McLaren P1 Designer Spills His Secrets On The Supercar’s Design
Automotive design is a fickle art. The hand of capitalism and strict regulations often guide it. Even so, many new cars today start life like ink on paper. This is true for car designer Frank Stephenson, who may not be well known, but his designs certainly are – the Maserati MC12, Fiat 500 and Ferrari F340, to name a few. . He also designed the McLaren P1, which is the subject of his latest deep dive design video.
Stephenson said he often looks to nature for inspiration, which has proven to be true for the P1, looking at fast animals and seeing their lack of excess material. They’re skinny, and he took that idea and applied it to the design of the P1, making it look as “tight” as possible. Nature also helped solve the annoying wind noise problem around the A-pillar, using biomimicry to replicate part of the sailboat on the side mirror rods to reduce wind noise. It took several attempts to find a solution.
When Stephenson starts a new project, he starts with pen and paper and draws the serif before filling in the rest of the design. For the P1, he wanted the cabin to be placed forward on the chassis to improve driver visibility and he made the center of the wheels the highest point in the front of the car to help drivers maneuver the supercar. . Stephenson mentioned how computers take the romance and human touch away from car design.
One of the most striking features of the P1 are the taillights, which Stephenson wanted to eliminate, although this was impractical for a road car. Instead, Stephenson integrated the lights into the vehicle’s trailing edge to give it a unique light signature. Then there are the front headlights which mimic the look of the McLaren logo. Computers, bean counters, and demanding customers often dictate the terms, but automotive design is still an art form.