The centre-seat supercar is back… and here to prove it is McLaren chief test driver Chris Goodwin trying it for size in the first development mule of McLaren’s forthcoming hyper-GT, codenamed BP23.
As a mule – the body is a hacked-around 720S – the pictures give few clues to what the £2 million Ultimate Series model for 2019 will look like. But there’s no mistaking the three-seat layout, with Goodwin at the tip of an arrowhead formation leaving space either side of him for a pair of passenger chairs, exactly the format pioneered by the McLaren F1.
Just as with the F1, the centre driving position promises to be BP23’s unique claim to fame. Seeing the driver centre-stage behind the windscreen still requires a double-take, no other car having dared to emulate the layout since Gordon Murray invented the world’s most famous three-seater sportscar a quarter of a century ago.
What can we tell from the interior shot? One, that Chris’s feet appear to go down into a pedal-box rather than up into one in the manner of an F1 or WEC car. Having the driver’s ankles higher than hips would be a way of squeezing three pairs of legs in without making the car any wider. Two, that the wing mirrors are digital cameras feeding screens either side of the dashboard.
We can expect more ingenious McLaren solutions to the everyday practicalities of living with BP23. Getting in and out for the pilot will be eased by the dihedral gullwing-style doors which open upwards taking a big chunk of the roof section with them, something made possible by the Monocage II carbon tub introduced for the 720S. A first for McLaren is powered opening and closing of the doors. And how exactly will the driver pay motorway tolls? Watch this space…
McLaren has made it clear that BP23 (it stands for Bespoke Project 2, 3-seater) has been designed as its ultimate road-going grand tourer, not primarily a track car. Despite this, as an Ultimate Series model, it will have to be the most powerful and fastest McLaren yet developed. Expect a hybrid powertrain using a version of the latest 4.0-litre biturbo V8 with an advanced electric side for emissions-free running in cities.
Expect too plenty of creature comforts in what will be McLaren’s most luxurious and fully featured model yet, with a glassy teardrop cabin offering all-round visibility in the manner of the 720, plus room for luggage. It might not beat a P1 round a circuit but for McLaren, it will be the ultimate land-based way for three people to travel long distances.
As long as Chris Goodwin got the mule in the pictures back to Woking in one piece – we are sure he did! – then development of this most majestic of McLarens should remain on schedule with the first of the 106 cars to be made (same number as F1s) going to its owner in 2019.
As a machine assembled by McLaren Special Ops (MSO), BP23 will be largely bespoke and offer a multitude of personalisation choices so that every car is different. The car is rumoured to cost £1.6m plus taxes and… you guessed… they are said to be all sold.