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The concept of a dream car is a universal one. Kids, adults, people playing the lottery - everyone takes some time to daydream about what they would do if they had the money for whatever they wanted. But for those who do, how does something that exists as a dream translate to reality?
That’s where MSO comes in.
McLaren Special Operations is guided by their principle of “The Art of the Possible,” tantalizing its client base to push the boundaries of automotive artistry to the brink of execution. No longer are buyers limited to what is available on an online configurator or options sheet. Now, the limit is purely what you can conceive.
Primarily founded as the branch of McLaren to perform the upkeep of the legendary McLaren F1 road car, MSO now stakes its claim as the bespoke customization division of McLaren Automotive. Over the road car company’s history, MSO has left its mark on every model to leave Woking’s facility, from extravagant options packages to building bespoke models from the ground up. To highlight and celebrate how this process has come to the forefront of the brand experience, clients were invited to “An Evening With MSO” at McLaren Philadelphia.
Clients arrived to the event - many of them in their McLarens - and were welcomed by MSO's team as they awaited the unveil of an unannounced car. But before even setting foot into the showroom, MSO’s rich history unraveled itself like a red carpet outside the front door, displaying each generation as a timeline of evolution from the F1 to the Senna.

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Featured first was the 1994 McLaren F1, which laid the groundwork for MSO as we know it now. The F1’s primary goal was to be the greatest road car in the world as it achieved outright speed records without sacrifice to everyday usability. That achievement of speed warranted the development of the race-winning F1 GTR, prompting MSO to develop the High Downforce Kit for conversion of street cars to offer the same characteristics of the car that won Le Mans. F1 chassis #014 was fitted with the High Downforce Kit in 2007 and painted white, converting it from a yellow standard road car. Additionally, 014 was equipped with a spartan interior from the F1 LM as well as sports exhaust. Pending its final sign-off, the left side door sill was signed by McLaren’s 2007 rookie Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton.
Alongside the F1 sat the MP4-12C, representing the genesis of McLaren Automotive’s return to road-going cars in 2011. The brand’s racing expertise was a heavy influence in making the 12C a formidable competitor in an already-loaded field, as it was an exercise in technical perfection. The 12C established itself as refined and efficient - rarities in its class - while still delivering incendiary performance through its new 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V8. It also presented itself as a new canvas for the bespoke division of McLaren, with MSO now able to flaunt its capabilities on a full-production supercar. The MP4-12C on display featured traditional McLaren Orange paint, with MSO’s painted roof option selected as a contrast.
Once MSO gained its ground on the modern McLaren road cars, it branched out its customization options to levels never considered before. This became most evident on the P1 hypercar, the next car from our lineup. The P1 was a technological powerhouse that aimed to take advantage of the modern landscape of high-performance methods, as the traditional 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 was paired with a hybridization system that, combined, generated 903 horsepower. Only 375 were sold to the public, and a vast majority of them received unique treatment at MSO. Chassis #209 is one of the most thoroughly bespoke examples created through MSO, featuring a paint color exclusively developed in cooperation between McLaren and the original owner named “Professor 2 Blue,” a sample that was among five distinct variations of the original concept. Custom body striping is finished in red, matching the rare Daytona-style seats with which only two P1s were equipped. The passenger also gets a confidence-inspiring vanity mirror in the sun visor that reads “YOU LOOK BEAUTIFUL,” the only such vanity mirror in any P1 in the world.

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For clients who took these extra steps to create unique projects with MSO, the customization team went one step further granting them access to a fully bespoke model for just 25 collectors. The MSO HS was the ultimate evolution of the road-going Super Series and featured the louvered fenders and roof scoop that were optional on the 675LT, but new front dive planes and active rear wing improve aerodynamics in a track setting. Chassis #18, the penultimate car in our display, is finished in MSO Jet Black, with gloss carbon fiber accounting for all exterior trim.
The most extreme showcase of MSO’s capabilities at our event came on the one car that is just as extreme, if not more so: the Senna. Developed with the same uncompromising spirit of Ayrton Senna, the McLaren Senna is as track-focused a road car as McLaren has ever produced. The twin-turbocharged V8 boasts more horsepower than any from McLaren’s lineup previous, and combined with motorsports-grade aerodynamics and braking, it is the fastest McLaren road car ever to lap a circuit. Chassis #196 features a one-off design, with a Liquid Silver base and Burton Blue vinyl accents in a unique livery befitting of a racing car, complete with Ayrton’s famous #12. Tinted blue carbon fiber is found inside and out in a satin finish, contrasting the light blue Alcantara that trims the bucket seats and steering wheel. Liquid Silver also paints the door struts and steering wheel accent for a wholly unique specification inside and out that commands attention the way any Senna should.
A devoted McLaren enthusiast will have experienced a collection of everything they’ve come to appreciate about the brand, but there was still the mystery of the display car in the showroom under a cover. And following a brief presentation, the 720S Spider by MSO was unveiled to North America for the first time.

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The 720S Spider by MSO is a design study to showcase MSO’s capabilities in unconventional ways, suiting the unconventional nature of the 720S’ design. Sculpted by the wind, the 720S channels air in naturally clever ways to achieve an uncompromising mix of performance and remarkable aesthetic. The 720S Spider by MSO highlights this by using a unique paint mixture to accentuate the areas that most prominently direct airflow around and through the car. This “Coriolis” paint blends Cerulean Blue, Burton Blue and Abyss Black in a gradient effect across the headlight surrounds, lower door panels and intakes, and rear bumper in a process that took 260 hours to complete.
Wholesomely striking, the 720S was a demonstration of how MSO has pushed the boundaries of automotive tailoring, to the point where boundaries simply don’t exist. And when displayed alongside the full complement of MSO’s projects through the last two decades, it's made it clear that its capabilities are only restrained by what’s possible. So now, they’re simply rewriting what’s possible.
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