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Friday, 23 March 2012

Hey Tuners, Leave The McLaren MP4-12C Alone!

McLaren MP4-12C vs Mansory MP4-12C. Not an improvement
At the Geneva Motor Show, highlights of which you can find three posts down, no less than four tuning companies turned up with a modded McLaren MP4-12C paraded like a carnival freak on their show stand, and they're not even the only ones at it either - two other tuning companies (including Hennessey) have or are planning to attempt to turn an exceptionally talented supercar and the first mid-engined GT car for years into a gaudy rice rocket. Why target the McLaren? Because they've already shat all over the other supercars? I don't like this ganging-up-on-the-new-kid business...

First of all, I want to make clear that I really like the new McLaren. Perhaps that's why I care so much, otherwise I'd dismiss or ignore it like all the other modified supercars (well, when I say ignore...). I like that it has another dimension over the Ferrari 458 Italia, in that it's not only a fire-spitting supercar but, thanks to its clever hydraulic anti-roll system, it can ride like a Rolls-Royce at the same time and be a GT car. As Chris Harris said, "we don't actually need another 458, because the one we already have is so good", so giving it a USP was important, I think.

That USP may not be the styling, but I don't buy that it's a boring car to look at. It's low, it has big air intakes at the front, even bigger twin air intakes on the sides, a sleek, curvy profile and an airbrake and high-mounted exhausts at the rear (to give the diffuser more room to work). It even has cool hidden tail lights. What more do you want? Do you want them to add lots of unnecessary creases and slashes and bulges and pointless vents? That would make it look overstyled like the Ferrari V12 cars I mentioned in the Eric Clapton post, and I don't want that. I'm fine with clean, smooth supercars like this or the Porsche Carrera GT. By all means give it some flare and so on, but styling for the sake of styling is taking over modern cars - in all genres, not just supercars - and there's now too much of it on most new models.

Speaking of overdone, here's Mansory's MP4-12C, which features many unnecessary creases, slashes, bulges and vents. Oh, the vents...

Standard car also included. Can you tell which is which?
Now tell me honestly, which one would you rather have? Which would you rather be seen in? Which do you think is the better-looking? Five or six years ago I might have said the one on the right, or at least seriously considered it, but I'm not 14 or 15 anymore, so it has to be the unmolested one for me (although that's hardly the shock judgement of the day). The bit I don't get is that they've rested a huge spoiler on top of the airbrake. What, so if you step on the left pedal you get... two airbrakes? Or did you reroute the system to work on the top wing instead? Or do you just not have a fucking clue? Also those vents on the corners clearly aren't connected to anything hot, so you've effectively carved nostrils into its arse for no reason. Are you just disturbed, Mansory? Carving new arseholes into things is not what normal people do...

While Mansory decided to add 60 horsepower - because more is, like, better and stuff - Porsche tuners Gemballa have only gone skin deep with their attempt to complicate and add tat. This gloopy blue horror is their second non-Porsche as far as I know (the other being a white Ferrari Enzo turned into something unspeakable), and comes finished in the same eye-searing shade of blue that was met with universal criticism when Mansory used it on a Rolls-Royce Ghost and a Porsche Panamera. If everyone hates it, why do it? People hate Nazis, and nobody's doing that anymore. I know their founder Uwe Gemballa died a year or so ago in more than unusual circumstances, but that's no excuse to try blinding people in the most violent way possible by taking a perfectly nice supercar and mutilating it. Thankfully this goes light on the pointless vents and added spoilers, but the 20/21" wheels more than make up for it... in a bad way, of course. Not an improvement.

Having turned the styled Evoque, sturdy AMG SLS and startling Cayenne Turbo into something only a sheik could love, Hamann have given the humble McLaren a GT-Racer-meets-Pimp-My-Ride makeover and given it another very confusing name. It's called the memoR and features no performance enhancements at all - because the same is, like, the same and stuff - but it does feature a hideous stripe and RED-painted door. Black, black and a splash of red makes for a safe "sporty" interior, but the same does not apply outside. Red on black is tacky. It's tacky on that Ford BAWSS Mustang 302 Laguna Seca Shelby Corkscrew Track Key Super Something and it's tacky here. Not an improvement.

Now this one, I can almost tolerate. But then, they did leave the outside pretty much standard. If "Wheelsandmore" had left the orange highlights out of the wheels and narrow offset stripe and taken the rim diameter down a couple of inches, I could even like it. They have at least done the proper thing and adorned a white car with black alloy wheels, which looks good on a McLaren. Underneath, Wheelsandmore have at least reassured us that the "more" part of their name doesn't actually mean Wheelsandbadstripes. The 3.8 V8TT has been massaged into making 666bhp (a childish figure), as well as lowering the suspension by 25mm - because lower is, like, cooler and stuff - but they admit that, much like American dragster creators Hennessey, they are working on a version of the engine that will make around 800 horsepower. I'm not sure why that is. The MP4-12C already has 592bhp (600PS), which is enough to get it around the TopGear test track in a staggering 1:16.2, over half a second faster than a Bugatti Veyron SS, which has twice the power. Adding 60 horsepower, as a couple of the examples here have, might work, as long as McLaren did enough over-engineering to cater for it, but 800 horsepower? That's as unnecessary as Mansory's arse vents. It will just turn one of the world's best cars into a BRABUS-style tyre-shredder that can't go in a straight line and can't corner either, rendering it utterly pointless as you'd have to drive slowly to prevent massive crashes. Not an improvement.

I am afraid that I have saved the worst until last. This was the most visually offensive tuned McLaren at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show:

FAB Design MP4-12C
FAB Design cannot possibly mean "fab" as in fabulous. FAB must be an acronym of some sort. Perhaps "Fucking Awful Bullshit" is - while not the most imaginative thing I could've come up with - more appropriate for this particular creation. Let's start with what we can see here. Clearly, F.A.B Design weren't going to make the same mistake as Mansory and put a big rear spoiler on top of the rear spoiler. No no, they decided the best idea was to put a big rear spoiler near the existing wing/airbrake, working around it as if the very clever piece of technology was just a nuisance they didn't know how to get rid of. The result looks just as ridiculous as the Xzibit approach, because it's too far forward and has to lean back over the top of the airbrake. I've seen better wings made out of cardboard.

Then there's the rear bumper. I think that, left to their own devices, they would've made the entire tail into one enormous grille, or at least divided a mesh net into three so it looks like a Gumpert Apollo (the only car in the world to come out of the factory as ugly as these cars), but oh no, McLaren has put lights on it! And what's with the exhausts being there?! We need to hide these shameful details. ADD MOAR MESH! Cover the exhausts in whatever you can find! A carbon fibre mould ought to do the trick. Now make the whole thing look like a Storm Trooper with pointless vents on it and we can call the McLaren fixed. Oh yeah, and add 70 horsepower to show up the other guys. Done and done. No-one can call it boring now!

No-one can call it pretty either. I can't find a single angle on this that doesn't make me want to shut my eyes so hard they turn inside out or implode. The creepy thing is, I also can't find a picture of it at the Geneva show that doesn't have that equally Storm-Trooper'd FAB Cayenne lurking in the background. I think it may be in my nightmares tonight...

Not an improvement. None of these are improvements, really (although the Wheelsandnotmuchmore version does get close), which kind of defeats the point of modifying them in the first place. The really disturbing thing is this: the fact that six people have modified this one model (and many others besides) means that the idea of taking a supercar and making it stupid is popular enough to keep doing. That means people are buying them. That means people like them. That means that, inside, lots of very rich people are still 14 or 15 years old, and you know what? I bet it shows in other ways too...

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