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Like us, you’re probably keen to see the McLaren MP4-12C on the road for the first time, to read those first test-drive reports and, maybe, to take delivery of your own. Waiting can be tough, so we’ll be sending you occasional briefings like this one, giving real enthusiasts like you exclusive insight into launch developments. We’re starting with a behind-the-scenes look at the photo shoot for the 12C brochure, which will be available when our first dealers open in spring 2011.

Our mantra of ‘everything for a reason’ applies to everything we do, including brochure design. We have carried out a lot of vehicle development testing in Spain so we knew that the range of roads there was perfect to illustrate the 12C’s extraordinary breadth of ability. The comprehensive road trip through Spain allowed us to capture the car in all its natural habitats, from city streets to sinuous mountain passes and race-tracks. The terrain also provided a stunning backdrop for the two cars, and their Supernova Silver and Volcano Orange elite paintwork.

We hope you enjoy the stories behind the photo shoot — and look out for our next 12C launch update in the new year.

Kind Regards
Antony Sheriff
Managing Director, McLaren Automotive Limited

1. Urban / Barcelona
2. Race track / Circuit de Catalunya
3/4. Mountain / Pyrenees
5. Rural / Quinto
6. Desert / Bardenas Reales de Navarra
Time      23:18
Location  41°24'33.75"N / 2°13'03.33"E
When the two validation prototypes rolled out of the McLaren transporter in central Barcelona, it was a very special moment. This was one of the first occasions that uncamouflaged cars had been allowed out on public roads. After years of development behind closed doors at the McLaren Technology Centre, it was great to finally see our car ‘in the wild’, threading through the traffic. We chose these urban driving scenes to communicate what an effortless and comfortable companion the 12C is on city streets. Even in busy Barcelona, getting around was entirely stress-free thanks to the car’s perfect driving position and excellent all-round visibility. With the Seamless Shift Gearbox (SSG) set to auto, the ProActive Chassis Control in its most compliant setting and the large IRIS telematics touchscreen navigating the way, we always felt relaxed and in control.
Time      07:10
Location  41°33'52.65"N / 2°15'23.55"E






The 12C was designed unequivocally as a road car, but a circuit like Catalunya is the perfect place to exploit its exhilarating performance and agility. Here we were able to tap into every last rev of the M838T engine’s 8500rpm and to fully appreciate the SSG’s near-instantaneous gearshifts, the 12C’s balance and roll control, and its incredible, airbrake-assisted stopping power. Some guys doing a track day on another part of the circuit came to watch the new McLaren in action. These were informed enthusiasts who knew about our new car’s heritage and significance. It was just the kind of appreciative reaction we were hoping for.

Time      14:46
Location  42°8'16.88"N / 1°24'56.48"E








Nothing can match the feeling of driving the 12C on the challenging and inspiring roads we came across in the Pyrenees. You can feel the absolute structural integrity of the lightweight, carbon fibre chassis; every steering input elicits an immediate and accurate response. As we approached a hairpin, the Pre-Cog function on the gearshift rocker would prime the gearbox for a quick response. The muscular, twin-turbocharged V8 firmly hauled us out the other side. These were some of the best driving roads on the planet and the 12C rose perfectly to the challenge.

Time      12:02
Location  42°22'1.72"N / 0°34'59.15"W









OK, a confession. Some of the amazing, blurred action shots you’ll see in the brochure were taken at 2mph. We fixed a cradle to the underside of the car, to which we attached a long, ultra-light, ultra-stiff carbon fibre boom. The camera sits at the end. Because the car and camera are locked together, the car stays perfectly in focus, and a long exposure gives that blurred background, even if the car is just being pushed along. The idea is to capture the sensation of speed, but getting it right isn’t easy: this shoot took 10 days.

Time      15:18
Location  42°12'27.40"N / 1°30'35.64"W



After the mountains we moved further inland to Spain’s arid heart, an amazing desert landscape that could double for Arizona. There were some long distances to cover here, but it was a great way to illustrate the 12C’s abilities as a long-distance cruiser, with its supple, steady-state ride. Although the whole shoot was planned in advance, with scenery like this you have to be open to inspiration; sometimes we’d see a shot we just hadn’t anticipated. And the weather could be unpredictable too. One thunderstorm moved in so fast that photographer Joe Windsor-Williams and his assistants only just had time to throw their jackets over his camera: a high-spec, digital medium-format camera worth £45,000.

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