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McLaren Special Operations takes customization seriously

McLaren is indelibly linked with the legendary Canadian-American Challenge Cup, or Can-Am, racing series. The essentially anything-goes event dominated North American tracks from 1965 to 1974 – with McLaren winning five consecutive championships from 1967 to 1971. For next year's 50th anniversary of the inaugural Can-Am, McLaren's custom MSO division has created 50 commemorative 650S Can-Am models with extensive carbon fiber upgrades – including a retractable top – and three unique colors. Priced at $334,500, the cars arrive next spring.

You just wrapped up a beautiful day on the links and are headed back to your vehicle. Two valets simultaneously pull up in nearly identical super-luxury cars (this is Orange County, after all). For a moment, you panic. Which one is mine? you think, nervously looking for an unmistakable identifier. Just then, you spot it: your $9,000 gold-plated hood ornament upgrade. Money well spent, you think, throwing your $10,000 optional golf bag next to your matching $13,000 optional trunk luggage set before fastening your $900 custom-color seat belt and adjusting your $1,700 painted air vents.

From $63,000 paint colors to $700 sun visors (seriously!), the world of high-priced automotive options seemingly knows no bounds. For those seeking more than an array of big-ticket options boxes to check, there is the made-to-order bespoke route. And when mere bespoke is still not enough, there are programs like McLaren Special Operations.

The paramilitary-sounding name refers to the British sports car maker’s multifaceted and far-reaching customization arm. With its breathless promise of “If you can dream it, we can build it,” McLaren Special Operations’ capabilities range from the relatively ho-hum, like custom paint color and interior stitching, to the extraordinary, like essentially building a one-of-a-kind supercar on the company’s carbon fiber chassis.   

The beginnings of the McLaren Special Operations, aka MSO, date to the early 1990s and McLaren’s F1 supercar. The company’s customer care program was established to help owners customize and maintain the iconic three-seater. From there, MSO has expanded to include five subdivisions serving the brand’s different vehicle lines. The MSO Heritage program is dedicated to maintenance of existing F1s. The MSO Programmes division handles all aspects of owning the $3 million, track-only McLaren P1 GTR. MSO Defined lets owners make extensive use of customized carbon fiber and other special materials in McLaren’s midrange Super Series vehicles, like the $270,000 650S. Boundless personalization – like 24-carat gold insulation around the engine – is offered through the aptly named MSO Bespoke program.

Lastly, the MSO Limited division creates limited-run and special-edition examples of McLaren models. Recent offerings have included a 650S Spider convertible designed in collaboration with McLaren Newport Beach featuring a unique metallic-flake blue exterior paint, matching custom embroidery inside and extensive carbon fiber upgrades throughout. And if you think this type of customization isn’t necessary in the rarified world of million-dollar hypercars like the McLaren P1, think again. This summer, seven of these rare birds assembled at the St. Regis Monarch Beach – each with its own unique MSO paint job. Needless to say, there was no mistaking the Cerberus Pearl model for the Flintgrau Metallic model.

McLaren Newport Beach, 2540 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach 888.905.5474 :: newportbeach.mclaren.com

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