Even the one percent of the one percent want more ways to distinguish themselves from simple millionaires.
Buried behind the doors of McLaren's already secretive facilities is the ultra-special MSO division, the automaker's in-house customization clinic where the world's fastest and most lustworthy cars get the volume cranked up to 11…for a price, of course. Thankfully we're not the only fans of MSO's work because Ansar Ali, head of the McLaren Special Operations division, sat down with Autocar both to sing his unit praise and outline what makes it so important for McLaren.
"People want to be closely associated to the brand and have a sense of belonging," said Ali, outlining a philosophy that treats its customers like stakeholders rather than, well, customers. "Owning a car is not just a transaction. I recently spoke to a customer who is new to the brand. They said they can pick up the phone and speak to people [at McLaren], and they can't do that at other brands. We hear that all the time. That's what I enjoy and what I get out of bed for." And get out of bed he must, though, because the MSO division is not just a McLaren wing responsible for company/customer bonding experiences. It also rakes in cash for the automaker, helping it on its quest to elevate its brand to the status of Ferrari.
"Retailers see more and more that MSO can be a positive relationship that can help them. They use MSO as a marketing tool," said Ali. By customizing some of McLaren's greatest vehicles, which included all 375 P1s, each and every 675LT, 20% of 650S models, and 10-15% of 570S cars, the supercar manufacturer makes more money, with the average list price of a vehicle that's received the MSO touch going up by 30%. However, Ali and McLaren each have one hope for MSO, to expand its capabilities and make more bespoke one-off models, much like Ferrari frequently does for its more endowed customers.
In a separate article with the automotive outlet, Ali mentioned that he would like MSO to create "two or three" bespoke one-off models for customers that commission them each year. Currently the F1 successor, called the BP23, is slated to be the second MSO-created car, the first being the McLaren X-1 that debuted in 2012. The BP23 was originally commissioned by a single McLaren customer, who then told their supercar-loving buddies about it, generating enough interest to convince McLaren to build 106 examples. Hopefully Ali gets his wish because we sure wouldn't mind seeing more epic supercars whiz past us on the road.