It's geared for flying. So that beauty is in aerodynamics and aerodynamics tend to make beautiful things.

"So P12 because of its use of aerodynamics is a beautiful and understated car because with no compromise. "In a more normal - if I could say that about the 12C - road car, there are various compromises you have to make: price and benchmarking against the competition. That's the market the 12C is playing in. With the P12 we don't care what market we are playing in. This is just extreme.

"Whether it's a spiritual successor to the F1?" he leaves the question floating...