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Meet Albert, the McLaren Speedtail that took 12 weeks to paint

A staggering 2km of masking tape was used

The color on this Speedtail is not from a tacky vinyl wrap. PHOTO FROM MCLAREN

Nothing at McLaren is normal. The cars are not, the press releases certainly aren’t, and even the liveries on the vehicles are more akin to works of art than simple layers of common paint. Case in point is the latest project by McLaren Special Operations. What you are looking at here is a Speedtail called “Albert” that started life as one of the last cars in the 106-unit production run before its carbon-fiber body disappeared in the paint shop for over six weeks. The result is a unique-looking supercar that pays homage to McLarens from days gone by.

The amount of tape used to make this paint job is mind-boggling. PHOTOS FROM MCLAREN

Why Albert, you wonder? It’s a double homage of sorts. First, it tips its hat to the original McLaren F1 prototypes that were named after the Albert Drive premises in Woking, England, where the cars were designed and built. Then, it also pays tribute to the first Speedtail prototype to drive on public roads that, next to its internal code of MVY02, was also known as Albert. Created upon the request of McLaren Beverly Hills, this latest Albert shines in Magnesium Silver and Ueno Gray. Keen-eyed fans will recognize the former as the debut color of the F1 road car. The latter was the shade of the Le Mans-winning F1 GTR from 1995.

The shade of gray was taken from the F1 GTR that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1995. PHOTOS FROM MCLAREN

The original prototype had the same type of design, but it was covered with a vinyl wrap that was supposed to show the airflow over the car. This time, the extremely patient people at MSO created it as a real paint job, and that was quite a laborious task if the press release is to be believed. In total, it took 12 weeks to create the color scheme.

First, the intricate design was tested on other body panels to see if it would even work. Then, the team spent two weeks and almost 2km of fine masking tape to transfer the design onto the completed car before disassembling it and painting each panel separately during a six-week process. Add some time to dry the parts and put them all back together, and three months (and God knows how much money) is gone.

Albert was commissioned by McLaren's Beverly Hills dealership. PHOTOS FROM MCLAREN

The result of all this effort is a car that doesn’t seem too spectacular at first glance but draws your eye in the more you look at it. To create all the intricate lines and the flowing design of this special paint job by hand is typical McLaren. It is a demonstration of the skills the MSO division possesses.

Where others would just print the design onto a wrap and slap some vinyl on the car, the automaker does it the hard way—simply because it can. And the firm knows that hyper-expensive supercars like the Speedtail are the perfect canvas for this type of money-doesn’t-matter craftsmanship. As for the price? It has not been published, but keeping a team of skilled craftsmen busy for 12 weeks won’t come cheap. But then, nothing ever does at McLaren.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.